SMArT Team

Alyssa Stock, a student at Ford Elementary School in Georgetown, shows off a robotic arm she made as part of the SMArT (Science and Math Achiever Teams) program this fall. The SMArT program pairs Southwestern students with local elementary school students to help children learn about science and math through experimenting and active exploration. The teams present their projects at the end of each semester. Alexis Kropf, a recent graduate who is now working at Southwestern, helped Stock with her project this fall. (Photo by Lucas Adams)

Top News


When a leading journal in the field of sociology published a paper in 2012 that showed Southwestern University was tied for second among all the institutions in the country when it comes to publishing papers about the teaching of sociology, it was no surprise to Ed Kain.

Kain, a professor of sociology and University Scholar, was the author of all the articles cited in the publication. He had earned similar recognition the last time such a paper was published 10 years ago.

Since joining the Southwestern faculty in 1986, Kain has focused his research on how sociology is taught across the country. This research has not only benefited students at Southwestern, but sociology students nationwide.

Read more here.


Most students would have trouble making it to a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting, but some students who recently gathered for breakfast in the campus center are no strangers to early morning hours.

The students are members of the Southwestern University Veterans’ Association (SUVA), a new student group that is starting to have a presence on campus. The organization is open to staff, faculty, alumni and students who are enlisted, veterans or dependents of those in the military.

“We are a very unique minority on campus that shares common experiences,” said Aaron Smith, a former navy medic who hopes to go to medical school. “Southwestern has been phenomenal at helping us get this organization running and supporting the veterans on campus.”

Read more here.



The City of Georgetown and the Downtown Georgetown Association are sponsoring their annual Christmas Stroll Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Vendors will line the downtown square on Friday night from 6-9 p.m. and again Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Other highlights of the event include a parade at noon on Saturday, covered wagon rides and pictures with Santa. A new attraction this year will be an artificial snow tube slide called “Snowzilla” that stands more than 25 feet tall and features an ultra slick 90-foot toboggan run that is misted by actual snow.   For more information, visit the DGA website here.


Southwestern University will offer Candlelight Services for the Season of Advent on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 6 and 8 p.m. in the Lois Perkins Chapel. The services are free and open to the public. Seating for the 8 p.m. service will be available at 7:30 p.m. 

Southwestern’s dining service partner, Sodexo, will be offering dinner to the public from 5-8 p.m. in the Commons at a cost of $9 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under. Following the 8 p.m. service, there will be a hot chocolate reception in the Bishops Lounge sponsored by Southwestern and the Greater Georgetown Association of Southwestern University Alumni. Both the Commons and the Bishops Lounge are located on the first floor of the Red and Charline McCombs Campus Center.

Read more here.


The Georgetown Heritage Society is sponsoring its annual Holiday Home Tour Dec. 8-9 from noon to 5 p.m. The tour will showcase six homes in Old Town, several of which have connections to Southwestern.

Among the houses on the tour will be the Chesser-Morgan House at 1202 E. 15th St., which was originally located on the Southwestern University campus and is exactly the same as the building that now serves as the SU Police Station. Past owners of the house include Ruth Morgan Ferguson, who served as Dean of Women at Southwestern from 1935 until her retirement in 1960. Also on the tour is a recently restored bungalow at 1502 Ash St. which was first owned by Linnie Young Campbell, who was the first woman to hold public office in Williamson County. Campbell’s daughter, Linnie Lucille Campbell (later Duke), attended Southwestern from 1904-1908.

Another house on the tour with ties to Southwestern is the house at 911 Walnut St., which was built by the Belford Lumber Company for Charles Byron Atkinson, who attended Southwestern from 1900-1903. The Belford Lumber company also remodeled the house at 303 E. 9th Street which was owned from 1972 to 1986 by Elizabeth May Ellyson, who was a 1927 Southwestern graduate.

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 and online at On the days of the tour, tickets may be purchased at Grace Heritage Center, 811 South Main St.

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

Media Coverage

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about Marissa Austin’s appointment as the first executive director of the Palace Theater. Austin is the wife of head football coach Joe Austin.


