Alumni News & Notes


Front row, left to right: Kathryn Pursch ’00 (programming chair), Linda Hall ’89 (finance chair), Gwen Griffin Sherman ’80 (membership chair), Catherine Pi-Sunyer ’96 (communications chair), Jeanne Clifford Weiss ’83 (president).

Second row: Eric Coe ’85, Irene Dinning Hardy ’59, Leslie Armsworth Koutroulis ’91, Shelia Kandeler ’94.

Third row: Carrie Cornforth ’00, Scarlett Foster-Moss ’86, Marla Steinhoff ’93, Barbara Kearley ’93, Kelley McClelland Wells ’00.

Fourth row: Dana Sanders ’03, Ashlea Rives Frank ’02, Chris Cadle ’94.

Back row: Holly Allen ’06, Jay Frank ’02, Jason Wells ’99.

Local Associations News

The local associations are expanding in the west! Two of the newest local associations, The Colorado Association and The Pacific Northwest Association, held their inaugural events last summer. In Colorado, alumni began with a July happy hour in downtown Denver, followed by a barbecue in Gold Hill, northwest of Boulder, at the home of co-chairs Arthur and Joan Schelling Few, both ’62. Though the gathering had to be moved inside due to late summer rain, “the spirits of the alumni were not dampened; a great time was had by all.” The Pacific Northwest Association was officially established Sept. 7, 2008, at a wine and cheese reception at the home of Ben and Gwen Griffin Sherman ’80. Nearly 40 alumni, family members and friends were present at the event, as well as Vice President for Institutional Advancement Rick McKelvey.

For more information about your 13 local associations, visit the newly redesigned alumni Web site at Interested in building a local association in your area? Contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations at or 800-960-6363.

2008 Legacy Students

Southwestern University welcomed 27 legacy students among the 2008 first-year class. Contact the Office of Admission at 800-252-3166 to register your child or relative for the Legacy Link program.

Iola Bowden Chambers, Southwestern professor of music and Negro Fine Arts School program director, with two students, E. J. Johnson and Margie Nell Johnson. Photo by Evans Studio, Georgetown, Texas, courtesy of Mary Elizabeth Fox.

Remembering the Negro Fine Arts School

At the 2008 Homecoming and Reunion Weekend, 74 alumni, students and friends of Southwestern University attended the dedication of a plaque commemorating the Negro Fine Arts School. Inspired to take action against racial segregation, several Southwestern students and alumni conceived of the program in 1946. With the support of First United Methodist Church, Georgetown ISD and other community entities, Georgetown-area African-American and Hispanic students were able to take music and art lessons through the Negro Fine Arts School for 20 years, until the desegregation of the local schools in 1966. “To know that the school finally loved itself out of existence is one of the wonderful surprises that we as God’s people can expect,” remarks Appletree Rodden ’64, who taught in the program.

In 2004, Nettie Ruth Brucks Bratton ’48, one of the schools initiators, was honored with the Distinguished Alumna Award. At that time, the University made a commitment to create a permanent display to memorialize the program once the renovations to the University’s Alma Thomas Fine Arts Center were complete. The unveiling celebration was hosted by Southwestern’s African-American student organization, E.B.O.N.Y., and sponsored by The Association of Southwestern University Alumni, the Sarofim School of Fine Arts and the Diversity Enrichment Committee. A special feature of the program was a piano performance by Ernest Clark ’69, a Negro Fine Arts School alumnus and the first African-American student to graduate from Southwestern University. In this way, the occasion also served as the inaugural event in a year-long celebration of the legacy of Southwestern University African-American alumni over the 40 years since Clark’s graduation. The celebration is set to culminate in a gala event at the 2009 Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.

Canada Honors John Murrell ’68

John Murrell ’68, Calgary, Canada, has won numerous awards for his work as a playwright, theatre director and arts advocate. He has worked as playwright-in-residence at Theatre Calgary and Alberta Theatre Projects, associate director of the Stratford Festival of Canada, head of the Banff Playwrights Colony, head of the theatre section of the Canada Council for the Arts, and artistic director/executive producer of theatre arts at The Banff Centre.

