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Christina Nicholls fell in love with the sport of volleyball in seventh grade and has never looked back since. Over the past 10 years she has remained dedicated and driven, consistently putting significant time and effort into the sport – and all of her hard work has paid off.

Nicholls has been named Player of the Year for the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). While that alone is a great honor, she has also been selected as a First Team All-American, the first at Southwestern since it became a Division III school, and a dream she has had since she was 14.

“Receiving my First Team All-America award and my SCAC Player of the Year honor were outstanding milestones for me personally,” Nicholls says. “I’m a very goal-oriented person, and I made a volleyball goal sheet for myself when I was 14 years old. This list included extremely lofty goals for a mediocre 9th grade volleyball beginner, but with the close of this year I was able to cross the final goal off my list – to be an All-American.”

Read more here.


Everyone has stories about receiving gifts they didn’t want – whether it be ugly ties or two of the same item.

A Southwestern University computer science professor and her son hope to change all that – just in time for the 2011 holiday shopping season.

 Suzanne Buchele, associate professor of computer science, and her son, Fox, have developed a website that lets people tell friends and family members what they REALLY want for Christmas, birthdays or other special occasions.   Suzanne Buchele describes the website, which is called, as “a gift registry meets social networking.”     “It’s a way for everyday people to keep lists of things they want that other people can see, without seeming pushy by having to explicitly tell people what they want.” she said, noting that the name GreedList is intended to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to a list of things people would like to have.

Read more here.



The Fountainwood Observatory will host the final public viewing night of the semester on Friday, Dec. 2, from 8-10:30 p.m.

The viewing will begin with a just past first quarter Moon high in the southern sky while Jupiter and its Galilean moons rise in the east. Viewers also will able to see star clusters and the Andromeda galaxy, which is two million light years away. By the end of the viewing, winter constellations such as Orion and Taurus will be viewable.

Public 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.

The spring 2012 public viewing night schedule will be posted on the observatory website in mid-January.  


The City of Georgetown and the Downtown Georgetown Association are sponsoring their annual Christmas Stroll Dec. 2-3. More than 200 vendors will line the downtown square on Friday night from 6-9 p.m. and again Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Other highlights of the event include a parade at noon on Saturday and pictures with Santa from 2-8 p.m. on Saturday.   For more information, visit the DGA website here.


The Georgetown Heritage Society is sponsoring its annual Holiday Home Tour Dec. 10-11 from noon to 5 p.m. The tour will showcase five homes in Old Town, several of which have connections to Southwestern. Among the houses on the tour will be the house at 1010 Ash St., which was once lived in by former Southwestern University President J.S. Barcus. 

Tickets for the tour are $15 in advance and $18 the day of the tour. Tickets may be purchased in advance at several locations on the Georgetown Square, including the Visitor Center, Diva, The Escape, the Hill Country Bookstore and the Georgetown Antique Mall. On the day of the tour, tickets may be purchased at Grace Heritage Center, 811 South Main St.

For more information, call 512-869-8597 or visit


The Georgetown Chapter of the American Association of University Women is hosting a holiday tea on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 3-5 p.m. at the home of President and Mrs. Jake B. Schrum. There is no charge for the event, but contributions to AAUW’s Scholarship Fund will be welcome. To RSVP, call AAUW President Diane Melton at 512-943-9387.

Media Coverage

The Austin Business Journal ran an op-ed piece by President Schrum about how liberal arts graduates are more satisfied with their education than students who attend other types of colleges. Read the full text of the piece here.

The Austin American-Statesman ran a front-page story about a research project conducted by a Southwestern student. Read the story here.

The student newspaper at Austin Community College did a story about ACC students who visited Southwestern. Read the story here.


Seniors Tracy Day and Katie Gibson and junior Allyson Plantz have been selected to conduct research in South America with Biology Professor Romi Burks over the winter break. The three will be in South America from Dec. 3 to Jan. 15. Gibson and Plantz will be conducting research in Uruguay and Day will be conducting research in Brazil. Read more about the grant that enabled them to go to South America here.

Southwestern students Alex Essex-Carmona and Lauraly Hernandez had their renderings of digital sculptures exhibited in the 2011 INTERSCULPT exhibition in Paris, France Nov. 21-27. Mary Visser, professor of art, also had several sculptures in the exhibition and presented her research on new materials and chemistry in rapid prototyping production of sculptural forms.

Molly Jensen, assistant professor of religion, has joined the editorial board of the Journal of Childhood and Religion.

Senior art history major Kelly Johnson is giving a presentation titled “Smudging it: Blurring the Boundaries Between Feminism and Art” at the Transitioning Feminism Women’s Studies Conference to be held at the University of Albany Dec. 1-2. Johnson is part of the “Narratives We Live By” Paideia cohort led by English Professor Helene Meyers.

Stephen Marble, associate professor of education, and students Molly Deshaies and Julia Strange, recently had works published in the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s Black History Bulletin. Marble’s article described Shirley Chishom’s role as a catalyst for change in the political life of Americans and was accompanied by a lesson plan simulating the 1972 Democratic Presidential Convention. Deshaies and Strange coauthored an article with historian Gary Hopkins and created a lesson plan in which students learn through role playing activities about the importance of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and the Underground Railroad. The theme of the latest Black History Bulletin is “Black Women in American Culture and History” and commemorates the 75th anniversary of the publication. The Black History Bulletin is dedicated to enhancing teaching and learning in the areas of history. Its aim is to publish, generate, and disseminate peer-reviewed information about African Americans in U.S. history, the African Diaspora, and the peoples of Africa. Its purpose is to inform the knowledge base for the professional praxis of secondary educators through articles that are grounded in theory, yet supported by practice. The bulletin is co-edited by Alicia Moore, associate professor of education.

SUNY Press has published a new book by Helene Meyers, professor of English and McManis University Chair. The book is titled Identity Papers: Contemporary Narratives of American Jewishness and focuses on narratives that portray Jewish regeneration through feminist Orthodoxy, queerness, off-whiteness and intermarriage. For more about the book and to read the first chapter, visit

Senior environmental studies major Ben Parafina won third place in the student poster competition that was held as part of the annual meeting of the Southwestern Division of the Association of American Geographers held Nov. 10-11 at UT-Austin. Parafina did a study using GIS and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to estimate how the use photovoltaics placed on rooftops across campus could potentially provide a significant source of on-site energy.

Writer-in-Residence John Pipkin delivered a Plenary Lecture titled “Romanticisms: Understanding an Ambiguous Literary Movement” at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 12. Pipkin is a member of Spalding’s Low-Residency MFA Faculty. His 2009 novel Woodsburner was the featured fiction Book-in-Common for Spalding’s fall semester. Pipkin also has been named the fiction editor for the spring 2012 issue of The Louisville Review published by Fleur de Lis Press.

Eileen Meyer Russell, associate professor of music (low brass), and Delaine Fedson, part-time instructor of applied music (harp), presented a lecture recital at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Ill., and a recording session and recital at Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind. Russell also presented a brass master class at VU. Russell and Fedson, who perform as the duo “Unique Conversations,” included many of their transcriptions on the recital.


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