Inaugural Events Mark A New Era of Presidency

By Amy Gu

Southwestern alumni, students, faculty and community members celebrated the inauguration of Southwestern University’s 15th President, Dr. Edward B. Burger. The inauguration ceremony and presidential speech occurred on March 25 followed by a part on the Academic Mall.

The ceremony opened with the students ringing the Rutersville Bell, a traditional initiation of Southwestern gatherings such as the inaugural ceremony. A processional of faculty and student leaders was led by Sociology professor Dr. Edward Kain and Political Science professor Dr. Eric Selbin, carrying the University mace, a symbol of authority donated by previous president JNR Score’s wife and son and adorned with the university seal and names of all university regents and presidents.

“At first I wasn’t sure if was going to attend the inauguration, but then I thought to myself, ‘When would I ever get another change to go to something like this?” said junior Areli Guitierrez. “I enjoyed [President Burger's speech] – especially the jokes he peppered in and how he brought everything together to focus on what makes Southwestern great. The ceremony as a whole really gave me a sense of the tradition that Southwestern carries with it.”

After Southwestern members proceeded, the SU chorale welcomed the audience with a musical selection of ‘Jaunchzetdem Herren’ by Heinrich Schutz. Afterwards, representatives of the Higher Education Community, the United Methodist Church, the Georgetown Community, Southwestern alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and Board of Trustees presented individual greetings and welcomed the new president.

“I think [President Burger] is a very intelligent, inspiring, energetic president and I think that he’s going to take us to new heights in relation to academics, faculty development, and students being successful in their classes and on our campus,” said education professor Dr. Angela Moore.

After welcoming him, Burger confirmed his presidency during the investiture process, including the presentation of the charters that document the four root colleges and their unity, the university mace, a ring and medallion. Afterwards, Dr. Burger gave his inagurual speech, titled “Our Paideia Moment.”

In his speech, Burger led the audience through a Paideia moment in which an active learner locates connections between various disciplines.

Burger first introduced the math expression that appeared on various advertisements for the inauguration and explained the significance of numbers and symbols in the equation. The number 15 represented the number of presidents who have led Southwestern and 1840 signified the year of the university’s origin. The Greek symbols pi and e represented the unity of SU’s members and continual growth. Burger then introduce the Greek term yvwon, pronounced paw-thay-uh, meaning knowledge. This term stemmed the Paideia program at Southwestern as well as all interdisciplinary goals at Su and the origins of “Paideia connections.” Finally, he revealed the solution to the math problem as roughly 365, which represents Southwestern members’ constant, year-long acquisition of knowledge.

“It was really cool that President Burger incorporated different departments and different experiences at Southwestern so we can have collective Paideia moments and individual Paideia moments, which is especially interesting for those of us who aren’t in Paideia. The speech helped emphasize how Paideia is a cornerstone of our university,” sophomore Brooke Taylor said.

The ceremony closed with a communal singing of the Alma Mater and a recessional party on the Mall where the community enjoyed dinner provided by Austin-area food trucks, ambient music from the SU Jazz Band, and a surprise appearance by President Barcus.

Paideia cohorts join forces to bring computers to Honduran schools

The program involves sending refurbished computers to Hondurian schools.

The program involves sending refurbished computers to Hondurian schools.

Bringing free technology to less economically fortunate countries is becoming an increasingly popular philanthropic endeavor, and Southwestern is never one to fall behind in trends. Supported by three different Paideia cohorts, Computers for Honduran Children is quickly gaining success and campus wide attention. Computers are donated by Southwestern students, and the computers are then distributed to needy children through Save the Children in La Esperanza, Honduras.

“We wanted to start a project in which we could help a community help themselves,” said senior Olivia Stanzer. “It was very important to us that we didn’t just hand them supplies, but that we brought them something that would allow them to build up their own education system and give them skills that would then in turn allow them to increase their income which would allow them to send more kids to school and so on.”

Since 2002, Southwestern students, faculty and staff members have been working to provide computers for children in Honduras, but it has only recently been adopted by Paideia cohorts.

“Dr. Castro and David Williamson originally tried this program with donating the computers to places around the Georgetown community, but the computers were turned away for being too old,” said Stanzer. “Yet, most of the computers last up to five years in Honduras where the need for high-speed computers is not a concern.”

It is this sentiment that makes donating to Honduras such a worthwhile experience for so many.

“Computers that are seven or eight years old are lasting another three to four years down there,” said David Williamson, an ITS staff member who has been heavily involved with the project in the last eight years. “The students use them during the day and their family members and parents use them on the weekends. It is amazing how many people one computer can touch.”

Computers have been refurbished by students, and Williamson has worked hard to get IBM to donate extra gadgets for increased efficiency, like hard drives and CD-ROMS for the next shipment of computers to go to Honduras. Extra parts left over from this shipment will be sent over to replace originals sent in old shipments from prior years.