The National Theatre School of Canada presented him with the 1998 Gascon-Thomas award in recognition of an outstanding lifetime of service to arts education. He received the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellency in the Performing Arts and the Alberta Order of Excellence. In 2003, he was appointed officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2008, he was awarded the Governor General’s Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award.

Murrell’s play, “Power in the Blood” (1975) won the University of Alberta’s Clifford E. Lee Playwriting Award. Several of his other works, “Waiting for the Parade” (1977), “Farther West” (1982) and “The Faraway Nearby” (1995) were honored with Chalmers Awards, and “Democracy” (1991) received the Canadian Authors Association’s and the Writers Guild of Alberta’s Best Play Awards. Murrell also has written a number of opera libretti, including “Frobisher” and “Filumena,” which received four Betty Mitchell Awards, including Outstanding New Play.

Resident Playwright

Marisela Treviño Orta ’99, San Francisco, Calif., works as one of six Resident Playwrights at the Playwrights Foundation (

At Southwestern, her academic work in Latin American Studies with faculty like Professor of History Daniel Castro and Professor of Political Science and University Scholar Eric Selbin, greatly impacted her writing. Dr. Castro encouraged Marisela to start a literary journal, “La Voz,” which featured poetry and essays by Latino students. That experience, she says, is what put her on the path to a writing life.

Orta’s first play, “Braided Sorrow,” draws “parallels between the cultural conquest of the Aztecs and the economic conquest of Latin America” and has been taught in a course at New York University that explores how theatre can be used to examine social justice issues. Another play, “Ghost Limb,” deals with the disappeared in Argentina.

“My plays push the boundaries of reality,” relates Marisela. “In my plays pomegranates bleed, paintings rise from beneath the surface of a blank canvas, guardian angels detach from their wings, stars appear indoors, and the desert floor is covered with marigolds instead of sand.” “Braided Sorrow” won the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize in Drama in 2006, and was one of five plays out of 500 selected for the 2005 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Follow Marisela’s latest work on her literary blog,

TMNT issue #53, Andrew Arnold ’04

Crowded, Andrew Arnold ’04

Even Superman Has a Day Job...

But it can’t possibly be as cool as the one Andrew Arnold ’04 has, working in New York City as a custom publishing coordinator at DC Comics, home of Batman, Superman and Green Lantern.

By night, Arnold has completed several of his own projects (started prior to signing on at DC) and writes: “One of the most valuable things I learned at Southwestern was time management. When you have so many things going on at once it can be hard to find the energy to study for a test, finish a paper or go to the studio. The same goes for making comics. With so many stages you need to treat each stage equally. And when you have a full-time job this can lead to very long nights.”

Looking at his to-do list, it’s easy to see why. Arnold is co-author and co-illustrator of Adventures in Cartooning, a children’s book that teaches the fundamentals of cartooning. He illustrated Mission: Save the Planet, showing readers how to fight global warming with fun facts, activities and practical things to do to live a greener life. Going greener yet, Arnold inked, colored and lettered TMNT issue #53 (a.k.a. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). In March 2009, Arnold’s work will be featured in Trivial, the third in a series of 4-Square anthologies published by I Know Joe Kimpel comics, which will be available at


Christine Carlisle Cutler ’97, Brandon Hobratschk ’02, Bobby Linhart ’92 and Nicole Cowan Morgan ’91 took part in the performance and production of “Oklahoma!” at the Country Playhouse in Houston. Bobby and Brandon starred in the lead roles of Curly and Jud, respectively. Nicole directed the production, and Christine served as music director and played the role of Mrs. Carnes. Several other Houston area alumni gathered to attend the show and a reception afterward at the theater.

Southwestern University Homecoming 1909

Courtesy of southwestern university Special collections, researched by Sheran Johle