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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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 Time
In 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 City
Many 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.”
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
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 Unveiled
Navarro-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
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 People
Navarro-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.”
“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.”
It’s common for St. Mary’s students to land prestigious internships. But how many walk away with a pair of Lone Star EMMY Awards? Jesús Garcia, a senior from El Paso, did.
In Spring 2012, the Speech Communication and Music major participated in the first year of “Proyecto U” (Project U) — a first-of-its-kind program hosted by local Univision affiliate KWEX in partnership with San Antonio schools, including St. Mary’s University. The program provided students hands-on and on-air experience working in a newsroom with professional news personnel as mentors.
Guided by experts, students worked in pairs, with one behind the camera — Garcia’s specialty — and the other as the on-air talent. These teams would identify interesting stories and pitch 90-second video-versions of their story ideas during editorial meetings, complete with interviews, sound bites and a reporter voice-over.
“My partner and I went outside of what most others were willing to put in, and our packages were consistently chosen,” he said proudly.
For three weeks, the teams’ pre-recorded stories aired during the station’s weekend broadcasts. The fourth week, the participants were in charge of an entire live 5 p.m. broadcast. They literally ran the show: in front of the camera, behind it and even in the booth. That night, Garcia worked as an audio operator in Master Control.
“It was great because no other station has ever allowed students to do that,” he said. “Ever.”
Students helped Proyecto U to win Lone Star EMMYs in the categories of community service and education.
“It was exciting just to get the nomination. I never imagined being part of a project like this.”
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.”
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 View
When 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 Information
Movies 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.
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