Volume 17 • Issue 1

On Campus: News and Notes

Southwestern Launches Living-Learning Communities

Southwestern @ Georgetown
Above: Professor David Gaines leads a Living-Learning Community.

Below: Dubbed “The Blanket Brigade,” students roll right out of bed into their Living-Learning Community.
Photos: Taylor Jones
Southwestern @ Georgetown

Southwestern University’s First-Year Seminar program expanded this year to include “Living-Learning Communities.”

Students enrolled in the Living-Learning Communities not only took their First-Year Seminar together, but they also lived together in Mabee Hall. Mabee has groups of suites clustered together to form co-ed “pods” of 12, 14 or 16 students.

First-Year Seminars taught in the Living-Learning Communities ranged from “The Secret History of the 20th Century” to “You Are What You Eat: Religious Conceptions of Food.” Faculty members teaching the seminars used the residence hall as a forum for activities such as movies, debates, class meetings and social gatherings. Some even held office hours in the residence hall.

“We hope this will bring an added infusion of academic energy to the residence halls, and provide another ‘living-learning’ experience for our students,” says Julie Cowley, associate vice president for academic administration.

After the First-Year Seminars ended, students in the Living-Learning Communities were offered a variety of voluntary seminars on topics such as financial planning, mental health and academic success.

Will Ragan, a first-year student from Port Aransas, signed up for a Living-Learning Community because he thought it would give him the opportunity to quickly form some good friendships, which is exactly what happened. “We developed a bond rather quickly,” he says. “We go out to dinner together, we study together, we listen to music together.”

Southwestern plans to track participants in the Living-Learning Communities to determine whether they do better academically and/or have a higher retention rate than non-participants.

The University hopes to expand the Living-Learning Communities program to all first-year students by 2007.

College Guides Praise Southwestern

This fall’s crop of college guides had many positive things to say about Southwestern University.

In the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings, Southwestern was once again the top-rated national liberal arts university in Texas. Southwestern also moved up a spot from 62 to 61 in the overall ranking of 210 national liberal arts colleges. U.S. News & World Report numerically ranks the nation’s best liberal arts colleges—schools that award at least half their degrees in the liberal arts disciplines. Southwestern faired particularly well compared to peer institutions in several individual categories, including both financial and faculty resources.

Southwestern was named among the 300 “best and most interesting” colleges and universities in the 2006 edition of Fiske Guide to Colleges, edited by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske. The guidebook notes that Southwestern students “are concerned with the world around them, as well as active within the community.”

Commitment to community service earned Southwestern a good ranking in the Washington Monthly’s first-ever college rankings, which were designed to show “what colleges are doing for the country.” Criteria used to determine rankings included social mobility, scientific research and encouraging an ethic of service. Southwestern was the highest ranked of any liberal arts college in Texas and placed 73rd out of the 200 liberal arts colleges nationwide that were ranked.

The University also earned a feature in the Princeton Review’s The Best 361 Colleges, and was one of the 440 schools profiled in the 2006 edition of Peterson’s Competitive Colleges. The latter notes, “SU’s facilities are exemplary among schools of its type.”

Southwestern Holds Reception at U.S. Capitol

Southwestern @ Georgetown
SU students enrolled in the Semester in Washington, D.C. program meet with congressional co-hosts. Photo: Keith Jewell

More than 40 Washington, D.C.-area alumni joined Texas congressional representatives and their staff members for Southwestern’s first alumni/congressional reception in September. The event was co-hosted by Rep. Pete Sessions ’78, who serves on SU’s Board of Visitors, Rep. Kay Granger, who serves on SU’s Board of Trustees, and Rep. John Carter, whose district includes Georgetown. It was held in the Rayburn House Office Building.

Although this was the first time Southwestern sponsored such an event in Washington, Sessions quipped that “we’ve [alumni] been doing this in my office for eight years.”

The reception was followed by a “Road Scholar” event for alumni featuring Tim O’Neill, Tower-Hester Chair in political science and Paideia® Professor. O’Neill presented a lecture titled “Can a Politician Be Both Ethical and Powerful?”

Efforts are under way to establish a local chapter of the Association of Southwestern Alumni in Washington, D.C. For more information, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 1-800-960-6363 or visit www.sugrads.org.

Southwestern Responds to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Southwestern @ Georgetown

Like many universities across the country, Southwestern responded quickly to help meet the needs of those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

After Katrina hit New Orleans in August, the University accepted four students who were planning to attend either Tulane or Loyola, and waived their tuition charges for the fall semester.

