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Lamar perseveres after Rita for 
historical winter graduation

More than 670 strong, the Lamar University class of December 2005 braved the storm, graduating Thursday night (Dec. 22, 2005) in what President Jimmy Simmons called “the graduation that almost didn’t happen.”

A near-capacity audience filled the Montagne Center for the ceremony, scheduled hours after classes concluded for the fall semester.  Hurricane Rita interrupted classes for four weeks, extended the semester and delayed commencement from the original date of Dec. 17.

“This is an important occasion, especially when you consider that there was 2 inches of water on this floor less than three months ago,” Simmons said.

The winter commencement was special in several ways, he told the graduates and guests. 

“This is our first-ever evening graduation. It’s one of the largest December graduations in Lamar history. And it was the graduation that almost didn’t happen,” Simmons said

U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, the commencement speaker, drew rounds of applause with his address.

“Three hours ago, you were taking finals,” Poe said. “Three days before Christmas, you’re graduating from ‘ Hurricane University .’”

Stephen Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said commencement is the highlight of any academic year but is especially so this year.

“Following the devastating winds of Hurricane Rita, there were moments in September when we hoped the next commencement would be in May of 2006,” Doblin said. “Heartfelt thanks are owed to many – including tonight’s graduates – for the willingness and efforts that allowed us to pick up the pieces; patch the roofs; dry the buildings; reassemble the faculty, staff and students; and finish the fall semester.”

Lamar’s holiday break begins Friday, Dec. 23, and grades will not become final until after the campus reopens Jan. 3. Although honor graduates and potential recipients of the Plummer Award, for graduates with the highest grade-point averages, were recognized during the ceremony, they will not be officially announced until final grades are tabulated.

Calendar of Events Listing/Public Service Announcement:

‘The Meaning of the Movies: 100 Years of Cinema’

Rivers to present Distinguished Faculty Lecture Jan. 30 at Lamar

(Runs through Jan. 30, 2006)

Kenneth Rivers, professor of French at Lamar University , will present Lamar’s 19th annual Distinguished Faculty Lecture, sponsored by ExxonMobil, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30, 2006,  in the University Theatre. “The Meaning of the Movies: 100 Years of Cinema in the U.S. and Around the World” will be Rivers’ topic as he leads a cinematic journey through a century of film-making. His lecture commemorates the centennial of the first U.S. movie theater. Using clips from classic films to illustrate his presentation, Rivers will share insights and experiences of his lifelong fascination with the movies. A reception is scheduled after the lecture in the University Theatre lobby. The lecture was delayed from its original October date because of Hurricane Rita. The University Theatre is on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway at Lavaca on the Lamar campus in Beaumont . The events are open to the public without charge. Call (409) 880-8419 for additional information.


Department chair Bulow orchestrates Lamar music,
theater & dance department to new round of applause


Harry Bulow, with some of his many instruments on which he performs.

Photo by Brian Sattler/courtesy of Lamar University

Harry Bulow is tuned to musical superlatives.

He plays a score of instruments, has studied with such musical giants as Aaron Copland and Henry Mancini and performed with legendary bandleader Woody Herman.

His ensemble, the New Rococo Bandsmen, was a big hit at high school dances and malls in southern California during the ’70s. As a teenager, he had a career in radio – rising from janitor to announcer at his parents’

stations. And he worked his way through graduate school writing jingles for such clients as Taco Bell and film and television music for “The Incredible Hulk,” among others.

He is literally a one-man band, whose Harry Bulow Jazz Quartet Minus 3 has entertained audiences for years. He arranges all the parts (bass, piano and drums) and records them, then plays over them with flute, clarinet or saxophone.

Now, he has taken on new challenges as chair of Lamar University ’s Department of Music, Theatre & Dance, orchestrating 19 full-time and 17 part-time faculty members; 220 undergraduate and graduate music, theatre and dance majors; and about 1,300 non-majors who take music each semester.

That challenge multiplied when the devastating blow of Hurricane Rita forced postponement and rescheduling of dozens of concerts, recitals, plays, dance performances and other events. But he persevered, and the department’s season is back on track.

“There a lot of good things about Lamar. It’s a rising school. It’s emerging,” Bulow said.”I like the people – both the faculty and the students. There’s a lot of positive energy – and. a strong artistic vision."                                                                       

Bulow came to Lamar from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte , where he was professor of music and director of the Center for Music Technology.

A native of De Moines , Iowa , he grew up in Iowa , Minnesota and California , where, in his formative years, he studied organ, saxophone, clarinet and flute. He graduated from San Diego State University with distinction, earning a bachelor’s degree in piano. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles , both in theory and composition.

Though he learned to play the organ when he was 8, his first childhood aspiration was to become a doctor. “But junior high school, however, I had a tremendous experience in the band program, which changed my life.

“After that, I didn’t have a question in my mind because, in high school, I became the drum major. I became the jazz band instructor. Once I was in the band, I was playing clarinet, flute, all the saxophones – most of the woodwinds. I found baritone sax was one of my favorite instruments, and I play quite a bit of flute. When I do my jazz gigs, I do mostly saxophone and flute improvisations.”

He continues playing piano, his undergraduate major, and he wishes he had more time to hone his skills on the bassoon.

Bulow’s compositions have received numerous prizes, including first prize at the International Composers Competition in Italy , a National Endowment for the Arts Composer Felowship and 20 consecutive awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He’s emphasized composing in recent years, with New York publisher and a number of commissions.

“I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire,” he says, “but I try to keep performing. Sometimes, as a musician, you just want to go to the practice room and play your horn.”

As a lover of music, Bulow considers himself a traditionalist. “Ernie Watts is probably my favorite saxophone player, and Charlie Parker and those bebop players I liked a great deal.”

He played a concert with Woody Herman and his last “Thundering Herd” at the Hollywood Bowl, and the bandleader later accepted Bulow’s invitation to perform in Santa Barbara.

Bulow has performed as soloist with a number of symphony orchestras, including Santa Barbara , San Antonio and Omaha , as well as Charlotte , where  the late Dudley Moore once was piano soloist on Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Bulow had made more than his share of musical memories.

“The arts are all tremendous, but music – I’m glad I went in this direction because I’ve been a lot of different places and experienced a lot of fun moments with people. We’ve made some really great music.”

As department chair, Bulow hopes to continue taking the department in the direction of success.

“My principal aim is to reinforce and support the positive areas we already have and to see if we can’t develop new areas that are emerging technologies and the whole media area,” he said. “My focus as an artist-composer-performer is really the integration of the arts. I think it is important for musicians, dancers and theater people to work together.”

Music brought Bulow together with his wife, Ellen, a native of Hong Kong, when he was teaching at the University of Hawaii 15 years ago. They sang in their church choir together and kept seeing one another at concerts. Their first date, not surprisingly, was to a concert. Ellen Bulow is a talented pianist who also has been a church organist and music director. In Charlotte , she was a beloved member of the community, attracting scores of piano students to her studio.

The Bulows have two children, Tim, 11, and Hanna,

His profession allows little leisure time, but, he said, “Spending time with my wife and kids and trying to perform music are still the joys of my life.”

Show goes on after Rita for new
Lamar chair Harry Bulow

Suppose they gave a performing arts season and nobody came – except a devastating diva named Rita.

That was the worst-case scenario confronting Harry Bulow just weeks after he arrived at Lamar University to take on the highly visible and active role as chair of the Department of Music, Theatre & Dance.

As a result of his efforts and those of his faculty, the shows affected by Hurricane Rita went on, rescheduled later in the fall and in spring of 2006. “A lot of the work we did prior to Rita, we had to redo,” Bulow said. “It’s been a wild ride.”

Bulow had barely settled into his office in the Music Building – he’d been there about five weeks – when Rita came roaring onto the Southeast Texas coast, cutting a wide swath across the Lamar campus.

Rita also was taking aim at the home where Bulow, his wife, Ellen, and their two children – all first-time Texans – were just getting settled after the move from North Carolina .

“We tried to get out,” Bulow said. “We were on the road 9 ½ hours and got just 10 miles. That’s when we decided to come back. We would probably have had to drive 25 hours, Plus, we hadn’t been in Texas very long and really didn’t know where to go.”

So the family battened down the hatches of its Brentwood area home.

‘The golf course is in the back of the house, so we got pillowcases and filled them with sand borrowed from the traps and barricaded the house. We propped beds against the windows. We had a generator going and kept saws in case we had to cut our way out. We were prepared.”

After 10 days, however, the family was running low on gasoline and drove to Baytown to get more.

But, said Bulow, “We couldn’t get back into Beaumont . Finally, we discovered some back roads and found our way back.”

Bulow returned to his campus domain to find 2 inches of water in the band hall and the University Theatre “a swimming pool.” The Music Building sustained other major damage, and several musical instruments were destroyed. Working with his senior administrative associate, Delores Black, he kept track of faculty members during the evacuation.

“There were a lot of things that we’ve worked hard to pull together.”

And there was the larger issue of un-scheduling, then rescheduling, a full season of concerts, recitals and stage performances.

“We had to go through and find venues for all the performances – especially Lamarissimo! because I didn’t want to lose the series,” Bulow said. “We moved people around, not just to the Jefferson Theatre but also to places like Lamar State College-Port Arthur and the Parker Center .”

Faced with $4,000 in repair bills for the two instruments badly damaged in the flood, the department found help from the Texas Music Educators Association, which stepped forward to ask what it could do to help and offered to repair the instruments at no charge.

For Bulow, as a new department chair, “Starting out was difficult – twice. It’s always tough in the fall, but then we had to start up again. It’s been like a year or two – or five. Everyone is pretty worn out.”

But, he said, “I think we’re OK, although the storm will have a residual effect on the entire year. It has intensified all our seasons. We had to pack 15 weeks worth of concerts into seven, but everyone’s working hard. It’s a great group of people.

“It will be a busy spring, but a good one,” he said, referring to the Lamarissimo! concert series’ schedule now totaling four concerts instead of the usual two.

“We will be more charged up with an even greater dedication to the series,” Bulow said.

“There’s a sense of loss in the community, and people want to get back to things that feel normal. Lamarissmimo! has a defining quality on the campus and in the community. We don’t want to lose our culture.”


Lamar student elected to 
national honors council

National Collegiate Honors Council board member Oscar Villanueva of Baytown , with Lamar Honors Student Association President Divya Verma of Orange at the meeting of the council.

Villanueva paves new way for 
Lamar Honors Program

Being the “new kid on the block” can be hard for students – with moving, having to make friends and proving yourself, it can be a trying time for anyone . . . unless you’re Oscar Villanueva.

After transferring to Lamar University at the

beginning of the fall semester from Lee College in Baytown , his hometown, Villanueva joined the Lamar Honors Student Association.

He went on to earn nationwide recognition with his election to the board of directors of the National Collegiate Honors Council, becoming the first student from Lamar to hold this position.

“I feel tremendously honored to represent honors students from all across the nation in the name of Lamar University ,” he said.

Villanueva says the students in the Lamar Honors Student Association were graceful enough to elect him to serve as their representative at both the National Collegiate Honors Council and Great Plains Honors Conference. While at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in October, Donna Birdwell, honors programs director, informed Villanueva of the opening on the Board.

“She said based on my past academic achievements and leadership credentials, she felt I had a good chance of being elected to the position,” he said.

Villenueva took Birdwell’s advice, and, after being nominated from the floor at the conference’s business meeting, he formulated a personal biography and a statement of purpose, which was posted on the internet. Members of the Honors Council, administrators, honors program directors and other executives, not students, voted. From a candidate pool of six, Villanueva and another student were selected.                                             

“This is such a blessing that I will take very seriously,” he said. “It is a humbling position of responsibility that I will strive to perform dutifully,” he said.

Villanueva is majoring in pre-law and English at Lamar. He says he chose English because he thinks it will prepare him for the rigorous reading, writing and research he will be faced with in law school.

“I would like to thank Dr. Birdwell and all my fellow students in the Honors Program,” he said, “for they all had a hand in this accomplishment.

“But more than anything, I would like to recognize my parents for their dedication and commitment and the desire they instilled in me to always reach higher in anything I undertake. I would not be where I am today without their help.” 


Culinary artists whip up eats 
at 3rd annual LU contest


Nederland High School students Conner Brennan (left) and Prestin Wyble took first prize in the family and consumer science division, specifically for schools without a designated culinary program.

Dressed like professional chefs, adorned in white jackets and matching culinary hats, students from 10 high schools as far away as Lufkin and Newton participated in the third annual Culinary Challenge at Lamar University .

Nederland High School students Prestin Wyble 

and Conner Brennan took first prize in the family and consumer science division, specifically for schools without a designated culinary program. Hardin-Jefferson High School students Kala Koonce and Andrea Wilkins took second place, and West Brook High School students Jasmine Castillo and Kayla Fontenot of Beaumont took third place within that division.

In the culinary arts division, designated for schools with culinary arts programs, first-place winners were Johnny Brantner and Sarah Robinson of Hudson High School near Lufkin . Taylor Career Center students Amber Morris and Elyssa Gaddis of Beaumont took the second-place prize in that division.

The Lamar event was created as an outreach effort on the part of the Lamar’s hospitality management program, said Molly Dahm, program director.

“Our goal in to expose high school students to the culinary arts at Lamar,” Dahm said. During the contest, students had the opportunity to work in a state-of-the arts kitchen and compete according to rules established by the American Culinary Federation. In addition, students got a first-hand look at Lamar’s hospital management and culinary programs.

Each team created a fruit tray, a vegetable tray and a cheese tray. Each dish was completed in 45 minutes, which included cleanup time for each work station.

