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Charter Day Celebration Feb. 5 will Honor One of Southwestern’s Most Famous Graduates

  • News Image
    This photo shows J. Frank Dobie at Southwestern in 1910.
  • News Image
    1910 Southwestern graduate J. Frank Dobie (center) is honored in this sculpture located near Barton Springs Pool in Austin. The sculpture, titled "philosopher's Rock," features Dobie and his friends Roy Bedicheck and Walter Prescott Webb, who frequently gathered near the pool to discuss "about everything from classic works of literature to tall tales of lost Spanish treasure." According to the inscription at the rock, the three "strove to create a vibrant and distinctive intellectual climate in Texas, and their influence reached far beyond the state."
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    J. Frank Dobie wrote many of his books while living in this house is Austin, which is now home to the Michener Center for Writers at UT-Austin.

Feb. 5 event will focus on 1910 graduate J. Frank Dobie

Southwestern University will celebrate its Charter Day in 2011 with a morning of events focusing on one of the university’s most famous graduates – J. Frank Dobie.

The 2010-2011 academic year marks the 100th anniversary of J. Frank Dobie’s graduation from Southwestern. After graduating from Southwestern in 1910, Dobie earned a master’s degree from Columbia University and then landed a job teaching English courses at UT-Austin.

Dobie became the first Texas-based writer to gain national attention with his best-selling books such as Tales of Old-Time Texas, Coronado’s Children and The Longhorns, along with newspaper columns that were published throughout Texas.

Lyndon Johnson presented Dobie with the Presidential Medal of Honor – the nation’s highest civilian honor – just before his death in 1964.

Southwestern will honor Dobie on Saturday, Feb. 5, with a series of events, including a lecture by Steven L. Davis, author of the 2009 book, J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind. The lecture will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the atrium of Mood Hall and will be followed by a book signing. Davis also is curator at the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University.

At 11 a.m., Austin writer and former Dobie-Paisano Fellow Sarah Bird will give a talk about Dobie, his relationship to the Texas landscape, and her experience as a Dobie Fellow. Bird was a 2010 winner of one of the Dobie Paisano Writing Fellowships, which allow writers to live and work at the Paisano ranch, J. Frank Dobie’s 254-acre retreat west of Austin.

The lectures are free and open to the public. No reservations are required. Eight members of the Dobie family are expected to attend the event.

The charter of Rutersville College, the first of the four root colleges whose charters were amalgamated to form Southwestern University in 1875, was signed by the President of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, on Feb. 5, 1840.