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Key elements of Southwestern University’s signature Paideia®  program will now be available to all students, thanks to a $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Paideia program was started in 2003 to give students additional opportunities to make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and the world around them, and to act upon their learning. In addition to their overall academic curricula, program participants fulfill requirements in civic engagement, intercultural learning, and undergraduate research. Since its inception, about one-quarter of Southwestern students have participated in the Paideia program. For the past several years, faculty and administrators have been trying to figure out how to bring the benefits of the program to more students.

An opportunity presented itself when, as a result of its upcoming re-accreditation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Southwestern was required to implement a new “Quality Enhancement Plan” (QEP).

After universitywide discussion and a vote on what Southwestern should select as its Quality Enhancement Plan, a consensus was reached that the University should create a new program for all students that would combine the growing academic trend toward interdisciplinary studies with key elements of its Paideia Program. The new program, which is being informally referred to as “Paideia For All,” is scheduled to start in the 2014-2015 academic year.

“This new program will make Paideia central to rather than ancillary to our academic program,” said Provost Jim Hunt.

Read more here.


When he returned to Georgetown last fall after studying abroad in Germany for a year, junior international relations major Colin Berr found himself thinking of different services he had seen in Germany that he believed Georgetown and the Austin area could benefit from.

“I got super motivated to get a [bus] line to Austin from Georgetown,” Berr said. This passion led him to begin working with Georgetown City Councilwoman Rachel Jonrowe, who shares his interest  in trying to establish an efficient local public transportation system.

Jonrowe was so impressed with Berr that when she was asked to nominate someone from her district to serve on a special committee being formed to consider and evaluate proposed amendments to the Georgetown City Charter, she decided to nominate Berr for the position.

 “I couldn’t be more proud, knowing that Colin is representing District 6,” Jonrowe said.

Jonrowe said the committee will be tackling a lot of important questions, such as What happens if we move municipal elections to November?  Should the voters decide when they want a new representative through the democratic process, or should we impose term limits for City Council members?  Do Second Readings of new ordinances slow down the process, or give citizens the time they need to debate the issue? 

Read more here.



The Fountainwood Observatory will host a public viewing night Saturday, March 31, from 8-10:30 p.m.

The evening will begin with a waxing gibbous Moon high in the southern sky. Venus and Jupiter will be visible in the western sky. As the evening progresses Mars will rise in the eastern sky. Very late in the viewing Saturn also will rise above the eastern horizon. Multiple stars systems and star clusters will also be viewable.

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. The viewing nights are free, but donations are encouraged to help maintain the observatory.

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


The SU Wind Ensemble will give a concert Saturday, March 31, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. The concert will be conducted by Lois Ferrari and includes works by H. Owen Reed and Ronald LoPresti.

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, call 512-863-1504.


A senior art exhibit featuring ceramics and sculptures will be on display April 3-11 in the Fine Arts Gallery. The exhibit will feature a sculpture exhibit titled “Enter, Engage, Eject” by Alex Essex-Carmona, a sculpture exhibit titled “The Way of Grace” by Lauraly Hernandez and a ceramics exhibit titled “Scratch the Surface: Looking Beyond Appearances” by Katherine Shipman.

The gallery is open from 1-5 p.m. daily. An opening reception for the exhibit will be held Thursday, April 5, from 4-6 p.m. 


Southwestern students will have the opportunity to showcase their work through poster presentations, oral presentations, performances and exhibitions as the university hosts the 13th annual Student Work Symposium Wednesday, April 4.

The symposium, titled “From Every Voice,” will begin at 5 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballrooms. There also will be a special performance by the Southwestern University Trombone Quartet on the Bishops Lounge Patio at noon and a performance by the String Quartet in the Bishops Lounge at 7:30 p.m.

The 110 presentations featured this year are the work of 138 students from 20 disciplines. Some of the works will be centered on research that students have presented at conferences around the country.

Read more here.


The Southwestern University Percussion Ensemble will perform Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. The concert will be directed by Erin Martysz and includes works by Daniel Montoya Jr., James Romig, Mark Ford and Minoru Miki.  

The performance is free and open to the public. For more information, call The Sarofim School of Fine Arts at 512-863-1504.


Guitarists Alex Dunn and Steven Kostelnik will give a recital Monday, April 9, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. The recital will feature works by Ludwig van Beethoven and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

Kostelnik is a professor of guitar at Southwestern and Dunn heads what is considered one of Canada’s top guitar programs at the University of Victoria and the Victoria Conservatory of Music.

The recital is free and open to the public. For more information, call 512-863-1504.


Pianist May Tsao-Lim and euphonium player Jamie Lipton will give a guest artist recital Tuesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. The recital will feature works by Gordon Jacob, Joseph Horovitz, Johann Sebastian Bach, John Stevens and Philip Sparke.

Lipton is an assistant professor of low brass at Henderson State University in Arkansas and Tsao-Lim is an associate professor of piano at Henderson State University.

The recital is free and open to the public. For more information, call 512-863-1504.


The Southwestern University Chorale and the San Gabriel Chorale and Orchestra will give a joint performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah on Saturday, April 14, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. The performance will be conducted by Kenny Sheppard, with Bruce Cain in the title role of Elijah.  

