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It’s About TransformationFive professors tackle a nebulous subject at the core of the St. Mary’s University Catholic and Marianist tradition
The new St. Mary’s University Core Curriculum, implemented in fall 2011, brought about fundamental changes in the way that academics, professional preparation, and Catholic and Marianist values were intertwined. One of the most striking changes was the addition of a class known as Foundations in Civic Engagement and Social Action. This semester, five instructors are teaching this course, putting their unique twists on a vital and yet somewhat nebulous subject. “The idea of ‘What is civic engagement and social action?’ is really an open question,” said Megan Mustain, Ph.D., director of the Core Curriculum and an Associate Professor of Philosophy. “This is really a conversation about, ‘What are the different forms of civic engagement, and what is our obligation as citizens and members of a community?’ ” The intent of adding this class to the Core was to take what St. Mary’s has always done well — engage students in working for the common good — and make that a more formal part of the University. “Having this course in our Core highlights and further institutionalizes our commitment that, as a Catholic and Marianist university, education is really about transformation.”
Brother Brian Halderman, S.M., adjunct instructorThe Catholic and Marianist tradition calls for us to be engaged citizens, and Halderman guides his students to engage in their communities, developing awareness of social issues such as education and poverty. While volunteering is an important part of any community, he wants students to develop a deeper understanding of their impact. “Volunteering is a one-time shot, such as spending an afternoon at the soup kitchen serving the homeless. If one is consistent in returning to the site on a regular basis, it becomes a form of civic engagement by helping solve a local issue with your time and talent.”
Tom Hoffman, Ph.D.. Professor of Political ScienceTrue to his political science roots, Hoffman delves into the structures, environments and factors that influence social engagement, including moral and ethical perspectives. He investigates the framework that a Catholic and Marianist education provides and how that influences interpretations of civic engagement and social action.His students identify and articulate a social problem and investigate how the solution might be an opportunity for civic engagement. “Having done this, the students approach a decision-maker to try to get resolution to the problem. Succeed or fail, they then analyze their process and see if they would have done anything differently.”
Sonia Garcia, Ph.D., Professor of Political ScienceGarcia’s students are focusing on the challenges facing public education with emphasis on Latino students, their experiences, and how court decisions shaped education policy. They examine the relationship between civic engagement and education, imparting Garcia’s expertise in court cases, Latino civil rights and Texas politics. As a class, they volunteered with Each One, Teach One, tutoring young adults for the GED. “Students come away from this experience with a real understanding that their service, even if it is just a few hours, has such a huge impact on the lives of these adult students.”
Jordan Humphrey, Ph.D., Associate Director for Civic Engagement at the Civic Engagement and Career Development CenterHumphrey dedicates the final third of the semester to the history of social movements, including the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the Farm Workers Movement, the Free Speech Movement, and the San Antonio Pecan Shellers’ Strike. “Examination of these movements allows my students a better understanding of what made each effort successful — for example, servant leadership — and also to see the important role students have had in advancing important social causes. Many tell me at the end of each semester that they never knew college students were (and could be) so influential. Success!”
Bonita Dattner-Garza, Ph.D., Visiting Lecturer of English and Communications StudiesDattner-Garza wants her students to know that civic engagement is more complex than it might seem; it is at the very heart of pluralism, liberty and democracy. She has them explore the idea of “civic virtue” and how faith obligates participation in civic life. “We read and write about important contemporary issues in which liberty is violated or at risk and explore the significance of civic engagement for influencing changes or improvements to democratic citizenship.” This article originally appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of Gold & Blue magazine.
Pursuing Her PassionPolish student’s research looks for clues to Parkinson’s Disease
Ewa Nowara, a junior Biophysics major and a citizen of Poland, had wanted very much to perform undergraduate research at St. Mary’s. However, because most undergraduate research is funded by federal agencies whose primary mission is to aid American students, professors are often bound by strict hiring criteria that exclude international students. S. Colette Daubner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, wasn’t one to let a technicality stop a deserving student from pursuing her passion. She invited Nowara into her lab and helped her apply for — and win — a $3,000 grant by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation so she could be compensated for her work. “I enjoy the challenge,” Nowara said. “You don’t know what you’re going to find out. You don’t know how you’re going to do it; you have to figure that out on your own. You don’t learn these things in class because nobody really knows the answers — that’s why we have research.” Now, Nowara works with Daubner in the lab probing the inner workings of tyrosine hydroxylase, an enzyme that helps synthesize neurotransmitters in the brain. Together they investigate the involvement of a protein called 14-3-3, which is believed to protect tyrosine hydroxylase from breakdown in the body. Because low levels of tyrosine hydroxylase may be linked to Parkinson’s disease, the medical community has a vested interest in understanding more about the enzyme. And Nowara’s work could provide answers. “If we can understand this structure and the way tyrosine hydroxylase works in the body, we can design treatments and understand what’s happening to patients with Parkinson’s.” Even though her grant term has expired, Nowara has no intention of halting her research; she continues to put in 12 to 15 hours a week in the lab voluntarily, at least until more grants come along. Nowara said her research experience so far has been terrific preparation for her goal of attending medical school. “I’m just a junior so there’s still a lot to learn,” she said. “I just hope I can do something that is clinically relevant.”
Finding RefugeBasketball Standout Feels at Home on the Court and at St. Mary's
When he closes his eyes at night, Moses Sundufu can still see the Sierra Leone streets he left behind so many years ago. Burning buildings, dead bodies, blood being spilled — utter hopelessness, really. Even now, his memories of a war-torn nation are visions Sundufu hasn’t been able to shake since fleeing his homeland at the age of 6. “We were very fortunate to get away,” said Sundufu, who is currently playing his senior season on the St. Mary’s men’s basketball team. “Even staying there two or three more days than we did, we’d have been stuck. It would have been really, really bad.” Sundufu was born in Sierra Leone in 1991, just as the nation’s civil war began. The 11-year conflict tore apart the country, leaving 50,000 people dead and others — like Sundufu and his family — looking for a way out. His family fought for years to leave, with his mother, Linda, fleeing first to the United States in the late 1990s. She made the difficult decision to leave Moses and his big brother, Michael, in the care of their aunt in Africa so that Linda could pave the way for her family to have a chance elsewhere. When he was 6, Sundufu, his brother and his aunt fled to Guinea, a neighboring West African country, and shortly thereafter moved on to Gambia. By the time Sundufu was 9, he and his brother had safely made it to the U.S. as refugees, joining their mom in Hopkins, Minn. The memories, challenges and uncertainties of his early life are still with him. “It all lets me know where I come from,” said Sundufu, an Exercise and Sport Science major. “It reminds me to take advantage of the opportunities I have.”
A Different WorldThe land of opportunity proved a welcome sight for Sundufu after leaving his homeland, but it might as well have been a different world. Though he had never before spoken English, Sundufu’s native language of Krio was an English-based creole, easing his transition. [caption id="attachment_9030" align="alignright" width="240"] Sundufu (right) with his mother, Linda, in Hopkins, Minn.[/caption] “I picked up English really quickly,” he recalled, “and was able to make friends.” Almost by chance, Sundufu found the game of basketball. He grew up playing soccer, but his first memory of playing basketball isn’t until after he arrived in Minnesota when he went to the park to play a pickup game with a friend. By the sixth grade, he was playing competitively for his school. “Ever since then,” Sundufu said, “I’ve been playing, playing, playing.” And he rarely stops. Before a game late this past season, St. Mary’s Head Coach Jim Zeleznak went into Bill Greehey Arena early one Saturday morning to go over some game film. He expected to be alone, but instead Zeleznak saw that someone had beaten him into the building. “I walk into the gym at 6:45 a.m., and obviously all the lights were out except for a few security lights,” Zeleznak remembered. “But I heard a ball bouncing. I poked my nose in, and it happened to be Moses.” Dripping with sweat, Sundufu had been shooting since 5:30 a.m. “Sometimes I just like to do stuff on my own,” he explained. “I’ll shoot around and work on improving.” Basketball has proven an effective distraction for Sundufu. The only thing he thinks about when he’s on the court is what it’ll take to improve his game — a far cry from the worries he used to hold. “When we first got to the U.S., we used to watch the news all the time,” he said. “We’d follow what was going on because we still had family in Sierra Leone.” Most of Sundufu’s family made it out safely, but there were friends and neighbors who didn’t. “Only a few people I knew lost their lives,” he said. His aunt, who helped him and his brother, stayed in Gambia until it was safe to return to Sierra Leone. She plans to join the rest of the family in Minnesota this December. But he still feels connected to his homeland. “I’d like to go back to Sierra Leone someday,” Sundufu added. “There are still family members there.” Until then, he has basketball to occupy his time.
Standout on the CourtSundufu averaged 9.3 points and shot a team-high 38.9 percent from 3-point range for the Rattlers last season, teaming up with Daryell Taylor to provide St. Mary’s with the kind of 3-point-shooting tandem it hasn’t had in years. He was also a lock-down, one-on-one defender, keying a defensive effort that had the Rattlers holding teams to 65.8 points per game en route to making their first NCAA Division II South Central Regional appearance since 2008. [caption id="attachment_9032" align="alignleft" width="240"] Sundufu[/caption] “I’m happy I came here,” says Sundufu, who as a senior in high school led Hopkins High to a state championship. “The people here are so nice; I just fit in. You just want to feel at home, especially on a basketball team.” And in life. “It’s pretty crazy how things turn out,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t make it out of Sierra Leone. They didn’t have the opportunity I had.” For all they’ve been through, Sundufu’s mom had never actually seen her son play the sport he loves. That changed this past season, when she watched him by viewing an online broadcast of a St. Mary’s game. “She was happy,” Sundufu said. “This is what she was fighting for. I thank God and try to make the best out of what I have.” Because all it takes is closing his eyes to see what could have been. This article first appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Gold & Blue magazine.
In the Movies, Life Does Not Imitate ArtPatricia Owen, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology
It’s the kind of happy ending that makes Patricia Owen, Ph.D., shake her head. The 1998 blockbuster “A Beautiful Mind,” starring Russell Crowe, depicts a brilliant mathematician obsessed with his work who mentally deteriorates to the point of hallucinations and paranoia. After being hospitalized for schizophrenia, his personal and professional life crumbles until willpower and the support of his devoted wife help him return to academic prominence. To Owen, a clinical psychologist and chair of the Psychology Department, it’s a romanticized portrayal of the very serious mental illness schizophrenia. And she has seen enough schizophrenia cases to know that they seldom end like a Hollywood fairy tale. “I just think, ‘Wait a minute. This is a beautiful film, but it has all of these distortions’,” she said. It’s certainly not the only movie to distort schizophrenia in order to create a compelling story. Owen has spent the past several years trying to understand how schizophrenia is portrayed in contemporary motion pictures and the effect it has on public perception of the illness. Her conclusion? “Misinformation breeds stigmatization,” she said.
A Skewed ViewWhen Owen tried to find films realistically depicting schizophrenia that she could show in her abnormal psychology courses, she was hard-pressed to find any. Even more unsettling was the fact that, when surveyed, many of her own students were confused about what schizophrenia actually is; many incorrectly believed it was the same as multiple-personality disorder, or Dissociative Identity Disorder. “My students, who are college-educated people, believing this misinformation surprised me,” Owen said. “Most of them don’t have people in their lives with schizophrenia, so where are they getting this? I think perhaps the cinema is pretty powerful in perpetuating some misconceptions about schizophrenia.” It was enough to make Owen forgo the soda and popcorn for a pencil and coding sheet. Owen analyzed 72 movies made between 1990 and 2010, identifying 42 characters that met criteria mandated by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders for a diagnosis of schizophrenia. She assessed the prevailing symptoms and treatments portrayed by the characters and determined that many were embellished or misconstrued. More often than not, the films depicted characters with schizophrenia in an unflattering light — movies like “Donnie Darko” and “Shutter Island” have helped fuel the perception of a correlation between schizophrenics and homicidal maniacs. In actuality, past research has indicated that patients with schizophrenia are more likely to be the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators, Owen said. Schizophrenics are also often introverted and susceptible to depression, two traits that “A Beautiful Mind” did capture. Seldom, though, do they achieve the levels of professional success that John Nash (both the character and the real one) did, and his genius knack for mathematics is largely to thank. The movie also suggests love can cure such mental illness, but don’t count on it — there is no known cure.
Movies: Entertainment, But Also InformationMovies are clearly for entertainment, but Owen maintains they are also a source of information. And when that information is distorted for entertainment purposes at the expense of a demographic, it can lead to negative stereotypes. “To those who struggle with severe mental illness, the pejorative stereotypes found in movies about schizophrenia have detrimental consequences,” she wrote in her study. “People with schizophrenia have reported feeling hurt or offended by media messages and have anticipated discrimination resulting from the portrayal of schizophrenia by the media.” Owen has always felt a deep-seated connection to patients with the illness. “I have this fundamental respect for people with schizophrenia,” she said. “Intellectually, I find their experiences to be very fascinating, but emotionally, I feel for the hardships they go through.” During the years she worked for different psychological hospitals, Owen got to know many patients on a personal level and has even invited a few to speak in her psychology classes. If diagnosed early, psychotropic medications along with a proper support system, usually family or an outpatient treatment facility, can enable patients to lead a mostly functional life. Untreated, schizophrenia is debilitating — patients are typically unable to maintain jobs or hold meaningful relationships. Those who cannot afford medication frequently turn to drugs or alcohol and, in many cases, end up homeless. Owens acknowledged that further studies will need to be conducted to determine methods to correct stereotypes and misconceptions. Until then, Owen accepts the responsibility of teaching others that people with schizophrenia are not to be feared. However, as long as mental illness is associated with horror films, Owen said there will continue to be an “us versus them” mentality among the public. She believes filmmakers should become more aware of the power they have to shift negative perceptions. “I think Hollywood directors need to be more concerned with the message they are portraying,” Owen said.
