Monthly Archives: December 2010

Distinguished Alumnus of the Day: Thomas Carter

Thomas Carter

Eddie Murphy and Thomas Carter on the set of Metro

Thomas Carter graduated from Texas State University in 1974 with a bachelor of fine arts in musical theater.

Born and raised in Austin,  he is a five-time Emmy-winning director, actor and producer.

Carter’s career began with acting, including a role on the 1970s television series The White Shadow. Shifting from acting to directing and producing, Carter today is best known for his films, including Save the Last Dance with Julie Stiles, Swing Kids with Christian Bale, Metro with Eddie Murphy, and Coach Carter, starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Coach Carter is based on the story of high school basketball coach Ken Carter, who challenged his team to excel in school or face punishment and be benched. Coach Carter earned Thomas Carter a Black Movie Award and an NAACP Image Award nomination. It also was presented with the award of excellence by the Heartland Film Festival.

Carter also has been involved with a number of television series, including Miami Vice, Brotherhood and Equal Justice. He earned two directing Emmys for Equal Justice, on which he also was the executive producer and co-creator. The show received a People’s Choice Award for favorite new drama series.

He was presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award at Texas State in 1992.

Distinguished Alumnus of the Day: Wayne Oquin

Wayne Oquin

Wayne Oquin graduated from Texas State in 1999 and went on to earn a master’s and a doctorate from the Juilliard School.

The native of Houston, who also is an internationally known musician and composer, returns to San Marcos each spring to mark “Juilliard Joins Texas State,” which is part of the Common Experience.

Here is a video prepared when he was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2009:

Distinguished Alumnus of the Day: John Garland Flowers

John Garland Flowers

John G. Flowers

John G. Flowers, one of the founders and president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1973.

He graduated from Texas State, at the time known as Southwest Texas State Normal School, in 1913.

He was the third president of the university,  serving from 1942-64, and Flowers Hall was named in his honor.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the most prestigious honor given by Texas State University-San Marcos and the Texas State Alumni Association. The award recognizes graduates who have achieved prominence and distinction in their chosen business, profession or life work on a national or international level.

Alumni Profile: Nancy Tieken Lopez

Graduate creates fusion
between art, nature

Nancy Tieken Lopez considers herself an artist of nature.

Originally from Shiner, Tieken graduated from Texas State University in 1991 with a bachelor of fine arts degree. She went on to receive her master of fine arts, with an emphasis in sculpture and installation art, from San Jose State University.

Over time, her artwork has grown into earth installations, including music, dance and poetry.

Trails and Vistas Art Hike

She also founded  Trails and Vistas, a unique art experience located in North Lake Tahoe, Calif., in 2004. It was created with the hope of fusing artistic expression and nature into one.

Trails and Vistas takes hikers on a 2.5-mile walk through the rocky terrain of Sierra Nevada. Audiences experience 8-12 performing venues, which showcase interpretive dance, group meditation or musical performances. Art installations of all varieties are spread over the course of the hike. There’s a photo gallery of the installation here.

“My art is about connection — to a place, to the earth, to people’s lives and to the past,” says Tieken.

Read more about Nancy Tieken Lopez and her artwork at and

Alumni: Nurturing Talent

Alex Zinhanga and Bob Grogan at work in a vineyard in Franschhoek.

Texas State graduate helps
South African man with art career

By Robert Grogan
Class of 1970

In March of 2005, my wife, Lee, and I visited Franschhoek in the Cape winelands of South Africa. We were delighted by the beautiful and very paintable surroundings and by the charming little village itself. Each time I set up to paint outdoors, at least one of the friendly villagers would stop by to chat and check out what I was doing. The conversation always ended by that person asking, “Do you know Alex? He is a really good artist.” I finally decided to find out who this Alex was that everyone seemed to know about.

Continue reading

Distinguished Alumnus of the Day: Tomás Rivera

Tomás Rivera

Tomás Rivera

Tomás Riviera is a well-known Hispanic author, poet and educator. He set the standard for contemporary Mexican-American literature and received the Quinto Sol Award in 1971 for “. . . y no se lo tragó la tierra,” a novella about the life of a migrant worker taken from his own childhood experiences.

He graduated from Texas State University in with a bachelor’s in 1958 and a master’s 1964, and went on to be chancellor at the University of California-Riverside.

Rivera received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1980, four years before his death. His legacy continues with the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute and the Tomás Rivera Book Award at Texas State.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes graduates who have achieved prominence and distinction in their chosen business, profession or life work on a national or international level.

