Author Archives: administrator

January 15, 2014: Campus Spring Preview

This week begins our Spring 2014 semester so I thought I would share a little of what all is going on this term.

In my faculty and staff campus-wide address earlier this week I mentioned that the process for selecting the 12th President of Sul Ross State University is underway. Dr. Perry Moore, Vice-Chancellor of the Texas State University System met last week with our Sul Ross colleagues in Eagle Pass, Del Rio, and Uvalde to hear about their preferences regarding the next president. This week he has been meeting on this campus and in the Alpine community to garner input from a wide array of folks concerning the presidential characteristics they deem most important. Once he returns to Austin I suspect that he then will put together a position description that encompasses what he has learned. Following that, he next will determine the composition of the presidential search committee and identify a professional “headhunting” firm to administer the search. As I mentioned before, this process will be very deliberate and transparent and will play out over several months, likely resulting in the selection of a finalist by June or so. During that time it will be my distinct honor to serve as interim President. I am also very pleased that Dr. Jimmy Case has agreed to serve as interim Provost and Dr. Jay Downing has accepted the position as interim Dean of Arts and Sciences.

At my campus address I also asked two new, permanent hires starting in January to stand and be recognized. DeWayne Roberts has been hired as our new volleyball coach and John Pearce has been selected as our new Lobo head football coach. I also asked that our temporary coach in an important spring varsity sport be recognized as well. Antuan Washington, our Director of Recreational Sports will be coaching track. Previous news releases have provided quite a bit of detail about these hires so I won’t take up space here writing about the same information. But I will say I have tremendous confidence in all three of these men and am very excited to see what Lobo athletics will do under their leadership and that of Coach Mesker, Lobo interim Athletic Director.

At the faculty and staff meeting I also announced that noted artist Paul Tadlock visited campus earlier this month to review locations for our new bronze statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross. While it was an unusually bitterly cold morning, Paul, his wife and I took off in a “heated” golf cart (meaning it had a windshield) to tour campus and review our options. An ideal location was found and after thawing out a bit, detailed plans were made with Jim Clouse to erect the statue. Ironically, Paul and I, and Yvonne Realivasquez, the Executive Assistant to the President, noticed a very strong resemblance between Jim and Lawrence Sullivan Ross but as best we could tell, no common family heritage could be established. Jim, along with Don Sugarek, President of the SRSU Alumni Association, led an advisory committee to review photos of Sullivan Ross and ultimately develop an inscription that will accompany the statue. The inscription that they came up with is nothing short of inspirational!

While it may pose a challenge for the foundry, we are cautiously optimistic that the statue will be finished by early May, with a tentative unveiling date targeted for the week of our Spring ‘14 commencement. Funded by alumnus Charlie Nichols, the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross will be a life-size replica of our namesake and accessible to all who would like to be photographed with him whenever they visit campus. While we still hope to find a donor to cover the cost of the granite base for the statue which is a significantly lesser amount than the $95,000 check that Charlie wrote for the bronze, I am confident that someone will step forward.

Some challenges ahead still include making sure that we recruit the right students, but more importantly, that we retain them as well. I’m not sure what the exact costs are at Sul Ross but I’ve seen figures from elsewhere where it is estimated that every student lost from a university costs the institution $8000 on average. We got a good, campus-wide response to the invitation to help mentor students when we asked for volunteers last Fall so I am optimistic that together we can develop a strong mentoring program to reach those students who are struggling to adjust to college as new freshman.

Campus will be closed on Monday to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King but some other important dates for anyone who runs or enjoys Western art are coming up in February. A “Love Your Community 5K Fun Run” is scheduled for Feb. 15 that at least partly benefits scholarships for Sul Ross students; our Annual Trappings event kicks off the following week at the Museum of the Big Bend. So make plans accordingly!

January 7, 2014: Discerning a Future for SRSU

The New Year promises to be one for many significant developments at Sul Ross. In addition to a new head football coach, we soon will begin the formation of a search committee to determine the next university president. Other important items on the horizon include an important interim review of the university that occurs every five years or so by our national accreditation body, the unveiling of a statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross on the Alpine campus later this Spring, and the release of the 10-year strategic plan. So there will be much to blog about throughout the year!

As I listened to my wife’s sermon this past Sunday at the Presbyterian Church in Marfa, I thought how appropriate it was not only to talk about discernment this time of year as it applies to church but also how this fits with the University at this point in our history. Dr. Perry Moore will be here next week to begin the process of gathering information from the academic and local communities about their vision of where the University should be and who might take us there. That essentially is discernment regarding what we are about and what we might strive to be in the future. Similarly, the new strategic plan that was begun last Spring will be released soon and it also lays out the mission and vision of the University. That also is a document of discernment.

As we move forward in 2014, I encourage all of the Lobo family to engage in the discernment process that soon will begin. The first campus community forum concerning the selection of the next president will convene next Monday morning, but beyond that, there will be opportunities to provide input to the committee, to meet candidates later in the year, and to think about how you might become involved in supporting the new administration. Another opportunity to engage in discernment is to read the strategic planning document that will be released in the next few weeks and determine where you might fit into that plan.