Roll Camera and…Action!Pawzun (B.B.A. '80) and His Wife Find Their Way Into the Movies, Thanks to Gala Auction
We all love the movies—watching the action unfold, seeing two strangers fall in love, and laughing so hard that our sides hurt. But, very few of us get to experience what it’s like behind the scenes of a movie in the making. One St. Mary’s alumnus, Mark (B.B.A. ’80) and his wife Renee Pawzun recently experienced the real thing first-hand.Hollywood stint begins with the Alumni Association The St. Mary’s University Alumni Association hosted its first Oysters and Pearls Gala to raise money for scholarships in February 2011. Legendary Hall of Fame men’s basketball Coach Buddy Meyer ( who coached Mark while at St. Mary’s) encouraged the Pawzuns to attend. It was an easy choice for the couple, because both Mark and his daughter Christina, a junior Biochemistry major, received full scholarships from St. Mary’s. “I was fortunate to receive a four-year basketball scholarship,” Mark says. “I took advantage of it, and I know Christina, who’s an Alumni Scholarship recipient, will do the same.” Mark and Renee continue to be involved with St. Mary’s, often working the sweepstakes booth during Homecoming Oyster Bake. They also participate in the annual golf tournament benefiting the Herman A. “Buddy” Meyer Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund that supports student-athletes and team managers whose athletic eligibility has expired—a cause that is especially meaningful to Mark.
Going once, going twice…During the festive gala, attendants bid in silent and live auctions on items including props from the set of Pirates of the Caribbean and a walk-on role in a Hollywood movie, made possible by alum Larry Levinson (B.A. ’79). Levinson, a college friend of Mark’s, is also a well-known movie producer with nearly 200 titles in his filmography and is the owner of Larry Levinson Productions. Many of the made-for-television movies seen on the Hallmark Channel are his productions. Mark and Renee perused some of the silent auction items, but when the live auction started, Mark had his paddle ready. “I decided to bid on the Hollywood walk-on role because Larry was a buddy of mine in college,” explains Mark. Renee adds, “I had no idea he was bidding on anything. I was sitting at a table, watching the auction and enjoying the excitement. Someone up front and someone behind me were bidding back and forth. Then I realized one of them was Mark!” Mark’s turned out to be the highest bid for the walk-on role in a film called The Christmas Pageant.
Star treatment beginsThe Pawzuns didn’t know what to expect once their plane landed in Los Angeles, and they were suprised by the red carpet treatment that started right away. Soon after clearing the gate, they found a chauffeur waiting for them. The star treatment continued. Not only was airfare included in their prize, but also a hotel stay, a chauffeured town car and all meals while they were filming. “The whole experience from beginning to end was amazing,” Renee recalls. The couple was even given a trailer and monogrammed directors’ chairs on the set. On the day their scene was scheduled to shoot, Mark and Renee were handled like celebrities. Picked up from their hotel by the chauffer, they were taken to the set where they visited hair and makeup, were fitted for wardrobe, and enjoyed an amazing spread for lunch. The movie’s director, David S. Cass Sr., showed them around the soundstage, and they were allowed to sit behind the camera to watch the action take place. “I didn’t know we were going to be so up close,” Renee says. Their expectations were far surpassed, and they also learned that acting is a lot harder than it looks. A single scene requires multiple takes, and there’s a lot of sitting around and waiting. “Most people on the set had no idea who we were or why we were there,” Mark says. But everyone was eager to show the Pawzuns around and explain exactly what was happening. “I guess it’s a testament to the kind of business Larry runs.” When time came for Mark and Renee’s big scene, they were directed to walk out of a door, and nod and wave when the film’s star, Melissa Gilbert, greeted them. On the first take, instead of just nodding and waving to Gilbert like she was supposed to, Renee waived and said, “hi!” “I told everyone, ‘I’m from Texas, and when someone says hello to me, I say hi back!’”
Experience of a lifetime“The whole experience was great– from the time we got there to the trip home,” Mark says. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” And he has St. Mary’s to thank for the happenstance of his Hollywood debut. “My time at St. Mary’s was one of the best times in my life,” Mark says, but quickly adds, “Well, besides my 25 years married to Renee.” St. Mary’s had a considerable effect on Mark, one that he acknowledges has only grown with time. The gratitude he feels towards the University is obvious. Now a very successful businessman at Detroit-based AEES Inc., Mark credits his alma mater for his success. “St. Mary’s was good to me and good for me.” This article originally was published in the Fall 2011 issue of Gold & Blue magazine.
In Search of Human DignityTheology professor searching for the source universal human dignity
Philosophy Professor Glenn "Chip" Hughes, Ph.D., is on a quest that is both difficult to explain and potentially so important that it touches at the very heart of humanity and human rights. If the principle of human dignity is universal and inalienable, then where does it come from? Hughes, who traveled to Norway’s International Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) as a Fulbright Scholar in 2008, is looking for the philosophical and theoretical foundations that prove human dignity is both universal and inalienable. “While the dignity of persons is often a pivotal concept in modern moral and political discourse, there is much disagreement as to what it is that grounds and validates the concept,” said Hughes. “What does it mean to assert that every human being is invested inalienably with a fundamental dignity, and from where does it derive?” These topics and questions might seem esoteric, yet what can happen when the concept of universal human dignity is not honored has been repeatedly demonstrated. “History has vividly and repeatedly shown how easily the systematic degradation of persons has flourished whenever dignity has been linked to race, class, ethnicity, nationality, or associated solely with biological, utilitarian or intellectual conditions or capacities,” he noted. Hughes is now writing a book that will focus on this concept of inherent human dignity, while addressing the undermining of, or attempts to deny or destroy, human dignity, particularly institutionalized forms of human degradation. “It is very clear that there are human rights because there is human dignity. And if we don’t have the basic justification as to why human dignity is universal and inalienable–how it can be rationally defended–then we can’t hold on to it.” In the Spring 2012, Hughes and department chair Megan Mustain, Ph.D., received a National Endowment for the Humanities “Enduring Questions” grant for the development of a course on human dignity. This opportunity will help the philosophy department at St. Mary’s continue to grow. More About Hughes Areas of Expertise:
- Philosophy of History
- Philosophy of Religion
- Philosophy of Art and Literature
- Philosophy of Anthropology
- B.A., English Literature, University of Washington (1972)
- B.A., History, University of Washington (1976)
- M.A., History, University of Washington (1979)
- M.A., Philosophy, Boston College (1986)
- Ph.D., Philosophy, Boston College (1989)
A Q&A with a Texas Journalism IconRick Casey (B.A. '68)
Name: Rick Casey Occupation: Host of the local PBA affiliate's TV show "Texas Week with Rick Casey" Hometown: St. Louis, but calls Texas home Today, you'd never know that he: flunked both Latin and typing in high school. After 40-plus years in print journalism, Rick Casey (B.A. ’68) is tackling television. His show airs on San Antonio’s public broadcasting affiliate KLRN, where he presents the week’s most important stories, people and issues in depth. We chatted with him about his career, which took root at St. Mary’s.
Q: What was the biggest story you covered while you were editor of The Rattler student newspaper?Casey: I don’t trust my memory after so many years. But we were dealing with major national issues, especially civil rights and the Vietnam War. One big story happened when Dick Gregory (an African-American comedian, civil rights activist and social satirist) spoke on campus, and a reporter from the now-defunct San Antonio Light took his comments out of context, sensationalizing them and causing a huge reaction. The alumni office was deluged with hateful calls.
Q: Is it true your first job in journalism involved traveling the country in a camper?Casey: I proposed to the National Catholic Reporter that I travel around the country to find and write features for them. I submitted clips of mine that persuaded the editors I could pull it off. I learned how to go into a community I didn’t know and talk to enough people to identify and research a story of national interest.
Q: Why the move to television?Casey: An 18-minute interview is considered “in-depth” by TV standards, whereas for a single column I might conduct hours of interviews and other research to get command of the topic. The two forms accomplish different things. The TV interview gives the viewer a sense of the person being interviewed in a way I couldn’t do in a column. One thing I appreciate and enjoy is that, unlike writing a column, television is a team sport. At KLRN about half a dozen people see it as part of their job to keep me from looking stupid. It’s a tough task, but they’re very good at it.
Q: Any advice for aspiring journalists?Casey: It’s a difficult time for journalism because the economic model of its largest traditional employer – the daily newspaper – is under such stress, but there will always be a demand for good writing. My advice is to write and publish (or post, or air) as much as you can while in school, and expect to spend your 20s in an informal apprenticeship, looking for jobs at which you will learn more than you earn.
There’s an App for That!Alum Anthony Garcia’s road from an Army combat commander to Silicon Valley entrepreneur
Anthony Garcia isn’t one to tell war stories. Ask him about his years as an Army officer and helicopter pilot and you can bet he won’t be quick to mention that during the height of the Iraq War he commanded the largest wartime medical evacuation unit ever assembled, safely transporting 6,500 patients. What Garcia (B.B.A. ’99) will mention is how the responsibilities and challenges of those years shaped him into the person he has become. Today, Garcia is the co-founder and CEO of a burgeoning technology company in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley. Started in 2011, Adjacent Applications Inc. uses geo-position data to create application software for mobile computing devices. In layman’s terms, he builds mobile apps for smartphones. The company unveiled its first product last June, a mobile app called Call Dibs. It is a sort of mobile garage sale, allowing users to upload photos of items they want to sell, trade or give away, and search through listings available in their area. The concept may sound familiar — Craigslist, anyone? — but there is something that makes Call Dibs special. When we came up with this concept, we thought it could service anyone, but we decided to focus on a particular audience that we’re familiar with,” Garcia said. In a nod to his understanding of the hardships of military life, Garcia made his first project something designed to ease the frequent moves and transitions of military families in a safe environment, since they know they are dealing with military members, spouses or veterans. And here’s the kicker: It’s free. With more than 400 downloads and 350 registered users and counting, word of Call Dibs is quickly spreading in military circles. Garcia and his business partner Derek Artz, co-founder and COO, travel the country hosting demonstrations at military bases. Garcia’s father, Anthony Garcia Sr. (B.B.A. ’73), has also been hands-on, promoting the app in their hometown of San Antonio. While the startup business world is a far cry from a warzone both are fast-paced and high-stress — the type of environment Garcia thrives in. And the pressure-cooker leadership skills he acquired in the military have served him well. “In this atmosphere, you have to be very good with people, but you have to take action,” Garcia said. “When I flew helicopters, everyone in that aircraft had a say. It’s the same way on our team.” Though comfortable in his entrepreneurial skin, the transition from the war-weary military lifestyle to the civilian one was not easy. After his return from Iraq, Garcia was unsure of his next move before deciding to go back to school. It was while completing his MBA at Cornell University in 2009 that the magnitude of two combat tours finally set in. He had been in life-threatening situations and emerged unscathed, while soldiers he had become close with never returned to their families. “The experiences I had, combined with trying to figure out what my new identity would be after being Capt. Garcia for four years, really put me in a bad situation,” he said in a 2012 interview for “Veterans Helping Veterans,” a California-based television show. “I realized it was time to start a new life. My military experience didn’t define who I was, (but) it was a part of who I was — an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.” Garcia began to focus on his positive military experiences and how he could apply them. After seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he moved to Menlo Park, Calif., to work with a high-profile research and development company. In November 2010, a casual conversation with Artz, then a co-worker, turned into an idea that prompted both to quit their jobs, start a company and develop Call Dibs. “Anthony is the ultimate enabler when it comes to allowing you to achieve your best performance,” Artz said. “His expectations for your performance are in line with your capabilities, and he wants you to achieve your best.” The duo has dreams of building Adjacent Applications into a million-dollar corporation, and they hope Call Dibs will one day become a worldwide phenomenon. But right now, their niche is helping service members. Within the next six months, Adjacent Applications will roll out new features for Call Dibs that will help active service members and veterans — particularly those coping with PTSD — with networking and job placement. In many ways, Garcia feels he’s come full circle. “It’s just about giving back,” Garcia said. “We could open this up to other organizations, but right now we’re focused on the military, and they’ll always be our number one customer.”
MBA Director Uses Business and Ethics Experience in the ClassroomEarnie Broughton (M.A. '93)
With more than 30 years of management and executive experience, Earnie Broughton is not your typical college professor. He followed a business career path, rather than an academic one. Before coming to the University in August 2011, he spent 11 years as the Ethics Program Coordinator for USAA on the front lines of one of the hottest business issues in generations. "I can't think of a more interesting decade to have been involved in organizational ethics," Broughton said. "Starting with Enron and continuing through the near economic collapse precipitated by the financial markets, we have been reminded time and again of the importance of ethics and values in guiding our choices and conduct at both individual and collective levels. In my view, the opportunities for game-changing breakthroughs in organizational behavior and individual conduct have never been greater." He joined the St. Mary's University Bill Greehey School of Business as Executive-in-Residence and Director of the Master's of Business Administration Program and Executive Education, with the task of bringing his decades of real-world experience into the classroom. A focus on people Organizational ethics is his principal area of academic and practitioner interest - a focus that came naturally for Broughton. "I started working in ethics because I've always been fascinated by human behavior," he said. Broughton took on the USAA Ethics Program because ethics seemed to be the area most directly related to personal values and how they could transform a workplace. This is a sort of paradigm shift in business thinking: At one time, ethics was more about following the rules than it was about doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. "Over the years, ethics has moved from an almost singular focus on compliance with laws and regulations during the 1990s to a more recent awareness of the importance of culture in establishing and reinforcing standards of conduct," he said. The psychology of business Broughton is intrigued by the emergence of social psychology and behavioral economics in the explanation of ethical - and unethical - conduct. Looking into the future, I see the beginnings of an integration of neurology and biology into a more comprehensive picture of individual ethics, moral reasoning and action," he said. "The final piece of the puzzle will, I believe, be an acknowledgement that a deep and unifying view of spirituality is necessary to free us from the limited and self-interested world view and mindset that created these cycles of ethics crises in the first place." Once students complete the MBA program, Broughton wants them to leave with exactly what would be expected from a graduate-level program: academic preparation, practical skills, self-awareness, and a deep connection with both their classmates and the world around them. But he also wants them to leave St. Mary's with something more: a life changing experience, both professionally and personally. "I want them to look back on their MBA as an experience that separates the life they lived before entering our program from the ever-expanding circle of self-understanding, purpose and opportunity that comes after they graduate. That is a tall order, but anything less falls short of our tradition and mission at St. Mary's." More About Broughton Areas of Expertise: Organizational Ethics Human Resources Management; General Business Management Education: St. Mary's University, M.A.; St. Mary's University, B.A.
