Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Cultural Activities & Special Programs

Southwestern University sponsors a number of cultural activities and special programs to enhance the quality of life on campus, provide access by students and other members of the campus community to persons and issues which will stimulate their own reflection, and support and contribute to the academic environment of the institution. These various activities are designed to interrelate academic activity and the social and everyday life on the campus and reflect the institution's commitment to the education and development of the whole person.

Sarofim School of Fine Arts Artist Series

Each year, the Sarofim School of Fine Arts brings to campus many outstanding musicians, actors, artists, art historians and other persons from the world of the arts to perform, lecture and present their work. Recently, we have been host to such guests as Eugene Fodor, members of the Shanghai Quartet, the Wild Basin Winds, and the Harrington String Quartet, all of whom have performed on the Alma Thomas Theater stage. Visual artists such as Christopher French, Keith Brown, and Mary Bates Neubauer have exhibited their work in the Fine Arts Gallery. Noted art historians, architects and critics have lectured in the Fine Arts Building, including Buddhist Art Historian Dr. Marilyn Gridley and Mr. Vel Hawes, director of design and construction on the new Nasher Sculpture Center.

In addition to these artists from off campus, the Southwestern community is regularly treated to outstanding exhibits and performances by our own resident faculty artists: Kiyoshi Tamagawa, David Asbury, Hai Zheng, Eri Lee Lam, Claire Vangelisti and others. Our resident ensembles also perform regularly, under the direction of faculty artists: the University Wind Ensemble and University Orchestra, conducted by Lois Ferrari; the University Chorale, conducted by Kenny Sheppard; the Jazz Band, directed by George Oldziey; and the University Singers, conducted by Pam Rossman. Faculty artists also regularly exhibit their work. The art of Professors Mary Visser, Star Varner and Patrick Veerkamp can regularly be seen in the Fine Arts Gallery. At the end of each year, several exhibits are dedicated to showing outstanding student work, as well.

The Department of Theatre produces many productions per year; recent productions have included Cabaret, Playhouse Creatures, Curtain Up! Light the Lights! and All's Well that Ends Well. Student involvement in all areas of the arts is welcomed, not only as members of the audience, but also as performers and artists. Several student organizations facilitate this involvement: Mask and Wig (theater), Delta Omicron (music), and the Student Art Association.

Lectureships and Symposia

In an effort to provide students at Southwestern University access to major issues of life and culture, the University presents a series of lectures and other academic occasions during the year.

The Jessie Daniel Ames Lecture Series

The Jessie Daniel Ames Lecture Series focuses on the professional and civic achievements of women. Established in 1985, the lecture series is named for Jessie Daniel Ames, a 1902 alumna of Southwestern University who championed the causes of voting rights for women, prison reform, and anti-lynching legislations. A business person and leader in the national suffragist movement, she was a founder and the first president of the Texas League of Women Voters and was one of the first women delegates to the state and national Democratic conventions.

Brown Symposium Series

Through the generosity of The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, the Brown Symposium Series has been established to bring to campus persons of national and international repute in areas represented by the holders of endowed Brown professorships. Distinct from the traditional lecture series, these symposia are integrated into the regular curricular design of the University, and the members of the symposia participate in a total education experience. Symposia have been on such topics as "Cosmology: the Changing Philosophies of Science," "Benjamin Britten and the Ceremony of Innocence," "Pandora's Box: Computers in Everyday Life," "Africa and Afro-America," "Punctuated Evolution: The Slender Thread of Life," "Discoveries of America," "Macrohistory: New Visions of the World," "Global Climates: Past, Present & Future," "Communities," "Drawing and Crossing Boundaries: The Roots of Texas Music," "The Human Genome Project: Advances, Repercussions, and Challenges," "Espana y America: Cultural Encounter--Enduring Legacy," "Shakespeares!!," "Globalization: Win-Win or Win-Lose?", and "Arctic Journey: Discoveries of inter-relationships in the circumpolar north," "For Love and Justice: Breaking the Cycles of Intimate Violence," "GNP or Gross National Well-Being," "Who Do We Think We Are?!" and "Umwelt: Exploring the Self-Worlds of Human and Non-Human Animals."

Roy and Margaret Shilling Lecture Series

Established in 1999 by The Brown Foundation Inc. of Houston to honor the 13th president and first lady of Southwestern, the Roy & Margaret Shilling Lecture Series presents internationally prominent speakers on topics relating to ethics, public service, and public policy. Past speakers include Bill Moyers, President Jimmy Carter, Marian Wright Edelman, William Sloane Coffin, John McGuire, Karen Hughes, The Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Benazir Bhutto, Thomas H. Kean, and James Baker III.

The Writer's Voice

The A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center sponsors the University's The Writer's Voice. This annual series fills a niche by bringing together undergraduate students and authors of national renown for intellectual exchange centered on the authors' works and the subjects and issues they raise. Through library-sponsored programming and faculty involvement, the series works to enhance students' reading and study of literary works both in and outside of classes, and it has quickly become a campus cornerstone program. Each author's time on campus culminates in a public reading or lecture in Alma Thomas Theater. The readings or lectures are open free of charge to the campus and to the local community Guests in the series have included Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, Tony Kushner, Carlos Fuentes, Robert Pinsky, and Amy Tan.

The Lurlyn and Durwood Fleming Scholar in Residence in Religion Program

Through an endowment established by St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Houston, in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Durwood Fleming, the Scholar in Residence Program exists to bring to campus distinguished visitors to enrich the University's academic program. This program is designed to emphasize close and significant interaction between students and distinguished scholars in the field of religion.

Global Issues Forum

In 1979, Everett and Margueritte DuPuy established the "Global Citizens Fund" at Southwestern to promote the responsibility that global citizenship brings. The focus of the Fund has been to enhance world peace and international cooperation by supporting both on-campus and off-campus activities which lead to international understanding. The Global Issues Forum is a part of that effort. Presented several times during the school year, each Global Issues Forum explores a global issue of significance with internationally-known guest speakers.

The Slover-Southwestern Lectureships

This lectureship series represents the joining of an endowment given by the German Mission Conference to Southwestern University and an endowment left by the late Reverend George S. Slover, DD. Each of these endowments was given originally to establish annual lectureships. Since 1978, they have been combined to provide one lectureship a year in the area of values and social questions.

The A. Frank Smith, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Program

In 1988, the law firm of Vinson & Elkins honored its former managing partner and longtime Southwestern University trustee, A. Frank Smith, Jr., through an endowment which established this lecture program. These lectures bring to campus distinguished guest speakers in the fields of law, history, government, political science, and public service.

The Willson Lectureships

The late J.M. Willson and Mrs. Willson of Floydada, Texas, alumni of Southwestern University, established in 1948 an annual lectureship to be known as the Willson Lectureship. The lectures are directed at the student body and seek significantly to relate religious questions to social life and experience.