Head football coach Joe Austin is one of seven coaches from around the country who will be coaching the Stars & Stripes team in the fourth annual Tazón de Estrellas (Bowl of the Stars) to be played in Guadalajara, Mexico, Dec. 15. The game will feature a team of Division III players from across the United States competing against a team drawn from the CONADEIP national conference of private schools in Mexico. Austin is one of two offensive coaches for the U.S. team. This will be his third year participating in the event.

Elaine Craddock, professor of religion, presented a paper titled “Altered Bodies and Alternative Lives: Tirunangai Communities in Tamilnadu” on a panel called “Re-figuring Bodies That Matter: Sex, Gender, and Alternative Bodily Identities in South Asian Traditions” at the American Academy of Religion meeting held Nov. 18 in Chicago.

Rebecca Frost Davis, program officer for the humanities at NITLE, delivered the closing plenary at the annual conference of the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium held Nov. 10 at Texas A&M University. Her talk was titled “Engaging the (Undergrad) Crowd.”

Carlos De Oro, associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Latin American Studies program, attended the sixty-sixth annual Rocky Mountains Modern Language Association conference held in Boulder, Colo., in October. He chaired a panel on “The New Spanish and Latin American Cinema” and presented a paper about Colombian film. De Oro also has been invited to serve as a member of the Fulbright program screening committee that selects American students willing to pursue studies in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.

Abby Dings, assistant professor of Spanish, and Ted Jobe, assistant director of the Language Learning Center, presented a talk at the annual conference of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language in Philadelphia, Pa., Nov. 16-18. The presentation was titled “Lights, camera, action! Using authentic materials to promote conversational skills.”

Becca Edwards, part-time assistant professor of physics, presented a paper at the Applied Technology Council-Structural Engineering Institute Advances in Hurricane Engineering Conference held in Miami in October. The paper was titled “Effect of averaging duration on differences observed between gust factors from tropical and extratropical winds.”

Melissa Johnson, professor of anthropology, presented a paper titled “Hunters, Ecotourists and Hicatee: Creolizing Socionatures in Belize” for a panel she co-organized with Timo Kaartinen of the University of Helsinki on “Social Assemblages and the Pursuit of Nature in the Global Resource Economy” at the American Anthropological Association’s 2012 Annual Meeting, which was held Nov. 14-18 in San Francisco.

SUNY Press hosted a book celebration and signing for Identity Papers: Contemporary Narratives of American Jewishness by Helene Meyers, professor of English and McManis University Chair, at the National Women’s Studies Association annual meeting held Nov. 8-11 in Oakland, Calif. Meyers also participated in two NWSA roundtables, one on the academic and activist trajectory of Jewish feminism, the other on memorializing Adrienne Rich.

Valerie Renegar, associate professor of communication studies, attended the National Communication Association annual conference Nov. 15-18 in Orlando. She presented a paper co-authored with a former student on the ironic persona created in Sarah Silverman’s stand-up comedy. The paper was named one of the Top Papers in The Application of Kenneth Burke’s Theories. Renegar also was selected to participate in the “Scholars Office Hours,” where leading scholars are available to speak with graduate students and emerging scholars about the research and publication process.

Eric Selbin’s 2010 book Revolution, Rebellion, Resistance: The Power of Story has been published in Spanish by Interzona (El Poder del Relato: Revolución, rebelión y Resistencia). The book has already been translated into German as Gerücht und Revolution: Von der Macht des Weitererzählens and published in India (Books for Change, 2011) and is forthcoming in Arabic (NTC) and Turkish (Abis Yayinlari). Selbin is a professor of political science and University Scholar.

Brenda Sendejo, assistant professor of anthropology, organized a panel and presented a paper at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco Nov. 14-18. The title of the panel was “Decolonizing Borderland Ethnographies: Indigenous and Feminist Methodologies of Resistance” and her  paper was titled “Our Lady of Guadalupe-Tonantzin: An Active Symbol of Tejana Self-Making.”