Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


In Focus: 8/21/2014

A weekly newsletter published by the Communications Office

Moving In

President Edward Burger and political science professor Eric Selbin (rear) were among the faculty, staff, athletes and alumni who helped Southwestern’s new students move into their residence halls Aug. 15. See more photos of the new students’ first week on campus here.

Top News


Ever since he was a student at Southwestern, Jacob Schrum wanted to return and teach at his alma mater.

That dream is becoming a reality this fall as Schrum, who graduated from Southwestern in 2006, joins the faculty as an assistant professor of computer science. He will be teaching the introductory computer science class as well as an elective on functional programming.

Schrum is one of four new tenure-track professors who are joining the Southwestern faculty this fall. The others are Jethro Hernandez-Berrones, assistant professor of history; Hazel Nguyen, assistant professor of business; and Debika Sihi, assistant professor of business.

Read more here.


Southwestern has been recognized in several college guidebooks that have recently been published. In the 2015 Fiske Guide to Colleges, which is edited by former New York Times Education Editor Edward B. Fiske, Southwestern was one of 22 private universities that made the guide’s “Best Buy” list. Southwestern also was included in the guide’s list of small colleges and universities that are strong in business and its list of small colleges and universities that are strong in art or design.

In the 2015 edition of the Princeton Review’s annual Best Colleges guide, Southwestern once again made the guide’s list of the 20 schools with Best Career Services. Southwestern ranked 8th on the list, behind Northeastern University, Penn State, Claremont McKenna, Bentley, Clemson, University of Richmond and Wabash College. Southwestern is one of 379 colleges included in the 2015 Best Colleges guide, which features schools that offer outstanding academics.



The Palace Theatre is offering a $5 discount for any members of the Southwestern community who want to attend its Aug. 23 performance of “The Full Monty.” The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace Theatre, 810 S. Austin Ave. in Georgetown.

Tickets may be ordered by going here and using the order code SUAUG23. The Palace Theatre is offering a $1 discount for members of the Southwestern community who want to attend other performances of the show, which runs from Aug. 22 – Sept. 21. To receive this discount, use the order code SUMONTY.

This show is for adult audiences.


The Fountainwood Observatory has announced its fall 2014 public viewing schedule. Public viewing nights will be held on:

Saturday, Aug. 30, from 8-10:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 20, from 8-10:30 p.m. 
Saturday, Oct. 4, from 8-10:30 p.m. 

A “Yoga Under the Stars” fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 8-10:30 p.m.

For weather-related updates about viewing nights, call the observatory hotline at 512-863-1242.


Aug. 30 will be Southwestern Football Night at the Round Rock Express. Members of the Southwestern community can receive a discounted $9 ticket to the game by going to the Express website and using the promo code “pirate.”

Sophomore football player Alan Peralta will sing the national anthem and football head coach Joe Austin will throw out the first pitch. The Express are taking on Nashville starting at 7:05 p.m.


The Spanish Department is hosting a film festival this fall that will feature six films from Spain and the Americas. The films will be shown Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. in Room 105 of the F.W. Olin Building beginning Sept. 4.

The film that will be shown Sept. 4 is a 2012 film from Spain and Mexico titled “Aquí y allá” (“Here and There”).

Read more here.

Media Coverage

Inside Higher Ed ran a piece by Provost Jim Hunt. Read the piece here.

The Austin American-Statesman ran a piece about civil rights written by former history professor Shana Bernstein. Read the piece here.

The Austin American-Statesman ran a piece about the start of World War I by Melissa Byrnes, assistant professor of history. Read the piece here.

The Portland Book Review and the Redlands Daily Facts ran reviews of Professor Laura Hobgood Oster’s book, A Dog’s History of the World. Read the Portland Book Review review here. Read the Redlands Daily Facts review here.

Emily Niemeyer, professor of chemistry, was featured in an article about flipped classrooms that appeared in the HHMI Bulletin. Read the article here.

Chemistry professor Maha Zewail Foote was quoted in a story Inside Higher Ed did about blended learning initiatives sponsored by the Associated Colleges of the South. Read the story here.

