Three Generations of Southwestern Alumni

Professor Emeritus Ellsworth Peterson, who graduated from Southwestern in 1955, donned his regalia for this year’s commencement ceremony to watch his grandson, Curran Johnson, receive a degree from Southwestern. Peterson’s daughter, Gretchen Johnson (center), also attended Southwestern. See more photos from Commencement 2014 here. And read more below about the 10th Annual Festival of the Arts in Georgetown, which Peterson has organized.

Top News


Heavy practice schedules often keep student-athletes from pursuing study-abroad opportunities.

But Joe Austin, head football coach at Southwestern University, and Erika Berroth, associate professor of German, have come up with a program that will enable members of the football team to travel abroad while at the same time keeping up with their practices.

The two developed a study-abroad program in Germany just for football players over the May Term. About 30 members of the Pirates football team will be heading to Germany May 15-26. The trip will include visits to a variety of businesses and cultural sites as well as practices and a game with several different American semi-professional football teams in Germany.

Read more here.


Erika Berroth, the German professor who helped develop the May Term study abroad program for 30 Southwestern football players, has received the 2014 William Carrington Finch Award from Southwestern University.

The award is given every other year to a full-time faculty member “for exemplary accomplishment in furthering the aims of Southwestern University.” Criteria for the award include excellence in teaching, contributions to university governance, and contributions outside the classroom. It is presented at Commencement and includes a $5,000 prize. The award is named for Southwestern’s 11th president.

Berroth said receiving the award was “a great surprise and a wonderful recognition of the work I love.”

Read more here.


Alisa Gaunder, an award-winning professor of political science and expert on Japanese politics, has been named Dean of the Faculty at Southwestern.

Dean of the Faculty is a new position created by President Edward Burger to provide leadership for the academic programs in the School of Fine Arts and the Divisions of the Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. The Dean also will be involved in faculty recruitment, evaluation, promotion and development.

Gaunder will begin a three-year term as Dean of Faculty in the fall, but will begin transitioning into her new role over the summer.

Four faculty members also have been named to new Associate Dean positions:

  • Alison Kafer, associate professor of feminist studies, has been named Associate Dean of the Humanities;
  • Mark Bottorff, associate professor of physics, has been named Associate Dean of the Natural Sciences;
  • Kiyoshi Tamagawa, professor of music, has been named Associate Dean of the Sarofim School of Fine Arts; and
  • Dirk Early, professor of economics, has been named Associate Dean of the Social Sciences.

Read more here.



The Williamson Museum is offering a tour of the historic IOOF Cemetery located near Southwestern on Saturday, May 17, from 5-7 p.m. Costumed interpreters will be at the cemetery to share stories about some of the people who helped build Georgetown.

The tour is being offered to celebrate National Preservation Month. Tickets are $10 per person, $8 for museum members and can be purchased at the museum or the cemetery. For more information, visit


The LifeSteps Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is planning a May 22 town hall meeting to address the issue of underage drinking in Williamson County. Panelists include Deborah Brown, chief of police at Southwestern; Kyle Brown, trauma coordinator at Seton Williamson Hospital; Mindy Carroll from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission; Mary Ann Kluga from the Leander ISD Chemical Abuse Prevention Program; and Belinda Lewandowski, a parent and presenter for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). 

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in The Georgetown Health Foundation Community Room, 2423 Williams Dr., Suite 101. Anyone wishing to attend the event can register here.


The 2014 Georgetown Festival of the Arts will be held May 29-June 1 and will feature the work of three Spanish composers: Isaac Albeniz, Enrique Granados and Manuel de Falla. Many of the festival lectures and concerts will take place at Southwestern. The free Saturday night concert in San Gabriel Park will feature student musical ensembles from GISD and the Round Rock Symphony Orchestra. Music professor Kenny Sheppard will conduct the final concert June 1, which will be held at Grace Episcopal Church.

For details and ticket information, visit


Southwestern University President Dr. Edward Burger will give a free public lecture on Sunday, June 8, at 3 p.m. in the Sun City Ballroom. The lecture is titled “Living and Learning in the Digital Age: Making Up Our Minds” and will serve as the keynote lecture for the Senior University’s summer session, which will be held the week of June 9.