Students were judged on teamwork and planning; appearance and personal hygiene; use of products; organized workspace and sanitation; integration of products; creativity; and overall appeal and function. Contest judges included Charles Duit, instructor of culinary arts at Lamar and food service director at Calder Woods; Casey Gates, a 2005 hospitality management graduate from Lamar and executive chef at Pablano Grill; and Joshua Srader, who works at Pappadeaux’s and will graduate from Lamar’s hospitality management program Thursday.

The local Golden Triangle Chefs Association purchased chef coats for all participants, a prize basket and a $250 prize for each first-place winner who enrolls in Lamar’s hospitality management program. Within the program, Lamar issues a culinary arts certificate, which designates graduating students as certified culinarians, accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

Other schools participating in the culinary arts division included Lufkin High School and West Orange-Stark High School . Schools also participating in the family and consumer science division included Lumberton , Ozen and Silsbee high schools.


Texas Poetry Calendar features 
Lamar’s Patrick Wright


Patrick Allen Wright, with 2006 Texas Poetry Calendar

Photo by Brian Sattler/courtesy of Lamar University

Meet Patrick Allen Wright, calendar poet.

Note the week of Jan. 15-21, 2006, and mark those dates. They’re Wright’s seven days of fame in the 2006 Texas Poetry Calendar. It’s quite an honor for the Lamar University lecturer in English and one that places him in an elite

group of Texas poets selected for the annual publication from among hundreds who submitted entries.

“It’s an honor because not that many people are represented,” said Wright, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Lamar.

The calendar’s publisher, Dos Gatos Press of Austin, selected Wright’s “Delusions of  a Modern Quixote” for inclusion in the 116-page volume. There’s a poem for every week – a few of them have two short poems.

“The editors said they liked this poem a great deal. One of my friends calls it my signature piece. It’s a first-person poem, and it does kind of capture my personality,” Wright said. “I’ve always referred to it as one of my several surrealistic poems because I take life experiences and turn them into animated scenarios.”

Wright’s appreciation for poetry began when he was a boy growing up in Nederland and Hardin County. “There were a lot of books in my family,” he said. “ I always liked the ones that had fairytales.

“As I grew older, I didn’t know anything about my writing skills or abilities, but my senior English teacher at Hardin-Jefferson asked us to write an epigram as a little exercise.

When we came back to school the next day, she had put my epigram on the bulletin board,” he recalls. “That was a big kick for me.”             

After graduating from Hardin-Jefferson in 1971 he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Lamar in 1980 and 1984, respectively. His master’s thesis made Lamar history, and Wright is proud of that landmark.    

“I wrote the first creative thesis ever accepted at Lamar University,” Wright said.

The late Robert Barnes, then the department chair, was chairman of  his thesis committee, and, like R.S. “Sam” Gwynn, was a mentor. The thesis is made up of 81 poems and an afterword explaining the writing process for several.

“That really is important to me because a lot of people have done them since then,” Wright said. “The argument against it was that a creative thesis wasn’t significant enough, and so Bob Barnes took me under his wing to prove that you can learn a lot from writing poetry.”

Also during his Lamar career, Wright set what he believes is a record for the most publications in Pulse. The literary magazine published 45 of Wright’s poems, also bestowing the Eleanor Poetry Award three times.

Wright, 52, is a Vietnam veteran, having served in the military between high school and Lamar. “During that time, I wrote,” he said. “I wrote mostly bad poetry, but it was poetry nonetheless. When I got out of the Army, poetry became practically therapeutic for me. It was very cryptic – nobody but I could understand what I said. I was trying to hide the meaning.”

During almost three years in Asia, he developed an interest in Oriental ideas. He likes to write haiku and, he says, “My poetry sometimes has that flavor.” He also has a black belt in martial arts.

Wright continued to write after leaving Lamar and earning secondary teaching certification from Texas A&M University and mid-management certification for administration from the University of Texas-Pan American.

He was a teacher and administrator in Edinburg and McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley but returned to Southeast Texas in 1995 and joined the Lamar faculty in 2000.           

Wright says he is fortunate to have returned to Lamar when he did because it enabled him to renew his friendship with his mentor and champion, Bob Barnes, before Barnes’ death in 2003. “His influence on me as a teacher, poet and person are immeasurable,” says Wright.

During his career as an educator, Wright has served as an assistant principal at West Orange-Stark High School and Lumberton Middle School and as a teacher in Silsbee, as well as in the Valley.                                                                                                     
Wright stays close to his Hardin County roots; he and his wife, Stephenie, a surgical nurse at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital, live in Silsbee with their daughter, Lara Anne, 3. His parents, Charlene and Alton J. Wright live near Lumberton.

With Gwynn’s encouragement, Wright has become more serious about publishing his work.

Why poetry?

“I write to see how well I can put an image on the page. Sometimes it’s an inspiration that wants to get onto the page. Other times, it’s just something that I’ve thought about. Most of my poems, though – that are any good – came out on their own. It’s almost as if a poem was inside waiting to happen, and I was ready with pen and paper in hand.”

The 2006 Texas Poetry Calendar also features poems by Lounel Whitaker of Beaumont and Michael Gullickson of Nederland. Whitaker received an honorable mention for her poem “Along the Railroad Track.” The calendar is available through the Dos Gatos Press  website,


Lamar University hosts winter commencement Thursday

Lamar University is scheduled to confer about 675 degrees during winter 2005 commencement at  6:30 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 22, 2005) in the Montagne Center . The speaker will be U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble.

Seven of the graduates will receive dual degrees. Graduates hail from eight countries, 12 states outside Texas and 77 cities in Texas .

Highlights of commencement will include presentation of the Plummer Award, honoring the graduates with the highest grade-point averages in their class.

The commencement represents a departure from previous ceremonies concluding the fall semester. Hurricane Rita interrupted classes for four weeks in September and October, delaying graduation from Dec. 17 to Dec. 22 – the last day of classes and final exams and the day before Lamar’s holiday break begins. Staff members return Jan. 3, and spring classes begin Jan. 11.


‘Santa’s Unlimited’ brings holiday
cheer to Lamar families

(Left to right) Lainey Solomon,a junior; Ashley Johnson, a 2004 graduate; and Andrea Ogren, who earned degrees from Lamar in 2003 and 2005, sack Christmas gifts donated to Santa's Unlimited. The gifts were wrapped Monday and Tuesday and they will be distributed throughout the day Wednesday and Thursday

Solomon is from Deweyville, Johnson is a Port Arthur native and Ogven lives in Orange .

Photo by Chris Castillo/courtesy of Lamar University

The “Santa’s Unlimited” gift collection/distribution sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs at Lamar University is coming to a close today and Thursday (Dec. 21 and 22).

After two months of collecting gifts through donations from faculty members, campus organizations and the student affairs office, 28 Lamar families will be able to put gifts for their children under the Christmas tree this year.

The Office of Student Affairs posted flyers around the Lamar campus near Thanksgiving, advertising assistance through the Santa’s Unlimited program. Parents and students filled out applications, and, if they were verified to be students and families of Lamar, they were “adopted” and had some holiday shopping done for them this year.

“We had a lot of participation this year from campus organizations,” said Lainey Solomon, student director of the Office of Student Affairs.

Parents of the families may come pick up their gifts at the student affairs office, Room 115 Wimberly Student Services Building, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Thursday.   


The Cardinals are coming! The Cardinals are coming!

Austin reception revs Lamar alumni 
for Jan. 7 Cardinal-Bobcat contest

Lamar University will host a pre-game reception for Austin area alumni and friends of Lamar at 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at Matt’s El Rancho, 2613 S. Lamar Blvd. in Austin .

The event will precede the Southland Conference basketball match-up between the Lamar Cardinals and the Texas State University Bobcats at 7 p.m. Jan. 7 in Strahan Coliseum on the Texas State campus in San Marcos .

Lamar’s office of alumni affairs is coordinating the event.

“Alumni gatherings provide a unique opportunity for our alumni to reconnect with Lamar University and get back in touch with friends and former classmates,” said Juan Zabala, director of alumni affairs. “As the always spirited conference basketball competition gets underway, I know all of our alumni will want to rally behind Coach Billy Tubbs and the Cardinals.”

Tickets to the game are available through the Texas State University ticket office, (512) 245-2272. Prices are $8 for reserved seats and $6 for general admission.  

Additional information about the reception is available from the Lamar University Office of Alumni Affairs, (409) 880-8921.

Lamar to confer 650 degrees at 
winter commencement Dec. 22

Lamar University is scheduled to confer about 650 degrees during winter commencement at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22, in the Montagne Center .

U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, will be the commencement speaker.

Here are Lamar’s winter degree candidates and their majors, listed according to their hometowns.      

AHMEDABAD, India : Taruna Ratankumar Hasrajani, business administration; Vivek Hasmukh Shah, master of engineering science.                     

ALLEN: Shana Marie Neal Plake, counseling and development.        

BANGALORE , India : Nivedita Deshpande, Srinivas Varadaraj, computer science.         

BARODA , India : Jignashu Vitthaldas Bodawala, Dhaval Vasantkumar Desai, master of engineering.  

BEAUMONT: Sondra Lynn Ancelot, Velina Haynes Johnson, administration; Harry James McCowan, applied criminology; Jyothi Chinnie Koneru Chennupati, Juan Carlos Chica, Colin Bryan Echols, Robert Stephen Grissom, Todd Allan Johnson, Dennetta Marcella Starks, Deborah Lynn Bowling Verret, business administration; Swati Agarwal, Sheshu Mettu, chemistry; Chirag Bhavsar, Girish Tarachand Dhameja, Bankim Ghelani, Nilkanth Kakadiya, Anupama Kunchakara, Rui Luo, Vamshikrishna Mada, Sanjaya Maurya, Aravinth-Raj Shanmogavel, Amit Shrivastava, Bala Senthil Sivaramachandran, computer science; My-Linh Thi Ho, counseling and development; Delores Ann Johnson Calvin, educational technology leadership; Palak Chandrakant Shah, environmental engineering; Vineela Kolupoti, Sunil Paleru, environmental studies; Baikuntha Adhikari, Keerthan Anjani, Srinivas Anumula, Satya Surya Siva Rama Hanuman Athi, Srinivas Reddy Ayannagari, Jwalant Dhananjay Bhatt, Bhanuprakash Bhukya, Karthik Datta, Tie Deng, Hemant Ramakani Joshi, Satish Kadali, Gopichand  Kavikondala, Shruti Malla, Madhavi Satyasri Medapati, Sridhar Mudhagouni, Chaithanya Nakka, Vaibhavkumar Pandya, Himanshukumar Patel, Mayankkumar Ramanlal Patel, Smitkumar Pradipbhai Patel, Praveen Kumar Roopireddy, Daniel Ogwoka Siringi, Anand Solanki, Melvin Suggs Jr., Sri Nagendra Tayi, master of engineering; Sumeet Santkumar Manjudevi Agarwal, Chaitanya  Gabbula, Sachin Pandurang Lahoti, Balu Mahendra Meka, Vijay Kumar Dhanji Patel, Sathishkumar Rajendran, master of engineering science; Vijai Golla, mathematics; Shanna  Lane Chance, Michelle Celeste Gooch Corning, public administration; Widad Miqdadi Abedelwahab, secondary education; Kimberly Anne Bruno Sleeper, special education; Crystal La'Neal Curry, theatre; Sylvia Weir, visual arts.                                                                                                                                      

BHONGIR, India : Sudheer Reddy Baddam, computer science.                

BRIDGE CITY: Cynthia Rene Bayarena Dupuis, Kyra Rienstra, administration; Stephanie Carolyn  Townsend, business administration; Rebecca Ann Mathews, counseling and development; Mary Elizabeth Foster, environmental engineering.                                             

BUNA: Lockwood Belew Cox, biology; Stacy Anne Rush Rutherford, counseling and development.                       

CHANDIGARH , India : Avtar Singh, master of engineering.                 

CHENNAI, India : Narayanan Kasthuri, Vijayanand Varadachari Santhanam, master of engineering.         

CHODAVARAM, India : Chandrasekhar Narayana Challa, master of engineering.

COLLEGE STATION: Wykesha Renae Townsend, applied criminology.      

CORPUS CHRISTI : Laura Zuniga Hane, deaf studies/deaf education.    

DAYTON , Texas : Robyn Richter, special education.                       

DEWEYVILLE: Betty Ann Talbert Foster, administration.              

DILLON, Mont. : Kandis Leigh Grose, family and consumer sciences.            

EVANSVILLE , Ind. : Seth Thomas Davidson, theatre.                         

GROVES : Jeremy Everett Hendricks, business administration; Cheryl Markum Higgins, special education.                                     

GUJARAT, India : Swara Dashrathbhai Patel, chemistry; Atin Jain, Ankit Thakorbhai Patel, Anand Kiran Kumar Shah, master of engineering.       

GUNTUR , India : Rajashekhar Tadi, environmental engineering.            

HARDIN: Robyn Lynn Shafer Thornton, counseling and development.    

HARYANA, India : Rajan Nanda, business administration.                  

HOUSTON : Georgann Ellis, Scott Hutchison, deaf studies/deaf education; Zaheer Iqbal Rangwala, master of engineering.                

HYDERABAD INDIA: Venkat Ramana Reddy Goli, Ravikiran Kumar Tatikonda, chemistry; Sirisha Reddy Seri, environmental studies; Akshitha Boddu, Karthik Reddy

Bommana, Veena Kale, Rama Devi Kasoji, Rahul Koorapati Bhasker, Rohini Priya Parvathaneni, master of engineering.              

KALAMAZOO , Mich. : Brent Tannin Tabata, family and consumer sciences.        