Professor Keeps to the Shadows While Pushing Students to the LightRichard Cardenas, Ph.D.
Plenty of people can tell you about the work that St. Mary’s University Physics Professor Richard Cardenas, Ph.D., is doing on the campus and in the community. His dean is eager to talk about the prestigious award Cardenas recently received from the President of the United States for mentoring; his students are happy to talk about the transformational influence Cardenas has been on their college experience; and former students quickly recall their own positive interactions with the professor. Just don’t ask Cardenas to talk about these things. Once word came from the White House that he would be one of just 11 individuals honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, Cardenas became scarce. The more reporters called wanting to talk about his accomplishment, the harder he was to find. Finally tracked down weeks later for an interview with a local reporter, Cardenas admitted that while he was honored to be recognized, he was just not comfortable stepping into the spotlight. But, between his success in growing the St. Mary’s Physics Department and national recognition for his work preparing the next generation of scientists, Cardenas may have to get used to the attention.
Building a foundation[caption id="attachment_9433" align="alignright" width="203"] Cardenas meets President Barack Obama[/caption] When Cardenas came to the St. Mary’s campus in 2000, there were only two students majoring in physics, most advanced physics classes had not been taught in years, and the degree plan on record was outdated. The next year, the degree program was revamped (it has since been updated again) and a biophysics option was introduced, quickly becoming a popular option among the growing number of physics majors. But where Cardenas has really stood out is in his work mentoring both local public school students and St. Mary’s students alike. For public school students, Cardenas is the energy behind Fiesta of Physics, a program he started in 2003 with a colleague as a way to spark interest in science while giving back to the community. It began as a one-time event, where hundreds of local elementary students were invited to campus to see fun and exciting science experiments performed by members of St. Mary’s Society of Physics. The program was so successful that Fiesta of Physics has become a traveling show as well, with numerous trips throughout the academic year to elementary and middle schools around San Antonio.
Fiesta of learningDuring a Fiesta of Physics demonstration this spring at the KIPP Aspire Academy, a charter school focused on preparing inner-city students for college, Cardenas brought 10 St. Mary’s students to show about 90 eighth-graders that science can be fun. The visit came at the request of Emmanuel Barrera, a 2006 graduate of St. Mary’s, who is now teaching integrated physics and chemistry at the academy, and wanted to show his students what Fiesta of Physics offered. “When I was at St. Mary’s, I was a part of Fiesta of Physics, and I know what it can do,” Barrera said. “I want to make sure these students get excited about science, and I want them to know that St. Mary’s is just right down the street.” Since Fiesta of Physics began, thousands of local elementary, middle and high school students have participated. The visits include hands-on demonstrations of science principles, such as Newton’s third law of action and reaction (air is pumped into balloons before they are released, loudly squeaking and streaking across the gymnasium) and the effects of solidified carbon dioxide on a squishy blue racquet ball (it transforms into a solid rock, and shatters like glass when it hits the ground). Jessica Esquivel, a senior electrical engineering and applied physics major, has been volunteering with Fiesta of Physics since she was a freshman. She loves seeing the students’ eyes light up when they see something surprising happen in a science demo. “They can see that what they are learning in the classroom is real and that it matters,” Esquivel said.
Broadening horizonsCardenas is passionate about getting future college students interested in science, but he’s also passionate about mentoring current St. Mary’s students. He requires his physics majors to apply to at least four summer research programs, with the hopes that it will help them realize their own options. As a result, Cardenas has had many students accepted to programs at top-tier research schools, including Columbia University, the University of Notre Dame, and Texas A&M University. He understands the impact mentoring can make in a student’s life because he didn’t get that kind of push from his own college professors. “Because a significant percentage of St. Mary’s students are the first in their families to attend college, showing them all the options available is vital to their success,” Cardenas said. But he doesn’t just tell them to go find opportunities; Cardenas combs the Internet and listserv groups for openings that might appeal to his students, and then encourages students to apply. “To see them do well—that’s what this is about. It’s not enough to get them to come to St. Mary’s. They have to have a variety of experiences and exposure to any field that might appeal to them.” This article originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Gold & Blue magazine.
The Greehey MBA Garners Additional Support From Key Donor
Alumnus Bill Greehey (B.B.A. ’60) gave a $1 million gift for The Greehey MBA program, a unique cohort-based graduate program that centers on values-driven leadership and learning. “I am very excited to support the new MBA program at St. Mary's University because it goes beyond a typical MBA curriculum,” said Bill Greehey, NuStar Energy LP’s chairman of the board and director. "It includes a key focus on ethical leadership, social responsibility and social entrepreneurship, all of which are critical to the development of great future leaders who will care as much about their employees and communities as they care about their shareholders and bottom lines,” said Greehey. “In addition to the already rigorous curriculum that all MBA students follow, the students in The Greehey MBA program will have additional requirements for service, community engagement and leadership. “I am particularly pleased that a significant portion of the gift provides scholarships to attract the best and brightest students with high leadership potential, as well as stipends to help attract world-class professors,” he added. In 2006, Bill Greehey's $25 million gift resulted in the naming of the Bill Greehey School of Business. “Mr. Greehey’s continued support of the St. Mary’s business school and its programs is a strong validation of the dedication and commitment of the school’s faculty and staff, as well as the work happening campus-wide to promote excellence in the Marianist tradition,” said President Thomas M. Mengler, J.D. “St. Mary’s strives to develop graduates who have not only traditional hard skills, but also the values that make us more fully human and more effective leaders such as leading as a part of a team, listening and collaborating, and practicing honesty, respect and integrity.” “We have a goal of increasing opportunities for experiential learning and mentorship, so that our students see firsthand what it takes to become an outstanding professional, and this generous helps us do that in the Greehey School of Business,” Mengler added. Dean Tanuja Singh, D.B.A., led the effort to retool the University’s traditional MBA program into an 18-month program that focuses on developing ethical leaders seeking to transform themselves and their communities. “We know we are on the right track with our values-driven MBA when Mr. Greehey, with an outstanding record of a values-driven life, supports us with words and actions,” Dean Singh said. She noted that the gift would be used for a variety of purposes including the addition of national thought leaders who will add to the unique learning environment of the program.
A Scholarly PilgrimageVan Hoy's Research Focuses on the History of Latinos in the Southwest
History Professor Teresa Van Hoy, Ph.D., began what she thinks of as her "scholarly pilgrimage" in June 2011 when she became O'Connor Chair of the History of Hispanic Texas and the Southwest. As the O'Connor Chair, Van Hoy has two years of release time for writing a book and lecturing both on and off campus while focusing extensively on her research as a Borderlands scholar. She is studying the history of Latinos in the Borderlands, researching their contributions to Mexico's fight with the French in the 1860s. Additionally, Van Hoy is examining the history of Cinco de Mayo. The "textbook story," she said, claims that what has become a well-known celebration began when Mexico defeated Maximilian and the French, but Van Hoy thinks it is more complex than that. Hispanic-American newspapers bear witness to a mobilization among Latinos in the United States to help President Benito Juarez and the Mexican people fight and protect their land. In these accounts, small mining communities gathered together to raise money to send to Juarez. Even after the French left, Mexico's celebration of Cinco de Mayo continued as a way to preserve Latino culture and celebrate their identity, even in their adopted homeland. One of the goals of Van Hoy's exploration is to highlight the Borderland people's contributions and to find the true meaning behind celebrations of Cinco de Mayo. "As a historian, I am grateful for the O'Connor family's vision in supporting history and for St. Mary's commitment to historical study and outreach," Van Hoy said. More About Van Hoy Areas of Expertise: History; Borderlands and Latin America; Gender Studies; Cultural Criticism Education: Wesleyan University, B.A., M.A.; University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D.
Winning Hearts and MindsHow a former Marine’s West-African journey shaped the way he effects positive change
There was no chow hall. Internet was not easily accessible on this mission supporting the United Nations. For Carlo Niño, a U.S. Marine at the time, this was a hazardous and unusual deployment in Liberia outside the comforts of a military base. “We cobbled together a generator. I used a water filter to drink from a trashcan that we filled up daily from a local creek. It was sweltering hot at night, and in the distance you could hear the drums of people praying—a sort of mixture of Christianity and local tribal beliefs, something of a cousin to Santeria.” It was in 2005, there in West Africa, that Niño’s beliefs about our nation’s foreign policy—and what it means to serve—forever changed. A few years before working in Liberia, Niño (B.A. ’96, M.A. ’02) was serving in Afghanistan while simultaneously completing a master’s in International Relations via correspondence, thanks to the support of Political Science Professor Larry Hufford, Ph.D. As Hufford told the Gold & Blue in 2002, “Any student that determined and disciplined (to finish his degree), I’m going to go out of my way and help.” It was just after the September 11 attacks, and Niño’s experience in the Afghan desert left him with a lot of questions about war and his role in it. “I was very patriotic from one point of view, but only as an extension of imposing U.S. foreign policy,” he recalls. Niño left the Middle East and graduated in 2002, then studied at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., before being sent to the Pentagon to analyze the Marine Corps budget. “I wasn’t completely happy sitting behind a desk at the Pentagon while my brothers and sisters were fighting in Iraq.” Confident he would get to return to the “tip of the spear” where he felt he was most needed, Niño volunteered whenever a mission came up. But when he was sent to Liberia to work with the United Nations (UN) as an observer in a noncombat environment, he was forced to re-evaluate his idea of effecting positive change.
Lightning in a bottleNiño was admittedly impatient with the UN, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other volunteer expatriates before his West African journey. “When you come from a community of warfighters like the Marines, you have a very bold and stark approach to problem solving,” says the San Antonio native who now calls California home. Without a weapon slung across his back and the power that had once given him, Niño had to learn how to employ new and different skills in order to be effective in Liberia—an area that had been traumatized by physical violence, frequently by people in uniform. This education was not an easy one for Niño. “Knowing how to keep my mouth shut and ears open has never been a key asset of mine, but I learned that you can discover a lot about people who are trying to accomplish the same things if you see the tools they work with, especially those that accomplish the winning of hearts and minds without coercion.” From building consensus among disparate groups to including disenfranchised people in projects and discussions, Niño observed expats outside the context of the military mastering these methods based in engagement and support. “Over time I developed a respect for the many expats who entered troubled hotspots without the benefit of a gun, who had lived amongst war-torn communities, and often who continued for years without seeing results. Liberia was the key turning point for me. I have kept trying to re-capture the lightning in a bottle from that deployment.”
The tip of a different spearAs Niño’s views on service shifted, so did his methods. “I began to realize I had a stronger role to play in some key areas where I was limited with the military. I could still assist the goals and aims of U.S. foreign policy, but it didn’t require me jumping out of an armored personnel carrier.” But Niño’s experience on both sides of the military base gave him a distinct advantage when faced with difficult assignments. “I could access the military’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams and Civil Affairs Teams, and I could live on a base and know how to find things that it might take a civilian longer to locate. I was trained to live, work and operate in kinetic environments while many expats and NGO workers were used to working primarily in post-conflict locales.” Straddling this line seemed to be where Niño found himself most valuable. After leaving the Marines in 2009, he reconnected with several St. Mary’s graduates from Hufford’s classes who were working in international aid for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “Seeing how local sustainability projects worked, like the Red Cross Family Tracing program and the UN Refugee Agency, really expanded my world. It was something I wanted to belong to. I found that niche when a USAID contractor hired me to fill that role. I was a hybrid.” Today Niño works in Kabul, Afghanistan, forming and nurturing meetings (called jirgas) between local stakeholders on behalf of USAID. Niño’s team helps the community elect a council and seek recognition from the provincial governor. In the past year, they have formed more than 100 of these councils and empowered them to communicate with their provincial counterparts. “It’s a very fragile process filled with your average dangers of voting fraud, corruption, nepotism, etc. Democracy looks great on paper, but anything worth having requires sacrifice from everyone.” That is a sentiment he tries to share with the communities he works with in Afghanistan, but after both his military and civilian experiences abroad, it’s a message he can take back home, too. “The value of multilateralism is something my experiences in Liberia taught me. America can’t just go it alone. It’s cliché, but the international community is just that: a family of nations.” This article originally appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Gold & Blue magazine.
From the Ground UpZack Valdez (B.S. '10) looks to transform common plant into viable biofuel
You could say that watching grass grow is as exciting as, well, watching grass grow. But for Zack Valdez (B.S.’10), it is not only stimulating work but also the focus of his high-profile research fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Valdez, who began his graduate work at Baylor University after leaving St. Mary’s, was awarded the highly competitive three-year fellowship in April. He’s working on his doctoral studies at Baylor’s Institute of Ecological, Earth and Environmental Sciences. Valdez’s research has him keeping an eye on switchgrass, a common North American plant with the unique ability to retain large amounts of carbon. That property could make it an ideal biofuel source, and Valdez is investigating optimal conditions for its growth. Valdez spent this past summer in a switchgrass field in Michigan identifying the biochemical properties of soil samples taken from near the grass’ root. His objective was to gather data that will help him determine optimal fertilization and harvesting techniques to retain carbon once the grass is harvested. It is information that could also help farmers maximize production while minimizing environmental impact. For years the biofuel sector has attempted to wean the nation’s dependence on oil, but corn, its main source, is not without flaws. Aside from requiring significant time, effort and space to cultivate, it’s notorious for depleting its soil of precious nutrients. With switchgrass, the opposite is true. It is inexpensive, requires very little fertilization, and is suitable for farming in even the toughest conditions. An added bonus: It doesn’t dip into the global food supply like corn. “When harvested for biofuel, the roots we leave underground are sort of a fertilizer within themselves because they hold a lot of carbon taken in from the plant’s natural respiration process,” Valdez explained. “We can grow switchgrass on lands that have been stripped of nutrients or are marginally developed.” Alternative energy has become a passion for Valdez. He hopes his work with switchgrass is just one component of the larger endeavor to wean the U.S.’s oil dependence, and he hopes his work will contribute to it becoming a viable biofuel option. “My hope is that we find some sort of alternate fuel we can use,” Valdez said. “I just want to save the world like everyone else.”