“Our Paideia cohort worked with David Williamson, Neal Mann and others from ITS to recycle, repair and reimage around 108 computers in the Spring of 2008,” said senior Natalie Sanders. “Around 10 of us traveled down to Honduras in June 2008 to install the computers in elementary schools around the area. Unfortunately, the political unrest in the country over the summer prevented us from installing the computers. This summer, during the last week of July, more people involved in the project will be flying down to install computers, distribute clothing and hopefully arrange workshops to talk about repairing computers and using them in schools.”

There is very little concern among supporters that the program will fade with the current graduating seniors who have adopted the program as their own.

“We have a current junior and sophomore cohort ready to take it over, in addition to Dr. Gaines’ and Dr. Castro’s new freshman cohorts,” said Stanzer. “This way it will always have a cycle of members that are coming in/leaving, and it can continue on as a part of the Southwestern community.”

The program’s supporters hope to see it continued for the long run.

“In this way we are building a stair-step group of people, who can rotate out each year, but continue to fill leadership roles and be trained by the more experienced students,” said Sanders.

Anyone interested in donating an old computer to be refurbished by students this year should contact Williamson at 512-863-1643 or Dr. David Gaines. Students interested in learning more about the project before donating should contact Oliva Stanzer at stanzero@southwestern.edu or Natalie Sanders at sandersn@southwestern.edu. Computers must be no older than seven years old and have at least a 1 GHZ processor.

Student Gaines Excitement For Paideia Program

Dr. David Gaines, creator of the Paideia Program.  Courtesy of Southwestern.

Dr. David Gaines, creator of the Paideia Program. Courtesy of Southwestern.

It’s that time of year again, time for a new batch of bright young scholars to join the ranks of Southwestern’s unique and prestigious Paideia Program.

The Paideia Program is headed up by Dr. David Gaines, associate professor of English here at Southwestern. It is a chance for students to come together with a small group of their peers and a faculty member to form relationships that might not be possible in the classroom setting alone.

In the Paideia program, students are in groups of 10 and are led and mentored by a faculty member. The cohorts stay together for six semesters in order to grow and foster special relationships, and discuss in that time a wide variety of topics.

But the seminar portion is only one component of the program, which ultimately hopes to extend student learning beyond the classroom and into the real world.

The program has three main components that help with this goal. The first is a study abroad requirement that is an effort to expand students’ cultural horizons with a large scale intercultural experience.
Second is a creative works project that gives students a chance to explore a topic that interests them in a way that is different and more abstract than a class research paper would be. Third is the civic engagement component which allows students to reach out and learn how to be involved in the community.

Right now, there are three sets of Paideia cohorts, corresponding to each grade level above first-year. Recruitment for the next Paideia group begins Thursday, Feb. 18, with an informational session in McCombs Campus Center at 6:30 p.m.

Dr. Gaines will be there to talk about the program and answer questions. In the following weeks, Dr. Gaines will make special trips to the first-year dorms to answer any other questions that come up, and then applications and letters of recommendation are due March 12 before the students leave for Spring Break. Applicants will then be informed about their status in the program in late March.

Central to the formation of the program are the themes that each cohort is based around. These themes generally change from year to year according to the faculty member who will be heading them up.
Themes for this year’s groups are: Arts in Action, Autonomy and Belonging, Digital Technology and the Liberal Arts Education, Food and Cultures, Great Topics of the World Media Activism, One People, Many Worlds, and Three-Inch, Old Books.

The benefits of the program are many, including a $1000 stipend to be used toward study abroad.

Paideia students also graduate with distinction and receive six hours of upper-level elective credit.

Aside from these, students also gain a chance to make a deep connection with nine students from other majors and with a faculty member, much like they would with faculty in their major program.
In addition, the study abroad and civic engagement components give students a level of learning beyond what results from their degree plan.
This going above and beyond “has not only enriched individual students’ time at Southwestern but also impressed employers and graduate schools”, said Dr. Gaines.

As for the view from prospective new members of Paideia, first-year Riley Webb is definitely excited.

“I’m interested in partaking in the Paideia program because I think it offers a unique educational opportunity that it would be a shame not to take advantage of experiencing.”

“I think it not only would help me to grow as a student, but also as a person. I also believe that it would introduce me to some folks that I would probably have never met otherwise, and any opportunity to make new friends is definitely one I don’t want to pass up,” said Webb.
Other first-years agree with Webb. Shannon Bernbaum said she is interested in Paideia because “I’m considering study abroad, and it looks really good on my application to med school. Also, I’m interested in a lot of the Paideia topics, and I just think overall that it would be a good experience and opportunity.”

The first-years are excited, the faculty members are excited, and Dr. Gaines is definitely excited. The next group of Paideia cohorts are sure to be a success.