The concert is free for Southwestern University faculty, staff and students with an SU ID. General admission tickets are $20 and may be purchased in advance at Tickets also will be available at the door (cash or check only).  

For more information, call The Sarofim School of Fine Arts at 512-863-1504.

Media Coverage

Lois Ferrari, professor of music and music director of the Austin Civic Orchestra, was interviewed by KMFA radio host Dianne Donovan in regard to the ACO’s March 10 Pearl Amster Youth Concerto Festival.

KOLD-TV in Tucson, Ariz., did a story on the Southwestern students who helped build a Habitat for Humanity house there over spring break. Watch the story here.

The Williamson County Sun ran photos of people attending “The Beggar’s Opera.”

The Austin Business Journal did a story on the $500,000 grant Southwestern received to reshape its Paideia program. Read the story here.


Three faculty members, two recent sociology graduates and seven current students presented their research at the annual meetings of the Southern Sociological Society in New Orleans last week (March 21-24).

Five students and one recent graduate presented papers based on their sociology capstone research done under the direction of Maria Lowe, professor of sociology. Alex Barnes presented a paper titled “Symbiotic Philanthropy: Ethical Implications and ‘Voluntourism’ in the Humanitarian Healthcare Movement,” Ethan Lane Miller presented a paper titled “You and I Will Change the World: Jewish Values, Identity and Social Activism,” Krystina Maloukis presented a paper titled “‘We Are ADAPT’: The Role of Collective Identity within the Disability Rights Movement,” Abby Morales presented a paper titled “‘I’m a Youth that Wants My House Back’:  An Analysis of How a Free Space Becomes Unsafe,” Marcela  Orozco (’11) presented a paper titled “Growing for a Sustainable Future: Looking at Volunteerism and Community at an Urban Farm,” and  Kristen McCollum presented a paper titled “The Art of Collective Identity: How an Art from the Streets Program Fosters a Sense of Community among the Homeless.”  McCollum’s paper was recognized with the Odum Award for best undergraduate research paper.

Lowe and Reginald Byron, assistant professor of sociology, presented a paper co-authored with Sue Mennicke titled  “Beyond Attitudinal Change: Fostering Students’ Interracial Interactions after Studying Abroad.” Byron also presented a paper with student co-authors Will Molidor and Andrew Cantu titled “What Do Newspapers Tell Us About Home Invasion Robbery?”

Ed Kain, professor of sociology, was a presenter in a panel session titled “Get a Life: Work/Life Balance Advice for Singles, Parents, and Partnered Academics.”  Kain and Toni Nietfeld (’11) also presented a paper titled “Assessing Student Learning Outcomes in the Sociology Major Using an Alumni Survey.”  


Southwestern was highlighted in a recent issue of Teaching Sociology as an institution with the most highly productive scholarship of teaching and learning. The distinction is especially impressive because the other schools highlighted are research universities. Read the paper here.

Eileen Cleere, professor of English, presented a paper at the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies (INCS) Association meeting in Lexington, Ky., March 22-25.  Her essay, “Tactile Values: Touching the Renaissance in Late Nineteenth-Century Art Criticism,” has been solicited for publication in the scholarly journal Nineteenth-Century Contexts.

Senior biology major Tracy Day placed third in the 2012 Research Award competition sponsored by the Texas Academy of Science. Day received a $1,000 grant that will enable her to continue stable isotope research on the plants eaten by apple snails. The additional funding will allow her to prepare and run more stable isotope samples to try and see if these plants are enriched by runoff and if that then gets reflected in snail’s diet. 

Lois Ferrari, professor of music and music director of the Austin Civic Orchestra, led the ACO in its annual Pearl Amster Youth Concerto Festival concert March 10. The concert featured the four winners of this year’s contest, all of whom represent the central Texas area. Each winner receives a college scholarship award provided by the Webber family trust fund and awarded by the ACO. The ACO’s next performance is May 12 at The University of Texas and will feature pianist Michelle Schumann and the Tchaikovsky 6th Symphony. Concert and ticket information may be found at  

Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies, has been appointed to The Humane Society of the United States’ Faith Advisory Council. The 13-member council includes leading scholars and representatives from a range of religious denominations, faiths and backgrounds and was set up to provide strategic guidance for the organization and its leadership. Read more here.

Alison Kafer, associate professor and chair of Feminist Studies, is spending the week in residence at the University of Arizona. She and Professor Susan Burch of Middlebury College have been invited to lead six workshops with faculty and staff about infusing disability into the work of the university. While there, Kafer will also lead a workshop with LGBTQ students on intersections between disability and queer theory and politics. More information about the workshops is available here.

Shannon Mariotti, assistant professor of political science, presented a paper at the Western Political Science Association conference in Portland, Ore., March 24. The conference panel was titled “Cultivating Democratic Citizens: Pedagogy, Policing, and Practice,” and her paper drew from her current book project and was titled “Adorno on Education: Democratic Leadership as Democratic Pedagogy.”

Allison Miller, assistant professor of art history, presented a paper at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies held in Toronto, Canada, March 16. The paper was titled “Monumental Rock-Cut Tombs and Political Self-Fashioning and Han China,” and was included on a panel that she co-organized and chaired titled “Contested Space: New Research on the Tombs of the Chinese Ruling Elite.”