Sigma Beta Chi Steps Up for Sports ComplexFraternity Raises Money for New Outdoor Sports Facilities
For months, Steven Jansma has been picturing what it will be like to drive into the new Park at St. Mary’s outdoor sports complex and its FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) regulation-size soccer field. Specifically, he pictured that field carrying the name of the University’s oldest fraternity, Sigma Beta Chi. Jansma (B.B.A. ’89), a former Rattler soccer player and member of Sigma Beta Chi, spearheaded the fraternity’s push to make that vision a reality. Together, they have raised $208,000 for the outdoor sports complex project, a gesture the University honored by naming the soccer field Sigma Beta Chi Field. Jansma, a partner with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, said the effort was about continuing Sigma Beta Chi’s legacy of giving back. “We’re not just about ourselves and our group of guys,” Jansma said. “We’re about what St. Mary’s University represents.”
Hats Off to DorisEducation, Volunteerism and Leadership Development: The Many Hats of One Trustee
Doris Slay-Barber (B.A. ’74) is a familiar presence at many St. Mary’s University events, and almost every time, she can be spotted wearing a fashionable — and unique — hat on her head. It’s become an iconic accessory for her, but there is much more to this soft-spoken University Trustee than her trendy toppers. “We all wear many hats, don’t we?” she asked with a grin. Slay-Barber balances what she calls two full-time careers: her professional position as the campus support services coordinator for Northside Independent School District (NISD) in San Antonio, and her volunteer positions on many boards and organizations across the city. Her passion and energy for both are evident. “She is phenomenal,” said Sharon Spencer, an NISD colleague. “She balances everything across our district and acts like it’s nothing. Then she effortlessly switches gears into her volunteer mode.” In Slay-Barber’s position at NISD, she provides technology and data services for schools including attendance technologies, which are vital to public school funding, grade reporting, and the all-important master schedule that includes everything from class requirements to graduation plans. “No matter what your challenge or problem, when you call Doris, she is so positive and validates you and your importance to the district,” Spencer said. “You walk away feeling uplifted and confident. She treats everyone from janitors to principals this way.”
How To Learn, How To TeachThe issue of access and equality in education is close to Slay-Barber’s heart. The oldest of six children, she was the first in her family to go to college. With a dream of higher education and a $300 Future Teachers of America scholarship, she set out on her own to attend St. Mary’s. “Education is always worth it,” she explained. “If it took until I retired to pay back my loans, I was going to do it. It was that important to me.” After Slay-Barber earned her bachelor’s in Elementary Education, her first job was teaching in the East Central Independent School District in San Antonio, thanks to a pact she’d made with the superintendent while she was a high school senior: He promised there would be a job for her after graduation if she would return to teach. She kept the pact and stayed on the faculty for 10 years before she was recruited by the Texas Region 20 Education Service Center to secure grants for science, reading and writing programs. During this time, technology was gaining importance in public schools, but districts were having a hard time getting teachers to buy in to the new processes. “Many knew how to teach, but were afraid of the technology,” said Slay-Barber. Recognizing the steep learning curve for some teachers, she moved to Region 20’s Technology Department and spent the next 17 years instructing teachers in technology use before accepting her current position with NISD. Fearless of wearing too many hats, she also balanced earning her master’s in Educational Leadership from Trinity University and raising three boys with her husband, Gene Barber.
Her Second JobIn her “spare time,” Slay-Barber sits on the boards of the San Antonio Women’s Pavilion, Constance Allen Heritage Guild and Texas Business Women. She is an active volunteer, putting her heart and energy into each project she’s involved with, whether it is preparing birthday boxes for children at the Battered Women’s Shelter or facilitating jobs initiatives for women. Amid all that, she always finds the time for her alma mater. At St. Mary’s, Slay-Barber is a member of the Board of Trustees, a post she first filled as a representative of the St. Mary’s Alumni Association in 2006; she was appointed as a regular member in 2010. “Serving on the Board of Trustees at St. Mary’s University is something I could have never imagined,” she said. “It is very humbling, and it allows me to give all that I have — my time, talents and experience.” Now she’s adding one more board: Slay-Barber has recently been asked to be on the board of the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis. “Once you are a teacher, you just continue to learn,” she said. “I want to encourage nontraditional fields for women. This is an exciting opportunity to encourage children and girls to explore those fields in technology, science and engineering.”
She's Got Hat-itudeWith a primary focus of developing leadership skills in women, one of Slay-Barber’s most beloved organizations is Texas Business Women. She currently is that organization’s president, a post she first held in the late ’90s. It was then that she accidentally became identified as “the hat lady.” She was about to be installed as the organization’s president in front of a large audience on the HemisFair stage, but she was suffering from a broken foot and the accompanying unattractive cast. Not wanting the attention to be on her foot, she drew the spotlight upward by wearing a purple and gold hat. Her plan worked brilliantly, and she began wearing hats to all Texas Business Women functions. Eventually, it became her social calling card. “I always say, when you put on your hat, you’ve got to put on your hat-itude,” said Slay-Barber. Hat-itude, of course, is a crowd-pleasing attitude in which the wearer is prepared to draw attention and be outgoing. It’s a familiar attitude to Slay-Barber, for sure. She now owns more than 300 hats and 32 fascinators — small headpieces attached with a comb or a headband — which have taken over two closets in her home and are organized by season and color. She has won the San Antonio Women’s Organization Fiesta Hat contest, and this year, she hand-made fascinators and hats with the Women’s Pavilion out of recycled banners. The project brought awareness to their 3C Project (Community, Creativity, Collaboration) benefiting Fuerza Unida, an organization that supports gender equality and the seamstresses left unemployed after Levi Strauss closed its San Antonio plant in the 1990s. Respected by her colleagues and peers, their compliments are as colorful as her hat collection. “Doris is one of those rare people that no one could say a negative thing about,” said Spencer. “She is hard-working, resourceful, gracious and very kind. She is an unsung hero in our field.” This article originally appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Gold & Blue magazine.
Alumna Unearths an Ancient Warrior QueenOlivia Navarro-Farr, Ph.D. (B.A. '98)
Olivia Navarro-Farr, Ph.D. (B.A. '98), and a team of archaeologists made a career-defining discovery in the summer of 2012: In a collapsed chamber in Guatemala was the tome of Lady K'abel, a powerful Maya queen who ruled the ancient city of El Peru-Waka' with her husband more than 1,300 years ago. “She was very well renowned,” said Navarro-Farr, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the College of Wooster. “One of her titles is ‘kaloomte’ which means supreme warrior. She is a rare woman with this powerful designation that sets her apart, even from royal men.” Navarro-Farr has spent the past 10 years visiting and studying the site of an ancient Maya city in Guatemala. Its palaces, plazas and residences now lie in rubble, but one of its buildings still contains relics, tokens and other offerings left by people centuries ago. “I hypothesized that there were deep and important memories associated with that building, powerful enough to be remembered for centuries to follow.” And she was right. “This is one of only around five royal burials in the Maya world that have associated epigraphic (inscriptional) evidence that gives the historical identification of the individual,” she said.
A Modern Indiana Jones“We spent long days on our sides, under cramped and uncomfortable circumstances,” said Navarro-Farr of working on El Perú-Waka’ Archaeological Project. Her team worked tirelessly despite the physical strain because, as more and more valuable artifacts were uncovered, looters threatened to move in. Navarro-Farr’s group had the cooperation of the Guatemalan army, which was camped nearby for protection, but even that did not guarantee the site’s security. “We didn’t have a lot of time to waste,” she recalled. “Every day that you’re not finished is another day that things are exposed and vulnerable to looting.” Thieves were not the only risk they faced. As the rainy season began, the makeshift roads that weaved through the forests quickly turned to mud. “There is no real road — just paths. At one point the truck I was in had to be pulled out with a pulley, and it took hours.” But after four months, the team had unearthed the remains of the powerful Maya figure whom history had only known through the objects and works of art that referred to her.
The Warrior Queen UnveiledNavarro-Farr’s lifelong interest in Prehispanic Mesoamerica and her experience working side-by-side with indigenous peoples in Guatemala helped her grasp the weight of this discovery — both in and out of the history book. “It’s remarkable because it’s a Maya woman with a strong, political cache and the incredible title of warrior,” she said. “That does a lot for young women, indigenous women and indigenous communities. Every little bit of knowledge is important.” In many ways, the archaeologists’ work had only just begun. The news of Lady K’abel was broadcast to the public, but many Guatemalans live rurally with limited access to this kind of information. Indigenous communities were even more disconnected due to language and other barriers. “Largely, the onus is on anthropologists and archaeologists to give lectures to local and indigenous communities and advocate for education, just as we would in our own country.”
Archaeology for the PeopleNavarro-Farr often reflects on the roles that ethics and values play in her field, especially when she gives lectures to Guatemalan communities on her findings. She watches as the people become more connected to their own history. “St. Mary’s has influenced my way of doing archaeology. Its emphasis on social justice helped me understand what is right or appropriate versus doing something merely because it advances my career.” St. Mary’s is also where she first tried her hand at a dig: She went to Belize with The Maya Research Program as an undergrad and found herself spearheading excursions to archaeological sites that weren’t even on the itinerary. “Before that, I wasn’t sure I would even like excavating, but I always had an intellectual fascination with the past. I was fascinated as a kid with ancient places, things and cities. I would imagine what it would have been like back when these places were actually bustling.” Today, Navarro-Farr and her team explore the very same questions she asked herself as a young girl. She plans to continue work at the site of El Perú-Waka’ for years to come, but not every day will contain a discovery of Lady K’abel’s magnitude. When asked if she thought she’d ever come across the Maya queen’s tomb, she calmly said, “We can never know.”
No BoundariesEnvironmental Science Program Covers Lots of Territory to Teach Students About Issues All Around Us
In the new Environmental Science program, classrooms don't always have walls. For professors Evelyn Mitchell, Ph.D., David Turner, Ph.D., and Melissa Karlin, Ph.D., who are leading the School of Science, Engineering and Technology’s newest degree program, the world is their laboratory. And while textbooks are still important, they also find use for painted ants, shopping centers, caves and sea monkeys. Seriously. On a crisp and windy day in October, 54 students traveled to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area near Fredericksburg. Turner and Mitchell led the hike while explaining the prehistoric processes that formed the rock all around them. The lesson included up-close looks at plant and animal life, including tadpoles and brine shrimp — also known as sea monkeys — in ephemeral pools of rainwater.[caption id="attachment_9145" align="alignleft" width="192"] Melissa Karlin, Ph.D., guides a student during an exercise in which they use tiny paint brushes to mark and track ants.[/caption] On another learning expedition this fall, Turner and Mitchell took a group to a decidedly less exotic location: Bandera Pointe Shopping Center, just a few miles from St. Mary’s, where a geological bonanza is tucked behind an urban big box store. The group, mostly underclassmen Environmental Science majors, was asked to sketch or photograph the layers of a massive rock outcropping and draw conclusions about the folding and faulting of its features. “I like geology because it’s like being a detective,” said Camila Acchiardo, a junior International Relations major working on an Environmental Science minor. “Dr. Turner can tell you all about what it is and how it got there.” Karlin, the University’s first ecology expert, also leads young detectives. She came to St. Mary’s this fall from North Carolina, where she tracked and studied endangered red wolves. It was only natural she develop something similar here: create a lab in which students paint and track ants. “My goal with the students is to introduce them to the plant and wildlife issues that are a part of other issues in environmental science,” Karlin said. The faculty encourages a diverse educational experience, urging students to select electives that nourish their interests and goals. “Environmental science is a multidisciplinary field by nature, so within our department we’re trying to bring in faculty with different experiences so that we can share that with the students. They can benefit from all those experiences going out into the world,” Mitchell said.
An Environmental Boom[caption id="attachment_9148" align="alignright" width="322"] Students walk the trails at Enchanted Rock[/caption] The environment is a hot topic in South Texas, where names like Eagle Ford Shale and Edwards Aquifer are often in headlines. You don’t need to be a news junkie to know that global warming, energy consumption, oil spills, droughts and floods are frequent talking points. To address the need for experts in these subjects, Mitchell came to St. Mary’s in 2008 to start a program that would prepare students for successful careers in environmental fields. Classes began in the fall of 2011. The job market for environmental scientists is booming. Large corporations, as well as federal and state government agencies, employ them, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 19 percent increase in jobs for environmental scientists and specialists between 2010 and 2020. “If this is going to be a big career opportunity for the next generation,” Mitchell asked herself, “why would we not want to offer that as an option to our students?” If we don’t offer it, she wondered, which schools will students choose instead of St. Mary’s? “I had a number of students beating on my door asking, ‘When is this starting so I can transfer to that major?’ ” Several freshmen have said the program attracted them to St. Mary’s. “The program was definitely a big part of my decision,” said freshman Whitney O’Connell, an Environmental Science major. Geosciences, chemistry and ecology are now options for students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. “I wanted to be a geology major, and this was the closest thing,” said Cody Boazman, a transfer student in his first semester at St. Mary’s. “But once I started the program, I liked it better because it gives you more job options.” The program seeks to place students into internships so they’ll gain experience, access to mentors and a professional network. Past interns have worked at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Northeast Independent School District, and the St. Mary’s Environmental Health and Safety Office. “The Environmental Science program was launched after extensive consultation with government agencies at the local, state and federal levels; and research and consulting firms,” said Dean Winston Erevelles, Ph.D. “The program is now in its second year and growing rapidly. I am confident that this program will continue to grow and serve the mission of our University and region.”
