Connecting Town and Gown

Georgetown Mayor George Garver reads a proclamation dedicating Georgetown’s new Olive Street National Register Historic District, which is located across the street from Southwestern. Eighteen of the 23 historic houses in the district have ties to Southwestern. (Photo by Ellen Davis)

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Last year, Dai Yinlin was the only student from China who was attending Southwestern.

This year, Dai has plenty of company. Southwestern welcomed 10 new students from China this fall as part of its largest group ever of international students.

Dai said he came to Southwestern because of the wide range of majors it offers, its small size, its location near Austin, and the hot weather and sunshine. Several of the students from China who enrolled at Southwestern this fall said they did so after finding posts from Dai on the Chinese social media sites known as Renren and Weibo, which are similar to Facebook and Twitter. Most said they decided to come to Southwestern for the same reasons Dai did.

Patricia Schiaffini, an assistant professor of Chinese who has been working closely with the Chinese students, said that while most of the students from China came to Southwestern with an idea about what they wanted to study, that will probably change soon due to all the academic and extracurricular experiences they are having.

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Eight Southwestern University faculty members have received a total of more than $15,000 in research funding for the upcoming year from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

The funding comes through the board’s Sam Taylor Fellowship program, which awards fellowships to full-time faculty members at United Methodist-related colleges in Texas.

Faculty members will use the funds for projects ranging from the development of new compounds that could help treat cancer to commissioning a new musical work.

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Georgetown’s fifth annual Art in the Square event will be held on the Courthouse Square Oct. 26-27. The event features art works from 50 fine artists in a wide range of media including drawing, glass, jewelry, metal, mixed media, painting, photography and wood.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For details on the event and participating artists, visit

Weekend activities also will include the ribbon-cutting for the new Georgetown Art Center, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m. The new Art Center, which includes a gallery, gift shop and studio space for workshops and classes, is located in the first floor of the historic fire station building a 816 S. Main St.

As part of Art in the Square, the Georgetown Festival of the Arts will present a free concert at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the First Presbyterian Church, 703 S. Church St. The concert will include music by the three Spanish composers to be featured in the 2014 Festival of the Arts, which will be held May 29-June 1: Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados and Manuel de Falla.


About 2,000 guests are expected to be on campus the weekend of Nov. 1-3 as Southwestern combines two major events on the same weekend: Homecoming and Fall Family Days.

Both events will be very different this year because they will include something that hasn’t been part of Homecoming at Southwestern for more than 60 years: a football game.

Many of Southwestern’s traditional Homecoming activities have been rearranged to enable alumni, students and families to attend the football game on Saturday, Nov. 2, when the Pirates take on Austin College for the second time this year. Tailgating will be held from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the game begins at 1 p.m.

The homecoming parade – which has usually has been held on Saturday mornings – will now be held on Friday night, Nov. 1, and will take place on Main Street in downtown Georgetown between 7th and 9th streets. The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. and has a theme of “Be Southwestern.” Nearly 30 floats from students, alumni and local business supporters are expected to participate.

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The Georgetown Heritage Society is hosting a public program on Thursday, Nov. 7,  featuring author, editor and scholar Steven L. Davis as guest speaker. Davis is a long-time curator at the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University and is the co-author of a new book titled Dallas, 1963, which offers “an explosive and unsettling account” of the political climate in Dallas in the in the three years leading up to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. 

The program will begin at 7:15 p.m. at the Grace Heritage Center, 811 S. Main St.


The Fountainwood Observatory will host a public viewing night on Saturday, Nov. 9, from 8-10:30 p.m. 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. The observatory is located on the northeast side of campus adjacent to the Rockwell Baseball Field (see #6 on the campus map at

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

The observatory also is hosting a “Yoga Under the Stars” fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 8-10:30 p.m. in collaboration with Moksha Yoga on the Square. The event will benefit the observatory’s education and public outreach efforts. For reservations, e-mail


Southwestern hosted the 27th Midwest Conference on Combinatorics, Cryptography, and Computing Oct. 19-20. The conference drew about 30 participants from all over the world, including guests from Australia, India, Indonesia, the UK and Canada. Several faculty members gave presentations at the conference, including Barbara Anthony, assistant professor of mathematics, and Richard Denman, professor of mathematics. Anthony gave a talk titled “Complete r-partite graphs determined by their domination polynomial” and Denman gave a talk titled “Conditions for the bicolorability of primitive hypergraphs.” President Edward Burger gave a talk titled “Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair: Surprises, Structure, and Seeing” at the banquet Saturday night. Allison Marr, associate professor of mathematics, helped organize the conference.

Alison Kafer, associate professor of feminist studies, will be a plenary speaker at the Disability Disclosure in/and Higher Education Conference to be held Oct. 25-27 at the University of Delaware. Her talk is titled “Un/Safe Disclosures: Tragedy, Trauma, and Other Taboos.”

Eric Selbin, professor of political science and University Scholar, has been named a Research Fellow at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.

Davi Thornton, associate professor of communication studies, had an essay titled “The Rhetoric of Civil Rights Photographs: James Meredith’s March Against Fear” published in the fall 2013 issue of the journal Rhetoric & Public Affairs.



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