Distinguished Alumnus of the Day: Milton Jowers

Milton Jowers

Milton Jowers

Milton Jowers was a successful basketball and football coach from 1946-1972 at Texas State University.

He enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College in 1931 and graduated from Texas State University in 1935.

He joined the Navy in 1941, where he rose to the rank of commander.

Jowers took the Bobcats to the National NAIA Tournament in Kansas City six times, and ended up winning the national championship in 1960.

Jowers is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.

He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1972.

Holidays: The winter solstice

Get out your motley clothes,
prepare for mirth and merry

Tuesday is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter. Technically, the solstice occurs at the exact moment when the Earth’s tilt is furthest from the sun, but we’ll be marking it all day long.

Throughout history, cultures have taken note of this day and marked it with a range of ceremonies, rituals and celebrations. Here’s a sampling:

Brumalia: An ancient Roman festival honoring Bacchus, featuring mirth and merriment. The name is derived from the Latin word bruma, meaning “shortest day” or “winter solstice.”

The Extreme of Winter: A festival marked by a number of East Asian cultures, based on the the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos.

Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun): An Incan religious ceremony in honor of the sun god Inti. It also marked the winter solstice and a new year in the Andes.

Lá an Dreoilín (Wren Day): Crowds of people, called wrenboys, take to the roads in various parts of Ireland, dressed in motley clothing, wearing masks or straw suits and accompanied by musicians, supposedly in remembrance of a festival celebrated by the Druids.

Midwinter: In research stations throughout Antarctica, Midwinter is widely celebrated as a way to mark the fact that the people who winter-over just went through half their turn of duty.

Shab-e Chelleh: An Iranian holiday celebrated on the eve of the first day of winter in the Persian calendar, which always falls on the solstice.

Sanghamitta: A celebration to honor of the Buddhist nun who brought a branch of the Bodhi tree to Sri Lanka, where it has flourished for more than 2,000 years.

Soyalangwul: A ritual of the Zuni and Hopi Indians to the ceremonially bring the sun back from its long winter slumber.

Rising Star: Andrew Cotton

Texas State graduate is primed for career in Middle East diplomacy

Andrew Cotton wears the green cord of the Model Arab League for his graduation from Texas State University.

By Billi London-Gray

Andrew Cotton is fascinated with the Middle East. The International Studies major at Texas State University received a fellowship in Saudi Arabia last summer, and as he graduates today, he can’t wait to go back.

Cotton’s interest in international relations began in junior high school. As a student participant in the National Model United Nations, he started to learn about the cultures and politics of the Middle East.

“The academic advisor at the time picked all Arab countries for us because, she said, they were ‘the most interesting,’” Cotton says. That experience steeled his interest in the region.

Continue reading

Commencement Quiz

Are you ready for commencement?

Finals are over, but we have one more quiz to test your preparedness for graduation. How much do you know about Texas State University’s commencement ceremony?

1. To be eligible to participate in the commencement ceremony, you must:

    a. be able to shout the Fight Song on command
    b. have fulfilled all financial obligations to the university
    c. wear official regalia (black cap and gown, maroon and gold tassel)
    d. walk backwards down the Quad from the mustangs to Old Main

2. What’s the difference between graduating and participating in commencement?

    a. Graduating means you show up; participating means you actually pay attention.
    b. Graduating means the Dean has certified that you are finished; participating means you still have to meet a few requirements before you get your diploma.
    c. Graduating and participating are the same.
    d. Graduating means you are a real grown-up; participating means your parents will keep supporting you for another four years.

3. What goes into every graduation gown?

    a. 23 kinds of polyester
    b. 23 plastic bottles
    c. 23 armadillo shells
    d. 23 minutes of stitching by a freshman volunteer

4. Who composed Pomp and Circumstance?

    a. Andrew Lloyd Weber
    b. Sir Elton John
    c. Johann Sebastian Bach
    d. Sir Edward Elgar

5. Who wrote the words for the Texas State Alma Mater?

    a. Jesse Kellam
    b. Lyndon Baynes Johnson
    c. Jessie Sayers
    d. Miriam McCoy

Congratulations, graduates!

Answers: 1) b and c, but you are welcome to do the others on a voluntary basis; 2) b; 3) b; 4) d; 5) c, Jessie Sayers was an original faculty member of the Southwest Texas State Normal.