Top News


A Southwestern biology professor has received a $25,000 grant to conduct research that may help the threatened Georgetown salamander.

The Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia) is a small salamander that is believed to exist only in Williamson County. It lives in springs found in the South, Middle and North Forks of the San Gabriel River. The salamander is threatened because many of the springs where it lives have been degraded by development. 

Williamson County and the Williamson County Conservation Foundation are trying to develop a conservation plan for the salamander before it is too late. They have hired SWCA Environmental Consultants, an Austin-based consulting firm, to help them with this task. Ben Pierce, a professor of biology at Southwestern, has been awarded a subcontract from SWCA to help with several aspects of its work.

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Southwestern has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for 2009, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

Southwestern has been named to the Honor Roll every year since the program was started. The new Honor Roll, which was released Feb. 25, covers the 2008-2009 academic year. During this period, Southwestern students contributed an estimated 28,500 hours as activists and community service volunteers.

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How do emotional states affect human performance?

Southwestern students now have the opportunity to learn firsthand, thanks to a new laboratory that has been set up on campus called the Human Performance Lab.

The lab is located on the second floor of the Olin Building and is directed by Paula Desmond, an assistant professor of psychology who joined the Southwestern faculty in 2007. Desmond specializes in the area of psychology known as human factors, which focuses on how systems can be best designed to work efficiently with the people who use them.

Desmond said Southwestern is one of only a few liberal arts college that have a human performance lab.

“Human factors is a relatively young field of research,” Desmond said. “Most students don’t get exposed to it until graduate school. We’re bringing something new to Southwestern, and I’m thrilled to be part of that.”

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Harpist Delaine Fedson and trombonist Eileen Meyer Russell will give a joint faculty recital of music for harp and low brass on Monday, March 8, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater.

The recital repertoire includes original music for harp and trombone by composers Braxton Blake and Norman Bolter and transcriptions of music by Johann Ernst Galliard and Franz Schubert. Fedson and Russell will each perform solo repertoire, and the recital will conclude with an ensemble of harps and low brass as Fedson and Russell collaborate with Southwestern students to perform “Cinnamon Downs” by Norman Bewley.

The recital is free and open to the public.  


Guest artists Mary Akerman and Bob Teixeira will present a duo guitar recital on Wednesday, March 10, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. The program will feature works by Luis Bonfa, Johannes Brahms, Miroslav Loncar, Atanas Ourkouzounov, Jorge Morel, Gioachino Rossini and Domenico Scarlatti.

The program is free and open to the public.


The Modern Languages and Literatures Department, the History Department and the Paideia Program are sponsoring a lecture titled “Thought for Food: Literature and Gastronomy” on Thursday, March 11, at 4 p.m. in the Prothro Room.

The talk will be given by Ronald Tobin from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Tobin is one of the most internationally recognized scholars in 17th century French literature and culture.

Adopting a multidisciplinary approach called gastro-criticism that draws upon anthropology, sociology, semiotics, history and literary studies, Tobin offers a method for teaching literature through an analysis of the role of food, service, spectacle, diet, ingestion and digestion in a number of works drawn from a variety of national literatures. He then concludes with specific reference to the 17th century French dramatist Molière and his preoccupations with sexuality and power, pretense and pretentiousness, trickery and truth, self and society.

A reception will follow the lecture.

Media Coverage

Southwestern was featured in the March 1 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Read the story here.

The United Methodist Reporter ran an article about Southwestern getting its electricity from wind power. Read the story here

London’s Morning Star newspaper ran a review of Political Science Professor Eric Selbin’s new book titled Revolution, Rebellion, Resistance: The Power of Story. The paper described the book as “A compelling historical inquiry into the four reasons why revolutions happen.” Read the review here.

The Williamson County Sun ran a preview of the musical “Urinetown.”

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about Biology Professor Ben Pierce’s grant to conduct research on the Georgetown Salamander.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about Southwestern being named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about the Shilling Lecture and pre-lecture events.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about two Southwestern faculty members who received grants from the Associated Colleges of the South.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about Chemistry Professor Emily Niemeyer receiving the 2009-2010 Exemplary Teaching award from the United Methodist Church.


Bob Bednar, associate professor of communication studies, presented a paper titled “Roadside Heterotopias: Space, Time, and Cultural Simultaneity at Car Crash Shrines in the American Southwest” at the annual Southwest/Texas Popular Culture Association Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Feb. 13.

Students Mason Cradit, Will Hardy, Andrea Holland, Pelham Keahey and Steven Solis and advisor Gerald Wade have had a paper titled “Selecting Abandoned Industrial Innovations for Senior Student Science Projects” accepted as a virtual presentation at the International Technology, Education and Development Conference in Valencia, Spain, March 8-10. Their paper will be published in the conference journal along with the other papers. The paper stems from the team’s work on a 2009-2010 King Creativity Project.

Lois Ferrari, associate professor of music, gave a lecture titled “Creating from the Void” on Feb. 24 at Grace Episcopal Church. Ferrari spoke about the relationship of conductor to composer and the process of how a new work is first imagined by a composer and then comes to life via a conductor.

Cross country coach Francie Larrieu Smith was selected by USA Track & Field to serve as team leader for both the Junior and Senior Women’s Cross Country Teams who will be competing at the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association Cross Country Championships in Tobago March 6.

The Megaphone won two awards the 26th Annual Associated Collegiate Press Journalism Convention that was held Feb 25-28 in Phoenix, Ariz. The Megaphone Web site, which was created by Lane Hill, was voted the second best of all entering small schools and the paper had the fifth best multimedia package of all entering schools regardless of size. The multimedia package included a photo by Lauren Lansford, a story by Sam Allen, and a video show by Kate Steinbach that was edited by Sam Allen.