In his new work, retired professor shares his insights about American ideals
By Hunter Ellis | Staff Writer
Dr. Roger Fortin, a retired Xavier professor of history, published his ninth book, How the Ideals of America’s Founders Lead Us to Purposeful Living.
The premise of Fortin’s book is to investigate how Americans apply the ideals of the Founding Fathers, particularly the notion of the American Dream, in these modern times of political strife and discontinuity. Fortin makes the case that in embracing the founders’ belief of “one for all and all for one,” citizens can learn how to live a more meaningful and purposeful life.
This book joins Fortin’s eight previous works. His first book, The Decline of Royal Authority in Colonial Massachusetts, was written and published in 1969.
Other notable titles include Faith and Action: A History of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 1821-1996 (2002), Bicentennial America: Window on the Past, Present, and Future (1975) and The American Dream: Or What’s a Heaven for? (2015).
Beginning his teaching career in 1966, Fortin has been an integral part of the Xavier community for the past 50 years.
During his tenure at Xavier, Fortin served many roles on campus. He originally worked as an assistant professor of history, followed by the chair of the history department. He later became the dean of Edgecliff College and later a provost.
Additionally, the Roger A. Fortin Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Humanities was established by the school in 2013 in his honor. Michael Fortin — Roger’s son and a member of the Xavier Board of Trustees — helped found the award by giving a large donation to the university as a way to help commemorate his father.
The award is annually presented to a renowned professor in the humanities department with exceptional teaching abilities and scholarship. The recipient receives $10,000 and is recognized at an awards ceremony in the spring semester.
“I thought, having just finished writing another book, I’d put together a short book on the Founder’s ideals, what students and I have discussed in class,” Fortin said about the book.
In chapter two, Fortin discusses the American Dream with a positive outlook.
“Indeed, a basic right of every American is the right to dream. It is America’s promise,” he writes.
He goes on to evaluate the ability of the American Dream as a way to create unity: “The greater the number of people who can pursue their dream, the healthier is society.”
In Appendix A of the book, Fortin shares with readers his personal reflection on living a purposeful life, which includes insights he gave to students in his last lecture.
“Each one of you needs to define your goal, your dream, in a manner that is realistic and in keeping with your unique talents and personality,” he writes.
“Pursuing your dream means choosing to live in ways that help you live more fully, more intensely, more consciously,” Fortin explains. “It means seeking to live a life that is aligned with what truly matters and not one that is defined primarily by salary, wealth or social status.”
Dr. John Fairfield, a colleague and personal friend of Fortin, wrote the foreword for the book. In it, he notes, “I never doubted that Roger genuinely enjoyed his time in the classroom, and his students are the better for his efforts.”
Coming from of a love for teaching and his students, Fortin has dedicated his book to his former students, even citing the interactions with his students in class as a primary inspiration behind the book.
“He has really combed through the American tradition to find the most positive, the most inspiring, the most hopeful aspects of our tradition and to bring them to the attention of his students as a way to hopefully create a better future,” Fairfield said. “I think that aligns with what he tried to do as a teacher, too.”
Fortin decided to donate all proceeds from the book to Xavier. Furthermore, members of Fortin’s family have donated copies of his book that are available for all Xavier alumni in the Alumni Office.
Fortin’s new book is currently available for purchase on Amazon, various online platforms and other local retailers.