KIRBYVILLE: Ryan Wayland Moody, applied criminology.               

KOLKATA, India : Debojyoti Ghosh, computer science.                     

LIBERTY : Laurie Louise Vinson Elliott, administration.             

LORENA: Erica Leigh Walther, deaf studies/deaf education.          

LUMBERTON : Krystle Lea Mason, applied criminology; Andrew Jude Challie, business administration; Kristi Nicole Goad, secondary education.                                                   

MAHARASHTRA, India : Kiran Devi Kangjam, master of engineering.         

MANASSAS , Va. : Baljinder Singh, master of engineering.                  

MAURICEVILLE: Justin William Klipstein, public administration.     

MOBILE Ala. : Brenda Ruth Fore, counseling and development.                       

MONTGOMERY : Timothy David Elkins, history.                         

MOUNT PLEASANT: Juanita Judith Sosa, deaf studies/deaf education.  

MUMBAI, India : Nisha Krishnakumar Menon, computer science; Hemal Navinchandra Rupani, master of engineering science.                    

NEDERLAND: Cindy Lin Durso Ashcraft, administration; Tara Colleen Duval, Randy Allen Hudson, business administration; Theresa Lynn Karnes Ramey, Kelli Lynn Spell, counseling and development; Carrie Deann Hysmith Martin, educational technology leadership; April Lanette Shierling Petersberger, special education.                              

NEW DELHI , India : Vijeta Goyal, computer science.                      

NIXON: Audra Annette Williams, deaf studies/deaf education.        

ORANGE : Teri Lea Fisher Rainey, administration; Cindy Ann Sheppard Overman, Candi Lyn Kemp Patterson, counseling and development.         

PORT ARTHUR : Shayla Denise Curry, applied criminology; Kirsten Faye Richard, Kim Thanh Tran, business administration; Devin Lyndell Woods, master of engineering; Mary Jennifer Jones Edwards, public administration.                                                        

PORT NECHES : Michelle Therese Bryan, Keith Jones, Summer Senae Schwertner, business administration.                                   

PUNE, India : Sandeep Gore, master of engineering science.           

PUNJAB, India : Nitin Garg, master of engineering.                      

RAJASTHAN, India : Saurabh Gupta, master of engineering; Deepika Shevade, master of engineering science.                                         

ROPAR, India : Navjot Singh, master of engineering.                     

RUTHERFORDTON , N.C. : Vijayraghavan Parthasarathy, master of engineering. 

SAN ANTONIO : Cristina Veronica Elizondo, family and consumer sciences.

SURAT , India : Pinkesh Gautamchand Gadiya, master of engineering.       

TALLADEGA , Ala. :  Jason Timothy Roop, deaf studies/deaf education.        

TUNJA, Colombia : Daniel Vicente Villate, master of engineering.        

VIDOR: Madeline Sanders Adcock, Daisy Kathryn Barnett Netterville, business administration; Rhonda Renae Shelley James, counseling and development; Jennifer Dennis Pickard, educational technology leadership; Pauline Elizabeth Brown, Abby Kathleen Hickerson Judkins, special education.                          

VINTON, La. : Caraleen Michelle Shird Rogers, administration.            

VISAKHAPATNAM , India : Oindrila Bhawal, business administration; Uma Mahesh Vommi, master of engineering.                                   

WANAPARTHY, India : Raghavendhar Konnoju, computer science.             

WOODVILLE: Steve Gibbs, administration; Emma Claudette Walker, Robert Drew Walker, special education.                                                                                                                                              

Bachelor’s Degrees                                              

ABAGANA, Nigeria : Francisca Nonyelum Akaenyi Okadigbo, health.         

ANAHUAC: Chad Thomas Myzell, industrial technology; Tammy Austra Duhon, interdisciplinary studies.                                      

ARICA , Chile : Benjamin Ignacio Garate Melus, economics and finance (two degrees).                     

BAYTOWN : Anesia Ann Parrish, general business; Suzanne Krisher,  general studies; Courtney Ryan Vaughan, industrial technology; Jerry Bradford, kinesiology; Cory Lee Broussard, mechanical engineering.     

BEAUMONT: Sharika Baksh Bean Allison, Eboni Jahara Bertrand, William Alexander Chambers Jr., Sameh Ghaly, Precious Ebony Johnson, Pamela Marie Lockler, William Henry Seale Jr., Courtney Ann Woods, accounting; Regina Blandine Arceneaux, Carla Jean Bohn, Elizabeth Bonura Breaux, Jo Anne Stelly Eugene, William Stark Lambert Jr., Thomas Lewis Jr., Eltema Joyce Bean Mitchell, Chandra Joyce Spiller, applied arts and sciences; Stephen Louis Walston, chemistry; Jonathan Michael Klauss, civil engineering; William Burnell Cook Jr., Robert Cortez Jr., Brittany Nacole Droddy, Shontel Nicole Green, Jennifer Sparks Lowrance, Brandon Rocco Morrell, Tamera Cne' Thompson, communication; Eryka Genee Thomas, Clayton Allen Thomason, criminal justice; Nicole Elizabeth Daigle, dance; Kandyce Meskerem Ashworth, Haley Rochelle Celeste, Arkisha Shaneal Collier, English; Christopher Blake Vidrine, environmental science; Amy Renee Barker, exercise science and fitness management; Edward Pe Camba, Breanne Rene'e Sales Flowers, Tonya Dailey Gernentz, Maronda Parrott, family and consumer sciences; Raissa Teresa Javier Belan, Justin Wayne Murphy, Nina Tong, finance; Sarah Diane Arthur, Cherice Elaine Braden, general business; Bryan Edward Brassard, Bryan Mitchell Castino, Paxton Lehi Chaney, Rosette Antoinette Jones, Holly Francene Leppert, Emily Beth McCullough, Jere' Lavet Moore, Terry Denise Reeves, Hillary Denise Smith, Michael Earl Smith Jr, Stephanie Michelle Taylor, Michael Shayne Thomas, Calla Nicole Wells, general studies; Stephanie Gale Cade, Gilder Ray Boulard, Kal Kincaid, Donald Vallier, industrial technology; Lauren Cothran Albert, Jennifer Nicole Diggs, Katelyn Jane King Fertitta, Lindy. Goodwin, Kim Denise Holbrook Hood, Alicia Zell King, Tresha Ann Malone, Patricia Rios, Emily Margureate Stapleton Verdine, Janniah Emylene White, interdisciplinary studies; Elizabeth Ann Ned, kinesiology; Frank Cyril Rinando III, management and marketing (two degrees); Jay Ajmera, Lee Michael Smith, Laura Ruth Wooten, management; Nicholas Scott Lomonte, Kathrin Nikitina, management information systems; Wesley Saal Koch, Kylee Ann Linney, marketing; Jack Wade Gilcrease, mathematics; Amanda Joy Brantley, Yasheka Shonte' Broussard, Catherine Shelly Calfee, Lori Lynn Conners, Dana Sue Hamlin Crawford, Kahla Shay Garrett, Sammatha Pauline Harmon, Michelle Lynn Easter Houk, Kim-Thuy Thi Nguyen, Nkem Agatha Nwaobi, Sharon Santos, Amanda Rae Savell, Monica LaRue Sennet, Shana Lea Sattler Wilson, nursing; Nakisha Lynn Biglow, Theresa Eunjoo Lee, Frederick William Manhart, Kim Thuy Nguyen, Shayna Taylor, Sheena Dionne Walker, psychology; Bridgett Shanteail Stanley Thomas, social work; Larry Andrew Jones, sociology; Jacqueline Gale Hamel, studio art; Amber Dawn Lanning, theatre.                       

BIG BEAR, Calif. : Michelle Darlene Lucas, nursing.                         

BIG SANDY : Rebecca Ann Wooten Parrish, general studies.            

BIRMINGHAM , United Kingdom : Priyaben Jagdishbhai Patel, finance and human resource management (two degrees).

BRAZORIA: Josef Blake Hoffman, mechanical engineering.             

BRIDGE CITY : Lyndalyn Renee Alford, communication; Robert Hardy Bush, finance/economics; Amber Diane Wiegand, finance; Rachel Christine Tisdale Gault, general studies; DonNiece Danielle Fells, industrial technology; Wendy Michelle Taylor Beall, Kaylin Marie Babin Cropper, Keely Jo Guidry, Donna Rene' White Necci, interdisciplinary studies; Jeremy Shane Simmons, kinesiology; Lance Colin Polk, management information systems; Lee Michael Posey, mechanical engineering; Caleb Lopez, music; Courtney Lane Guillory, Jessica Lene' Van Huis, nursing; Danielle Nicole Dismukes Cox, psychology.                  

BUNA: Dacia Anne Belt, communication; Teri Jo Lounsberry Burt, interdisciplinary studies; Heather Hill, political science.            

BURKEVILLE: Misty Rhea Sutton, nursing.                            

CHANNELVIEW : Noelle Christianne de Guzman Bucoy, graphic design.   

CHEEK: Georgianna Patrice Zoch, industrial technology.              

CHENGDU , China : Zhi Chen, computer science.                            

CHINA , Texas : Benjamin Allen Everett, communication; Tricia Renee Clement, general studies; Stella Nichole Phillips, interdisciplinary studies.   

CLUTE: Cassie Lynn Withers Willson, nursing.                       

COLBERT, Okla. : Katrina Renee Lilley, interdisciplinary studies.          

COLMESNEIL: Destiny Lynn Heckman, interdisciplinary studies.       

CONROE : Matthew Blake Porter, finance.                              

CROSBY : Anthony Bartholomew LeDet, finance.                        

CROWLEY , La. : Charles Faulk, applied arts and sciences.                   

CYPRESS : Clifton Terry Netterville, applied arts and sciences.       

DAISETTA: Rita Sanders, applied arts and sciences.                

DALLAS : William Gregory Smith, history.                            

DAYTON , Texas : Wilson Fregia Jr., applied arts and sciences; Nathanael Charles Brown, communication; Don Leslie Dever Jr., general business; Donna Margaret Wyse Reavis, interdisciplinary studies; Ernest Ray Matthews Jr, mechanical engineering.                                   

DEER PARK : Christopher Rene Trejo, marketing.                      

EVADALE: Tammy Leann Reeves, interdisciplinary studies; Jennifer Anne Jones Stark, nursing

FANNETT: Kirk Allen Hampton, communication; Joshua Nathan Srader, family and consumer sciences; Dyann Kathleen Carney, kinesiology; Kayla Marie Russell, music; Tara Vanessa Prestridge, nursing.                        

FORT WORTH : Julia Dean Johns, general studies.                     

FRED: Charles Rodriguez, accounting.                                                            

FREEPORT : Francesca Evette Lorraine Edwards, social work.          

GONZALES, La. : Veronica Ann Lewis, industrial technology.               

GROVES : Timothy Myles Foster, chemical engineering; Kelly Michelle Manuel, Lauren Michelle Michalk, Barbara Cooley Strother, family and consumer sciences; Jason Todd Barrett, Laura Ann Castillo, general business; Julie Renee' Carlin, Loretta Kay Dukes, Diane Elizabeth Tomplait Duplant, Sarah Theresa Janssens, interdisciplinary studies; Jessica Nicole Johnson Boudreaux, management information systems; Christina Marie Cavazos, Shawn Oscar McCullough, Ashley Renee' Murphy, Daniel Swann, marketing; Melissa Ann Evans, Serena Jae Girolamo, Cara Lyn Stephens, Christina Ann Stroud Ware, nursing; Michael Paul Janssens Jr., theatre.                     

HAMSHIRE: Zeke William Hill, environmental science; Sarah Michelle Summers, marketing; Kelci Kay McKewen, nursing.                        

HARDIN: Tina Marie Richard, communication; April Annette Sherman McCreight, interdisciplinary  studies.                                   

HILLISTER: Joseph Oscar Iglesias, Rachel Kate Iglesias, biology.   

HOUSTON: Quinton Jarod Virgil, accounting; Krystal Michele Billings, Jennifer Lauren Mackey, biology; Fren-Mark Libutaque Banes, civil engineering; RayNeisha ShaRay Porter, communication disorders; Lytrina Aurora Bob, English; Patricia Guzman, Fallon Shenay Rucker, family and consumer sciences; Kenneth Rolston II, general business; Emily Kay Bass, kinesiology; Ama Elaine Brown, Holly Marie Simmons, nursing; Vallire Nicole Granger, Shannon LaShay Powers-Williams, psychology; Tyrann Sherrod Williams, theatre.         

JASPER: Leslie Deann Byerly Seely, general business; Kelley Magdaline Parker, nursing.

JENNINGS , La. : Lisa Faye McCrea, nursing.                                

JONES CREEK: Jamie Elizabeth Kiser, communication.                 

KINGSVILLE : Carey Neal Dunn, physics.                              

KIRBYVILLE: Nicole Dupree, accounting; Lance Anson Ellis, biology; Karen Michelle Newby, communication; Morgan McKay Pruitt, industrial engineering; Christopher Allen Price, psychology; Molly Lynette Davis, social work.                                            

KOUNTZE: Audra Smithey Dawson Benoit, biology and criminal justice (two degrees); Grady Aaron Dennis, civil engineering; Emily Irene Short, family and consumer sciences; Misty Nicole Lee, general studies; Karla Rachelle Whiteside Peters, interdisciplinary studies; Rachel Marie Gray Cleveland, studio art.                                   

LA MARQUE : Kymyaka Kenniesha Michelle Nolley, criminal justice; Oshay Deshawn Griffin, health.     

LA  PORTE : Kenneth Wayne Proffitt, chemical engineering; Scott Ryan Sheridan, civil engineering; Renee Alicia Rice, family and consumer sciences; Courtney Elaine Reiss, interdisciplinary studies.