A Wealth of Urban Discovery[caption id="attachment_9144" align="alignleft" width="192"] Students examine a geological feature at a rock outcropping behind an unlikely site: the Bandera Pointe Shopping Center.[/caption] Because so many of San Antonio’s creeks and rivers have been turned into concrete channels, Turner hopes the University can assist local river ecosystem restoration projects similar to the San Antonio River Authority’s Mission Reach, Museum Reach and Westside Creeks Restoration Project efforts. For example, did you know the concrete “moat” on campus is actually Apache Creek? “St. Mary’s is in an urban environment,” said Turner, who has 20 years of experience and was a SwRI staff scientist. “So we look at the geology and geochemistry of that urban environment and how it might interact with the local ecology.” A faculty development grant will allow Turner to offer a geochemistry class in the spring. Students will collect and analyze water samples from local water systems and study urbanization’s effects on water quality. “I took an environmental science class my senior year of high school, and it opened my eyes about human activity’s impact on the world — positive and negative,” O’Connell said. “I want to work on the positive to protect the environment and keep things clean.” Learning opportunities also lie underground. Mitchell and her students have spent time studying the role carbon dioxide plays in cave geology, which might reveal how caves are formed and how that might link to the aquifer. “Having a good understanding of the processes that are forming caves can tell us more about the underground environment as a whole,” Mitchell said. She also has worked with SwRI researchers and a student to develop a mass spectrometer to analyze cave air. Their work at Robber Baron Cave was featured on a local television station, and their research paper was accepted by the journal Review of Scientific Instruments.
Environmental Perspectives[caption id="attachment_9143" align="alignright" width="322"] Karlin’s class uses the power of their own breath to draw ants into a tube and chamber for further study.[/caption] A hot-button environmental topic for South Texas residents is fracking, a process of using pressurized fluid to force energy sources from rock. It’s also a topic of discussion in Turner’s classes. “This is like the second oil boom in Texas — it’s going on right now, not even 100 miles from here,” Turner said of the Eagle Ford Shale drilling, which has its share of both supporters and critics. “There’s a term that comes up often in environmental science: NIMBY — Not In My Backyard,” Turner said. “ ‘Energy production is great as long as it’s not in my backyard.’ ‘Waste disposal is great as long as it’s not in my backyard.’ ” There’s no doubt fracking is a boon to the economy and an alternative domestic energy source, he said, but there are environmental — as well as cultural and social — costs. “It becomes emotional,” he said. “The story gets shaped in different ways by groups that have different perspectives.” Because of the many perspectives, Turner brings in guest lecturers, such as Brother Brian Halderman, S.M., and Philosophy professor Andrew Brei, Ph.D., to discuss environmental ethics. Historians, too, can teach future environmental scientists to consider the whole picture. “There’s a role for the humanities in environmental science. It’s a good place for them all to come together,” Turner said.
Reaching Out to Future LeadersOutreach is a vital part of this program. Faculty members seek to inspire the next wave of environmental scientists through programs like the Earth Science Extravaganza and the Earth Science Museum.
Twenty Years of PREP WorkA San Antonio Program Held at St. Mary's Gives Youth an Edge in the Sciences
For the past 14 years, San Antonio teacher Marisa Medellin (B.A. ’00) has spent her summers teaching technical writing to promising middle and high school students. But for Medellin, it’s not just about giving these kids a leg up in math and science. It’s about giving them the same chance she was given 20 years ago. Medellin is one of the many educators who spend their summers teaching students enrolled in the San Antonio Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP) held each summer on the St. Mary’s campus. Her introduction to the program came 20 years ago when she was a member of the first PREP class at St. Mary’s. “Then, there were just 60 of us enrolled—now there are almost 300,” said Medellin, a teacher at Premier High School. But she does not think of her summers in a PREP classroom as a sacrifice. “It means I get to give back what was given to me. Someone else was willing to be selfless in trying to teach me how to be successful,” Medellin said. “Every summer, it is not a question of whether I will do it. It is just something that I do. Plus, you see the students’ sacrifices, too—to come here, study and work hard.” PREP is a three-year mathematics-based summer program that targets minority and female middle school and high school students. Historically, these demographics are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career fields. The program builds an academic foundation leading to enrollment in Advanced Placement or honors classes so that the students can excel in high school and prepare for college. PREP is now a national program, but it started 30 years ago at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In 1992, St. Mary’s began hosting the third-year San Antonio students. Rafael Moras, Ph.D., professor of engineering and director of the St. Mary’s PREP program, has been leading the program since it started here. Moras noted that hosting the program’s third year, which is more competitive and includes the best students, is a benefit to the students and to St. Mary’s. He estimates that as many as 12 percent of the PREP students end up enrolling in St. Mary’s. While they are in PREP, the students take classes like geometry, trigonometry, statistics and technical writing, and learn from daily speakers who tell them about the career possibilities in the STEM fields. They learn to be both competitive and collaborative as they work in teams and compete against each other. “What this does is give them additional math and science that they wouldn’t get in school for four years. We give them an edge,” Moras said. “And if they don’t end up going into STEM fields? Well, then, what’s wrong with taking a little extra math?” [caption id="attachment_8976" align="alignright" width="216"] The "egg walk" contest[/caption] One of the most challenging parts of the program isn’t the math or science itself. It’s the writing. Each student must produce a technical writing term paper, collecting the statistics and then reporting them. Moras noted that it is not enough to just know math and science—they also have to communicate effectively. [caption id="attachment_8977" align="alignleft" width="151"] The "penny boat" competition[/caption] “It is so important for them to be able to write and present their ideas,” he added. Angelica Lopez’s first experience at St. Mary’s was as a middle school PREP student. She went on to become the salutatorian of Somerset High School’s 2005 class. “PREP was definitely an introduction to what was possible for me,” Lopez said. She applied to Rice University, Trinity University and St. Mary’s, and had her pick of the three. “But I knew St. Mary’s was right—a friendly campus and tough courses. I worked with Dr. Moras to map out what my education plan would be.” Lopez graduated from St. Mary’s in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, and completed a master’s degree this year in engineering systems management. She has spent this summer interviewing for jobs, and, of course, working with the PREP program as Moras’ office manager. Like so many other PREP graduates, Lopez felt compelled to give back to the program that gave her so much, and her own experiences with PREP help her do that. “I just spoke to a parent who was asking questions about how her child was doing and how to handle the challenges of PREP. I told her to encourage her child to come speak to me—I have been there,” she said. This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Gold & Blue magazine.
Form Meets FunctionComplexity and Flexibility of Animal Life Intrigues Professor
Biological sciences professor Marshall McCue, Ph.D., wants to learn not just how living things work, but why they work the way they do. Why can a snake survive without food for up to one year whereas some birds can only tolerate one day of fasting? What happens when bats sleep? “I am interested in using cutting–edge research techniques to explore how different organisms have adapted to meet the complex environmental challenges posed by their unique habitats,” McCue explained. Dr. Doolittle in the lab McCue doesn’t specialize in the intricate workings of just one species; instead, he has studied everything from snakes to insects to quails. In 2012, his research took him to Poland where he examined how bats sleep. Alongside scientists there, he investigated the bioenergetics of European bats that reduce their body temperature as they sleep during the daytime—a physiological state called torpor. McCue’s broad use of research animals is inspired by the Krogh Principle and from his fascination with the whole organism, not just a single physiological function. “Over the past decade,” McCue said, “I have observed a continual paradigm shift away from studying organisms as whole systems and toward a technologically driven, reductionist approach that fails to appreciate the unique emergent properties of each organism. I strive to balance these two factors in my teaching and research.” Zoo planet His interest in animal physiology began as he first learned about the “extraordinary diversity of form and function of organisms with which we share this planet.” It is that appreciation of the complexity and flexibility of animal life that he wants to pass on to his students. “Ultimately, I want my students to have a deeper appreciation of the different biological mechanisms that permit different organisms to survive, and often thrive, in nearly every habitat on Earth,” McCue said. “I want my students to understand that we share this planet with millions of other species, each of which is adapted to a particular niche–from freezing oceans to hyper–arid deserts to hypoxic mountaintops. In order to fully comprehend this magnificent biodiversity it is critical to contemplate how perpetual environmental changes and ubiquitous environmental challenges are responsible for fine–tuning the form and function of every organism through natural selection.” More About McCue Areas of Expertise:
- Stable Isotope tracers
- Physiological Ecology
- Nutritional Physiology
- Fatty Acid Biochemistry
- B.S., University of Florida
- M.S., University of California Irvine
- Ph.D., University of Arkansas
Law Grad Looks to Move People Back to the CityTerry Mitchell (J.D. '83)
Terry Mitchell (J.D. ‘83) doesn’t want to talk about the woeful realities of modern city living, like stark landscapes and excessive traffic snarls. He would rather talk about his vision of what cities can be — communities with people who are mindful of their environment and their neighbors, with short commutes and all the perks an urban habitat can offer. To Mitchell, it’s not a tall tale; it’s his life’s work. Mitchell is not your everyday real estate developer. He set out to be an architect, but instead became a banker and a lawyer. He earned business degrees from the University of Texas and St. Edward’s University before completing his law degree at the St. Mary’s University School of Law. He sees himself as a “student of architecture” drawn to beautiful and efficient design, but he credits his banking, real estate and law backgrounds for his success. “I use my law school training every day, assessing risk, evaluating what is and what is not possible, and drafting contracts,” said Mitchell. “Most of all, I am a great researcher, thanks to law school. I’ll look at 60 projects to see what people value in order to create a new community.”
Revitalization, One Neighborhood at a TimeIn 2003, Mitchell started Momark Development and began living his dream of revitalizing Austin and central Texas, one neighborhood at a time. He is passionate about neighborhoods with a broad range of housing options (from large family homes to smaller spaces for young singles or empty-nesters) and about how a well-functioning sense of community affects quality of life. Mitchell believes that a neighborhood is not simply a conglomeration of houses with a common clubhouse, but a series of gathering places that enable human interaction among neighbors. “How do we make it feel like home for each demographic?” Mitchell asked. “We listen to what they value, whether it is time outdoors walking their dog or hip restaurants nearby, and we cater to those values.” He also theorizes that by making urban home ownership affordable, he can place people back in the heart of the city, which will revitalize the city, improve quality of living and — a boon to everyone — reduce traffic. “Creating huge housing developments on the outskirts of cities naturally causes terrible traffic problems. We need to move the workforce closer to their jobs,” he said.
Back to the CityMany of Mitchell’s projects concentrate on just that — moving the workforce back into the city. This includes building what he calls “vertical communities” with common green space and lower prices than what is generally offered in cities. Austin, which Mitchell calls home, is known for its high housing costs. “We just completed a high-rise condo that appeals to empty-nesters as well as younger urban folks who want the emotional connection of a real community,” Mitchell said. “I take the potential buyers to the top floor with a 25-mile view. Their jaws drop. They can see 75 percent of the Austin metro area; they find it fascinating and know it is a special place to call home.” The awe-inspiring view is nice, but it is just one of the unique draws to a project. Mitchell carefully researches and considers specific needs of each location and the groups he is serving. He judiciously plans everything from the flow of the neighborhood to unique features like a common backyard on one floor and a gym on another. He wisely uses the environment to provide more green space. “Neighborhoods should be filled with a variety and range of homes filling different needs,” Mitchell said. “We are, as an industry, rediscovering that.”
CPA Finds His Calling in the Medical FieldJohn Wisniewski (B.B.A. ’84), CEO and Executive Director of the Bexar County Medical Society
As CEO and executive director of the Bexar County Medical Society, John Wisniewski (B.B.A. ’84) may not be what you would expect as the head of a 4,200-member medical organization. He’s a Certified Public Accountant, not a physician, but he has dedicated his professional life to helping medicine deal with the realities of business. “Accounting is the language of business; I learned the language in order to do something else. I felt I had an obligation to do something for people, and the medical field is a good balance.” Wisniewski’s focus sharpened when his late brother, Ted, a physician diagnosed with HIV, spent his last years in charge of an underfunded and understaffed HIV outpatient treatment program for the state of Louisiana, serving those who most needed assistance. Wisniewski redoubled his dedication to helping those in the medical field do their job efficiently and effectively. “In the medical field, there is an obligation to serve viability.” After passing the CPA exam, he started his career with Deloitte Touche, Ross & Co. But accounting was always a means to a greater end, and he spent the next 21 years serving the healthcare industry as a chief financial officer, learning about hospital administration and the medical field. In 2008 he became CEO of the Bexar County Medical Society. “My role is helping to create value for our members who each have unique responsibilities, needs and opportunities as physicians. In today’s environment, a physician must be an exceptional clinician, but also possess the skills to be an adviser, care-coordinator, manager and business owner.”
Professor Asks, “Why Do Mammals Have Big Brains?”Thomas E. “Ted” Macrini, Ph.D.
Scientists have wondered for decades why mammals’ brains are so large relative to their body size, but for the most part all they could do was guess. The fossils that could give paleontologists clues to the earliest development of the mammalian brain are hard to come by, and the in-depth study that would offer better clues meant destroying 190 million-year-old fossils from China. It wasn’t worth the cost, so researchers were left to guess, relying primarily on comparative studies of living mammals. However, advances in technology—in particular the use of computed tomography (CT) technology similar to medical scanners—have for the first time allowed scientists to reconstruct the Jurassic-era fossils, giving them a glimpse—literally—into the brains of these early mammals, and giving up some of the secrets of their earliest brain development.