The Williamson County Sun and News8 Austin (Time Warner Cable) ran stories about the garage sale at the Fondren-Jones Science Building. Watch the News8 story here.

President Edward Burger was interviewed for a podcast about student housing called “Join the Conversation.” Listen to the podcast here.

Music professor Michael Cooper was interviewed for a Texas Monthly story about Bastille Day. Read the story here.

Football coach Joe Austin was interviewed for a program called Beyond the Ticket.

Listen to the interview here.

The Temple Daily Telegram, the Cameron Herald, the Rockdale Reporter and the Williamson County Sun ran stories about how theatre majors from Southwestern helped build the set for a summer play staged by the Milam Community Theater. Read the Daily Telegram story here. Read the Herald story here.

The August issue of Georgetown View magazine had stories about the Pirate Bike program and Southwestern’s efforts to control grackles on campus. Read the bike story here. Read the grackle story here.

The August issue of Community Impact newspaper had several stories on Southwestern, including an interview with President Burger about his first year at Southwestern, a story on the new science center, and a story on graduate Kimberly Keller. Read the interview with President Burger here. Read the story on Keller here.

News8 Austin did a story on move-in. Watch the story here.

The Williamson County Sun ran stories about the following:

  • The Conductor’s Institute at Southwestern
  • SU Police Chief Deb Brown receiving an award from the Texas Association of College and University Police Administrators
  • President Burger’s first year in office
  • Professor emeritus Ellsworth Peterson and his family
  • The football team’s second season
  • New computer science professor Jacob Schrum


The team of students Heather Gronewald, Robert Lehr and Paris Nelson placed in the top 10 percent of the more than 6,750 teams from 19 countries that competed in the 2014 Comap Mathematical Contest in Modeling. Read more here.

Gronewald and Lehr also presented research at the 2014 MathFest, which was held in Portland, Ore., Aug. 6-9. Gronewald presented a paper titled “A Student’s Perspective on Undergraduate Research” and Lehr presented a paper titled “An Irrational Decomposition of Generalized Fibonacci Numbers.” Both received awards from the national math honor society, Pi Mu Epsilon, for their talks. At the same meeting, students Danielle King and Charles Payne presented research they did over the summer with Therese Shelton, associate professor of mathematics. Their research project involved mapping the infection rate and spread of the measles virus. Shelton presented a paper at the conference titled “Ensuring Engagement in Math Research,” which is based on her many years of supervising undergraduate research. Read more here.

In July, six members of the men’s basketball team were named to the 2013-2014 Honors Court, which recognizes basketball players who also excel in academics. Pirates who made the list were Mike Cantu, Chase Kocher, Travis Kurtz, Eric Garza, Carson Severson and Luc Smith. Read more here. The men’s team as a whole was also one of only two teams in the SCAC to earn a Team Academic Excellence Award from the NABC. Read more here.

Lois Ferrari, professor of music, is a finalist for the 2014 American Prize in Community Orchestra Conducting and the Austin Civic Orchestra, which she conducts, is a finalist in the Community Orchestra Performance category. Dana Zenobi, assistant professor of applied music, is a finalist in the Professional Art Song division, and senior Melissa Krueger is a finalist in the College/University Opera division.

Three faculty members from Southwestern attended the 17th annual Mediterranean Studies Congress held May 28-31 at the University of Malaga in Marbella, Spain. Melissa Byrnes, assistant professor of history, presented a paper titled “Ramadan on the Rhone: Muslims and Christians in Secular France.” Sergio Costola, associate professor of theatre, presented a paper titled “London’s Venice and Shylock’s Rialto” and Eric Selbin, professor of political science and University Scholar, presented a paper titled “Mediterranean Mishpocha: The 2010-14 Uprising(s) of the Mediterranean Peoples.”