LABADIEVILLE, La. : Amy Arcement Templet, management and marketing (two degrees).

LAKE CHARLES , La. : Sharon Rene' Mitchell, social work.                  

LEVELLAND: Jimmy Roy Thompson, civil engineering.                                  

LIBERTY : Corliss Kathleen Dubuisson Viator, general studies; Courtney Lynn Joines Davis, Carol Yvonne Treece Nugent, interdisciplinary studies; Donyell McAdams Jackson, social work.           

LONDON , United Kingdom : Sibel Berkoz, general studies.                       

LUFKIN : Alicia Denise Summers Williams, marketing.                 

LUMBERTON : Kristina Rae Wheeler, accounting; Christina Lee Drake, Sarah Elizabeth Ramer, applied arts and sciences; Sarah Elizabeth Clark, Annie Marie Zarzosa, communication; Millard Gray III, Rockford Daniel Ross, criminal justice; Julie Elizabeth Cole Burnett, earth science; Matthew Shane Majors, electrical engineering; Stephanie Michele King, English; Shana Linn Green, Sean Christopher Strich, finance; Erica Marie Flores Duckworth, Clinton Lee Fuselier, general studies; Kimberly Anne Kidder, health; Lori Nicole Latino Crites, Jessica Este'lle Jennings, Lauren Nicole Peninger, interdisciplinary studies; Britney Leigh Fesco, Robert Jayson Merren, kinesiology; Justin Fishback, Jason Kendal Lynch, marketing; Sherri Denise Banchor, Christina Leigh Dougherty, Nicole Kristin DeVaugh Waugh, nursing; Charles Denman Burgin, social work.

MANAGUA , Nicaragua : Daisy Vanessa Estrella, general business.          

MARION : Jeremy William Walter, management.                         

MAURICEVILLE: Bryan Lee Stephenson, family and consumer sciences; Ashley Martin, interdisciplinary studies; Edward Arlen Mace Jr., management; Aaron Paul Castino, marketing; Douglas Preston Dean Jr., political science.                                                     

MCALLEN : Roxann Ray Barrera, interdisciplinary studies.            

MCKINNEY : John Allen III, general business.                      

MOBILE , Ala. : Rhonda Elaine Hobbs Ruben, applied arts and sciences.        

MOLNDAL, Sweden : Carl Johan Hed, general business.                     

NACOGDOCHES : Kayla Gregory, interdisciplinary studies.         

NEDERLAND : Eric Bradley Collins, accounting; Cathy Susan Rosas, Kimberly Beth Dowden Ward, applied arts and sciences; Marcus Wayne Hebert, Jarred Menlo Lane ,

Dustin James Sedatole, communication;  Jessica Cacioppo, Ashley Nicole McGlothin, communication disorders; Kevin Joseph Hussey, criminal justice; Ross Alan LaBove, exercise science and fitness management; Julie Marie Frederick, Anthony Blake Rashall, Amanda Marie Steeves, finance; Carrie Lea Franklin Guarnere, Jared Wilson Hamilton, Bryan Tarver,  general studies; Misty Dee Rountree, Justan James Thibeaux, industrial technology; Michael Edward Charles, Jamanda Darby, Melony Brewer Puz, Natasha Renee' Rone, interdisciplinary studies; Jeffery Lynn Smith Jr., kinesiology; Jarret Austin Calaway, management; Mathew Ryan Crain, Christopher Ferguson, Landon Joel Haley, Roxanne Homuth, Traci Lyn Slaughter, marketing; Raymond James Hawkins, mechanical engineering; Laura Sherrie Ellis, Donna Marie Williams, music; Bree Nicole VanMarion Cammack, Ashley Nicole Holmes, Kelli Marie Vidrine Huebel, Debra Kay Lege Schrader, Theresa Dawn Thornburg, Brittny Renee' VanMarion, Christie Nicole Waite, nursing; Erin Anne Ritter, Jarrod Anthony Rossi, Joseph Michael Vargas, psychology.                       

NEW IBERIA La. : Daniel Webster III, applied arts and sciences.                            

NEW ORLEANS , La. :  Jules Crosby Smith, applied arts and sciences; Yinelly Marie Arnold, theatre.  

NEWTON: Jolene Ann Lear Amburn, criminal justice; Stacy Nicole Bailey, finance; Clint DeWayne Knighton, general studies; LaShona Renee Woods, interdisciplinary studies.             

NEWTON : Jolene Ann Lear Amburn, criminal justice; Stacy Nicole Bailey, finance,  ;       NOME , Texas : Cullen Lewin Lee, general business.                          

ORANGE: Andrea Klinkhammer Silveira, accounting; Taylor Stephenson, chemistry; Jane-Anne Lanting, Dawn Marie Comeaux Stout, communication; Guy Austin Whitford, finance; Caroline Marie McCord, Staci Leigh Orta, Ronda Kay Miller Sunderland, Courtney Lynn Vigil, Janis Kathryn Woodard, interdisciplinary studies; Latoya Donyell Calhoun Crosbie, kinesiology; Cristyn Nicole Francis, marketing and general business (two degrees); Carlos Ramiro Herdocia, Brandy Mayo, marketing; Katie Lauren Hubbard, Natalie Diane McGalin, Zachary Dean Padgett, nursing; Amber Nichole King, psychology; Sheryl Denise Warnell, social work; Cameron Dean Peet, sociology.                                 

ORANGEFIELD: Jonathan David Fenner, criminal justice; Leah Theresa  DeLeon, interdisciplinary studies.                                     

PARKERSBURG , W.V.: Bud Michael Boyles, health.                           

PASADENA , Texas : Misty DeMann, psychology.                             

PITTSBURGH , Pa. : Heather Rita Romine, environmental science.            

PLANO : Jason Keith Ramsey, communication.                          

PORT ACRES: Steven Paul LeBlanc, finance.                          

PORT ARTHUR : Lorin Curt Chamberlain, Kenny Nguyen, Gina Marie Wilson, accounting; Anita Renay Brown, Nelva Louise Jackson, applied arts and sciences; Christopher Stephen Guy, Edgar Najera, civil engineering; Troy Allen Palombo, communication; Kimberly Monique Charles, Alexandria Elyse Jacobs, criminal justice; Ali Blase Perez Dupuis, family and consumer sciences; Megan Leigh Miller, finance; Andrea Michelle Gans, Ouindetta Janine Hightower, general studies; NaTonya Lecrecha Holmes, history; Khuong Van Hoang, industrial technology; Christina Castaneda Puente, Dimitra Angelicky Raesis, interdisciplinary studies;  Dawana  Kay Babineaux Wise, kinesiology; Candice Marie  Cormier, Kimsheka Shonte' McGlory, management; Ramon Rosendo Lopez, management information systems; Brandon Paul Coleman, Judith Paige Jimenez, Altaf Sukhyani, marketing; Ivorry Fania Gomez, My Chau Lisa Tran, Kimberly Latrece Williams, nursing; Dane Alexander Dennison,  Tao Lotus Dumas, political science; Tiffany Ann Wilson, psychology; LaShea Williams Sowell, Kenneth Christopher Wolf, social work.                        

PORT NECHES: Austin Jon Begnaud, Charlee Dawn Hood, Kristin Ashley Mattingly, accounting  and finance (two degrees); Valarie Celeste Travis, accounting; Jo Ellen Mendoza LeBlanc, applied arts and sciences; Christopher Block, chemical engineering; Kenneth Ray Dupuis Jr., Bradley Eugene Neel, Clint Aaron Pardue, communication; Adrian Clinton  Miller, criminal justice; Michael John Hackbarth, family and consumer sciences; Nicholas Ryan Canizales, Chase Justin Hinds, general business; Christopher Brian Gary, Erich Paul Guidry, general studies; Ryan Joseph Stelly, geology; Scott Alan Selkirk, industrial technology; Elizabeth Sherie' Beach-Sparks, Anita  Davis Conway, interdisciplinary studies;Jesus Davalos IV, Kristin Nicole Runnels, nursing; Anthony Jude Flores, political science; Pamela Cheree Tucker, psychology.   

ROXAS CITY , Philippines : Ruthaureen Luching Potato, biology.             

SAN ANGELO : David Brian Dennis Jr., general studies.               

SAN ANTONIO : Richard Adrian Cantu, communication; La Toya Cherise  Martin, communication disorders.                                      

SAN AUGUSTINE: Anita Rena Curl Garrett, applied arts and sciences.   

SILSBEE: Leia Marie Coon, Christopher Farren, biology; Kathyrne Lynn Gore Merritt, Joseph Randolph Kirby, general studies; Karen Aletha Bumstead, Sabrina Kay Goetsell McWilliams, Eva Marie Hodgdon Rustin, nursing; Brandon Farrell Vann, psychology.                                

SODERTALJE , Sweden : Rikard Sundelin, psychology.                        

SOUR LAKE : Katy Diane McClelland, accounting; Kay Frances Haar, applied arts and sciences; Brandon Bonds, biology; Andrew William Conway, communication; Raven Christine Busceme, criminal justice; Jacob Daniel Janacek, Kayla Terese Marcus, general business; Charla Faye Leger Gilliland, general studies; Misty Mae Robison Burris, Amber Carpenter Eaves, Caris Shae Pavlow, Carrie Ellen Phelan, Corby Layne Wilkerson,  interdisciplinary studies; Bryan Gaspard, marketing; Kimberly Elizabeth Britain Blanchard, music; LaChelle Nicole Mauboules, nursing; Heather Marie Scott, psychology.                                 

SOUTH PASADENA , Calif. : Charity Monica Lemaire, general business.          

SPRINGFIELD , Mo. : Charles Eugene Lott, sociology.                        

SPURGER: Marcus Layne McCabe, health; Carrie Elizabeth Pack, kinesiology.     

SUGAR LAND : Lauren Luce Lancaster, family and consumer sciences; Collin James Estes, marketing.                      

THE WOODLANDS: Matthew Haws Robichau, management; Shane Scott Jensen, marketing                  

TOPEKA , Kan.Ryan Patrick Finan, management.                            

TRINITY: Tracey Perry Allen, criminal justice.                  

TYLER : Kristin Ashley Kerr, communication.                          

VIDOR: Bobbie Jo Burns, accounting; Sharon Ann Brooks, communication; Nicholas Paul Wright, criminal justice; Mandy Michele Willey, finance; John Ashley Chesser, Garrett Wade Foxworth, Cynthia Gail Norris Minton, general business; Kelli Ann Boyett, Selena Ann Treadway, general studies; Aimee Dushane, Elonda Florence Teems Mathues, Ashley La'Dan Oulapour, Jennifer Mahana Reynolds, interdisciplinary studies; Hannah Michelle Wedgeworth Jobe, Lauren Elizabeth Madding, marketing; Monica Michelle Taylor Hall, Aime'e Marie Hargraves, Kris Ellis O'Brien, Justin Paul Smith, Courtney DianneWalker, nursing; Liesl Anna Biehle, studio art.                                                               

VILLAGE MILLS: Dawn April LeBlanc Stanley, applied arts and sciences.

WINNIE: Jason Daniel Gardner, history; Victoria Marie Lyons, psychology.                                              

YUKON , Okla. : Timothy Mark Ervin, communication disorders.


Lamar University receives $5 million gift from Sheila and Walter Umphrey

Lamar University announced today (Wednesday December 14) a $5 million gift from Sheila and Walter Umphrey. The gift is the largest in the university’s history, officials said.

In recognition of the gift, Lamar University will name its newest campus building the Sheila Umphrey Recreation Sports Center .

“This is a wonderful gift,” said James Simmons, president of the university in Beaumont , Texas .“A gift of this magnitude helps raise awareness of Lamar University .

Sheila Umphrey

“We are so grateful and appreciative of Sheila and Walter Umphrey’s leadership in stepping forward to further Lamar’s growth through this unprecedented, transforming philanthropy,” Simmons said.

The gift is a bright spot at the end of one of the toughest years in the university’s history. A direct hit by Hurricane Rita left the campus badly damaged on Sept. 24, but, after weeks of intensive restoration work, the university showed resilience by reopening Oct. 19 enabling its December graduates to complete their degrees on time.

Construction continues on the $19 million recreation sports center, with opening projected in the fall of 2006. The state-of-the-art facility encompasses the landmark McDonald Gym, with spectator seating for volleyball and basketball games. The renovated areas and new construction will include 13,000-square feet of cardiovascular and free-weight training, a 1/10 mile walking/jogging track, a 40-foot climbing wall, basketball, volleyball and badminton courts, a wellness and fitness center, health food café and juice bar, lounge areas with pool tables, air 

hockey, foosball, video games and TV.

“It is really going to be a wonderful facility, absolutely incredible,” Sheila said after reviewing plans with Simmons.

“I wish more people could see the changes to the campus and the wonderful new buildings that are there — the residence halls, the dining hall and, soon, the recreation sports center,” Sheila said. “Jimmy and Susan Simmons have put so much into making Lamar bigger and better.”

Simmons said: "We expect this facility to become a real centerpiece of campus life.”
“Private gifts can be transformational for a university,” Simmons said. “The generosity the Umphreys have shown enables us to continue to provide the quality education our students deserve and need to become globally-minded graduates destined to lead in their chosen professions. It also helps make it possible for Lamar to make lasting contributions to the region and to the world through its many outstanding programs, research and graduates.”

Sheila Umphrey owns The Decorating Depot Inc., a residential and commercial interior design business in Pt. Neches and is active in many local civic organizations.