Technology Lends New PerspectiveAccording to a research article published last month in the prestigious journal Science, an improved sense of smell was the main factor in the development of mammals’ large brains. This is extraordinary news for the scientists trying to learn more about the development of mammals, and extraordinary news for St. Mary’s University. As it turns out, one of the three authors in this monumental scientific breakthrough is St. Mary’s Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Thomas E. “Ted” Macrini, Ph.D., who joined the St. Mary’s faculty in 2009. The Science article is born of Macrini’s doctoral dissertation work, which he conducted along with Tim Rowe, Ph.D., professor in the Jackson School of Geosciences and director of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory at the University of Texas, and Zhe-Xi Luo, Ph.D., curator and associate director for Research and Collections at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Their work on the article, “Fossil Evidence on Origin of the Mammalian Brain,” was published in the May 20, 2011 issue of Science, a major accomplishment in and of itself. “The heart and real strength of an academic program is its faculty whose members continue to excel in the classroom, in research, and in service to the University and to the community,” said Winston Erevelles, Ph.D., dean of the School of Science, Engineering and Technology. “I am proud that Dr. Macrini’s co-authored paper has been selected to appear in Science—a very competitive journal with significant impact and prestige.” While mammals first emerged about 200 million years ago, the oldest mammal fossils are mostly small jaws and teeth, and only the occasional skull. Even then, these tiny fossils are only a few centimeters long, providing no way to take a closer look without destroying them, according to Macrini. The CT technology allowed Macrini and his colleagues to not only look inside the paperclip-sized skull without harming it, but also produce three-dimensional negatives of the skull’s interior, giving researchers a new perspective.
Sense of Smell Determines Brain Size“This is the most comprehensive study yet undertaken using computed tomography to study the evolution of mammalian skulls,” said Macrini. “And it’s exciting to see these new insights emerging from years of intense labor.” For the study, the team CT-scanned more than a dozen early mammal fossils and more than 200 living species over the course of a decade, using the High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility at the University of Texas at Austin, which is a national shared facility supported by the National Science Foundation. The scans are archived online and freely available to the public and other researchers, allowing this technology to be widely available. So, if smell was the primary catalyst in mammals developing large brains, why do some animals, such as dogs, have far superior olfactory ability than, say, humans? Rowe explains it this way: “When you make one sense better, it is usually at the expense of something else.” In the case of humans, smell may be less prominent to make room for more developed vision and hearing abilities. Similarly, birds have traded better olfactory for improved vision, whales for better hearing, and bats for echolocation (the sense bats use to navigate in the dark while hunting).
Professor Engages Students in New StudiesWhile this article in Science has brought Macrini and his colleagues international attention for their pioneering research, it’s not what Macrini does on a daily basis at St. Mary’s. In addition to the biology classes he teaches, Macrini also leads a group of St. Mary’s students in some groundbreaking research in another field altogether: looking for causes to the pain caused by osteoarthritis. His work looks at baboons at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, attempting to learn more about what can be done to ease the pain experienced by humans with osteoarthritis. The unassuming Macrini doesn’t say much about the magnitude of authoring an article in Science, but he knows it’s a major accomplishment. “This is a monumental event in my career,” he said, but quickly pointed out that he is not a scholar who intends to follow only one course. “I like the direction that my current research on osteoarthritis is going. It is going to help a lot of people if we are able to learn more about this disease and help them. And that’s important to me because it is within the mission of the University as well.”
Dedication to Service Garners Athlete National Attention
Kevin Kotzur (B.A. ’12), who is working on his master’s degree in Communication Studies, has been named to the inaugural National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Allstate Good Works Team, a prestigious honor that speaks directly to St. Mary’s University’s mission of civic engagement and community service. The honor, awarded nationally to just 10 college basketball players from across all divisions, recognizes student-athletes’ contributions in the areas of volunteerism and civic involvement. Kotzur, a native of La Vernia, was the lone representative from NCAA Division II to make the team. “It’s a great honor, not just for the basketball team but for the entire University,” said Kotzur, who this year became the Heartland Conference’s all-time leading scorer with 1,904 career points and already owned the league’s all-time rebounding mark at 967. “It reflects the community outreach we do here. The school’s value of community service here touches everybody in athletics. We really try to work just as hard off the court as we do on the court.” [caption id="attachment_82557" align="alignleft" width="300"] Kotzur (left) and teammate Moses Sundufu wrap Christmas presents for children in need.[/caption] St. Mary’s men’s basketball coach Jim Zeleznak could not be happier for his star pupil. “For one of our student-athletes to be recognized in this fashion nationally speaks to what we’re trying to do here at the University,” Zeleznak said. As a three-time All-Region selection, Kotzur is no stranger to racking up awards. But this one seems a bit different. “This honor has me speechless,” he said. “I’m truly blessed.”
Bringing Ethics and Responsibility Back to BusinessMatthew Gilley, Ph.D.
Since when does turning a profit for shareholders mean ‘by any means necessary'? And, why do some business leaders at the pinnacle of their careers make decisions that harm their shareholders, their employees, and the very foundations of the national economy? As the Bill Greehey Chair in Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility, K. Matthew Gilley’s research examines the relationship between executive compensation and ethical/unethical behavior, along with corporate governance, and outsourcing. Gilley’s research has led him to become one of the nation’s leading experts in the field, and he has been named an Invited Academic Fellow of the Ethics Resource Center in Washington, D.C. The ERC Fellows are a select group of corporate, government, non–profit, and academic leaders who engage in meaningful dialog and research on critical ethical issues currently facing the country. Gilley has consulted corporations and government agencies on all aspects of business ethics. He is also a co–founder of the Greater San Antonio Ethics and Compliance Roundtable. Beyond researching these topics, Gilley is also working in the classroom to prepare students in the Bill Greehey School of Business to be better leaders when they reach the corner office. Gilley designed his Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility course so that students have the opportunity to work for some of America’s largest companies by conducting research for senior ethics and corporate responsibility officers. Recent client companies have included IBM, USAA, AT&T, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, and Duke Energy. On corporate greed and the public’s mistrust of Wall Street today ... “The vast majority of business leaders are good people who wake up early every morning and do the hard work of building great businesses that provide the goods and services that make our modern society the healthiest, safest, and most enjoyable in human history. Without the wonderful things accomplished every day by those pursuing profits, our world would be a much different, and much less appealing, place. Nonetheless, a small minority of business leaders have chosen recently to engage in misconduct on a grand scale, which has led a significant portion of the American public to doubt the value of capitalism to human advancement. Indeed, studies show that trust in business is near an all–time low; barely half of Americans trust business. And given the significant media attention and the scope of recent ethical scandals, it is hard to blame those who are skeptical. Misconduct by those in some corporations has led to serious damage to our economy and to individual lives.” On the benefits of Capitalism ... “We do not hear often enough about the ethical leaders who are doing great things with their companies, creating value for all stakeholder groups associated with their organizations. This is unfortunate, because no economic system in history has so improved the lot of mankind like capitalism has.” On Creative Capitalism ... “Creative capitalists who focus on more than just the importance of profitability will be the leaders of tomorrow’s most successful businesses. Those leaders will be the ones creating companies that have the highest margins, which are critical to a businesses’ ability to create ever more useful products and services; employ growing numbers of people; support the local, national and global economy; and give back to the community. Such businesses will be those winning the public’s trust and enhancing the viability of our capitalist system. More business leaders are incorporating ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR) into strategic decision–making. In the future, the most successful business leaders will be those who realize that they can, indeed, do well by doing good.”
A Pivotal Part of St. Mary’s HistoryRenovation of Assumption Chapel Celebrates More than a Century of History
When Ruben M. Escobedo (B.B.A. ’60) was a student at St. Mary’s, he often turned to Assumption Chapel in Reinbolt Hall for a place to reflect. “I spent a good deal of time in prayer prior to my examinations,” says Escobedo. “But I also prayed for professional guidance. What would God have unfold for me?” Now this Trustee (and former Chairman of the Board) and his wife, Veronica, have generously supported the recent renovation of that very space through The Ruben M. Escobedo and Veronica Salazar Escobedo Charitable Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation. “Fifty years later, I realize how pivotal St. Mary’s and the Marianists were in my life, and eventually in my family’s life,” observes Escobedo. “This was a way for my wife and me to thank the Marianists for all they have meant to the Escobedo family.” The chapel, which was built in 1908, has been rearranged, reorganized and renovated throughout the past century. But in each of its many incarnations, it has remained a seat of spirituality and community on campus—for St. Mary’s students, the campus, and the city at large. “The chapel is right at the heart of the University, as it should be,” says the Rev. Rudy Vela, S.M., D.Min., vice president for Mission and Identity. “When I see our Muslim students, for example, praying there,” says Vela, “it reminds me of the role that Mary plays, and what a blessing it is that St. Mary’s can provide that quiet place of reverence for all people. It has been so affirming.” The Marianist community was instrumental in helping make the vision of the new chapel a reality. During the latest renovation of Assumption Chapel, a bronze figure of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Society of Mary, was created by Brother Joseph Aspell, S.M., who was commissioned by the U.S. Province of the Society of Mary to sculpt Chaminade in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founder’s birth. Brother Earl Leistikow, S.M., Director of the Marianist Archives at St. Mary’s, loaned four brass and alabaster altar candlesticks to Assumption Chapel that came originally from Maryhurst in Kirkwood, Mo., the headquarters from 1921 to 1969 for St. Louis Province superiors and candidates. The shrine shelf for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, located in the apse of the chapel, was built by Brother Tom Suda, S.M., especially for the renovated chapel. The General Administration of the Society of Mary headquartered in Rome donated the rare yellow marble tabernacle and candelabras. This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Gold & Blue magazine.
Denver DaredevilDan Weyland (B.B.A. '60) Shows No Signs of Slowing Down, On the Racetrack or Off
The scene unfolds rather predictably whenever Dan Weyland tells someone he owns a race car. “They look at me,” the 73-year-old says, “and they say, ‘You’re doing what? Do you mean you own a team?’” Not quite. He’s driving the car. Weyland (B.B.A. ’60) races professionally in the American Le Mans series, regarded as one of the world’s leading prototype and GT endurance circuits. He’s been circling the tracks for 18 years, all thanks to a spontaneous purchase of a race car he made when he was 55. A little grayer — OK, considerably grayer — than the competition, Weyland laughs off the disbelief over his hobby. “I don’t take offense anymore,” he said. “When we put those suits and helmets on, you can’t tell a 16-year-old from a 73-year-old. We all look the same, and the car doesn’t know the difference.”
Racing, Texas StyleWeyland recently competed on one of the sport’s biggest stages, racing before an international audience of nearly 120,000 in November 2012 in the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West, a support event at the Formula 1 US Grand Prix weekend at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Driving a bright orange car with a large St. Mary’s University decal covering the driver’s-side door, Weyland knows the crowd probably didn’t expect someone of his age to be inside the car. [caption id="attachment_81090" align="alignleft" width="300"] Dan Weyland (B.B.A. '60) poses with his race car in Denver[/caption] “People are surprised I took racing up when I did, and then they’re surprised that I’m still doing it,” he said. “But why wouldn’t I? I wouldn’t give this up. I would get much older much faster if I gave up racing. I feel like I’m representing a generation.” Weyland made most of his living in real estate development, having specialized in developing medical office buildings in Houston before moving to Denver, where he now lives. He is president of Weyland Enterprises and MedPro Management, and he also founded the WECANDO Foundation, which supports charities in the Denver area. Despite his busy career, Weyland still found himself looking for new hobbies later in life. Enter racing. A lifelong sports fan who grew up in San Antonio playing basketball, baseball and football, Weyland never shied away from a competitive challenge. He later picked up tennis and skiing and always admired racing from afar. “It was the only sport that I watched that I didn’t understand,” Weyland said. Eager to change that, Weyland, 55 at the time, signed up for a racing lesson in hopes of learning the nuances of the craft. He figured he’d learn a little about technique and mechanics — just enough to make watching the sport more enjoyable. But by the time the session was over, he had purchased the car and the license to go with it. Just like that, he was ready to race. “It was instantaneous,” Weyland said of falling in love with racing.
At Home on the Track[caption id="attachment_81092" align="alignright" width="300"] Weyland prepares to drive.[/caption] Weyland knows some people might think he’s eccentric, or just a daredevil. But while he enjoys the speed of a race, it’s the camaraderie with his crew and the other drivers that keeps him going. “When you read about the Class of 1960 … there are not too many of us competitively driving race cars.” As such, Weyland has become an ambassador of sorts for the sport — and on how to live life. Following months of preparation and excitement heading into the November Grand Prix race — one of the few times he has raced in Texas — Weyland strapped into his car and took off from the starting line. But heading for the second turn of the opening lap, his engine began to fail, leaving Weyland facing the distinct possibility his day would end mere minutes after it started. “All of a sudden, I had gone for a gear and got nothing,” he recalled. “My crew asked if the engine was running. I wasn’t really sure. I hit the ignition again and it restarted, but by then I was behind everybody.” Something had triggered a built-in safety feature to kick in, shutting off the engine. While Weyland never expected to win the race, the breakdown nixed his chance to remain competitive at all. Weyland was, in the end, last to cross the finish line. “I was actually in good shape until the engine stopped,” said Weyland, who included the St. Mary’s logo on his car in honor of a place that remains close to his heart after receiving his marketing degree in 1960. “St. Mary’s was good for me. Now, here I am, doing something like this that is a different type of thing. I’m proud of it.” Which is why his temporary engine failure was all but irrelevant in the end. “The car is clean, and the St. Mary’s sticker is still looking good. That’s got to be a good ending, right?”
