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Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus and University Professor of Public Service at The George Washington University, will give the 2009 commencement address at Southwestern University. The ceremony will be held Saturday, May 9, at 2 p.m. in the Corbin J. Robertson Center.

Trachtenberg earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, a law degree from Yale University and a master of public administration degree from Harvard University.

He served as president of the University of Hartford from 1977 to 1988 and as president of The George Washington University from 1988 to 2007. He also served as dean of arts and sciences and vice president at Boston University for eight years.

“Stephen Trachtenberg’s work in higher education has been transformational wherever he has served,” said Southwestern University President Jake B. Schrum. “The remarkable progress at George Washington University during his tenure should be a case study for all presidents who serve a major urban research university. I know his remarks at Commencement will be enlightening and inspirational.”

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Congratulations to the following student leaders who received awards at the Eleventh Annual Student Leadership Banquet April 23:

Overall Leader Award - Alex Caple
Emerging Leader Award - Juan Jaurez
First-Year Award - Emily Goodman
Sophomore Award - Sarah Woolley
Junior Award - Sarah Gould
Senior Award - Kelly Parmet
Student Civic Engagement Award - Cameron Navarro

The Student Organization Award went to Circle K International and the Southwestern Mock Trial Team and the Organization Advisor Award went to Roger Young of Career Services for his work with the Rotaract Club.


Megan McCarty, a senior music literature major at Southwestern, was taking a seminar on song cycles last year when her professor, Michael Cooper, told the students they had to write about something not covered in class for their final paper. Unsure what to do, McCarty asked Cooper for an idea.

“He suggested I look into Franz Liszt,” McCarty recalls. “I was confused at first because, to my knowledge at the time, Liszt had not written any song cycles - only individual songs.”

Nevertheless, McCarty set to work. The results of her research surprised even Cooper, who is one of the world’s foremost music scholars. 

McCarty discovered that Liszt did, in fact, write a song cycle based on four poems by Victor Hugo, a prolific French writer who lived from 1802-1885. The four poems all focus on love and are titled Comment, disaient-ils (How, said the men), O! Quand je dors (Oh, when I sleep), S’il est un charmant gazon (If there is a charming green) and Enfant, si j’etais roi (Child, if I were king). 

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Southwestern officials are meeting regularly to assess the swine flu outbreak and  determine what steps need to be taken in response. At this time, all scheduled campus activities will proceed as planned. For updates on Southwestern’s response to the swine flu outbreak, visit



Southwestern University will host an Aldersgate Day celebration on Thursday, May 21. The event observes the 271st anniversary of John Wesley’s “heart-warming” experience at Aldersgate Street in London, which became the basis for the Methodist faith.

The program will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Lois Perkins Chapel with the singing of Wesleyan hymns led by Southwestern alumnus Henry Holloway. This will be followed by a talk by Southwestern University Professor of Religion Laura Hobgood-Oster on the topic, “Inheriting the Rich Gospel Feast: Methodist Women’s Voices in the Antebellum U.S.”

From noon to 1 p.m., a buffet lunch will be available for purchase in the Red & Charline McCombs Campus Center for $6.75 per person. After lunch, participants will visit a special library exhibit at Southwestern featuring antique Wesleyan publications. At 1 p.m., Ellsworth Peterson, professor emeritus of music at Southwestern, will offer a presentation on the topic, “The Wesleys and the Music of the Great European Masters.” The day will conclude with the singing of Wesleyan hymns.

The event is open to the public. To attend the event, call 800-960-6363 or write

Media Coverage

The Austin American-Statesman, the Round Rock Leader and the Williamson County Sun ran stories about Southwestern’s grants for environmental studies. Read the Statesman story here. Read the Leader story here.

The Associated Press picked up the story about art student Ricardo Levario.


Suzanne Fox Buchele, associate professor of computer science, presented a paper titled “Using OLPC Laptop Technology as a Computer Science Case Study Learning Tool” at the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges South Central Conference April 25 in Hammond, La. This Friday, (May 1) Buchele will give a presentation at The University of Texas at Austin to female graduate students in the natural sciences who are considering careers at liberal arts colleges. 

Maria Lowe, professor of sociology, and Mary Grace Neville, assistant professor of business, have received the 2009 Southwestern University Teaching Awards. The award was created by the Southwestern faculty in 1999 to recognize faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in teaching. Nominations for the award are submitted by students in the spring semester, and recipients are selected by the Honorary Degrees Committee. Lowe received the award for a tenured faculty member and Neville received the award for a non-tenured faculty member. David Seiler, associate director of Academic Success, received the 2009 Advising Award.

Bill O’Brien, associate professor of physics, had a paper titled “Measuring Magnetic Declination with Virtual Globes, Compass and GPS” published in the March issue of the International Journal of Digital Earth. The paper reports a novel procedure using virtual globe software such as Google Earth or NASA’s World Wind for measuring the discrepancy (the local magnetic declination) between geographic (or true) north and magnetic north as measured with a compass.

Senior sociology major Nicole M. Powell has been notified that her paper, “Little Gay Gandhis: Providing a Safe Space and Empowering Sexual Minorities,” has been selected as the third place winner in the 2009 Alpha Kappa Delta (AKD) Undergraduate Paper Competition. She wrote the paper as part of her capstone class last semester under the direction of Maria Lowe, professor of sociology. Powell will receive the award and a $150 cash prize at the American Sociological Association (ASA) meetings in San Francisco, CA, August 8-11, 2009. 

Ron Swain, senior advisor to the president for strategic planning and assessment, served as emcee for the 2009 Rising Stars banquet, which celebrated the accomplishments of students at Georgetown High School.  

Mary Young, professor of economics, and economics students Eric Franco and Wes Rivers, will present their paper titled “The Effect of Social Networks and Health Care Interventions on Tobacco Use outcomes” at the annual meeting  of the Western Economic Association to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, June 29-July 3.



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