Walter Umphrey is senior managing partner of Provost & Umphrey Law Firm. Born in Port Arthur , Texas , Walter received a football scholarship to Southern Methodist University then completed undergraduate studies at Baylor University . In 1965, Walter received a Juris Doctorate degree from Baylor Law School before returning to Southeast Texas to join the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office as a prosecuting attorney and ultimately chief felony prosecutor.

The Umphreys are noted contributors to important causes from protecting Texas wildlife to the creation of Southeast Texas’ newest cancer institute, the Walter Umphrey Cancer Center , located in Port Arthur .


LU helps potential students 
with New Year’s resolution

If your New Year’s resolution is to get a better job by obtaining a college degree, Lamar University officials are ready to help.

Registration is currently underway for the spring semester. Students can register at  Classes begin Jan. 11.

“Students can register online throughout the holiday,” said Jim Rush, director of Academic Services. Students who have questions can visit the second floor of the Wimberly Building for information through Dec. 22, he said. For information, call (409) 880-8888.

“Some people like to putting things off,” Rush said. “Class availability is better when you register early.” The sooner a student can registers, the better their opportunity to get the classes they want at the day and time they’d like to take it, he said. Registering before the holiday has another advantage, Rush said. After the holiday, instead of rushing around to register, students can relax and just show up to school on the first day of class.

Some LU students were impacted by Hurricane Rita and could not attend school in the fall, Rush said. People were displaced, businesses closed and it takes some time for things to get back to normal, he said.

“This is a time for to set a plan for the rest of your life. It is time to start moving forward,” Rush said. Taking classes at Lamar is a good way to hit the ground running, he said.

The final day to register without paying a late fee is Jan. 10. Students who register on or after Jan. 11 must pay a $10 late fee. Student advisement is currently underway.

The 2006 class schedule is available at             

Registration is open for all qualified students at Lamar University . All students must apply and be accepted for admission to Lamar University . Each applicant must receive a Personal Identification Number (PIN) from their advisor before registration. Individuals interested in attending Lamar should contact the admissions.

Those seeking enrollment into the university and students enrolling in person should visit the upstairs lobby of the Wimberly Building on the Lamar University campus for assistance. Before enrolling, all potential students must apply for acceptance into the university.

Students transferring from another university and first-time college students should bring their SAT or Texas Academic Skills Program scores as well as high school and college transcripts with them to register. Students from other colleges who are attending Lamar only during the summer must complete an application and show proof of TASP compliance.

For more enrollment information, call (409) 880-8888.


Poe to keynote winter commencement 
Dec. 22 at Lamar

U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, will be the keynote speaker for Lamar University winter commencement at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22, in the Montagne Center .

Lamar is scheduled to confer 675 degrees. Graduates hail from eight countries, 12 states outside Texas and 77 cities in Texas .

The ceremony represents a departure from previous ceremonies concluding the fall

U.S. Rep. Ted Poe

semester. Hurricane Rita interrupted classes for four weeks in September and October, delaying graduation from Dec. 17 to Dec. 22 – the last day of final exams and the day before Lamar’s holiday break begins.

As a congressman representing the 2nd District of Texas, the commencement speaker continues his distinguished career of public service to the Lone Star State .

Within weeks after taking his oath of office on Jan. 4, 2005, he was one of three members of Congress – and the only House freshman – sent to Iraq to observe the historic elections. Poe represents Jefferson, Liberty and northern Harris counties. He serves on House committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, International Relations and Small Business.

During the commencement program, President James Simmons will present introductions and student recognitions. Stephen Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will welcome graduates and guests and certify degree candidates.

William Holmes, associate professor of educational leadership and president of the Lamar Faculty Senate, will lead the academic processional and recessional.               

Victoria Price, professor of English and modern languages (retired), and Patrick Harrigan III, chair of the Department of Communication, will present the graduating class. Debra Greschner, adjunct professor of music, will lead in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Lamar Alma Mater. The Lamar Brass Quintet will perform the processional, recessional and musical prelude.

Poe made a name for himself in Texas as a straight-talking, no-nonsense assistant district attorney and as a criminal court judge famous for his innovative sentences. He served as a felony court judge in Houston more than 20 years, having been appointed in 1981 as one of the state’s youngest judges. In the ensuing years, he won six elections and handled 20,000 cases. He became famous for sentences such as ordering murderers to place photographs of their victims in their prison cells and ordering thieves to carry signs in front of stores from which they stole. These became known as “Poetic Justice” and attracted national media attention.

One of his first actions in Congress was to form the Congressional Victims’ Caucus to represent and advocate before the Congress and the administration on behalf of victims. Poe says he believes the nation is built on security: homeland security, retirement security and personal security. A major priority is protecting abused and neglected children.

A prominent speaker, Poe has delivered more than 200 training sessions and keynote addresses to law enforcement entities, as well as lawyers, judges and private citizens’ organizations. He has taught courses at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy in Quantico , Va. , and at the United States Military Academy ’s West Point in New York .

Poe earned his bachelor of arts in political science from Abilene Christian University and a juris doctor from the University of Houston Law Center. A U.S. Air Force veteran, he now is a member of the Air Force Reserve. Poe and his wife, Carol, have four children.


ExxonMobil grants support LU 
engineering programs

ExxonMobil Corp. recently awarded $11,000 in grants to four engineering departments at Lamar University as a part of their national program supporting higher education. The corporation contributed departmental grants to 88 colleges and universities totaling $1.6 million in 2005.

“It is clear that ExxonMobil considers higher education and the value it brings to its workforce an integral part of its long-term business strategy,” said Jack Hopper, dean of Lamar University ’s College of Engineering . “We are pleased that our neighbors choose to be partners in higher education who help support our mission through gifts like these generous departmental grants.”
The grants to Lamar are: $4,400 to the chemical engineering department; $3,600 to mechanical engineering; $2,000 to electrical engineering and $1,000 to civil engineering.

The grant allows selected academic departments to allocate money for various educational purposes including scholarships, field trips, visiting speakers, equipment purchases, student and faculty travel to academic-related activities, and other educational projects. ExxonMobil awards the grants to schools that offer degrees in subject from which it recruits employees.

“ExxonMobil is a strong believer in supporting colleges and universities that maintain programs that effectively prepare our future employees,” said Ed Price, U.S. recruiting manager for ExxonMobil. “We are proud to provide Lamar University with this grant so that they can allocate the funds to further enhance the excellence of those programs that produce such highly-skilled students that ExxonMobil seeks to hire.”

The amount of the grant is based on several factors including ExxonMobil’s past recruiting success and the number of employees produced from a specific university.
Lamar University continues to be a source of outstanding graduates who contribute to the company’s growth and success,” Hopper said.

The Departmental Grants Program represents only a portion of ExxonMobil’s overall support of education. In 2004, ExxonMobil Foundation, ExxonMobil Corp., and its divisions and affiliates provided $40 million in contributions to educational initiatives worldwide.

Dishman opens senior exhibit with
reception Friday at Lamar

Lamar University ’s Dishman Art Museum will host a reception from 8 to 10 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 16, to celebrate the opening of Lamar’s annual winter senior thesis exhibition.

The exhibit, continuing through Dec. 22, will showcase works by four candidates for graduation from Lamar’s Department of Art.

Featured artists are Liesl Biehle of Vidor, Noelle Bucoy of Channelview , Rachel Cleveland of Kountze and Melanie Edwards of Kirbyville.

Biehle, candidate for a bachelor of fine art in fine art with a concentration in painting, will present a series of paintings that address the utility pole as a symbol of communication.

Bocoy, who will earn a BFA in visual design, will exhibit an advertising campaign promoting a fictional pop artist.

Cleveland, who will graduate with a BFA graduate in fine art with a concentration in fiber art, is presenting an installation illustrating several experimental processes of fiber manipulation.

Edwards, who will earn a BFA in fine art with a concentration in ceramics, will exhibit a group of ceramic columns based on the various meanings given to amphibians through societal beliefs.

The exhibition and reception are open to the public without charge.

The Dishman Art Museum is at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and East Lavaca on the Lamar campus in Beaumont , phone (409) 880-8141. The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Jimmy Simmons & Friends

  Lamar Homecoming CD arrives 
just in time for holiday gift-giving

From LA to the Bayou City to Music City USA – and points in between – a stellar lineup of Lamar University alumni talent converged on the Lamar campus Feb. 25, 2005, for the Jimmy Simmons & Friends Homecoming concert.

Now that landmark performance is on record to delight music-lovers for years to come.

“Jimmy Simmons & Friends” – a dazzling collection of music recorded live in McDonald Gym and in studio sessions – is on sale now at four Beaumont locations. The compact disc features President Jimmy Simmons and more than 30 alumni musicians. Jazz favorites, ballads, blues and much more make up the stellar lineup of Lamar talent.

“It’s the perfect stocking-stuffer for the music lover on your holiday list,” said Juan Zabala, Lamar’s director of alumni affairs. “It’s a great opportunity for Lamar University alumni and friends to support the university and enjoy a world-class band’s performance.”

Proceeds from CD sales benefit alumni activities at Lamar.

Simmons assumed his musician/bandleader persona to bring his musical talents to the landmark performance. A versatile performer on clarinet, saxophone and piano, Simmons says: “My first love, of course, is music –  jazz and teaching – and this gave me an opportunity to get together with some of our top graduates and to again enjoy their wonderful talent. I’m honored so many of our wonderful, talented alums returned for the concert. They made up quite a band.”

And, Simmons added, “The CD is something we’ll all be able to enjoy for many years to come.”

“Jimmy Simmons & Friends” features performances from many of the students Simmons taught and mentored as a professor of music, director of the Jazz Band and Big Red Marching Band, department chair and dean.

Joining him in making the project a reality were longtime Lamar music professors Raul Ornelas, who assembled the musicians, and Wayne Dyess, who coordinated the music.               

“There has never been a performance like this at Lamar,” said Ornelas. “It is unique in that we made a concerted effort to get musicians from the past 40 years. These musicians are terrific.”

Simmons, on tenor saxophone, takes the spotlight on the CD for “Her Song,” while Dyess is featured on trombone for “There Will Never Be Another You.”

Other soloists include saxophonist and Grammy-winning composer Don Rollins of Dickson, Tenn., near Nashville, on “When You’re Smiling”; blues singer-guitarist Becky Barksdale, of Los Angeles, on “Muddy Water”; and, from Houston, songbird Sharon Montgomery on “Let the Good Times Roll” and “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good” and guitar guru-vocalist John Calderon, on “Stormy Monday” and “Just for a Thrill.”

Alto saxophonist Jim Boone, a musical veteran and retired educator now living in Colmesneil, joins Montgomery on “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good” and also solos on “Autumn Leaves.”

Kurt Killion of Orange, a 1981 graduate, is featured on baritone saxophone for “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” while Travis Harris (1990) of Dallas is trombone soloist on “Beautiful Love” and “Gettin’ Sentimental Over You.”

“In the Still of the Night” features drum dynamo Billy McQueen, a Lamar student from Humble.

Other alumni musicians include Richard Cantu of Beaumont, alto saxophone; David Jernigan, Beaumont, trombone; David Johnson, Beaumont, bass guitar; Jeff Laird, Houston, trumpet; Rusty Lay, Jasper, trumpet; Lanny Marshall, Kirbyville, trombone; David McArthur, Houston; tenor saxophone, Mike Smith, Lumberton, saxophone, Kevin Stone, Orange, trumpet; Freddie Titus, Beaumont, piano; Michael Westbrook, Lumberton, trumpet; and Daryl Wilson, Nederland, drums.

Among non-alumni musicians contributing their talent is Charlie Prause of Houston, whose piano solo is featured on “All of Me,” and Ray Gonzales of Beaumont, trumpet.

The performers represent five decades of musical excellence at Lamar.

Boone, who earned three Lamar degrees (1964, 1974), has a resume that includes stints as principal of Beaumont’s French High School, self-employed businessman and adjunct instructor of music at Lamar.

“Jimmy and I have played together since our teen years,” Boone said. “We competed in All-Region/All-State band activities and worked ‘gigs’ together in college and after. We’ve been friends nearly 50 years. He’s also the best musician with whom I’ve ever worked.” 

Rollins is a 1983 graduate who won a Grammy in 2004 as the co-composer of the Alan Jackson-Jimmy Buffett superhit “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”  His song also earned two Academy of Country Music awards and honors as Vocal Event of the Year from the Country Music Association.           

A native of Beaumont, Rollins grew up in Vidor where he worked as a band director before moving the Nashville.

Montgomery, who hails from Nederland, performs in Houston with the Ed Gerlach Orchestra, Richard Brown Orchestra and other groups. Audiences remember her as a member of the popular vocal trio Montgomery, Plant & Stritch. One member of the group was Liza Minnelli’s frequent arranger, Billy Stritch. Said Minnelli: “Sharon Montgomery is a fantastic party you’re glad you went to . . . funny, brilliantly talented and full of surprises.”                                                                               

As a student at Lamar in the 1970s, Montgomery played the lead in “Funny Girl” and performed with the Cardinal Singers.  “I have always been so proud to have attended Lamar University and to have been associated with the world-class talent that is nurtured here,” she said.

Port Arthur native Becky Barksdale, a 1984 graduate, was introduced to blues not long after her grandfather gave her a guitar when she was 12. At Lamar, she says, “playing with the Jazz Band was so much fun – I changed my major to music.”

Over the past two decades, Barksdale has been a major attraction on the festival circuit and in the studio. She stays busy recording new releases for television and film.

“On stage,” one critic wrote, “Becky rocks the blues with convincing authority, combining fluid, fiery guitar licks with edgy vocals.”

John Calderon is active as a freelance musician and teacher in the Houston area. His world travels have taken him to Switzerland, Poland and Japan. He plays guitar with Grammy-winning R&B vocalist Regina Belle, including a Jazz Festival in New York’s Central Park.

