Monthly Archives: March 2014

March 25, 2014: Proud Moments

The weather these days has been up and down in Alpine recently, but the low numbers are receding and staying with us fewer and fewer days each time we see them. Of course the weather is relative, and ours is a much more preferable and hospitable climate than most anywhere else in the country on most any given day. For example, earlier this week when I arrived on campus a little after 7AM on Monday it already was in the low 50s. But on TV in the University Center where Sasha customizes the coffee, Al Roker was shivering in New York City with hundreds of onlookers who looked way beyond just cold.

There is much to enjoy about Alpine in addition to the weather. In previous blogs I have mentioned the friendliness of the people and the natural beauty of the Big Bend area. I’ve also talked on numerous occasions about the campus community and how much I enjoy serving faculty who are dedicated to excellence in teaching, staff who have a genuine affection for Sul Ross, and students who have chosen the Lobo family over many others that they could have selected.

I also like being able to pop into the University Center and bump into our athletes and coaches having breakfast. It seems that Coach Pearce now has a full complement of coaches who are enjoying Spring training at Zero Dark Thirty each morning. Driving by Jackson Field this morning on the way to the office the bright lights of the stadium cut like a beacon through the darkness. As I got out of my truck, I could hear the sounds of young men practicing together at a time when most of the town was just starting to wake up. If the sounds I heard are indicative of the season we will have next year then I think we are in for a treat. They were not only loud, but upbeat and in synch, suggesting to me that Coach Pearce has them working well toward some important common goals.

I also ran into Antuan Washington yesterday in Graves Pierce and he mentioned he was enjoying the extra duties as our interim track coach. The team seems to be competing at a high level and I’m optimistic we may have some track team members that will represent Sul Ross at a national level. I also heard from AD Bobby Mesker that we have successfully recruited some volleyball players that will help make a difference in that program thanks to our very enthusiastic new coach, Dewayne Roberts. By the way, our women’s basketball team and senior standout Asrelle Anderson were both recognized by the American Southwest Conference for their outstanding sportsmanship.

On an unrelated note, I heard from my Executive Assistant yesterday that we may not be able to unveil the new statue of Sullivan Ross the week of Spring graduation after all. According to Paul Tadlock, the foundry will not likely have it finished until June which leaves us scratching our heads a bit wondering when the next best opportunity for an unveiling will occur. We’ll continue to monitor the production progress and consider likely dates, including our donor’s availability to visit campus.

There is lots to be proud of at Sul Ross!

 

March 19, 2014: Spring Plans

I think it’s been about 10 days since my last blog so I thought I better get back into the groove following a restful Spring Break. By the way, for those who have fallen out of the habit of looking forward to Spring Break, either because you are no longer attending college, teaching, or have a son or daughter in school, let me suggest that you might re-connect to the glory of Spring Break by signing up for an on-line class. Then you too could look forward to it just like we do as educators, students, and university staff!

Backing up a bit, my previous blog was composed on an SWA flight to Dallas. That very next day several university presidents and chancellors were privileged to attend a morning seminar by former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Not only was this event held in the new George W. Bush Presidential Library at SMU, it also was followed with an informal talk by the former President as well who very capably hosted a luncheon for fifty or so of those fortunate to attend. His candor and humor was much appreciated at the event, as well as his generosity in posing with each of us for individual photos.

DC visitOur Texas State University System group led by Chancellor McCall left for Washington, D.C. later that same afternoon. Wednesday and Thursday saw us visit with nearly every member of the Texas delegation to the U.S. Congress, including Pete Gallego, Mike McCaul, Henry Cuellar, Mac Thornberry,  Joaquin Castro, and John Cornyn to name but a few. We even got an insider’s tour of the U.S. Congress that was nothing less than impressive, although we ran out of time to visit my personal favorite, the U.S. Library of Congress. If you haven’t visited our nation’s capital in a while or ever, I highly recommend it. I also particularly like the FDR Memorial that was opened only a few years ago.

Following our whirlwind tour of DC, each of the four TSUS presidents on the trip returned to our respective campuses in time for the Spring Break exodus. My plans included a fishing trip to Mexico where we didn’t exactly catch many fish or any  of particularly great size (after all, it’s called fishing, not catching), but I enjoyed time with my 70+ year-old dad who looks forward to this annual and historic fishing trip for the several weeks leading up to it almost as much as I do. I wish I had pictures to share but they would have to be of the five grungy looking fishermen who were overmatched all week long by the trophy black bass we thought couldn’t possibly resist the plastic worms, lizards, and spinner baits that we threw at them until our arms nearly fell off.

Spring Break also signifies the home stretch for the academic year. Not only are we half-way through the Spring semester, we also are nearing the end of the school year and rushing forward to graduation. Our search for a President continues with the deadline for applications looming large by the end of this month. Kind of like fishing, the committee will be allowed to dip into the live well after that and see what turns up. Hopefully, they will spot quite a few that are keepers.

Planning ahead I want to report that I still am optimistic that our unveiling of the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross will coincide with Spring commencement. But it ultimately will depend on the foundry and whether they can produce the finished product in time for delivery to Alpine. Even further down the road, plans are underway for a special musical tribute/performance by a very talented Sul Ross alum (this is in addition to the performance we hope to enjoy by a new marching band that we intend to introduce next Fall) at homecoming in November. Alumni will not want to miss being in town for the Presidential reception in their honor, the Motown tribute performance that same night, the Homecoming parade and football game the next day, nor the Saturday evening Awards Banquet. Stay tuned for additional details.

 

March 4, 2014: No place like home

Just returned from a TSUS Regents’ meeting and an alumni luncheon. Travel is an education of sorts. It helps provide perspective and it also helps increase appreciation for home.

Whenever I leave Alpine I pretty much can expect the weather to be less Alpine-like (meaning less ideal) than anywhere I go. Colder elsewhere than here in the winter, hotter everywhere else than here in the summer, and always more humid.

This past week’s schedule took me to San Marcos, a place I like a lot. Hospitality was great and we dined in the newly updated football stadium and also attended the opening of an opulent, if not breathtaking, performing arts center.

Riding back, Cesar Valenzuela and I talked about our Sul Ross campus and how it compares with others in the system. Our Alpine campus is one of natural beauty and simplicity. We even discussed why we don’t have showpiece buildings. True, we have a new $1.4M football field house, a fantastic Gallego Center, the best residential housing in Texas, a great baseball park, and a modern student union, but none of these are particularly flashy. Why?  Probably because our history and setting are practical like the people who pioneered and populated West Texas.

Ours is a rancher’s mentality. Why build something for more if we can build a darn good one for less? Why serve lobster bisque and white wine if you can put steak and enchiladas and sweet tea on the table?

Yep, we’re not all that fancy at Sul Ross, Trappings aside, but we do appreciate great performances and unique poetry, good food and good company. For me I prefer the West and the twang that comes with it!

Incidentally, I wrote this blog on a plane to Big D, before heading out the next day to DC. I already miss the Big Bend!