Five faculty members from Southwestern participated in the annual meeting of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences that was held at Pace University in New York June 11-14. The theme for the conference was “Welcome to the Anthropocene: From Global Challenge to Planetary Stewardship.” Faculty members Erika Berroth, Laura Hobgood-Oster, Melissa Johnson and Emily Northrop participated in a panel titled “Collaboration in Teaching the Anthropocene Across Disciplines.” Berroth presented a paper titled “Shades of Green: Reflection on the Role of Modern Languages and Literature Programs within Environmental Humanities and the Anthropocene Studies.” Hobgood-Oster presented a paper titled “How Does the Anthropocene Fit into a Religion Classroom?” Johnson presented a paper titled  “Reframing an Introduction to Cultural Anthropology Course around the Anthropocene.” Northrop presented a paper titled “The Competing Goals of Economic Growth and Climate Stability in the Introductory Economics Course.” Molly Jensen, assistant professor of religion, introduced conference participants to Southwestern’s new Paideia Cluster on The Anthropocene and presented a paper at the meeting titled “Cultivating a Sense of Place in a Religious Studies Course: Teaching for Ecological Care.”

The women’s swimming & diving team was named to the 2014 Spring CSCAA Scholar All-America Team. The team earned the honor by having a 3.34 team GPA. Read more here.

The women’s lacrosse team was named a 2014 Academic Honor Squad by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association. Read more here.

Golfer Jordan Cowart and runner Lilly Duarte were named the Tex Kassen and Carla Lowry Male and Female Athletes of the Year for the 2013-14 academic year. Read more here.

Softball players Karen Ramirez, Christina Crandall, Tori Vasquez, Caroline Young and Nicole Gibb were named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s roster of 2014 Scholar-Athletes. Read more here.

Police Chief Deb Brown received the 2014 Bill G. Daniels Outstanding Police Administrator award from the Texas Association of College and University Police Administrators. The award was presented at the association’s 50th annual conference, which was held in Corpus Christi June 1-4. Read more here.

President Edward Burger was the guest speaker for the Texas Leadership Forum in May. In July, President Burger spoke to high school students attending the Honors Summer Math Camp at Texas State University and to students attending the Phi Theta Kappa Texas Honors Institute, which was held at Southwestern. He also delivered the keynote address at a July 29 event honoring teachers who participated in the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching and spoke to groups of educators in Michigan and Florida.

Ben Pierce, professor of biology and holder of the Lillian Nelson Pratt Chair, published an article in Herpetological Conservation and Biology titled “Population size, movement, and reproduction of the Georgetown salamander, Eurycea naufragia.” The paper was co-authored with 2013 graduate Kira McEntire and 2012 graduate Ashley Wall.

Gulnar Rawji, associate professor of chemistry, published an article earlier this year that was co-authored by two former Southwestern students and a colleague at UT-Austin. The paper is titled “An acetonitrile solvatomorph of dichlorido(1,10-phenanthroline-5,6-d​ione)platinum(II) and was published in the journal Acta Crystallographic. The Southwestern graduates who were co-authors on the paper are Amanda H​amala and Carissa Fritz.

Michael Saenger, associate professor of English, was the first keynote speaker at a conference on Adapting, Performing and Reviewing Shakespearean Comedy in a European Context that was held at Kings College, London, June 12-13. Listen to a podcast of his talk here. Saenger also published two reviews on the Reviewing Shakespeare website, which is maintained by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the University of Warwick. Read his review of  Twelfth Night as performed by The City Theatre in Austin here. Read his review of All’s Well That Ends Well as performed by the 7 Towers Theater Company of Austin here. Saenger also has been given a blog by The Times of Israel. His first published piece, “The Shylock Lens: Shakespeare and the Myth of Jewish Brutality,” was published on July 21. Read the piece here.

Kiyoshi Tamagawa, professor of music, presented a session titled “Playing Together: Chamber Music for Beginning and Intermediate-Level Pianists” at the annual convention of the Texas Music Teachers’ Association, which was held in Houston June 16-19.

Mary Visser, professor of art and holder of the Herman Brown Chair, had two new sculptural works 3-D printed by The University of Texas for the 2014 International Digital Sculpture Exhibition, which was held at UT-Austin in August. Read more about the exhibition here. Senior Charles Morris also had a piece in the exhibition. Over the summer, Visser also presented a paper titled “The Value and Importance of Scale, Surface and Controlled Density when 3-D Printing Sculpture” at the 19th European Forum on Additive Manufacturing, which was held in Paris.