“I looked forward to playing with Jimmy Simmons because I knew the band would be smokin’,” said Calderon, a 1998 Lamar graduate. “Great band, great music and a really nice hang with friends – that’s the greatest!”

The Jimmy Simmons & Friends CD is on sale on campus at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in the Setzer Student Center and the Office of Alumni Affairs office in Building B of the John Gray Center, 855 Florida. Other locations are the Kampus Korner Bookstore, 4637 Rolfe Christopher Drive, and Swicegood Music Co., 3685 College. To purchase the CD online, go to Price of the CD is $20. For additional information, call (409) 880-8921.

Lamar Rotaract Club sending 
60,000 books to South Africa

On Saturday, Dec. 10, members of the Rotaract Club of Lamar University will join forces with Rotarians from around the region to send a little “Christmas cheer” to South Africa . Members of the organizations and volunteers will transfer about 60,000 books from their storage location in Shivers Hall to a sea crate for shipment Dec. 22 to South Africa .

Members from the Orange Interact Club and the Thirty Something Club will also help load books.

“I guess it is sufficient to say we can never have too many,” said Beaumont Rotary Club’s Roger McCabe, “because if we are not killing ourselves working, we can be enjoying the camaraderie of each other.”

The project was originally scheduled for Sept. 24, prior to Hurricane Rita, and was instigated by McCabe’s daughter-in-law, Rene’ Sessions McCabe, a Lamar graduate who now lives in West Dundee, Ill. After a trip to South Africa , she realized the dearth of books available to the populace and decided to supply materials for libraries.

Donna Birdwell, director of the Lamar University Honors Program, said the Lamar Criminal Justice Association, under the leadership of Jennifer Frisbie, assistant professor of sociology, social work and criminal justice, also contributed a great deal to the effort, as well as many people from around the Golden Triangle.

Lamar Dance Company to present fall concert Dec. 15

The Lamar Dance Company will present its fall dance concert Thursday, Dec. 15, at the Jefferson Theatre. The 7:30 p.m. concert will feature modern dance, ballet and tap dance performed by Lamar University dance students.

The company will present works by this semester’s company director, Alice Howes , including “Games,” a modern dance that transforms the playful movement of children’s games into an eerie picture of adult maneuvering. Howes says they will also present “Sleight of Hand,” an award-winning piece based on swift, dexterous hand gestures and a reprise on her own work, “NchiCa,” a dance featuring movement of warrior intensity.

The concert also will feature new works by other Lamar faculty and advanced dance students.

“Faculty member, Lou Arrington, will debut two new ballet works including ‘By George!’ performed to a Gershwin medley,” said Howes. “The evening will also feature student choreography by advanced dance students.”

Tickets will be available for pre-sale and at the door for $8 and $5 for seniors and students. The Jefferson Theatre is at 345 Fannin in downtown Beaumont .  

Jimmy Simmons & Friends CD now on sale, the perfect holiday gift

Jimmy Simmons & Friends – a dazzling collection of music recorded live and in sessions at Lamar University ’s 2005 Homecoming celebration – is on sale now at four Beaumont locations. The compact disc features Lamar President Jimmy Simmons and more than 30 alumni musicians. Jazz favorites, ballads, blues and much more make up the stellar lineup of Lamar talent. It’s the perfect stocking-stuffer for the music lover on your holiday list. The Jimmy Simmons & Friends CD is on sale on campus at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in the Setzer Student Center and the Office of Alumni Affairs office in Building B of the John Gray Center , 855 Florida . Other locations are the Kampus Korner Bookstore, 4637 Rolfe Christopher Drive , and Swicegood Music Co., 3685 College. To purchase the CD online, go to Price of the CD is $20, with proceeds benefiting Lamar alumni activities. For additional information, call (409) 880-8921.

  Lamarissimo! lights stage for 
holidays in series opener Dec. 13

The holiday magic of Lamarissimo! will shine more brightly this year, an inspirational reflection of rebuilding and renewal.

It’s the concert after the storm – the grand opening of the 2005-2006 season after Hurricane Rita forced a delay in the series’ 16th season and rescheduling of three of the five performances.

Now, Lamar University choirs will raise voices in celebration when Lamarissimo! ushers in the holidays Dec. 13 at a new location in the Jefferson Theatre. JK Chevrolet is sponsoring the 7:30 p.m. performance.

The concert will feature sacred works, seasonal favorites, multicultural selections and an audience sing-along, all conducted by Eduardo Garcia-Novelli, Lamar’s director of choral activities and accompanied by Dwight Peirce. L. Randolph Babin, retired chair of the Department of Music, Theatre & Dance, will serve as announcer and lead the sing-along.

“We are delighted at the return of the Lamarissimo! holiday concert as we explore a new venue: the grand Jefferson Theatre in downtown Beaumont ,” Garcia-Novelli said. “We invite the Southeast Texas community to join Lamar choirs as they warmly transport their audience to the wonderful mood of the season.”

The A Cappella Choir, Grand Chorus and Women’s Chorus – Lamar’s newest choral ensemble – will sing holiday music in Latin, Spanish, English, Yiddish and German, the conductor said, “from the exhilarating American sound of Daniel Pinkham in his ‘Angelus ad pastores ait,’ accompanied by four trombones, to the breathtaking a cappella “Lux aurumque” by young Eric Whitacre, the latest American choral sensation.

“The concert will feature the brilliant choral writing of English composer Andrew Carter and young Eslovenian composer Damijan Mocnik, as well as seasonal favorites arranged by Mark Hayes,” Garcia-Novelli added.

“And we invite our audience to enjoy ‘Silent Night’ in an unparalleled arrangement by Leo Nestor, set in English, Spanish and German. Other highlights include the jazzy ‘Hey, Santa,’ with the Cardinal Singers, Billy McQueen, professor Raul Ornelas and Lamar’s own President Jimmy Simmons; the dazzling ‘Go Tell It!’ and a sparkly percussion-based arrangement of the African song, ‘Sing We All Noel’ by Lamar’s Gary Parks.”

Parks is an adjunction instructor of music. McQueen, who plays drums,  is a student from Humble.

Garcia-Novelli has divided the program into five parts: “Holiday Welcome,” “20th-Century Holiday Sounds,” “An Andrew Carter Christmas,” “A Multi-cultural Holiday Season” and “A Holiday Swing.”

Student soloists include Laura Stanton of Silsbee,  piano; Josmery Ramirez of Baytown , soprano; and Leslie Prihoda of Beaumont , mezzo-soprano.

Parks’ composition will feature six percussionists: Justin Collazo of Beaumont, Kendra Hargrove of Buna, Ryan Flanigan and  Jamie Strawther of Lumberton and Josh Williams of Saratoga , as well as the composer. 

Joining Ornelas and Simmons as faculty soloists will be Beth Graham, oboe, and Peirce and Nick Rissman, piano for four hands.

The Holiday Concert is open to Lamarissimo! season ticket-holders as part of the five-performance package. Season tickets, priced at $35 for adults and $18 for students, are on sale are available from the Lamar University Department of Music, Theatre & Dance, phone  (409) 880-8144.

Individual tickets, $12 for adults and $8 for students, will be available in the Jefferson Theatre box office beginning at 6:45 p.m. the night of the concert. Admission is free to Lamar students with valid LU identification.

The revised 2005-2006 season of Lamarissimo! will continue in 2006 with faculty artists and chamber music, Feb. 14; jazz bands March 7; Wind Ensemble and concert Band, March 23; and April 25, Cardinal Singers and Lamar Dance Company.

Lamar University , LIT host forum for 
historically underutilized businesses

Lamar University and the Lamar Institute of Technology will host a free public forum for historically underutilized businesses 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Wed., Dec. 7, 2005 in the John Gray Center , Building A on the Lamar University Campus.

The educational training forum is part of the Building and Procurement Commission’s statewide HUB program for small businesses, historically underutilized businesses, minority-owned businesses, and women business enterprises.

Owners and employees of small and minority businesses are invited to attend to learn more about business opportunities and resources available for their business.

Participating in the forum are the Golden Triangle Minority Business Council, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the TBPC Statewide HUB Program, SCORE Ch. 521, Beaumont I.S.D., Port Arthur I.S.D., City of Beaumont , Jefferson County , Texas Workforce Commission, Beaumont Housing Authority, Partnership of Southeast Texas, Port Arthur Economic Development Council, and more.

To register for the free forum, call (409) 880-1783, or email 

Acclaimed Wheatley comedy back 
on boards Dec. 8-11 at LU

The Lamar Theatre ’s fall season is back into the swing of things after Hurricane Rita, with its second production since the storm opening Dec. 8.

The storm-delayed season began Nov. 17 with performances of Anna Deveare Smith’s award-winning play “Fires in the Mirror” and will finish off the fall semester with theater faculty member Randall Wheatley’s production of “Billy’s Last Broadcast.”

The satiric comedy, was written and directed by Wheatley, will be performed as a staged reading at 8 p.m. Dec. 8-10 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 11 in the Studio Theatre.

“As a gift to the people of the Golden Triangle, admission to ‘Billy’s Last Broadcast’ is free,” said Adonia Placette, director of theatre at Lamar.

“Billy’s Last Broadcast” is the story of Billy Gross, who has just been fired from his job at the lowest-rated radio station in America . With no prospects and nothing to lose, Billy gets a gun and holds the station hostage for one last show.

The cast includes Christopher Murray of Beaumont as Billy, Jacquelyn Gower of Orangefield as Cory, Kyle Romero of Orangefield as Rupert, Christopher Freeman of Channelview as Moose, Nathan Foster of Groves as Cecil and Jesus Pineda of Houston as the Narrator.

“Billy’s Last Broadcast,” the winner of the Austin Circle of Theatres’  “Best New Play” award, was presented at Capital City Playhouse while Wheatley was serving as its playwright-in-residence.                                                                                                   

“Randall Wheatley has distilled the spirit of Ernie Kovaks, added a dash of Mel Brooks and simmered it all in his own maniacal energy to produce a madcap comedy,” said the Austin American-Statesman. “The language is earthy, and the jokes run the gamut from gory to goofy, but the dialogue is serious enough to establish the characters as real people.”

“Billy’s Last Broadcast,” said the Austin Chronicle, “sets new standard for the rapid-fire outrageousness of a Wheatley work....It’s exhilarating just trying to keep up. And twisted as the turns are, they are somehow eerily real. The satiric bent of Wheatley’s world is close enough to be strange but true.”

A Lamar faculty member since 2001, Wheatley is an assistant professor in the Department of Music, Theatre & Dance. A discussion with the playwright is planned after the performances. The play is rated “R.”

Additional information is available from Wheatley at (409) 880-8154; the Lamar Theatre office, (409) 880-8037; or Lamar Theatre box office, (409) 880-2250.


Lamar students invent, design and test cycle for paraplegics

Three mechanical engineering seniors watched in anticipation as Tom Rupakus took the prototype of their hand cycle out for a test ride on a recent afternoon.

After Rupakus’ campus ride, students A.J. Jackson and Seth Irwin of Sweeney and Chris Alexander of Pasadena listened as Rupakus and Todd Freeland, both paraplegics, shared ideas on how to improve their prototype, a project in the works since January 2004. Rupakus of Dickinson and Beaumont resident Freeland are leaders for recreation and sporting in the paraplegic community.

“It’s got a lot of potential,” said Freeland. “It is built for the disabled body.”

Freeland, a paraplegic since 1982, is also is a double amputee.He and Rupakus have lent their experience to assure the cycle is user friendly.

“It’s surprising how stable it is,” Rupakus said after riding the cycle. The former quality engineer praised the project. “It’s a totally different design,” he said, when compared to other hand cycles.

“It feels like you can get a lot of speed out of it,” Rupakus said. “I feel like it gets the most out of your muscles.” Many people who are paraplegics have the desire to pursue sports. Hand cycling is one way those individuals can be physically active.

Robert Yuan, chair of the civil engineering department, is overseeing the project, and Andrew Green of Port Arthur is founder of Composite Technology Inc. and a volunteer consultant.  It began as a two-wheel hand-cycle, using two smaller wheels for balance. Eventually, it evolved into a three-wheel hand-cycle for paraplegics.

“These are very talented, innovative students. They design it. We just supervised them,” Yuan said. The students used software to analyze their data and tools in the lab to test their prototypes, adapting their design to best serve riders, he said.

“The students did a heck of a job,” Green said.

The group needed feedback from Rupakus and Freeland because they have insight into what will and won’t work and have a totally different prospective, Green said. The team agrees the feedback has been invaluable. Because men like Rupakus and Freeland want to be physically active, Green said, he sees a need for the cycle.

The engineering students are making modifications based on feedback from Rupakus and Freeland. The duo suggested some changes to the seat and adding mirrors so a rider can see what is behind him or her.

Yuan hopes the students will patent the cycle. After modifications are complete, a model of the cycle will be manufactured with composites, making it very lightweight and extremely durable, Yuan said.

“We’ve still have a way to go, but it is moving,” Green said of the project. “We’re ready to convert it into a composite.”

The project has been a success for the Lamar students on many levels.

“This hands-on experiment has been very beneficial to the students’ education. They have learned a lot,” Yuan said. “And they have developed something useful for society.”


Lamar University Career Center

Every college student approaching graduation knows that job one is finding one. The transition from student status to career presents many new challenges, but, thankfully for Lamar University students, the LU Career Center staff is ready to help.

The Career Center in the Galloway Building is a busy place. Already during the fall 2005 semester, recruiters from 79 companies have recruited students on campus, From AFLAC to Winter & Associates, the list includes media, government, education, technology, health, business, industry and more.

