First Symposium

Sontosha Orbin discusses what she learned in her First-Year Seminar on “The Science and Art of Play” with Stephen Tipps, who is a member of Southwestern’s Board of Trustees. Read more about Southwestern’e new “First Symposium” below. (Photo by John Kotarski)

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Many college students never have the opportunity to publicly present research while they are undergraduates.

At Southwestern this fall, some students had an opportunity present research just eight weeks into their first semester on campus.

The occasion was the First Symposium, a new event started this fall to give students an opportunity to present what they learned in their First-Year or Advanced Entry Seminars, which are required of all incoming students. The symposium was designed to introduce students early on to the importance of presenting and talking about what they have learned from their instructors and one another.

Students from 15 of the First-Year Seminars and one of the Advanced Entry Seminars took advantage of the opportunity to participate in the symposium. More than 200 people attended the event, including students, faculty, staff and members of Southwestern’s Board of Trustees, who were on campus that day for their fall meeting.

“This was such a wonderful event for our students in many ways,” said Traci Guiliano, a professor of psychology who teaches an FYS on human sexuality. “They got their first taste of what a professional conference is like and, through the other FYS sections, they also got exposure to a wide variety of different types of scholarly and creative works from many different disciplines.”

Read more here.


When people think of archives, they usually think of boxes of old papers, newspapers and perhaps photos.

Southwestern’s archives, which are stored in several rooms throughout the Smith Library Center, have all those. But they also have a lot more.

“We have everything from a cuneiform tablet that dates to 2000 B.C. to 14 nightgowns worn by Lizzie Johnson, who was the first woman to drive a herd of cattle up the Chisholm Trail,” said Kathryn Stallard, director of special collections and archives.

For Southwestern faculty members, these collections provide a wealth of materials for their classes.

Read more here.



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.

Read more here.


The Southwestern University Opera Theatre will give performances at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10. The program will include opera scenes from The Tales of Hoffman, by Jacques Offenbach, Cosi fan tutte, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Merry Widow, by Franz Lehár, and The Barber of Seville, by Gioachino Rossini.

Both performances will be held in the Alma Thomas Theater and are free and open to the public.


The Theatre Department will present the Molière classic “Tartuffe” Nov. 15-17 and 21-24.

Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. All performances will be held in the Jones Theater.

Additional information is available here.

Media Coverage

Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies, was interviewed by a reporter in Brazil about the ethics of using animals in scientific research. Read the story here.

The Williamson County Sun did a preview of Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.


Southwestern students gave five of the 28 student presentations at the 9th annual Texas Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, which was held Oct. 25-26 at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Robert Lehr presented “Determining the Viewing Target: How to ‘Enter a Painting’ without using Circles” based on independent study work with Fumiko Futamura, associate professor of mathematics. Four students discussed preliminary results of their capstone projects they are doing with Therese Shelton, associate professor of mathematics: Alain Chau gave a presentation on “Health Coverage Modeling,” Andrew Banister gave a presentation on “Can You Make Change by Increasing Minimum Wage?,” Heather Gronewald gave a presentation titled “Transfer Attrition: Perseverance and Hazards,” and Abigail Dunn gave a presentation titled “The Cournot Model: Mathematics of Economic Competition. Angelyn Convertino also attended the conference.

Bob Bednar, associate professor of communication studies, presented a public lecture titled “Roadside Shrines and Public Memory” at The University of Texas on Oct. 15.  The lecture was part of the UT Learning Activities for Mature People (LAMP) lecture series.

Michael Cooper, professor of music and holder of the Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts, published his Historical Dictionary of Romantic Music with The Scarecrow Press.

Lois Ferrari, professor of music, celebrated her 12th consecutive appointment as Music Director of the Austin Civic Orchestra by opening the 2013-2014 season with a Sept. 14 performance at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin. The Rollins Theater concert featured individual sections of the orchestra in an intimate setting, and the eclectic programming reflected the Orchestra’s new motto: Embracing the Classics. Exploring the Future.

Michael Kamen, associate professor of education, co-authored a chapter titled “Exploring Innovative Schools with Preservice Teachers,” which appears in The Routledge International Handbook of Innovation Education. Kamen wrote the chapter with Debbie Shepherd from the Meridian School in Round Rock.

Josh Long, assistant professor of environmental studies, co-authored an article titled “Toward Sustainable Educational Travel” that appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism. He also co-authored an article titled “A Broad Spectrum: Sustainability in Educational Travel” that appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Alison Marr, associate professor of mathematics, co-authored an article titled “Minimal Pancyclic Graphs” that appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Combinatorial Mathematics and Combinatorial Computing.

Valerie Renegar, associate professor of communications studies, authored an article titled “Critical/Cultural Scholarship and the Responsibility for Building Theory: Enduring Criticism Revisited” that appeared in a recent special issue of the Western Journal of Communication.

2013 graduate Megan Robinson has had a paper titled “I’m Feeding the World Tonight: The Impact of Moral Identity Standards on Mobile Loaves and Fishes Homeless Outreach Ministry,” accepted for publication in The Journal of Undergraduate Ethnography. Robinson wrote the paper in the fall 2012 Sociology capstone class taught by Maria Lowe, professor of sociology.