Two Southwestern faculty members will be teaching classes during the week − Laura Hobgood Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies, is teaching a class titled “The Relations Between Canines and Humans” and  Patrick Veerkamp, professor of art, is teaching a class titled “Reading Pots: The Art and Craft of Pottery.” Both classes will be held on Tuesday, June 10, in Olin 105.

For more information, visit

Media Coverage

The Williamson County Sun ran a page of photos from commencement.


Twenty-four graduating seniors were inducted into Southwestern’s chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society May 9. The 2014 initiates were Brianna Billingsley, Jacob Brown, Gregory Carrera, Emily Deaton, Paige Duggins, Kendall Guidroz, Hayley Hamilton, Stephen Holloway, Lindsay Jakszta, Zachary Jenner, Ashley Johnson, Alex Joseph, Emily ManningCarlos Martinez, Katharine McLaughlin, Phuong-Hieu Nguyen, Bailey Olderog, Maxwell Oldham, Sarah Puffer, Samantha Sada, William Thorne, Gina Watts, Timothy Williams, and Cheyenne Wooldridge. President Edward Burger was the featured speaker at the ceremony. Read more here.

Southwestern is one of 11 colleges and universities across the country that were invited to participate in a new project sponsored by the Huffington Post. The Thesis Project is designed to showcase exemplary student research papers on the Huffington Post website, which gets about 39 million unique visitors a month. The first paper by a Southwestern student to be posted was one by senior English and education double major Paige Duggins titled “Dave Eggers Takes ‘Affective’ Approach to World Citizenship.” Read more here.

First-year student Niko Snovely was named to the First Team All-SCAC for men’s tennis and teammate Egan Cornachionne earned Honorable Mention. Read more here.

Three members of the women’s tennis team also earned All-SCAC honors. Gabby Hunt was named to the All-SCAC First Team and Marieke Visser and Virginia Stofer earned Honorable Mention. Read more here.

Men’s lacrosse head coach Bill Bowman was named SCAC Coach of the Year and Tyler Downing was named Offensive Player of the Year. Read more here.

Junior music education major Michael Martinezhas been selected to participate in the Southeast Trombone Symposium, which will be held June 24-29 at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga. In addition to performing and competing at the symposium, he will have opportunities for coaching and lessons with members of the New York Philharmonic, the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, and various university professors. Martinez has also been offered an internship at the International Trombone Festival which will be held June 4-7 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.  Read what other fine arts students are doing this summer here.

Junior physics major Garth Ornelas has been selected to participate in a unique research and mentoring program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The program is called Research Experiences in Solid Earth Science for Students, or RESESS, and it is designed to increase the number of historically underrepresented students entering the geosciences. Ornelas was one of 11 students selected to participate in the program in summer 2013 and will be participating again in summer 2014. His mentor for summer 2014 will be Matthew Pritchard, an associate professor of geophysics at Cornell University. Read more here.

Ben Pierce, professor of biology, served as the scientific advisor for an Eagle Scout project that earned a Texas Environmental Excellence Award from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Pierce advised high school student Connor Crowe on how he could help restore Georgetown Salamander habitat around Twin Springs Preserve, which was damaged by a storm in September 2010. A video about the project can be seen here. The research that Pierce and Southwestern students and have been doing on the Georgetown Salamander was mentioned at the May 7 award presentation.

Eileen Meyer Russell, associate professor of music, presented two recitals with Don McManus, organist at Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown. The recitals were in Lufkin, Texas, at St. Cyprian’s Church, and in Georgetown at Grace Episcopal Church. Both recitals featured Meyer Russell on alto and tenor trombones and euphonium. The repertoire included several original arrangements created by Meyer Russell and McManus. In addition, Meyer Russell presented two recitals by invitation from the Georgetown Symphony Society as part of the GISD Music Enrichment Program. More than 1,600 students attended the recitals, which were presented at the Klett Center for the Performing Arts. Meyer Russell collaborated with Southwestern faculty members Kiyoshi Tamagawa and Kyle Koronka on these recitals, as well as Round Rock Symphony member Reese Farnell. 


This is the last issue of In Focus for the 2013-2014 academic year. Publication will resume in August. To keep up with news from Southwestern over the summer, visit our Newsroom page at or follow us on Twitter at SU_News. Please feel free to submit items for In Focus over the summer to Noteworthy items will be put on our Right Now page.