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Southwestern’s long history will once again be on display as alumni return to campus Nov. 4-6 for the 2011 Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.

Among the more than 70 events planned for the weekend are 125th anniversary celebrations for the Texas Gamma chapter of Phi Delta Theta and the Iota Chapter of Kappa Sigma. Both were founded during the 1886-1887 academic year and are expecting to host more than 100 alumni and guests at Homecoming.

“I’m looking forward to meeting people who have shared the same traditions and to learning how the fraternity has evolved over the years,” said Eric Johnson, a senior biology major who is the current president of Kappa Sigma.

Among the past members of Kappa Sigma was John G. Tower, a 1948 Southwestern graduate who went on to become a United States senator. Members of the fraternity will dedicate a tree in his memory near the A. Frank Smith Jr. Library Center at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Another dedication scheduled for Homecoming Weekend is the dedication of the  “Monstrance for a Grey Horse” sculpture, which was installed over the summer outside the library. The sculpture dedication will take place at 1 p.m. Nov. 5.

While Southwestern celebrates its past, it also will be looking toward the future at this year’s Homecoming and Reunion Weekend. The theme for the weekend is “You! The Fundamental Element,” which was selected to tie in with the university’s ongoing effort to raise money for a new science building. Several science-related events are planned for the weekend, including tours of the current Fondren-Jones Science Building.

Read more here.


Eight Southwestern students are getting work experience in an unusual place this semester – London.

The eight − Isaac Bernal, Sarah Chatfield, Dempsey Jones, Jennifer Juergens, Veronica Luna, Marlena Serrano, Kamna Tripathi and Lizette Villarreal − are all doing internships while participating in Southwestern’s London Semester program.

Jones, a junior communication studies major, is preparing for a future career in the radio business by interning at three different radio stations − Betar Bangla, a London-based Bangladeshi radio station; House Dem, an online station; and Guess Radio, another online station. She even has her own show on Guess Radio, which she calls “Dubstep Y’all.” The show airs every Wednesday from about 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in London (5:30-7:30 a.m. CST). Jones  prepares for the show each week by selecting a playlist and researching artists and concerts. She even creates and records her own jingles.

“I love my show with all of my heart,” Jones said. “I’ve been very blessed to be given such an opportunity.”

Jones said her internship has taken her to parts of London that no other students have had the opportunity to see – or even know about. “I work right next to the Olympic stadium that is under construction for next year, and I think it is awesome that I get to see that each week,” she said.

Read more here.


Martín Gonzalez, associate professor of biology at Southwestern, has been selected to receive the 2011-2012 Exemplary Teaching Award from the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. Each year the Board allows Southwestern to designate one teacher to receive this award, which includes a $500 cash prize.

Criteria for receiving the award include excellence in teaching; civility and concern for students and colleagues; commitment to value-centered education; and service to students, the institution and the community.

Gonzalez has been a member of the Southwestern faculty since 2003. He teaches courses on Microbiology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics. His research focuses on how antibiotic resistance is established in bacteria.

Read more here.



The Fountainwood Observatory will host a public viewing night on Friday, Nov. 4, from 8-10:30 p.m.
The viewing will begin with a waxing gibbous Moon high in the southern sky while Jupiter and its Galilean moons rise in the East. Many star clusters will be visible, along with the Andromeda galaxy, more than two million light years away.

Fountainwood Viewing Nights are always free and open to the public, but donations are accepted to help maintain the observatory. The observatory is located on the northeast side of campus adjacent to the Rockwell Baseball Field (see #6 on the campus map at Faculty members from the Physics Department at Southwestern as well as observers from the Williamson County Astronomy Club will be on hand to guide viewing.

For weather-related updates about viewing nights, call the Fountainwood Observatory hotline at 512-863-1242.


A Nov. 11 “Yoga Under the Stars” fundraiser will benefit the Georgetown Animal Shelter and the education and public outreach efforts of Southwestern’s Fountainwood Observatory.

The event will be held from 7-9 p.m. and will give participants an opportunity to practice yoga under the stars at the Fountainwood Observatory. Anna Easterling from Moksha Yoga will lead the yoga practice and Southwestern Physics Professor Mark Bottorff will run the observatory.

Suggested donation for those wanting to participate in the event is $20, but any amount will be accepted. Space is limited, so anyone interested in participating in the event should reserve a space by writing

Media Coverage

Biology Professor Ben Pierce was interviewed for a front-page story the Austin American-Statesman did about the endangered Georgetown salamander. Read the story here.

The Williamson County Sun ran an op-ed piece by English Professor Michael Saenger about the controversy over whether Shakespeare really was Shakespeare.

The Williamson County Sun did a story about a forum sponsored by the Georgetown Main Street Program in which Southwestern students had an opportunity to tell business owners what they would like to see in the community.


Southwestern has been named one of the top 200 Best Values in Private Colleges by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. The report, which is available here, ranked schools based on outstanding academics and great economic value. Specific factors the magazine looked at included four-year graduation rate, average student debt at graduation, and student-to-faculty ratio.

Two teams from Southwestern will be competing in the 36th annual IBM-sponsored Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest. Their first step will be a regional competition to be held at Baylor University Oct. 29. The “SU Root” team includes Erick Bauman, Ryan Washburn and Josh Wolfe, and the “SU Equipo” team includes Adam Scully, Jon Hieb and Taylor Elkins. The teams are coached by Barbara Anthony, assistant professor of computer science, and Rick Denman, professor of math and computer science.

Seven students gave six presentations at the Texas Undergraduate Mathematics Conference at The University of Texas at Tyler Oct. 21-22.  Nina Freeman’s “BSA the Easy Way” dealt with math models of body surface area. Eric Godat’s “Wind Power Forecasting” combined his two majors of math and physics. Maria Pollifrone presented “Feeling Hip? A Volumetric Model of Wear Patterns in Hip Replacements.” Lesley McCoy spoke about “Mathematics of the Silver Screen,” and Caitlin Sargent presented “Is it Worth it? The Cost of Hybrid, Electric, and Gas Powered Cars.” These talks were based on the mathematics capstone projects. In addition, Zoe Van Pham and Yvette Niyomugaba presented “Markov Chains in Volleyball” from an independent study. Therese Shelton, associate professor of mathematics, was the faculty advisor for each.

Alison Kafer, associate professor and chair of feminist studies, published an article titled “Debating Feminist Futures: Slippery Slopes, Cultural Anxiety, and the Case of the Deaf Lesbians” in Feminist Disability Studies, edited by Kim Q. Hall (Indiana University Press, 2011).

Emily Northrop, associate professor of economics, presented a book chapter she has written at an Oct. 19-21 conference held at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Northrop’s chapter is titled “Our Food, Our Environment, Our Health.” It is for a book titled A Brighter Future: Improving the Standard of Living Now and for the Next Generation, to be published in 2012 by M.E. Sharpe.

Dustin Tahmahkera, assistant professor of communication studies, was an invited participant in a session on “Sound in American Studies” at the American Studies Association meeting in Baltimore Oct. 22.


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