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Four collaborative projects proposed by Southwestern faculty members have received funding for 2010.   The projects are the last to be funded by a three-year, $150,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that was designed to develop collaborative programs among faculty members. Faculty members could apply to use the grant funds for cross-disciplinary projects in one of five areas: study abroad, research, developing new teaching strategies, community-based learning, or diversity.

Math professor Alison Marr and education professors Michael Kamen and Stephen Marble will use a $14,244 grant to implement a program to help local elementary school teachers deepen their understanding of mathematics and explore new methods of teaching math.

English professors Carina Evans and Elizabeth Stockton will use an $11,367 grant to research the legacy of slavery in Texas and develop a course on the subject that they will teach together beginning in spring 2011.

Read the rest of the story here.


On the same afternoon that the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for fiction was announced, 13 aspiring writers were gathered in a classroom on the third floor of the Olin Building.

Their teacher, John Pipkin, asks them what problems they have when they try to write dialogue. The students respond with a variety of questions such as how to make sure their dialogue doesn’t sound too “choppy,” how to get their dialogue to be believable, and how they should handle dialogue that includes foreign languages or regional dialects.

Pipkin offers a variety of helpful tips and discusses four different ways that dialogue can be incorporated into fiction writing. In the course of the class, he and the students critique the dialogue in classics such as The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina, the television show “CSI,”  and recent movies such as “Valkyrie” and “Avatar.”

Pipkin concludes by offering students the following advice: “When I do dialogue, I just write it all down. I can go back later and condense it.”

For the students in the class, this isn’t just advice from a professor. It’s advice from a successful author.

Pipkin gained critical acclaim for his first novel, Woodsburner, which was published in the spring of 2009. The book is set in Concord, Mass., in the spring of 1844, and tells the story of a forest fire accidentally ignited by Henry David Thoreau a year before he decides to live alone at Walden Pond.

Read the rest of the story here.



The Southwestern University Wind Ensemble will perform in concert on Sunday, April 25, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. The program will feature Ticheli’s “Angels in the Architecture,” with guest vocal soloist Dana Zenobi; the First Suite in E flat by Holst, conducted by senior Magen Comley, and Four Dances from “West Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein.

It is free and open to the public. 


The Southwestern University Jazz Band will perform in concert on Tuesday, April 27, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. The band will perform a diverse program of compositions from legendary jazz composers such as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Ellis Marsalis.

It is free and open to the public.


Southwestern students and faculty members will give a concert of low brass music in San Gabriel Park on Saturday, May 1, from 7-8. p.m. Rain Date is Sunday, May 2, from 7-8 p.m.

The concert will take place by the pedestrian bridge located near the intersection of Stadium Drive and Lower Park Road. Guests are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket to sit on the grass and bring a picnic dinner and/or beverages. 

The concert is made possible by a grant from the San Gabriel River Trail Project, which is funded through a grant from the 3M Foundation.

For more Information, contact Eileen Meyer Russell at 512-863-1732 or

Media Coverage

The Williamson County Sun covered the dedication of NITLE’s new headquarters and the 10th anniversary of the King Creativity Program.

The Williamson County Sun ran an article about the collaborative faculty projects funded by the third year of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Mezzo-soprano Simone Kermes and the Nederlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, conducted by Frans Brüggen, recently gave two performances of an unpublished concert aria composed in 1834 by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and discovered by Michael Cooper, professor of music and holder of the Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts. The aria was long erroneously considered be a variant of another aria that Mendelssohn composed nearly a decade later, but Cooper’s research revealed that Mendelssohn and his contemporaries considered them as autonomous works, with different texts and mostly different music. Streaming video of the performance given on April 11 is available here. For a concise explanation of the piece, see Cooper’s article here

Amanda Doenges, Alexis Kropf and Victoria Phillips are attending the Southwestern Anthropological Association meeting in Reno, Nev., April 29-May 2. Doenges is presenting a paper titled “Constructing the Pregnant Body,” Kropf is presenting a paper titled “Community and Identity Construction in a Charity General Health Clinic” and  Phillips is presenting a paper titled “Living with Violence in Juarez.” All three are students of Claudia Campeanu, visiting assistant professor of anthropology.

Chemistry major Shannon Essler is attending the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, April 24-28. She will be presenting a poster titled “Characteristics of Patients Using Extreme Opioid Dosages in the Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain,” which stems from research she did during an internship at a family medicine clinic in Austin last summer. Essler has already presented her research at the Frontiers of Translational Science Research Day sponsored by The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and plans on presenting the work at the 2010 Central Texas Clinical Research Forum in Austin May 7.

Helene Meyers, professor of English and holder of the McManis University Chair, spoke on feminist mentoring and teaching at Celebrating Susan Gubar, Teacher and Writer, a symposium held at Indiana University. 

Sophomore Gillian Ring has received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study Chinese in China this summer. The scholarship is funded by the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship Program, which was started in 2006 to increase opportunities for American students to study critical-need languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, Persian and Russian. It is part of a broader U.S. government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical-need languages. This year, the State Department received nearly 5,300 applications for the program and selected 575 students. Read more about Ring here.

Four years of participating in the King Creativity Fund program has paid off for senior physics major Pelham Keahey. Keahey received the program’s first Walt Potter Prize, which comes with $2,500. The prize is awarded to the best student or project in a given year.

Keahey received the award at a dinner marking the 10th anniversary of the King Creativity Fund. The program was established in 2000 with an endowment provided by Southwestern alumnus W. Joseph “Joey” King. It is designed to support “innovative and visionary projects” proposed by Southwestern students.

King named the new award after Walt Potter, a computer science professor who was his mentor when he was a student at Southwestern. Read more about Keahey and his award here.


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