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Over the summer, Southwestern received two major gifts for the construction of a new science center – a $3 million gift from The Cullen Foundation of Houston and a $1 million gift from The Fondren Foundation of Houston.

Southwestern is raising $24 million to completely redesign its current science facility, the Fondren-Jones Science Building, which consists of an original building constructed in 1954 and a new wing added in 1999. Many of the university’s science laboratories are still located in the 1954 structure. New construction adding 37,000 square feet of new space plus renovations of existing space will result in the new center totaling more than 100,000 square feet.

“Our current facilities no longer adequately support today’s research-based curriculum,” said President Jake B. Schrum. “We have excellent and dedicated teacher-scholars, but we need the facilities to match.”

Read more about The Cullen Foundation gift here.

Read more about The Fondren Foundation gift here.


Dave Voskuil has been appointed interim vice president for enrollment services at Southwestern. Voskuil has had a long and successful career in higher education enrollment services, including his most recent position as Vice President for Enrollment Services at Centenary College in Shreveport, La. Voskuil also has held senior leadership roles at McMurry University, North Carolina Wesleyan and Texas Wesleyan University. He has been active in professional associations through the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and has provided consulting services to 10 private colleges and universities during his career.

“With Dave’s appointment, Southwestern will sustain its momentum to implement the important initiatives in enrollment and financial assistance as part of “Shaping Our Future: The Strategic Plan for Southwestern University 2010-2020,” President said President Jake B. Schrum. “Dave’s willingness to immediately step into this key leadership role, increases our ability to be nimble in today’s economy − a critical skill in student recruiting and enrollment, where college searches are increasingly web-based and demand immediate information and immediate follow up.”   


Terri Johnson is bringing her welcoming smile and passion for diversity and social justice to Southwestern as the new assistant dean for student multicultural affairs.

Johnson moved to Georgetown in July from her home in Tennessee, where she was the director of the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students at Middle Tennessee University. Her career has been devoted to helping underrepresented populations feel welcome and purposeful, which is a key part of what she hopes to achieve at Southwestern.

“I want to listen to everybody, network and bring the community together,” Johnson said. “Southwestern is a great community and I want everyone to know that it is a welcoming environment.”

Read more here.



The Community Garden at Southwestern is sponsoring a series of gardening workshops during the 2011-2012 academic year that are free and open to the public. The workshop schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 4-5 p.m.: Healthy soils and compost

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 4-5 p.m.: Plant families

Thursday, Feb. 9, 4-5 p.m.: Container gardening for your dorm, apartment or office

Tuesday, March 20, 4-5 p.m.: Sharing the harvest/Building a sustainable food system

The workshops will be facilitated by Williamson County Master Gardener volunteers, as well as Southwestern students and faculty members who are involved with the Community Garden.

Space is limited and anyone interested in attending the workshops should register in advance. To register, contact Molly Jensen, faculty advisor for the Community Garden, at 863-1797 or

Media Coverage

Religion Professor Laura Hobgood-Oster was interviewed by WABC-AM in New York City May 22 about her book on animals and religion. Listen to the program here. Hobgood-Oster also had a column published in the Huffington Post. Read the column here.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story on Larry Connell’s retirement as manager of the Southwestern bookstore.

The Williamson County Sun, Community Impact newspaper and the Austin American-Statesman covered the announcement of the $3 million gift from the Cullen Foundation. Read the Community Impact story here. Read the Statesman story here.

The Williamson County Sun and Focus on Georgetown magazine ran stories about the historical marker for the Negro Fine Arts School. Read the Focus on Georgetown story here.

Provost Jim Hunt had an essay published in Inside Higher Ed. Read the piece here.

Sociology Professor Sandi Nenga was featured in an article in the Boston Globe. Read the story here.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about Desi Roybal’s summer Creative Dramatics class.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about the new STEPS summer program for high school students interested in math and science.

The June 27 issue of Sports Illustrated had a story on Southwestern alum Nemo Herrera, who led a team from impoverished Bowie High School in El Paso to the first high school baseball championship in Texas. Learn more about  the story here.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about Biology Professor Ben Pierce’s work with the endangered Georgetown salamander.

The Austin Business Journal, the Williamson County Sun and the Austin American-Statesman ran stories about the $1 million grant Southwestern received from the Fondren Foundation for the new science building. Read the ABJ story here.

Community Impact News ran a story about Southwestern’s overall plans for the science building renovation. Read the story here.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about Southwestern’s new summer program for high school math and science teachers.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about move-in and the new first-year class.


Erika Berroth, associate professor of German and chair of the Chinese, French and German programs, presented a paper at the 2011 Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) held June 21-26 at Indiana University, Bloomington. Berroth participated in the pre-conference workshop and seminar on Ecological Media and Ecocriticism with her paper “Animals, Landscapes and Humans in the Work of Werner Herzog: Developing Epistemologies in Docu-Fiction Eco-Cinema.”

Ellen Davis, director of communications, received two awards from the Texas Public Relations Association in May. She received a Best of Texas Silver Award in the Writing-Opinion Article category and a Best of Texas Merit Award in the Writing-News Release category.

Shannon Essler had an article she co-authored as a student at Southwestern published in the Summer 2011 issue of Texas Family Physician. Read the article here.

Ed Kain, professor of sociology and University Scholar, is delivering the opening keynote address at a conference sponsored by the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas, Nev. Aug. 19. His address is titled “The Ecology of Teaching and Learning: Increasing Your Pedagogical Footprint.” 

Southwestern students Shelby Morales, Molly O’Hara and Rachael Regan were among 60 college students chosen to participate in the 2011 ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program in Dallas. The program, administered by the Volunteer Center of North Texas, provides exemplary students with eight-week, paid internships at deserving local nonprofit agencies. Read more about their experience here.

Biology major Allyson Plantz and Romi Burks, associate professor of biology, gave a presentation titled “Living on the edge: Potential fates of apple snail (Pomacea insularum) eggs laid on emergent variation in riparian areas” at the Ecological Society of America meeting held in Austin Aug. 7-12 The talk was part of a special session Burks organized that featured  presentations given by undergraduate researchers with their mentors. Read a summary of the presentation here. Other co-authors on the paper were senior Tracy Day and 2011 graduate Megan Rice.

Max Taub, associate professor of biology, recently published a series of lab exercises with 2011 graduate Gillian Graham. The lab exercises are designed to help students learn about global temperature change in the 21st century. They were published online by the Ecological Society of America.

Victoria Star Varner, professor of art, presented her prints and paintings on a panel titled “PROOF: Printmaking as Evidence” at the annual meeting of the College Art Association in New York in February and participated on the CAA Committee on Standards for Retention and Tenure of Visual Arts Faculty charged with establishing national standards in the profession in May. In June, three of her prints from the “Crossed Paths” series were exhibited in an invitational exhibition at Gallery 311 in Raleigh, N.C., titled “The Elegant Line.” In July, she produced a trial proof of “Centripetal Forces: San Francisco” at Crown Point Press during their summer workshop.

Todd Watson, associate director of systems and networks in ITS, co-authored a paper titled “The Pulsations of PG 1351+489” that was published this August in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Observatory. Watson collected data using the McDonald Observatory’s 2.1-meter diameter telescope in 2009 as part of a global team of astronomers. This paper presents analysis of these data combined with 25 years of archival data on this particular pulsating helium atmosphere white dwarf star. The analysis provides a unique way to look inside the star to measure its internal composition and new insight into the evolution of similar stars.



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