On Campus: Campus News

In January, Southwestern hosted a delegation of 12 higher education administrators from Iraq. The group was visiting the United States to learn more about its higher education system. Their visit to Southwestern included a campus tour and meetings with administrators such as Provost Jim Hunt (back row, left).

Amanda Figueroa ‘10

Several oak trees and crape myrtles located behind the Cullen Building were moved in February to make room for the new Wilhelmina Cullen Admission Center. The trees were relocated near the observatory and the Lord Center. Construction on the new admission center started this spring.

Lucas Adams

Catherine Meeks, a community leader from Macon, Georgia, visited Southwestern in February as part of the University’s “National Conversation” series. During her three-day visit, she met with a variety of students, faculty members and community representatives who have an interest in civic engagement. She is shown here signing one of her books at the Black History Month Dinner sponsored by E.B.O.N.Y.

Lucas Adams

THINKING AHEAD Construction on the new Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning will begin this summer. Southwestern held the official groundbreaking for the building in January when fundraising for the $11 million project was completed as part of Thinking Ahead: The Southwestern Campaign.

Southwestern Participates in New Georgetown-Based Biotechnology Center

Central Texas is rapidly emerging as a home to companies focusing on biotechnology and the life sciences, and Southwestern will have the chance to capitalize on this, thanks to the opening of a new biotechnology center in Georgetown.

The University is among the founding partners of the Texas Life Sciences Commercialization Center (TLCC), which was formed to help companies that have commercially viable biotechnology products take them to the next step.

“The center provides administrative support so companies can concentrate on product development,” explains TLCC President Russ Peterman. Support services include business consulting, accounting, legal services, and advice on securing venture capital and other funding sources.

Four companies have moved into the center, which is located in a commercial park south of downtown Georgetown. One of the companies, Orthopeutics, has developed a process to inject tissue to repair disc problems in the spine. This process could replace surgery and cut the cost of treating back problems by a factor of 10. Another company, Quantum Logic Devices, has developed a device that can analyze biological reactions at the molecular level. This technology could revolutionize drug discovery and medical diagnosis. The third company, Radix Biosolutions, develops custom assay products for customers in industries such as agriculture and pharmaceutical research. The fourth company, Deaton Engineering, is an engineering firm with expertise in medical devices, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and other industries.

“The synergies created by the co-location of these companies is phenomenal,” Peterman says. “If successful, the TLCC has the potential to revolutionize healthcare in the United States.”

Southwestern has provided in-kind support to the new center. Other partners on the project include the City of Georgetown and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce. A conference marking the official opening of the center was held at Southwestern late last year.

The new center will provide internships for students who are interested in careers in medicine as well as those who want to learn about technology commercialization. For more information on the TLCC, visit www.texaslifesciences.com.

Southwestern Joins Colleges Nationwide in Climate Change Teach-in

Southwestern joined more than 1,500 colleges and universities nationwide in a Jan. 31 “teach-in” about global warming.

The project, called “Focus The Nation,” was designed to give students the tools needed to meet the challenge of global warming.

Faculty members at participating universities were asked to incorporate global warming into their lectures the day of the event. At Southwestern, faculty members found creative ways to work the topic into classes ranging from statistics to theatre lighting design. In statistics classes, for example, Professors John Chapman and Tara Saenz talked about “good” and “bad” statistics relating to global warming. In his lighting design course, Theater Professor John Ore told students about the use of energy-saving LED lights.

Southwestern also hosted a forum at which Georgetown Assistant City Manager Tom Yantis discussed a variety of environmental initiatives that are happening in the city of Georgetown.

Verizon Grant to Fund Domestic Violence Summer Intern Program

Southwestern has received a $66,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to fund a summer intern program that will enable students to work with survivors of domestic violence.

This summer, 10 students will work for agencies committed to addressing the epidemic of domestic violence. The students will help answer domestic violence emergency hotlines, provide care to children living at domestic violence shelters, work with law enforcement officials to provide support to survivors, teach English as a second language to survivors, assist agencies with grant writing efforts, and help with public awareness campaigns such as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Agencies that students will work with include the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center in Georgetown, LifeSteps in Georgetown and Round Rock, services to At-Risk Runaway Youth (STARRY) in Round Rock, Hope Alliance Crisis Center in Round Rock, and SafePlace in Austin. The agencies will provide training, guidance and mentoring to the students to help them develop an understanding of their organizations as well as the issue of domestic violence itself.

Suzy Pukys, coordinator of civic engagement at Southwestern, says the program will benefit both students and the participating agencies. “Community partners will receive much-needed volunteer help for 10 weeks over the summer—when volunteer help traditionally dwindles—and students will gain insight and work experience around a pressing social problem,” she says.