The University also announced that it would donate $25,000 to the Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, which committed to raising $1 million to assist Louisiana residents who evacuated to the Houston area. Southwestern made this donation in honor of the Rev. Jim Foster ’72, its 2005 Distinguished Alumnus. As area provost of the Texas Annual Conference, Foster will play a role in this relief effort.

When Hurricane Rita was predicted to hit the Houston area in late September, Southwestern opened its doors to family members of students living along the Gulf Coast. More than 100 family members stayed in several University facilities, including the Corbin J. Robertson Center. Sodexo provided more than 600 meals to these guests over the weekend.

Southwestern has given all faculty and staff members up to two days of paid leave to volunteer with hurricane relief organizations during the next 12 months. “This will give our employees a chance to do what they want to do to assist the hurricane victims,” says President Jake Schrum.

Several relief events have already been held on campus, including a fashion show fundraiser and a blood drive.

Alumni Day of Service events in the coming year also will be devoted to hurricane relief efforts.

For more on Southwestern’s response to both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, visit www.southwestern.edu/katrina.

2004–05 Financial Support for Southwestern High

Southwestern University’s 2004-05 fiscal year ended on a high note in June marking the seventh best fundraising year in the University’s history. Southwestern also surpassed its Annual Fund goal for the fourth consecutive year with contributions topping $1.4 million. Total gifts to the University from alumni and friends amounted to roughly $8.6 million.

Thirty-two percent of alumni and 46 percent of parents of current students gave to the University last year. Alumni giving exceeded $1.4 million for the first time in four years while this year’s parent participation was the highest in the last five years.

President’s Council membership, comprised of donors who make annual gifts of $1,000 or more, reached an all-time high. The growth to 316 members marked a nearly 15 percent increase from the previous year.

The Senior Class of 2005 presented Southwestern with a gift of $10,200 to fund a first-year student scholarship during the 2005-06 academic year.

“Each generation of Southwestern students has benefited from the generosity of those who went before them,” says Kent Huntsman, associate vice president for development. “The University community has such a strong culture of philanthropy, and we are extremely thankful for the generosity of our donors. Their gifts enable the University to offer its students exceptional learning opportunities.”

Destination: China

It turns out that Microsoft and Yahoo aren’t the only ones enthusiastic about prospects in China these days. Many Southwestern students also share an interest in the world’s largest nation. It is an interest fueled, at least in part, by China’s growing economic promise.

This fall, nearly 40 of the school’s 1,250 students enrolled in Chinese classes. That’s up from 13 in 2002, when the University hired its first tenure-track professor to teach Chinese. Southwestern opened a second section of Chinese this fall to meet the demand. Chinese calligraphy also is a popular class on campus.

Many students take advantage of opportunities to learn about the nation firsthand, making China the number one destination for independent study abroad in Fall 2005.

Carl Robertson, assistant professor of Chinese, says students want to take his classes or study in China because they are interested in doing business with China in the future. “With China doing so well economically, students want to be a part of it,” Robertson says.

Robertson notes that the current interest in Chinese marks a dramatic turnaround from the years following the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, when interest in studying Chinese dropped dramatically. “Only a few years ago, many incoming students still carried an image of the Chinese government’s repression against student protestors,” he says. “The prevalent image of China today seems to be one of prosperity, growth and international position.”

Southwestern recently added tenure-track positions in East Asian politics and East Asian art history.

2005 Willson Lecture

Southwestern University welcomed Stanley Hauer was ’62 as the 2005 Willson Lectureship speaker on Sept. 29. He is the Gilbert T. Rowe professor of theological ethics at the Divinity School of Duke University.

Hauerwas gave two lectures, “The End of Religious Pluralism” and “Why No One Wants to Die in America.” In the first, he provided analysis of Christianity’s relationship to the religious world and challenged Christianity’s understanding of non-Christian cultures.

“Hauerwas’ presentation of a non-Constantinian Christianity that is pacifist and non-coercive provides a provocative and, in my opinion, much-needed critique of the institutional, imperial forms of Christianity that are so often dominant,” says Laura Hobgood-Oster, associate professor of religion and philosophy. His second lecture addressed Americans’ fear of death and their growing dependence on the healthcare industry.

In 1948, the late J.M. Willson and Mavis Terry Willson, alumni of Southwestern University, established an annual lectureship directed at the student body that relates religious questions to social life and experience.