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In Focus: 4/29/2011

A weekly newsletter published by the Communications Office

Top News

PRESIDENT OF ST. JOHN’S COLLEGE TO GIVE 2011 COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS

Christopher B. Nelson, one of the leading advocates for liberal arts education in the United States, will give the 2011 commencement address at Southwestern University. The ceremony will be held Saturday, May 7, at 2 p.m. in the Corbin J. Robertson Center.

Nelson is in his 20th year as president of St. John’s College, which has campuses in Annapolis, Md., and Santa Fe, N.M. St. John’s is a liberal arts college known for its unique curriculum that focuses on the seminal works of Western civilization. The age-old concepts students read are then applied to contemporary themes in modern society in every discipline from chemistry to theatre. In addition to serving as president of the college, Nelson also leads seminars and lectures on subjects ranging from politics and society to Virgil’s Aeneid.

“A conversation with Chris Nelson always rekindles my advocacy for the liberal arts and their importance to society,” said Southwestern University President Jake B. Schrum. “It will be a great pleasure to hear him address the class of 2011.”

Read more here.

TWINS READY TO TAKE WHAT THEY HAVE LEARNED ON AND OFF THE FIELD INTO THE REAL WORLD

Challenges are nothing new to senior baseball players Alan and Chris Lowry. Having dealt with Type 1 diabetes their whole life, they have learned to beat the odds and take challenges head on. Now ready to graduate, the twins plan to take the skills they have learned in the classroom and on the baseball diamond into the real world.

Starting tee ball at age five and spending nine years of their adolescence in Canada where their father worked for an oil company, the Lowrys played almost every sport, from badminton to men’s wrestling and cross-country. But once back in the United States, the brothers settled on baseball as their true passion. “As you get older you have to choose one sport or else you will never get good at any of them, and baseball was the most fun, so that is what we chose,” says Pirates pitcher Alan Lowry.

Playing baseball for four years at Southwestern has provided them with numerous benefits in all areas of life. “Things like discipline, time management, prioritization, even things like understanding how you operate as a person, and understanding and improving your weaknesses translate to almost every aspect of life,” Alan says.

Academic excellence is something that the Lowry brothers pride themselves in and Chris, who plays second and third base, attributes part of that to his baseball training. “Baseball is one of those things where you put so much work in and you only get a little bit better, and I think this teaches you a lesson, because in academia if you work hard, you see the reward,” he says. “We practice and work for a medium outcome on the field, then in our academics we work hard and make really good grades.”

Read more here.

Events

ENGLISH PROFESSOR TO SPEAK ON LITERACIES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Elisabeth Piedmont-Marton, associate professor of English, will deliver the keynote address for the Texas Press Women Association annual meeting to be held in Georgetown April 30. Piedmont-Marton will give a talk titled “Literacies for the 21st Century” on Saturday, April 30, at 2 p.m. in the Prothro Room of the Smith Library Center. The talk is free and open to the public.

HISTORICAL MARKER TO BE DEDICATED MAY 1

A state historical marker commemorating the Negro Fine Arts School, which was a joint effort of Southwestern University, the First United Methodist Church in Georgetown and the Georgetown School Board, will be dedicated on Sunday, May 1, at 12:30 p.m. The marker will be installed on University Avenue in front of the Methodist Church. Members of the Southwestern community and the general public are invited to attend this dedication of Williamson County’s newest state historical marker. Refreshments will be served after the dedication in the McKinney Ministry Center.

Media Coverage

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about the upcoming Clusterfest concert.

The Williamson County Sun ran a page of photos from the annual Native Traditions PowWow.

Notables

Eleven mathematics students and four professors attended the Texas section meeting of the Mathematical Association of America held in Tyler, Texas, April 14-16. Five students gave talks: First-year student Phuong-Hieu Nguyen and sophomore Zoe Pham gave a joint talk on the Fibonacci sequence and its relationship to minimal selfish sets. Senior Madeline Bailey gave a talk titled “Staying Sane with Instant Insanity,” based on a project done in professor Allison Marr’s special topics class on Combinatorics. Senior Matt Wladyka gave a talk about his capstone project on the mathematics behind the Black-Scholes Option in finance that he did with professor Therese Shelton. And senior Kayla Comeaux gave a talk about her capstone project on the statistical analysis of the work she did during a summer internship at NASA. Comeaux received an award for the best undergraduate talk that focused on statistics and modeling.

Phil Hopkins, associate professor of philosophy, has a chapter on Empedocles and Anaxagoras and the Greek conception of Kosmos accepted for a forthcoming new Companion to Ancient Philosophy from Northwestern. He also has a chapter titled Mass Moralizing, which deals with the relation of advertising discourse and moral heuristics, accepted for a forthcoming book from Continuum titled Advertising and Reality

Shannon Mariotti, assistant professor of political science, and Michael Bray, associate professor of philosophy, organized a panel on their current research for the recent Western Political Science Association conference in San Antonio April 21-23. The panel explored Theodor Adorno’s thoughts on democracy. Mariotti presented a paper titled “Adorno on the Radio: The Countertendencies of Democracy in America” and Bray presented a paper titled “The Revolt of Ignoble Savages?: On Adorno and Populism.”

A sweater designed by Elizabeth Green Musselman, professor of history, is on the cover of the inaugural issue of UK-based Knit magazine. See a photo of it here.

Sophomore biology major Ty Nguyen has been selected as a finalist in a scholarship contest sponsored by Church Hill Classics, which makes frames for college diplomas. To enter the contest, which is called “Frame Your Future,” students had to submit a piece of artwork that depicts how they “frame their future.” Nguyen submitted a mixed media, graphite and photography piece depicting an open-heart surgery. More than 9,500 entries were submitted, and Nguyen was selected as one of 24 finalists. He now has a chance at winning a $1,000 scholarship if he places in the top six out of 24 finalists, with a supplemental $1,000 for Southwestern if he is the grand prize winner. Final winners are being chosen by popular vote and can be voted on at the Church Hill Classics website through May 5. Read more here.

Laura Senio Blair, associate professor and chair of Spanish, presented a paper titled “Forking Paths: Roadside Scenery and Emergent Identities in the Hispanic Road Movie” at the Popular Culture Association Conference in San Antonio April 21-23.

Caroline Weston, a junior in Southwestern’s dual degree engineering program, has been selected to participate in a summer research program for undergraduates sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Weston will spend 10 weeks working with Keith Strevett, a professor in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at the University of Oklahoma, examining the shear capacity of pre-stressed concrete I-girders that have been strengthened with carbon fiber-reinforced polymers. These girders are used to support a number of different types of buildings.