Pukys says domestic violence consistently emerges as an issue that concerns Southwestern students, and is one they want to invest time and energy in. However, most students need to make money over the summer and cannot afford to work without pay. The Verizon grant will solve this problem by enabling Southwestern to provide on-campus apartment housing for the students, along with a living stipend.

Students who participate in the program will present reports on their experience at Southwestern’s annual Civic Engagement Symposium in spring 2009. Two students will be chosen to give their presentations at the 20th Annual National Service-Learning Conference in April 2009.

“We hope this project will serve as a model that we can make available to other colleges and universities nationwide,” Pukys says. “We also hope it will help raise awareness about a key issue in our community that is often underestimated, misunderstood or ignored.”

Southwestern to Launch Center for Hispanic Studies

Southwestern has received $263,318 in government funds that will be used to launch a new Center for Hispanic Studies.

The center will be run in partnership with the National Hispanic Institute, which is based in Maxwell, Texas (www.nhi-net.org). Southwestern graduate Ernesto Nieto ’64 is the director of that institute, which has conducted leadership programs for Hispanic youth nationwide since 1979. One of the goals of the new center will be to conduct research on the effectiveness of programs that are designed to prepare Hispanic youth for college, including those run by NHI.

“This grant will open doors to conducting much-needed research on the impact of community intervention strategies,” Nieto says.

Research on the effectiveness of such programs is important because of the growing Hispanic population in Texas and nationwide. Unless this segment of the population is encouraged to attend college, the proportion of educated citizens will fall dramatically, which could have serious economic and social consequences.

Staff members from NHI will conduct the research, as well as faculty members from Southwestern and other institutions. The findings will be made available to educators and policymakers nationwide.

Creation of the new center fits in with one of the goals of Southwestern’s Strategic Plan for 2010, which calls for the creation of new institutes and centers. The Center for Hispanic Studies is the first center for which the university has received funding.

Provost Jim Hunt says he is excited about the potential for doing research on college-bound Hispanic students, and in working to attract more Hispanic students to higher education.

“Given our location, Hispanic students will continue to be a large part of our population,” Hunt says. “We need to understand the issues related to these students.”

Southwestern Honored for Community Service

Southwestern was one of only three colleges and universities in Texas named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for 2007.

The honor roll program, which was launched in 2006, recognizes colleges and universities nationwide that support innovative and effective community service and service-learning programs. In the first year of the program, Southwestern was named to the Honor Roll along with 15 other colleges and universities in Texas. For 2007, it made the Honor Roll with Distinction, along with just two other schools in Texas—Dallas Baptist University and The University of Texas at Arlington.

Criteria for the Honor Roll with Distinction included scope and innovativeness of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

During the 2006–07 academic year, about 50 percent of Southwestern students participated in some form of community service—significantly higher than the national rate of 30 percent reported by the Corporation for National and Community Service. These students contributed an estimated 18,000 hours of service to the community.

“I think the most persuasive section of our application was the narratives we submitted that gave living examples of student, faculty and staff civic engagement, community-based learning and activism,” says Suzy Pukys, coordinator of civic engagement.

For more information on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, visit www.nationalservice.gov.

2008 Festival of the Arts to Focus on Mendelssohn

Southwestern faculty, students and alumni will play a key role as Georgetown hosts its fourth annual Festival of the Arts June 5–8. This year’s event will focus on the life and works of Felix Mendelssohn.

The festival’s opening event on June 5, which features a performance by two of America’s premier string quartets, will be held in the newly renovated Alma Thomas Theater.

The following evening, June 6, choral and organ music written by Mendelssohn especially for English worship will be performed in Lois Perkins Chapel. Bishop Joe Wilson ’59 will be liturgist and Kenny Sheppard, professor of music, will conduct the Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble.

On Saturday afternoon, June 7, Southwestern’s faculty piano trio (Eri Lee Lam, violin; Hai Zheng, cello; and Kiyoshi Tamagawa, piano) will perform chamber music of Mendelssohn.

The festival ends Sunday afternoon, June 8, with a performance of Mendelssohn’s St. Paul Oratorio featuring soloists with Chorus Austin and the San Gabriel Chorale conducted by Kenny Sheppard. The music will be sung in a version newly edited by Michael Cooper, professor of music at Southwestern.

Cooper will be among the scholars giving presentations at the festival, along with Professor emeritus Ellsworth Peterson ’55, who also serves as artistic director of the Festival.

For the complete schedule of festival activities, visit www.georgetowntexassymphony.org.