On Campus: Campus News

Red and Charline McCombs Honored for Their Contributions to Higher Education in Texas

Red ’49 and Charline Hamblin McCombs ’50, who have been among Southwestern’s most visible donors and supporters, were recognized in January for their contributions to higher education in Texas.

The couple received the Mirabeau B. Lamar Medal, which has been presented since 1977 to those providing exemplary service to Texas higher education. The Lamar Medal is named for Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas who was called the “Father of Education.” It is presented by Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT), the Council for Public University Presidents and Chancellors, and the Texas Association of Community Colleges.

Southwestern nominated the McCombs for the award because of their contributions to colleges and universities across the state. “All branches of higher education in Texas have been deeply strengthened and are more accessible because of the McCombs’ support,” Southwestern President Jake B. Schrum ’68 said in nominating the couple for the award.

The McCombs have made multi-million dollar gifts to several institutions in Texas, including The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, The University of Texas at Austin and Southwestern University. Their gifts to Southwestern have helped fund minority scholarships, residential facilities and the campus center, which bears their name.

Three New Members Named to Board of Trustees

Three new members have been elected to the Southwestern University Board of Trustees.

Laura Merrill ’84 of Wimberley and Namiqa Shipman of Big Spring were elected to four-year terms on the board. Merrill is senior pastor of the Wimberley United Methodist Church and Shipman is district superintendent of the Big Spring District of the United Methodist Church.

Doak Worley ’08 will serve a two-year term as a recent graduate elected by the board.

Worley graduated with a degree in business and is currently working as an independent landman. As a student at Southwestern, Worley served as president of the Interfraternity Council and chair of the Student Affairs Council.

Robert & Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust Receives President’s Philanthropy Award

The Robert & Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust of Wichita Falls received the 2008 President’s Philanthropy Award from Southwestern. The award was presented at a dinner on campus Sept. 27.

The Trust was established in 2000 by Robert T. Priddy and the late Ruby Norwood Priddy. In 2001, Mr. Priddy posed a remarkable question to 19 leading liberal arts colleges, asking them to define “the major challenges as well as opportunities for liberal arts colleges for the next 10 years.” Southwestern responded with its vision of a heightened, more intentional approach to undergraduate education—a response that would eventually lead to a groundbreaking grant of $8.5 million from the Trust to found Southwestern’s Paideia Program in 2002.

This grant enabled Southwestern to hire several new faculty members, fund a program director and provide stipends for students to cover Paideia-related expenses. Part of the grant was a challenge grant for a new Center for Lifelong Learning, which will house the Paideia Program. Construction of that building is now under way.

Southwestern currently has 240 students participating in its Paideia Program. The Priddy Charitable Trust and its officers have been active partners in the development and success of the program.

“Through its support of our Paideia Program, the Priddy Trust is giving Southwestern the opportunity to become one of the most distinctive undergraduate colleges in America,” says President Jake B. Schrum ’68. “We will forever be grateful for their belief in this concept of Paideia integrated into a liberal arts education.”

New Program Welcomes Transfer Students

The 29 students who transferred to Southwestern last fall had a new program waiting for them.

The seven-week Advanced Entry Seminar was modeled on Southwestern’s First-Year Seminar program, which celebrated its 10th year this fall. Transfer students had a choice of two seminars to participate in: Erika Berroth, associate professor of German, led a seminar titled “Berlin Stories” and Thom McClendon, professor of history, led a seminar titled “New Orleans: Landscapes of Desire.”

The seminars were designed to prepare transfer students for the rigorous academic curriculum at Southwestern and help them understand the concept of a liberal arts education. In addition to taking the seminars together, the transfer students lived together in the same residence hall.

“We hope these seminars will provide transfer students with the same learning experience we have been offering our first-year students for the past 10 years,” says Julie Cowley, associate vice president for academic administration.

The program is part of a larger initiative to recruit and retain transfer students that Southwestern is developing through a gift provided by the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation (TG).

Residential Center at Southwestern Recognized as ‘Dorm of Distinction’

Southwestern’s Dorothy Manning Lord Residential Center was recognized in a national search for “Dorms of Distinction.”

University Business magazine sponsored the competition, and received 76 nominations from colleges and universities across the country. Of these, four were named winners and eight were named runners-up. Southwestern was a runner-up in the category of small private institutions. Dorms recognized were chosen for their ability to meet the needs of today’s students, including:

  • Making students feel at home
  • Fostering a sense of community through interior and/or exterior spaces
  • Helping keep students and their belongings safe
  • Incorporating green elements in an aesthetically pleasing way

The Dorothy Manning Lord Residential Center was designed by Group Two Architecture in Austin and opened in the fall of 2007. It features three residence halls that house a total of 64 students. One of the residence halls is a Civic Engagement/Green Hall Living-Learning Community. The residence halls offer apartment-style living, with private bedrooms and baths, living rooms and complete kitchens in each unit. The complex is fully furnished, and for the first time on campus, students have full-size beds, rather than the standard twin-size dorm bed. Each apartment also has its own balcony or patio, and the complex has a community room and recreation areas. Large trees were preserved during construction of the center, giving it a park-like setting.

The team that selected the winners included current and prospective college students, parents of current and prospective college students, and several staff members from University Business.

Program Enhances the Sophomore Experience

Fall 2008 marked the first year Southwestern required sophomores to live on campus. To make that experience a positive one, and to help improve retention of sophomores, the University launched a new program called “Sophomore Spotlight.”

The program includes a combination of educational and social experiences. For example, there will be monthly dinners just for sophomores and all sophomores will participate in an activity designed to assess their strengths because most of them will need to declare a major by the end of their sophomore year. Resident assistants will do in-person interviews with sophomores each semester to identify any problems they might be having.

The new program was developed by a task force that included representatives from Student Life, Residence Life, the Center for Academic Success, Athletics and Career Services. As one of its contributions to the program, Career Services developed a new “Pirate Apprentice” program, in which they matched sophomores with alumni who are now working in fields they are interested in. Forty sophomores took advantage of the program and spent a day with alumni over Winter Break.

Southwestern Selects New Endowment Fund Manager

Southwestern has selected a new firm to handle the bulk of its endowment.

The Board of Trustees Investment Committee, which was formed in 2007 to help maximize the potential of Southwestern’s endowment, selected Commonfund to manage the University’s endowment after considering proposals from companies across the country.

Commonfund was founded in 1971 to help colleges and other nonprofit institutions improve their financial resources. It currently is the largest nonprofit investment manager in the country, with more than 1,800 clients and $40 billion in assets under management in a broad range of highly diversified investment strategies suitable for endowments.

“Commonfund is one of the most effective endowment managers in the country,” says Richard Anderson, vice president for fiscal affairs. “Our investment portfolio has now been separated into a broad range of diversified investment vehicles similar to the asset allocation of the best-performing college endowments. These investments include stocks, bonds, alternatives and other asset classes.”

About 10–15 percent of the university’s assets will remain under the management of Houston-based Fayez Sarofim & Company.

Southwestern relies on income from its endowment, as well as gifts from alumni and friends, to keep its tuition prices for students as low as possible. Thanks to endowment income and gifts, students only pay about 60 percent of the actual cost of attending Southwestern.