School Finance is Today’s Civil Rights ArenaLaw Faculty Member is a National Expert on Civil Rights and Texas School Financing Issues
In the current economy, public school finance is a hot topic, and few understand its ins and outs better than St. Mary’s University School of Law Professor Albert Kauffman. Kauffman became widely known in the Texas school finance arena as lead counsel in the landmark case Edgewood v. Kirby. In that case, which was one of the most recognized decisions in recent state history, he represented a group of 13 under-privileged school districts claiming the school–funding system was unconstitutional. The case paved the way for an overhaul of public school funding in Texas that significantly reduced the gap in educational opportunities and funding between rich and poor school districts. Kauffman is watching Texas school finance closely as the Texas Legislature wrangles with budget issues. “Texas public school education will be severely damaged by these cutbacks and – even worse – the poorest districts with the poorest students will be hurt even more than the other districts. This was a preventable tragedy,” he said. Kauffman, who spent 20 years as a civil rights lawyer for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), also represented the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and other organizations in a similar case striving for more state funding for colleges along the Texas–Mexico border. These efforts lead to the 1993 South Texas Border Initiative, which has channeled more than a half–billion dollars in funding to public universities in the Texas border area. At St. Mary’s School of Law, he teaches Texas and federal procedure and Constitutional Law and continues to specialize in education and civil rights. Kauffman was the only professor selected by Texas Lawyer in 2010 as one of the "The 25 Greatest Texas Lawyers of the Past Quarter–Century."
Teaching Technology Within the Liberal Arts ContextBahman Rezaie, Ph.D.
Bahman Rezaie, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Engineering and Professor of Electrical Engineering, has seen a lot of firsts at St. Mary’s – the first computer (which he used), the first research grant from the National Science Foundation (which he received), and implementation of the first core curriculum (which he helped design). But that’s all in the past. What he’s concerned about now is helping tomorrow’s engineers today. When he’s not working on his own research in robotics (his main interest is medical imaging), he’s encouraging students to go on to graduate school and to think of new applications of the ever expanding world of technology. After spending 30 years at St. Mary’s, he’s still working on refining the engineering degree and how it can be applied in the real world. Rezaie sees technology as a blessing and a curse for the next generation of students. As students become more dependent on computers to study, they become more accustomed to finding answers quickly. “As professors, we have to push students to think outside the box, which is hard to do when they can find the answer on the Internet. We have to ask them open–ended questions to make them think about the answer and apply the concepts of engineering in an intelligent way.” While his focus is clearly engineering, Rezaie clearly knows the value of teaching technology within the context of liberal arts. When St. Mary’s University implemented its new Core Curriculum designed to give students a well–rounded and balanced education, Rezaie was an instrumental part of the team that developed it. “Students will only benefit from taking classes in all areas of life. Our students will graduate knowing about more than just their field, which will help them in their careers.” While the general public often thinks about science as a pure form of research, existing free from politics and trends, engineering is a business like any other, and students must be prepared for the quandaries they will face in the professional world. That’s why the engineering department at St. Mary’s requires students to take a workshop on ethics in engineering. “You can’t live in a bubble. In this workshop, we ask students, ‘How will your work affect the environment and society? What impact will it have?’ Knowledge of different areas of life and thinking about how you will affect them will only make students better engineers.
Alum Made His Mark in the Movie Theater BusinessJohn Santikos (B.B.A. '49)
In 1900, L. Frank Baum published the children’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Adapted into the wildly popular film of 1939, this classic still resonates with children of all ages. In the story, it is revealed that the Wizard isn’t an all-powerful master as others believe; he’s just a man behind a curtain, pulling levers to create an illusion of majesty. San Antonio has its own wizard in John Santikos who, much like the fabled Wizard of Oz, “provides certain things that people want and satisfies their needs.” Santikos’ motivation for building and operating theatres is that it “makes [people] feel good, stimulates thought, and contributes to an appreciation of something a movie is trying to express.” Santikos Theatres, an outgrowth of a business that his Greek-immigrant father started in Waco in 1911, is celebrating its centennial. To honor the milestone, Santikos gave 50 scholarships to St. Mary’s freshmen. Why? Because it was “St. Mary’s that gave me my start,” he said during the scholarship presentation at The Palladium, a Greek-style theatre that pays homage to Santikos’ heritage. John’s father returned to Greece to marry in 1924. In June 1946, he sent his son to San Antonio to escape Athens, where a civil war followed the World War II German occupation. By boat and train, John made his way to San Antonio where his father had friends. Santikos recalls, “The consensus of opinion was that St. Mary’s was a good boys’ school and that I would be in good company.” The rest of his family— parents and a brother and sister—had joined him in San Antonio by 1949. Santikos enrolled at St. Mary’s in 1947. He worked hard to learn English (which he knew very little of), and found many helpful teachers. He sought to emulate Brother Paul Goelz, S.M. “I liked the way he talked, his handling of the English language, his ability to articulate things in an interesting way,” he said. Santikos credits Goelz as well as Brothers Anthony Frederick, Joseph Schmitz, and George Kohnen for helping and challenging him. John Santikos is nothing if not determined. He mastered English and graduated from St. Mary’s within two and a half years, earning a marketing degree in 1949. And he took some life lessons with him. “I learned [the Marianists] were people of good character and good ethics, and that permeated into my being. I have tried to live my life in a very honorable and just and fair way…I was taught that character matters.” In 1950, John started learning the movie business from the ground up at his father’s new Olmos Theatre. Whether it was taking tickets, working at the concession stand, or booking films, Santikos learned by doing. When his parents decided to return to their native Greece in 1958, he was ready to take over the business, establishing Santikos Theatres. One hundred years after his father opened a small cinema in Waco, San Antonio’s theatre wizard John Santikos orchestrates the success of his seven major theatres, pulling levers from behind the curtain, shirking the limelight, more interested in finetuning all of those small details that make a business successful and giving his patrons what they want. This article originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Gold & Blue magazine.
Healing and Innovation Go Hand‑in‑HandBagg (B.A. '81) Instrumental in Opening the Center for the Intrepid
When Mark Bagg (B.A. '81) looks back on his 26-year career as an orthopaedic hand surgeon in the United States Army, he has plenty to be proud of. Perhaps the most high profile of his accomplishments is the now-retired colonel's role in the development of the Center for the Intrepid, a world-class $65 million facility built in San Antonio to rehabilitate wounded warriors dealing with burns and amputations. All eyes were on the Center for its grand opening in 2007, which was more like a movie premier than a medical facility unveiling, complete with a red carpet, movie stars and high-ranking government leaders celebrating this innovation in military medical care. The path that led Bagg to his distinguished military career and that star-studded event in 2007 started many years before. His affiliation with the U.S. Armed Forces began as a child. The son of a military surgeon, Bagg's family moved around often before settling in El Paso where Mark graduated from high school. Although he considered other colleges, including the University of Notre Dame, a full ROTC scholarship sealed his decision to attend St. Mary's University. After graduating summa cum laude from St. Mary's in 1981, Bagg attended medical school at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He was assigned to San Antonio in 1996 as Chief of Hand Surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center (B.A.M.C.), later becoming Chief of the Orthopaedic Surgery Service and Residency Program Director, and then the first Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, which he helped establish. The development of that department—one of the first in the military to integrate orthopaedics and rehabilitation into a single line of care—is what became the de facto precursor to the Center for the Intrepid. When asked about how he came to be integrally involved in the Center, Bagg's response was a humble one: "It was just being in the right place at the right time. I have been fortunate to have been involved in something like this." Being in the right place at the right time meant that he had already set up a center at B.A.M.C. very similar to what the Intrepid would become, but on a smaller scale. When pressed for more information, Bagg starts a story that at first seems unrelated, beginning several years before he ever heard of plans for the Center. The advent of advanced body armor for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has saved many lives, but also has meant that more service members returned from combat with extensive injuries to their extremities, including burns, shattered bones and lost limbs. During the Vietnam era, the survival rate for wounded warriors was about 75 percent; but in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was much closer to 90 percent. That shift in the type of medical care most needed by combat veterans—which happened to be timed near the well-documented problems with wounded warrior care at the now-closed Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.—led the Department of Defense to start to think differently about how to care for warriors during complicated recoveries. "When you have someone with these extreme injuries, you can either keep them close to their home for family support, or you can put them together in one place so that they can learn from each other," Bagg said. "What we have found is that there is strength in creating a program where the injured are able to support each other." Bagg's work at B.A.M.C. integrating orthopaedics and rehabilitation, as well as his development of just the second Department of Defense Amputee Care Center, got the attention of military leaders in Washington. When philanthropist Arnold Fisher indicated that he wanted to spearhead the development of what would become the Center for the Intrepid, the U.S. Surgeon General asked for Bagg's counsel on where it should be built. Bagg suggested San Antonio. (The Fisher family is best known for the creation of the Fisher Houses, which are located near major military medical centers to give families of wounded warriors comfortable places to stay during rehabilitation.) As he tells it, Fisher flew into San Antonio, took one look at the field in front of B.A.M.C. that Bagg was recommending and said that this was where facility should be built. From there, the project moved fast. The Center took $65 million to build and equip, but cost the government nothing. "There were so many donations, and not one penny of it came from U.S. tax dollars. It was 100 percent through private donations," Bagg said. More than 600,000 individual donations went into raising money to build the Center. Bagg's role was to develop plans for the rehabilitation section of the Center—a major undertaking that was done in a mere three months. The construction was rapid, going from idea to opening in just more than a year. Before his role in the Center, Bagg had numerous other high-profile assignments. From 2003 to 2006, he served as the Orthopaedic Surgery Consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General, and made several trips to Iraq and Afghanistan in that capacity, including one to Baghdad soon after the start of the Iraq war. Throughout his career, Bagg has made a significant impact on the care given to wounded service members. He is most proud that he was able to volunteer for his final deployment to Afghanistan in 2006 with the 758th Forward Surgical Team, a deployment that put him much closer to the wounded warriors he had been serving. "In many ways, that was the most important for me. I could have retired then, but I stayed on active duty so that I could deploy," Bagg said. When he returned from that deployment, Bagg began his final military assignment as Director of the Center for the Intrepid, before retiring and going into private practice at The Hand Center of San Antonio. While he loved his military career, Bagg said the transition to civilian life was a smooth one, and he is enjoying his practice and more time with his family, including his wife Karen and their five children. As an Army officer and a physician, Bagg's professional life has been focused on serving others, something he attributed in no small part to St. Mary's. Last year, the St. Mary's University Alumni Association recognized Bagg's many contributions by honoring him with a 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award. "St. Mary's is very much known for being a place where service is important. And in the ROTC, it was just a part of the education we received," he said. "It was a great education and I made a lot of wonderful friends."
Law Alum Says No to Graffiti, Yes to Giving BackBurke Marold (J.D./M.B.A. '11)
Burke Marold (J.D., MBA ’11) is a young, entrepreneurial attorney full of ideas and plans for the future. He is taking it upon himself to stimulate corporate philanthropy in the legal community, and he intends to do it leading by example. After passing the bar, Marold set off to open his own law practice. He rented an office in San Antonio’s Tower Life Building, a prime downtown locale. He drew up plans for how he would make his living and treat his clients, including donating 10 percent of his net revenue every year to charity and building a culture of community service. “We think community-based philanthropy is what works,” Marold said. “Work is done on a local level. We are a philanthropic-minded law firm and want to be an inspiration to other firms, even large corporations. Making it part of our brand is our focus. It has an effect on people’s mindsets.” Not everyone was on board with his plan, though. Marold’s father felt the economy was too tough and worried his son’s student loan debt might stop him from being able to give back 10 percent, especially as a first-year practitioner. But he had a plan for that, too. “In lean times, you adjust,” Marold countered to his father. “Offer more reasonable rates. Take risks. Over-leverage yourself. You can make it in tough times.” What he didn’t want was for his philanthropic plan to be seen as hollow words. Since opening his firm in November, Marold has gathered a team of volunteers to fight graffiti once a month. He decided that the biggest impact he could have was in his own neighborhood: the Gateway District bordering St. Mary’s University. He appreciated the Neighborhood Revitalization Project that St. Mary’s champions, but noticed that graffiti was tarnishing everyone’s hard work. Partnering with the city of San Antonio’s Graffiti Abatement Program, which provides supplies of paints, chemical peels and tools, he outfitted his volunteers (groups of five to 60) who then took off on foot along Bandera Road, working the neighborhood from Hillcrest to Cincinnati Avenue.
What Does it Take to Become a CEO?A Liberal Arts Education, According to Ed Speed (B.B.A. '70, M.A. '86)
“My undergraduate degree got me the job, but it’s the liberal arts that got me the CEO chair,” said Ed Speed (B.B.A. ’70, M.A. ’86), who completed master’s and post-master’s programs in theology. “It’s OK if you quote that; it makes the business people completely bats.” Speed and his wife, Linda, met new St. Mary’s President Thomas Mengler last summer and were impressed with his vision for the University and his belief in the value of a liberal arts education. So they gave $125,000 to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) to create the Edward and Linda Speed Endowment for HSS Faculty Development and Research. Soon after, they gave an additional $137,500 to establish the Edward and Linda Speed Peace and Justice Fellows Program, benefiting HSS faculty scholarship that advances Catholic social teaching, human rights, social justice and peace-building. He didn’t forget his business education roots, however. The Speeds also donated $25,000 to The Greehey MBA program. “We wanted to give back to St. Mary’s, but we felt if we could help with faculty development — in philosophy and theology specifically — that would help continue to influence the formation of the whole person,” said Speed, who spent 35 years in financial services, real estate development and construction. Under Speed’s leadership, Texas Dow Employees Credit Union (TDECU), the largest state-chartered credit union in Texas, increased total assets from $700 million to more than $2 billion. He unlocked productivity by probing the minds of his leadership team for their motivations, feelings and concerns. “There are no purely business interests; there are always personal and business interests,” he said. “And those had to be on the table.” So he’d bring in prominent leadership and personal-skill authors for multi-day management sessions. He even reached into his own pocket to take seven executives to Rome as a teaching opportunity. The Houston Chronicle named TDECU a 2012 “top workplace” among Houston’s large companies because of its strength of leadership, organizational health and employee satisfaction. “This makes me so proud,” he said. “This is what St. Mary’s graduates can produce: a place that not only is highly successful financially, but is a place where human dignity is always paramount.” Speed’s extraordinary business approach featured “disciplined conversation” — a term he learned from The Rev. Bernard Lee, S.M., Th.D., at St. Mary’s. The goal of group discussions was to understand one another, he said, not necessarily to agree. Speed realizes that disciplined conversation starts at the top, which is why the endowments focus on faculty. He envisions professors interacting with their peers at conferences, conducting research and supplementing their education. “Buildings don’t teach. Faculty teaches,” he said. “Faculty forms people.” Speed previously was an adjunct faculty member in the Theology Department, and he’ll return to teach Introduction to Theology in the fall. Speed was awarded the Brother Paul Goelz, S.M. Award in 2003 for his community impact and Marianist values in business. He also helped establish the Houston Business Ethics Forum to encourage Catholic social teaching in commerce. “I think what you see is not so much me at work, it’s St. Mary’s at work,” Speed said. “I appreciate accolades, but I had to get that from somewhere. I wasn’t born with that. Where did I get it? I got it here.”