Coming to campus to visit during the unveiling of the statue of Sul Ross, attending athletic and educational events are other ways in which we welcome your participation in the life of SRSU. Signing up for on-line classes at our Uvalde, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, or Alpine campuses whenever you see something that might interest you is still another way to get more involved with the University. And while there are many other ways to participate in the life of the University your financial support to build scholarships for future Lobos is always appreciated as well!

In closing, let me thank you in advance for your discernment in shaping the direction of Sul Ross State University in 2014 and beyond. There will be much to do in 2014 and we invite your input and good will to make all Lobos proud of where we are heading!

December 17, 2013: December Graduations

I had the privilege of participating in two wonderful events last Saturday that I wanted to mention prior to moving forward later this week into other topics of great importance to athletics. As significant as athletics are, but contrary to what some may think about sports being the primary reason that colleges and universities exist, student educational success is our top priority at Sul Ross State University. So before we begin talking about who might lead us to success next year on the gridiron, let’s stop and celebrate student graduation.

Last Saturday morning I was honored to shake the hands of 139 students who had completed academic programs at various levels, including a large portion who were being recognized for graduate degrees. Later — in the evening of that same day — I had the good fortune to be allowed to represent Sul Ross at the Rio Grande College graduation event in Uvalde to honor 85 more. While both graduations showcase Sul Ross State University student successes and each are important in similar ways, there also are some observable differences. Yes both featured very accomplished speakers, State Representative Poncho Nevarez spoke in Alpine and State Representative Tracy King at Uvalde High School. Both spoke eloquently and persuasively about the importance of service and setting the right priorities in life and how these will change over time. Families were present in great abundance at both events to applaud and take pictures with and without (cell phone cameras) flash.

Maybe observed differences across the events were attributable to the time of day. Perhaps early (is 10 a.m. early?) is not the optimal time for young adults to be wide awake and ready for celebrity photos; or perhaps the cavernous and brightly lit Gallego Center is a bit overwhelming and intimidating to students who find themselves center stage in front of a couple thousand watchful eyes. But possibly something else is going on that accounts for the perceived differences.

Observing now my fourth Sul Ross graduation series, at RGC I’ve noticed considerably more tears of joy and a greater sense of astonishment that they made it. First generation graduates with larger (and sometimes younger) families in attendance may account for this impression on my part. But whatever it is, it is a very moving event that can vary greatly in Alpine from graduates who appear much more subdued to those who sometimes appear much more exuberant about their big day. Simply put, you can expect a lot more tears (and cameras) at RGC, but in Alpine, there also will be more high fives and shout-outs.

Let me close this blog sharing part of what I said in my brief address Saturday to both graduating classes. They made an excellent choice to attend Sul Ross. While we now charge a lot more today than when Lobo alumnus Charlie Nichols graduated from Alpine in 1959 (books were $5 and tuition was $17), Sul Ross State University remains the most affordable institution of higher education in Texas, has one of the smallest average class sizes across the courses we offer, and boasts some of the best teachers anywhere in the country. All told, 224 students graduated into the Lobo family last Saturday and they will be Lobos forever, just like Charlie Nichols who credits his incredible success in life with having attended and graduated Sul Ross.

I wish them well as they begin on a journey to accomplish great things. Hopefully they will never forget from where they came and the many people who have contributed significantly to their successful journey, from family members to teachers.

December 12, 2013: Greetings from Alpine

I am excited to be writing to you for the first weekly blog that I have ever composed. Through the weeks that follow I hope to share with you stories about alumni, information about events on campus, and developments related to the search for the 12th President in nearly 100 years at Sul Ross State University.

As many of you may already have read in recent news releases from Steve Lang that we have begun to share more broadly with alumni and friends each time that they are sent out to the campus community, the 11th President of Sul Ross recently announced his resignation and I was asked to fill in as President for the interim period while a national search is conducted. I would note that I was pleased to work with and for Dr. Maestas as Provost since my arrival in July of 2012. Through his leadership, Sul Ross has accomplished many things for which he deserves full credit and I wish him well in future endeavors.

So let us celebrate recent accomplishments but also keep our focus and continue to move forward. Enrollment was up in the Fall and looks to be up for the Spring; a new scoreboard is in place at Jackson Field, along with a new $1M+ fieldhouse thanks to the generosity of the Texas State University System Foundation; and a statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross is in the works to be unveiled in the Spring, courtesy of Charlie Nichols, a dedicated alumnus from 1959. We also are adding a coffee bar in the Morgan Center as I write to you today.

The list of accomplishments, both large and small, goes on and on from there but the bottom line is that things are looking up in most every area of the University. Accordingly, I feel very fortunate to be assisting the University in the role of interim President and serving the incredible faculty, staff, and students who call Sul Ross home. I also look forward to serving and getting to know our alumni and university friends in this special role.

So rather than ramble on and end up losing your interest in reading future blogs, permit me to end here just like they used to end serial television shows back when there were only three channels from which to choose. Stay tuned for next weeks episode…