The recruiting business has been particularly brisk for engineering graduates, said Teresa Simpson, coordinator of recruiting, career development and placement at Lamar. Since fall 2004, 72 companies have recruited engineering majors through the career center. Representative from eight companies have interviewed engineering students on campus this fall: BP, ExxonMobil, GE, Halliburton, Lyondell, MeadwestVaco, National Instruments and TOTAL Petrochemicals.

“We are seeing a lot more interest in our graduates, thanks in large part to the enthusiastic and aggressive promotion of Lamar and our students by the Career Center staff,” said Jack Hopper, dean of the College of Engineering. “They work closely with Jim Thomas, who directs our co-op program, and our chairs and faculty get the word to our students. Then the company recruiters see a large turn-out of quality students when they interview.”

Lamar’s Career Center staff has joined several professional organizations to increase its expertise and to network on behalf of Lamar University students. Simpson is president-elect of the Houston Area Consortium of Career Centers, which has 14 university members.

“One benefit is that our students can go to the regional career events hosted at other Houston member schools,” Simpson said.
The center is also a part of the Southwest Association of Colleges and Employers, and the National Association of Colleges and Employers. “Our membership in SWACE has resulted in a number of companies beginning active recruiting of Lamar students,” Simpson said.

To facilitate the increase in on-campus interviews, the university has renovated five interview suites where prospective employers can meet with Lamar students on campus to conduct screenings and interviews.

The career center offers an array of programs to prepare university students for the working world beyond campus. The center offers a series of professional development workshops on effective communications, and dressing for success, as well as conducting mock interviews to help students prepare.

In addition to its recruitment programs, the Career Center also offers testing services, career counseling and the LamarWork$ student employment service.

When a company recruiter contacts the Career Center with information on a job opportunity, center staff will publicize the information, often on a flyer distributed to the appropriate college deans and department chairs, who, in turn, distribute the flyers to the students. Students interested in the jobs register online with the career center and post their resume there. Career Center staff then forward all qualified resumes to the company recruiters who pre-select from the group and arrange a schedule for interviews.
Simpson also makes follow-up calls to the company recruiters to solicit feedback on the interviews to identify topics to address.

“We want to help all our students polish their presentation of themselves for the next opportunity,” Simpson said.

Each fall and spring semester, the career center hosts the “Invitational” to showcase the quality of Lamar’s graduates. Second-semester sophomores, juniors and seniors who have 3.0 grade point averages or higher receive a letter from the dean of their college inviting them to meet with key company recruiters. These top students are required to register with the Career Center and to attend at least one professional development workshop before attending the invitational.

“We are the human resources office for students,” Simpson said. “We are here to uphold their marketable status and to help them refine their presentation — the total package that prospective employers see.”

For more information on the Career Center, call 880-8878, or visit on the Web at

Poet Jeanne Emmons comes home 
for Nov. 21 Lamar poetry reading

Poet Jeanne Emmons is about to prove you can go home again.

She will read from her work at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, in the Dishman Art Museum lecture hall – less than two blocks from her childhood home on Howard Street and across the Lamar University campus from where her father taught English more than 30 years.

Jeanne Emmons

A native of Beaumont now living in Sioux City , Iowa , Emmons is the daughter of Ethel Mae Emmons, who taught Latin at Beaumont ’s Forest Park and West Brook high schools. Her father, Winfred S. Emmons Jr., died in 2000.

Jeanne Emmons teaches English at Briar Cliff College , where she is editor of The Briar Cliff Review. Her latest collection of poetry, “Baseball Nights and DDT,” was published in 2005 by Pecan Grove Press of San Antonio. The collection, wrote Iowa poet Phil Hey, “contains the best series of poems about a father that I have ever read. She shows intelligence and craft in every poem and grace in every line.”

“The last section of the book is about Daddy, and I’ll be reading a lot of those poems,” Emmons said. “I am very moved about doing the reading at Lamar because Daddy taught there, and I went there for my first year.

“The poems about my father are really an elegiac group, including memories of him and responses to the gradual decline of his health and, finally, his death. I was, basically, mourning him through poetry for a number of years,” Emmons said.

“The first section of the book contains poems dealing with growing up in Beaumont , watching the refinery from my bedroom window, going to Little League games in Alice Keith Park, going to Southern Baptist revivals and the beach.”

Emmons’ first collection, “Rootbound,” won the Minnesota Voices Poetry Competition, sponsored by New Rivers Press, in 1998 and was subsequently named for a Pippistrelle Best of Small Press Award. Her third collection, “The Glove of the World,” is forthcoming from Backwaters Press.

She received the Iowa Woman poetry award, the South Coast Review Poetry Award and the Sow’s Ear Review Poetry Award. Her poetry has been published in numerous poetry journals, including The American Scholar, Confrontation, Louisiana Literature, Prairie Schooner and New Orleans Review.

“Her language has a sculpted quality, a range of texture from the tough and tensile to the delicate and subtle. The result is a gallery of the essential, opening out from one specific life to the historical and mythical lives we all share,” Colorado poet James Doyle said.

Poet and educator Lee Ann Roripaugh writes: “These poems consistently reveal a steadfast yet sympathetic eye, a sensibility that is both exacting and deeply compassionate, and a use of the language that possesses both a razor-sharp clarity and voluptuous lushness. Her deftly executed and compelling narratives resonate and linger in the reader’s mind.

Emmons plans to enhance her presentation with photographs of her father and other memorabilia. She says she knows a lot of people here and hopes to renew acquaintances.

Emmons  grew up in Beaumont where she graduated from South Park High School . After spending her freshman year at Lamar, she transferred to the University of Texas , where she received her B.A, M.A. and Ph.D. in English. In 1977, she married Adam Frisch, another English doctoral student, in 1977. They moved to Sioux City in 1978 and have taught since that time in the English department at Briar Cliff College . They have two children, Eleanor and Austin, and one grandchild.

Palmer Hall, her editor at Pecan Grove Press, is a Lamar graduate. “I felt  it was almost like he took this book because he had been a student of Daddy’s,” Emmons said. “It is as if this is where it belonged. I’m so glad a Texas press took it and that it was Palmer’s. I’m so pumped and excited because so much of it is about Beaumont and growing up there. It’s really a Beaumont book.”

The reading is sponsored by the Lamar University Department of English and Modern Languages, Pulse Magazine and the estate of the late Eleanor Weinbaum. The event is open to the public without charge. Additional information is available from R.S. “Sam” Gwynn, University Professor of English, at (409) 880-8575.


Stones with stories: Lamar University  
couple net first-ever fossil

Lamar University geology professor Roger Cooper and his wife and fellow geologist Dee Ann ’97 recently made the first find of a Cretaceous Era fossil squid with preserved soft body parts in the United States.

Shortly after his first remarkable discovery, Roger found a second, larger fossil squid in the same Boquillas
Formation in Big Bend

Roger Cooper

National Park. The fossils are estimated to be 89 million years old.

“I remember the four of us standing there in the shade of the truck and someone saying ‘We’re about to become famous,’” Dee Ann said of the moment they and their research team members, retired Lamar University geology professors J. B. and Margaret S. Stevens, realized they had an exceptional fossil in their hands.

“The importance of soft body parts is that it helps us understand how the animal behaved and lived,” Roger said. Preserved soft body parts are also extremely rare. For soft tissues to become fossilized, the animal must be covered rapidly by material that shields it from bacteria and scavengers.

Dee Ann Cooper and W. A. Cobban

Dee Ann Cooper learns from renowned paleontologist W. A. Cobban of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Dee Ann, who fulfilled her master’s thesis with guidance from J. B. Stevens, has made numerous research and teaching visits to the area since the mid-1990s. Her work included several mini-session field trips for Lamar students while she was an adjunct instructor.

It seems a little unfair that it would be her 

husband who made the spectacular finds, Dee Ann laughs. He too, is a little incredulous. After 25 years specializing in economic geology and igneous rocks, he has received considerable ribbing from his “hard rock” colleagues over his “soft rock” finds. He credits his good fortune to bringing a new set of experienced eyes to the research project.

Renowned paleontologist W. A. Cobban of the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the significance of his find.

The couple visited Cobban in Colorado for five days in September. With more than 56 years of experience at the USGS, Cobban curates an extensive collection of invertebrate fossils that fills several acres of storage in Colorado.

“Bill was extremely helpful to both of us and incredibly patient in answering my many questions,” Roger said. “Both of us learned a tremendous amount.”

The significance of the squid finds were also confirmed by Kirk Johnson, chief curator and chair of the Department of Earth Sciences of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Neil Landman of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Roger made another exciting fossil find in the same area: the second known discovery of the vertebrae of a Elopid Fish. Ken Carpenter, chief preparer and curator of vertebrate paleontology of the Denver 

Museum of Nature and Science identified the fossil. The only other known specimens of

this fossil fish were discovered in 1939 and 1941 in Upper Cretaceous rocks northeast of Dallas, some 500 miles away from the Coopers’ find in the Trans-Pecos region.

Dee Ann, along with J. B. and Margaret Stevens, has been studying the Boquillas Formation since the early 1990s, researching the strata for evidence of climatic changes. During these studies, she became interested in the fauna evident
in the top of the lower portion of the formation. It is there that 

Roger made his recent discoveries.

“I was encouraged to go out and look at this area in 1979,” Roger said, “but it wasn’t until about three years ago that I made my first survey of the area and saw the potential to map the fossil-bearing strata over great distances.” During the fall semester of 2004 and last summer, he worked to update the geologic maps of Big Bend National Park, a project last undertaken in the 1960s.

New surveys made with modern tools such as Global Positioning Satellite technology will provide the National Park Service and USGS with an improved geologic history and understanding of the park.

Together with the Stevenses, Roger Cooper has pursued the work in 2004 on development leave from the university and received a Research Enhancement Grant from Lamar for 2005-2006 to help fund the research with other support from the NPS and USGS.

The fossils remain in the couple’s hands while they work on scientific papers for submission to the Journal of Paleontology and other scholarly publications. These papers will include descriptive articles on the two squid finds and the fish, as well as a paper on the faunal assemblage — or animal community — which now numbers more than a dozen identified species.

The detail evident in the fossil is remarkable. “If you look closely you can even see the squid’s eye,” Dee Ann said.

And you can bet that when the couple returns to Big Bend in the future they will keep a sharp eye out for more remarkable stones with stories to tell.

Alzheimers/AIDS: Working Side by Side . . .
Alzheimer’s Association, TAN unite to benefit clients after Rita;
board members plan fund-raiser Nov. 18 with barbecue, auction

The Alzheimer’s Association of Southeast Texas and Triangle AIDS Network are teaming up to bridge the gap in resources created by Hurricane Rita.

Because of the storm, the two non-profit organizations were forced to cancel fall fund-raisers – major means of private support. To help maintain essential services to their respective clients, two board members of the organizations stepped forward to host an evening of “fun, food and friends” from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18. 

“Wrangling Rita: A Tarp-and-Tape-a-Thon” is the theme of the event, which will be at 2495 Broadway at Ninth Street in Beaumont, the law offices of Susan J. Oliver and Lynn M. Bencowitz, hosts for the fund-raiser. Oliver is a member of the TAN board, while Bencowitz serves on the board of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Many thanks to Lynn Bencowitz and Susan Oliver for their generous offer to host this event to benefit Alzheimer’s/AIDS,” said Debra Brozak, outreach coordinator of the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeast Texas. “We have all suffered from the Rita devastation, but the need for public awareness and continued services to our community for both organizations has never been greater.”

The evening will feature barbecue with all the trimmings, entertainment and an auction and book sale. Refreshments, including soft drinks, beer, wine and margaritas, will be available at a cash bar.

“Hurricane Rita made a dramatic impact on these two organizations, whose resources have been diminished because of the storm,” said Oliver and Bencowitz. “We invite the people of Southeast Texas to help bridge the gap on behalf of their respective clients.

Brooks added: “Hurricane Rita made all of us aware of our dependence on other people in a time of crisis: long lines for gasoline, food, governmental answers – all of this was annoying to us who do not have to face this type of wait on a regular basis. But the clients face this wait every day of their lives. They wait for medical care so they can feel better; they wait through long lines of bureaucracy so they can get answers to their questions. And, in many cases, they wait for the end of a life that is in terrible suffering.   

“This fund-raiser gives us the opportunity to recognize the impact of this hurricane on everyone in our area and to reach out and donate to two deserving agencies who work constantly to increase the quality of life for those in need,” Brooks said.

A live auction will feature a day-long offshore fishing expedition for four, donated by Joe Brozak of Captain Bro’s Fishing Charter Service; fine furnishings contributed by Jeff McManus of the McManus Co.; and an authentic Cuban dinner for six, courtesy of Jack Holden and Carmen de los Reyes of Accent Home Health. More than a dozen items will be featured in the silent auction, and new and used books will be available for purchase.

KFDM-TV news anchor Bill Leger will serve as master of ceremonies and auctioneer.

Dress for “Wrangling Rita” is casual, with western wear, blue tarp or duct tape fashions optional, said event organizers.

The Alzheimer’s Association of Southeast Texas serves Hardin, Jefferson, Orange , Jasper, Newton and Tyler counties, as well as Winnie in Chambers County and High Island in Galveston County . Its mission: To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research and to enhance care and support for individuals, their families and care-givers.

The association receives private support from donations, memorials and bequests and from fund-raisers including a golf tournament, Memory Walk and Education Conference. November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and the association had planned an Alzheimer’s Awareness Week to include the Memory Walk – the group’s biggest fund-raiser – and the conference.