Blind AmbitionA Law Student's Quest for Equity
Robert Dittman is in many ways a typical law student: a determined overachiever who strives to be the best and will not take “no” for an answer. In other ways there’s nothing typical about him. Born prematurely, the blood vessels to his eyes never had the chance to develop, and he was born blind. If navigating through a legal education seems challenging for a blind student, it is par for the course for Dittman. To him, it is a necessity taking him one step closer to his goal of becoming a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the United States Coast Guard. “The U.S. military has never allowed someone with the pre-existing condition of blindness to become a JAG officer,” said Dittman. “I want to change that.”
Adding to his list of ‘firsts’Spend five minutes with Dittman, and you’ll believe he will accomplish that goal. He talks passionately about reaching higher and dreaming bigger. He spouts facts and codes and explains that there are currently seven blind JAG officers across the U.S. military branches. They all lost sight during their service and were allowed to stay on. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, any physical defect may be waived. Dittman wants to break down that barrier and add it to his list of firsts. “This is the last vestige of segregation,” he said. “If I am qualified in all areas and ready to enthusiastically serve, why should I be relegated to civil service? I want to do that same job, but I want to do it in uniform.” A singer-songwriter and guitar player who has sky-dived, bungee-jumped and water-skiied, it seems not being sighted is merely a nuisance in his path. He earned an associate’s degree in radio, TV and film production from San Antonio College and a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He was the first blind Eagle Scout in Bexar County, the first blind person to complete a basic indoctrination training course in the U.S. Coast Guard (it is believed he is the only blind person to complete basic training in any military branch), and he is the first and only blind person to serve on a boat in the Coast Guard. He served on the Coast Guard Cutter Dallas in May 2002.
Increasing diversity and empowering the disabled
Pushing life to the limitsAt St. Mary’s, Dittman has been making the most of his law school experience. He participated in the St. Mary’s Institute on World Legal Problems where he and his seeing-eye dog, Snickers, lived in Innsbruck, Austria, for a month while studying and traveling around Europe. He was a research fellow for the St. Mary’s Center for Terrorism Law, where he researched the area of threats and wrote a number of papers, including one on how the federal government could make full use of the volunteer Coast Guard Auxiliary if a terror threat were to enter through a port. One of his favorite law school experiences is working as a student attorney in the Civil Justice Clinic. “My plans are to finish law school and continue to push life to its limits,” said Dittman. “To dare to dream, and give as good as I get. I hope to open doors for future disabled children so they can enjoy as much life as everyone else without the walls of prejudice, misunderstanding or fear blocking them from their goals.” This article was originally published in the Spring 2012 issue of Gold & Blue.
At the Top of His GameSaenz (B.A. '79) Keeps Professional Athletes Ready to Play
Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford: Three names that are synonymous with the San Antonio Spurs’ championship successes. But there’s another name you might not know, that of a St. Mary’s grad who has been there for every one of those title runs. Meet Paul Saenz, D.O., the Spurs’ team physician — the man the Spurs have never won a championship without. “I think the next-best thing to being the professional athletes themselves is to be part of the medical staff that has the ability to be involved in the maintenance of those athletes,” says Saenz (B.A. ’79) who has been a part of four National Basketball Association (NBA) championship-winning Spurs teams. “That is almost as good as it gets.” And there are few as good as Saenz. A San Antonio native who graduated from Central Catholic High School, Saenz received his bachelor’s in Biology from St. Mary’s. He went on to pursue dental school for two years before realizing his true passion was medicine, so he switched paths and received his medical degree at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth. He founded Sports Medicine Associates of San Antonio in 1992 before joining the Spurs organization during the lockout-abbreviated 1998-1999 season. Since then, the team has gone on to win four NBA titles and post an NBA-record 13 straight seasons of 50-or-more wins. “You can usually say to yourself, ‘I think I played a role,’ ” said Saenz. “It may have been a small role, but I was involved in this team.” Saenz happens to be involved with other successful sports programs, too. He will travel with the U.S. Olympic basketball team this summer as the team physician for a pre-Olympic tournament that includes games in Manchester, England and Barcelona, Spain. He also now serves as a national team physician for the U.S. track and field squad — this after having held the same position with the U.S. Olympic boxing team in 1996 and with the U.S. pentathlon team in 2004. In addition, Saenz is in his 19th year as the San Antonio Missions’ team physician, dating all the way back to when the team played its games at St. Mary’s V.J. Keefe Field, and is on the medical staff with San Antonio’s professional hockey and women’s basketball teams. [caption id="attachment_8920" align="alignleft" width="270"] Saenz attends to Spurs player Manu Ginobili[/caption] As if his four NBA titles with the Spurs weren’t enough, Saenz has also been part of four Texas League-champion Missions squads. It’s enough to draw some good-natured ribbing from his peers in the medical profession. “My mentor has been the team physician with the Seattle Mariners for 25 years,” said Saenz of a Mariners team that is one of just two Major League Baseball franchises never to have advanced to the World Series. “He’s always knocking me a little bit when I keep getting these rings.”
CEO Saves Taxpayer Dollars, Improve LivesMary Ellen Londrie (B.B.A. '92)
Few people’s to-do lists include training flight surgeons, setting up military computer networks, and responding to life-threatening pandemics. But these are only a sampling of a routine day for Mary Ellen Londrie (B.B.A. ’92), CEO of P3S Corporation—a San Antonio-based company that provides solutions for the government’s day-to-day operations needs. While she may consider this a “normal day,” Londrie in no way takes her job lightly. She views each day as an opportunity to make life better for others. Agencies including the Center for Disease Control, the Department of Homeland Security and all branches of the United States Armed Forces, rely on P3S to help them accomplish their objectives on budget, and on time. By doing just that, Londrie and her team have made a name for themselves saving millions in federal funds.
A leap of faithNine years ago, Londrie oversaw the procurement of contracted services for the federal government as the COO and Vice President for the United States Department of Treasury Franchise Fund. But she often observed that contractors would promise to deliver results, but would not follow through. Time and again, vendors failed to fulfill the terms of their contracts, laying waste to astronomical amounts of taxpayer dollars. She decided she had seen enough: if contractors wouldn’t shape up, she would become the competition. Londrie paid off all of her debt, saved up $1,000, and to the shock of friends and colleagues, left her GS-15 level position, the highest-paid position on the civil service pay scale. She then started P3S Corporation from her home—her kitchen table to be exact. And, what started in 2005 as a home-based, single-employee business, grew into a thriving, minority-female-owned company providing government support in the areas of information technology, financial management and healthcare services. “Our team consists of professionals in a variety of areas,” she says, describing her company. “We employ computer programmers, certified public accountants, biologists and epidemiologists.” With 25 offices located in the United States and in Puerto Rico, her company currently employs a team of more than 350, with estimated revenues surpassing $25 million.
Humble beginningsLondrie grew up in poverty along the Texas coast in Port Isabel, a small town in the Rio Grande Valley. There she caught the entrepreneurial spirit early. As a child, she tagged along with her father who worked handyman jobs around town to provide for her family. Clients often bartered with her father rather than offering conventional payment, and she recalls how her parents’ resourcefulness taught her valuable life lessons. “As kids, we’d look at the pie or the chicken someone gave my dad as payment and wonder what we were supposed to do with it,” she recalls. “But my dear mother would get so excited. She could make anything out of everything.” A good student in school, Londrie always knew that she would attend college someday. It was the tight-knit faith community that drew her to St. Mary’s University. As a corporate finance major, she met now-retired Professor of Languages Ruben Candia, Ph.D., who recommended her for the Outstanding Scholars Program. Competition was fierce in the federal government program created to help qualified but under-represented groups of college graduates earn upper entry-level civil service jobs. But unsurprisingly, Londrie was selected, thus beginning her 12-year federal career.
Award-winning successFollowing her rise to the top of the civil service arena, Londrie continued on a path of success. Her company grew nearly 5,900 percent from its inception in 2005 to 2008. In 2010, during a ceremony at the White House, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognized P3S as the Texas Hispanic Small Business of the Year. That same year, the San Antonio Business Journal selected P3S for its list of Top 50 Private Companies. P3S was also ranked by Inc. 500 as the 17th Fastest Growing Company in the nation, first among Hispanic-owned small businesses and first among women-run firms. “Do what you say you’re going to do,” she states matter-of-factly. “While I managed procurement for the government, I quickly learned how easy it is for a salesperson to say whatever’s necessary to win when competing for a government contract, but many often fail to deliver. With the government turning its focus toward performance-based contracting, federal employees and government contractors are being held responsible for increased productivity. We do what we promise.” And it has worked. P3S (an acronym for performance, productivity and powerful solutions) has earned its reputation for saving millions of taxpayer dollars. In turn, the company wins greater numbers of contracts, which translates to increased revenue. Londrie shares the benefits of those revenues with the entire P3S team. A commitment to improving the quality of life for each team member is written into the organization’s mission, vision and values statement. It’s evidenced, Londrie shares, by the fact that her employees are compensated well and never feel disconnected even though they’re dispersed throughout the country. Despite the geographical distance, she fosters a sense of community, something she picked up from her time as an undergraduate. “Personal attention is something I learned while at St. Mary’s. It was great to be at a university where every professor, and even many of the administrators, knew my name. It provided such a sense of belonging. I never felt like I was just a number.”
Compelled to give backLondrie understands that no person achieves success alone, and she doesn’t count herself as an exception. “God has always put the right people in my path, even people I never saw or knew.” Grateful for the generosity she received throughout her lifetime, she has an extensive list of charitable organizations with which P3S partners. “I received the best education because of scholarships that were funded by generous people. I’ve had some great opportunities, which have helped me get to where I am today. And I never want to forget where I, and this company, have come from. It’s what compels me to give back.” Whether it has been providing internship opportunities for St. Mary’s students in the Greehey Scholars Program, mentoring other small business owners on how to successfully work with the federal government, or adopting a needy family for Christmas through a local church, Londrie urges her team to be active members in society. “I hope it’s making a difference by improving the quality of people’s lives like other people did for me.” This article originally appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Gold & Blue magazine.
Boggess Hits a Coaching MilestoneCharlie Boggess (B.A. '71)
Now in his 35th season of head coaching, Charlie Boggess (B.A. ’71) has become the winningest high school boys’ basketball coach in San Antonio’s history. And he still has a few seasons left in him. Boggess, head coach at Antonian College Prepatory High School, took the title after marking his 824th win in December 2012. His record surpassed the previous all-time-wins mark held by fellow St. Mary’s alums Joe Cortez (B.A. ’56), who tallied 823 career victories, and that of Wayne Dickey (B.A. ’74), who is third. But that record-setting game shook the unflappable Boggess, 63. “I don’t ever really get antsy before games, but that game I did,” recalled Boggess. “I watched the scoreboard more than I ever have and I was like, ‘Come on, get it over with.’ ” A flood of congratulations followed the game, and Boggess said it was a powerful moment. “I had flashbacks to the very first game I coached at Harlandale and Alamo Heights. There was a lot of emotion; I was wishing my parents could have seen it.” His big win came during his first season at Antonian, after 33 successful seasons at Alamo Heights. But his preparation for coaching really started during childhood with parents who both spent their careers in the sports arena. Boggess began basketball as a player, but a high school injury stunted his plans. “As a kid I always dreamed of being a great player,” Boggess said, “but when I realized it wasn’t going to happen, I said, ‘If I can’t play, I’m going to coach.’ ” Boggess has coached a total of 42 years, and he has plenty of basketball left in him before retiring. “I have no plans for a stop date.”
Alumna Believes ‘Thinking is Doing’Neomi DeAnda (B.A. ’97, M.A. ’99)
Neomi DeAnda, Ph.D., (B.A. ’97, M.A. ’99) spends a lot of time interacting with people from a wide range of faith traditions — a trend she is certain is only going to continue. “It’s fascinating to me how our Church allows for all of these different perspectives and ways of being Catholic,” DeAnda said. If you contemplate the spiritual or the divine, you are already ‘doing‘ theology. At the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, DeAnda works with students from around the world every day, directing both the Oscar Romero Scholars Program and the Hispanic Theology and Ministry Program. Many of her students don’t speak English; yet, they all share the idea of living in community and serving one another. From where she’s sitting, her diverse group of students embodies the different ways of being a church. Women traditionally have been underrepresented theological academics, and there is still progress to be made in the realm of diversity, particularly when considering how few Latina Catholic theologians are working today. This past summer, however, the National Catholic Reporter recognized DeAnda and 11 others for being women under the age of 40 who are making a difference in the Catholic Church. DeAnda was only one of two Latinas to make the list, and of those two, she was the only one with a terminal degree in theology; in the entire United States, she is one of fewer than 20. DeAnda believes those numbers will only increase as more Latinas — and women in general — realize that theology is not something reserved for the professed. As she put it, “If you contemplate the spiritual or the divine, you are already ‘doing’ theology.”
All day event - School of Law
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM - Bill Greehey Arena