“Due to the impact of Rita on our sponsors and committee members, we had to cancel our events as planned,” Brozak said. “Many of our sponsors had serious damage to their businesses and are in the rebuilding stage. Many of our committee members had serious damage to their homes and could not commit to the time involved in putting on the events.”

In the past, TAN had relied heavily on the annual fund-raiser, Paint the Town Red, to garner the major part of its community support, Brooks said. “In a time of decreasing grant monies for social services and especially when less emphasis is being placed on the issue of AIDS, it is imperative to reach out to the local community for help,” she said.

“The Golden Triangle is near a major epidemic area for HIV disease ( Houston ), and, although many advances have been made in increasing the quality and length of life for persons with AIDS, the disease still remains fatal, and the number of people who are infected nationwide remains exceptionally high.”                                   

The Triangle AIDS Network was formed in 1987 to address a growing health crisis in Jefferson, Orange and Hardin Counties . TAN is committed to providing accurate information about HIV disease; supporting those who are infected and affected with HIV/AIDS through educational, medical, social and psychological services; and preventing the spread of HIV.           

Admission to “Wrangling Rita” is $20 per person, payable at the door. Tickets may also be purchased in advance at the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeast Texas, 440 N. 18th St., Suite 7; Triangle AIDS Network, 2544 Broadway; or board members of the two organizations.

Supporters who are unable to attend may join in a “silent campaign” to assist the two organizations by sending their contributions to 2495 Broadway, Beaumont, Texas 77702, with checks made payable to Alzheimer’s/AIDS. Book donations are being accepted at the Alzheimer’s Association, TAN and the 2495 Broadway location.

For additional information, call Brooks at  Triangle AIDS Network, (409) 832-8338 or Brozak at the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeast Texas, (409) 833-1613.

Lamar Jazz Band performs Sunday at Art Museum

‘Fires in the Mirror’
Lamar Theatre presents ‘eye-opening’ drama Nov. 17-22

In 1991, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn , an Hasidic man’s car jumped a curb, killing a 7-year-old black child. Later, in what appears to have been an act of retaliation, an Hasidic rabbinical student was stabbed and killed.

In her play, “Fires in the Mirror,” acclaimed actress and playwright Anna Deveare Smith takes a searing look at misunderstandings between the two divergent cultures.

The work  – by a playwright hailed as “the theater’s antidote against social irrelevance” – will unfold Nov. 17-22 at Lamar University .

The Lamar Theatre production, directed by graduate student Crystal Curry of Beaumont , will be presented at 8 p.m. Nov. 17, 18, 19, 21 and 22 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, in the Studio Theatre. Lamar Theatre is presenting “Fires in the Mirror” free of charge as part of a fall season shortened because of Hurricane Rita. The production is rated “R.”

“Fires in the Mirror” focuses on the conflict between Jews and African-Americans, drawing parallels between slavery and the Holocaust. “This will open everyone’s eyes,” director Curry said. “The play is very socially conscious. It makes me think.’

And, she added, “It has the perfect title because it gives you a reflection to look at yourself.”

To create the multiple-award-winning stage work, the playwright drew from a series of more than 50 interviews with Crown Heights residents – politicians, activities, religious leaders, gang members, street dwellers – victims and perpetrators alike.

“The result is a dynamic theatrical event of importance to every American,” said Lamar Theatre spokesman Randall Wheatley.                                         

While Smith performed all of the roles in the original staging, the Lamar production will feature a cast of nine. Actors are Ty Williams and Jesus Pineda of Houston; Kyle Romero and Jacquelyn Gower of Orangefield; Ebonique Thomas of Orange; Chris Murray of Beaumont; Katy Hearne of Groves; and Stacey Carrell of Vidor. Director Curry is originally from Webster and a graduate of Clear Brook High School in Friendswood.

The play, subtitled “ Crown Heights , Brooklyn and Other Identities,” was first produced in 1992 at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre. It went on to win a Drama-Logue Award, Obie Award, Drama Desk Award and Pulitzer Prize nomination.

Curry was looking for a final project toward completion of her master’s degree when a friend suggested “Fires in the Mirror.”

“I ordered it online and fell in love with it, just doing the research,” she said. “Even being an African-American women, I had never realized there was such a big conflict between Jews and African-Americans.”

She narrowed the play to include nine actors and 10 different monologues. The cast is a diverse group, with Hispanics, African-Americans and Caucasions, playing the roles.

“The monologues I  picked focus just on story. I loved every one of them but picked ones that focused on what happened and on the different points of view. It gives you a look at both sides. It’s not biased at all. She wrote just what they said, verbatim.”

Curry attended San Jacinto College two years, studying computer and information systems. Then, she said, “I took a 180-degree turn.”

She took a theatre course and then got into speech. Transferring to Lamar, she graduated in May 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in theater.

“I’d  been acting in church since I was 12. When I came to Lamar, I decided I was going to act. I said, ‘I am an actress. I am not going to direct.’”

Then she took yet another turn. “After graduation, I  stayed on at Lamar for my master’s and discovered I have a great passion for directing. Now I’m getting experience in both acting and directing.”

Hurricane Rita created doubt, some anxious moments and a few tears as Curry feared the storm might disrupt the fall theater season enough to thwart her plans for December graduation. She was thrilled when her play was included on the new schedule.                           

“I think it’s going really well,” she said of preparations for opening night. “We have strong cast that understands my concept – that it’s important to get every word because these are real people. Every word counts. Every word makes a difference.

“All the monologues fit together. Reading out loud is different than reading on paper. It’s very strong and very emotional. We take a lot of breaks.”

Curry plans to begin work toward teacher certification in January. She would like to become a principal at a school that emphasizes fine arts. Her ultimate goal is to earn a Ph.D.

An essayist on the website wrote: “Theater needed not just another infusion of talent. It needed a savior . . . This is one explanation for the fervor with which Anna Deavere Smith has been received.

“In 1991,” the essay continued, “she seized the American stage with ‘Fires in the Mirror,” her one-woman epic on the bloody Jewish-black confrontation that shook New York . . . ‘Fire’ thrust her into the national limelight in a way that nobody could have expected. With her sweeping political and artistic ambitions and her uncanny talent for mimicry, Smith was greeted as the theater’s antidote against social irrelevance . . .

“Theater, in Smith’s hands, would become nothing less that an attempt to reintroduce America to itself, giving voice to the disparate social groups that had become warring tribes . . . In portraying real people from divergent backgrounds, Smith depicts the hot pot of American culture that refuses to melt.”

Smith has taught at Carnegie-Mellon University , New York University, University of Southern California and Yale and Stanford universities. She was honored in 1996 as a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, recipient of a grant better known as a “Genius Award.”

In addition to being a playwright, Smith is a gifted performer who has appeared in numerous New York productions and in films such as “Philadelphia,” “Dave,” “The American President” and the cinematic adaptation of her play, “Twilight: Los Angeles,” shown at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Television audiences will recognize her for her role as National Security Advisor Nancy McNally on “The West Wing.”

Additional information about the production is available at the Lamar Theatre box office, (409) 880-2250.

Lamar’s Castillon publishes book on cultural studies

During the spring of 2003, Lamar University ’s Catalina Castillon, attended a graduate seminar on Latin America and globalization at the University of Houston .

Hosted by the Department of Classical and Modern Languages at the university, the

Catalina Castillon

seminar attracted doctoral students and professors from Europe, Latin America and the United States . Out of the talks, sessions and research of all the participants, an idea for a book was born.

“What started as an unassuming publication of the different articles and research work that were produced as a result of this seminar ended up as a more ambitious project in which we included the works of well-known Latin Americanists from around the world,” said Castillon, instructor of English and modern languages at Lamar.

The book, “Estudios Culturales y Cuestiones Globales: Latinoamerica en la coyuntura transnacional,” is about cultural studies and globalization, with a focus on Latin America .

“It is very much in the spirit of cultural studies research, a contemporary interdisciplinary movement,” Castillon said.                                   

She co-edited the book with Cristian Santibanez and Marc Zimmerman, an internationally known scholar of cultural studies.

“When Marc Zimmerman suggested the possibility of working with him, I was thrilled,” Castillon said. “I just jumped in the boat without hesitation.”  

Castillon joined the Lamar faculty in 1991 and is now completing her doctorate, which she hopes to accomplish in the summer of 2006. She has also earned a master of arts in Spanish linguistics and literatures from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst , a master of science in Deaf studies/habilitation from Lamar, a juris doctorate from the University of Seville, Spain. with an emphasis on public/international law, and a certificate of completion in general studies from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts .

Castillon says she selected the collaborations, wrote the introduction with Santibanez, did overall editorial work and wrote one of the articles in reference to globalization, migration and utopia, which is about “transnational relations between Latin America and Spain .”

“We try to respond to Western ideas from a Latin American perspective and give answers to modern questions from different perspectives,” she said, “considering the social, economic, political and technological implications of a fast-changing 21st-century world.”

The book is a transnational project of the Latin America Cultural Activities and Studies Arena (USA) and Bravo y Allende ( Chile ) publishing companies. “It is published in Spanish, because it has been distributed in several Latin American countries, as well as in the U.S.

It compiles different essays on cultural studies and globalization by several well-known academics from around the world, including Australia , Chile , Columbia , Spain , Venezuala and the United States . Castillon says getting to know some of the contributors personally was a great experience in and of itself.

“And learning first hand how to do the whole editing and publishing process was a great experience, also,” she said. “It was hard work, and at times tedious and strenuous, but worthwhile. All in all, a very good experience.”


Calendar of Events/Public Service Announcement

Wrangling Rita, an evening of fun, food and entertainment, will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeast Texas Triangle AIDS Network Friday, Nov. 18, from 5 to 10 p.m. at the law offices of Susan J. Oliver and Lynn M. Bencowitz, 2495 Broadway at Ninth Street in Beaumont . The event – being billed as a “tarp-and-tape-a-thon” – will feature a barbecue dinner, refreshments, music, silent auction and a book sale. Oliver and Bencowitz are hosting the fund-raiser to help the two non-profit organizations in the wake of Hurricane Rita. Admission is $20 per person, payable at the door. Supporters unable to attend may send their contributions to 2495 Broadway, Beaumont, Texas 77702, with checks made payable to Alzheimer’s/AIDS. For additional information, call Bonnie Brooks at (409) 832-8338 or Debra Brozak at (409) 833-1613.

Lamar Dance Company Overcomes Rita to Attend Festival

Despite the recent events brought on by Hurricane Rita, several
Lamar University students chose to move on and overcome those obstacles. Six  students from the Lamar dance company, NewDance Ensemble,  performed at the inaugural Fort Worth Dance Festival Oct. 21-23 at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.  

The students who performed in the festival were Emily Lockard and Nicole Daigle of Beaumont; Katy King of Fannett; and Melanie Bohacek, Allison Fulton and Leslie Davis of Houston. 

Festival organizers had invited the Lamar students to appear in all six performances over the two weekends, but, because of the evacuation and the closing of the university, the students were unable to work with their choreographer, Alice Howes, for more than a month.  That forced the students to miss the first weekend of performances at the festival.

"The students put in long rehearsal hours," said Howes ,"and they managed to prepare for the performance in just two days so they could join the second weekend of performances."

NewDance Ensemble is a modern dance company directed by Howes, who is an instructor of music, theater and dance at Lamar. The ensemble performed Howes' "Sleight of Hand" as the opening piece for the three performances over the weekend. 

The Fort Worth Dance Festival was a judged event, so Lamar's late entry had to be accepted by a panel of three judges in order for the group to perform.
According to directors of the Arts Council of Fort Worth, the inaugural event was a huge success, with full house attendance for most performances.

"The festival was a tremendous learning experience for the students," said Howes, "as they had the opportunity to share the stage with professional and
student dance companies from Houston, Fort Worth and other areas of

Howes said events like the Fort Worth Dance Festival "are great for both giving our students opportunities to perform and to see other performers, and to also publicize Lamar University's growing dance program."


Lamar University College of Business

Lamar University’s College of Business will host Mark Etheridge, president of Advanced Lab Concepts Inc., as an ExxonMobil Executive in Residence Nov. 14-15.

Etheridge will share his business experience with students, faculty and the public in a free lecture on “Middle Market Niche— Survival, Growth and Competing with International and Venture Capital Driven Opponents.”


The lecture is 11 a.m. Nov. 15 in the Landes Auditorium in the Galloway Business Building.

Etheridge is president of Austin-based ALC and a 1980 business graduate of Lamar. He turned his woodworking hobby into a multimillion-dollar venture that now equips the nation’s top research laboratories.

Etheridge’s state-of-the-art computer-guided machinery brings consistency to old-world craftsmanship in Advanced Lab Concept’s top-drawer designs that meet the specifications of the nation’s leading architects.

Recent contracts fulfilled by ALC include 11 floors of laboratory furnishings for the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center in Dallas for $6.9 million, and five floors of laboratory space for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for $4.7 million, as well as a $3.1 million job for Harvard, Cambridge, Mass., and a $1.5 million job for Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

Etheridge worked in sales and marketing after graduating from Lamar, first for Xerox, then for a hazardous waste processor company based in Tulsa, Okla.

In 1988, Etheridge founded ALC with three employees designing and installing laboratories primarily in the petrochemical industry. While they used other companies’ products to meet customer specifications, they found it increasingly necessary to build lab furnishings themselves. In 1998, Etheridge opened his plant between Austin and Pflugerville, drawn there by the lower humidity — a concern in woodworking — and the abundance of skilled craftsmen in the area.

Etheridge’s visit is made possible by a generous grant from ExxonMobil. In addition to the public lecture, he will host a faculty colloquium and an informal discussion with graduate students in the College of Business.

For more information on the lecture, contact the College of Business at (409) 880-8603.

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