Monthly Archives: October 2010

Rising Stars: Greg Rodriguez

Teaching Residency Program fills classroom needs, funds graduate studies at Texas State

Greg Rodriguez coordinates the Teaching Residency Program for Critical Shortage Areas at Texas State University. Participants in the program – graduate students seeking a master’s in education with teacher certification – work in Austin ISD schools that have shortages of teachers in critical areas, such as mathematics and science.

The 14-month program, which includes a nine-month teaching residency and 39 hours of graduate coursework, is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education. Participants receive a $35,000 stipend while enrolled in TRP-CSA in exchange for a three-year commitment, after graduation, to teach in an approved critical shortage area within the program’s partner local school districts.

“We will be recruiting next year’s cohort of teacher residents beginning Nov. 15,” Rodriguez says. The application deadline for the 2011-2012 term is Feb. 12, 2011.

Find out what teaching residents in the program have to say in this video.

Click image to view video on Vimeo.

Spotlight: Texas State Honors Program

How has the University Honors program helped you find your way?

Beatriz Gomez ’11
International Studies
“It has allowed me to be very creative. Moreover, my teachers have inspired and nurtured me to really think outside the box, and to see some of the problems that exist in our society that otherwise I wouldn’t see. And not only have they helped me see the problems, they make me want to do something about it.”

Christian Wallace ’10
History, Creative Writing
“One of the coolest things about Honors: it’s expanded me in so many ways. It has broken down a lot of mental barriers and opened my perspective.”

Happenings: Stargazing at Supple Science

Supple Science Observatory Hosts Stargazers Every Wednesday

On a clear night you can see forever. Or at least a few billion years into the past, if you’re stargazing at the Texas State’s Supple Science Building.

The Supple Science Observatory, on the fourth floor of the Supple Science Building, houses a 16-inch diameter telescope that can magnify galaxies near and far. Adjacent to the telescope’s dome is an observing deck, where small portable telescopes may be used.

The observatory is open for public viewing Wednesday nights, weather permitting, starting around sundown. If the sky is cloudy, overcast or stormy, the observatory will not be open.

“My advice to all is, if you look up and don’t see many stars because of clouds, then our telescope won’t be able to see them either,” says Russell Doescher, the faculty director of the observatory. “It really is best to wait for clear skies.”

Visitors to the Supple Science Building will take the elevator to the fourth floor and follow the signs to take stairs to the observing deck. A wheelchair lift to the observatory will be available in the future; it is currently being serviced. The doors to the Supple Science Building are locked at 9 p.m., so be sure to arrive before that time.

The observatory is also available by appointment for group visits. Email Dr. Doescher at to arrange a group visit to the observatory.

Spotlight: Lone Star Emmy Nominee

University Star’s Andrew Goodwin Nominated for Lone Star Emmy

Andrew Goodwin, a Texas State mass communication major and the assistant multimedia editor for the University Star, was nominated for a Lone Star Emmy in Student Production for his video “Freestyle Lyrics of Fury.” He attended the Lone Star Emmy awards ceremony in Dallas Oct. 16.

Goodwin’s other works include numerous videos for the Star and the independent film Dead End, which won three awards at the San Antonio 48-Hour Film Project. Dead End also will be shown at the Rockport Film Festival in Rockport, Texas, on Nov. 5. You can view more of Andrew’s work on his blog, 7Daily.

Congratulations, Andrew!

Rising Stars: Alma Mater

University’s Alma Mater dates
to original faculty member

By David King

Of all the traditions on campus, few date as far back as the school song, known simply as Alma Mater.

Jessie Sayers, from the first Pedagog yearbook.

The words for Alma Mater were written by Jessie Alison Sayers, a member of the original faculty at Southwest Texas State Normal and the younger sister of Joseph Draper Sayers, who was governor when the Texas Legislature authorized the Normal in 1899.

Miss Sayers — she never married, as was the custom with many teachers of the era — was an instructor of mathematics at the Normal, and she served as a faculty advisor to campus groups, including the women’s intramural sports program. She also had an interest in history; a newspaper report in 1911 listed her as one of the founding members of the Texas Folk Lore Society, organized by college professors and instructors from across the state.

Sayers, from the 1920 yearbook.

Born in Bastrop, she received her secondary education at the Virginia Female Institute in Staunton, Va. She came back to Texas and took the year of normal school training at the University of Texas, earning a job as a math teacher at Austin High School.

She also stayed close to her brother, a Civil War veteran who was significantly older, to the point of filling in for his ill wife as his escort to the inaugural ball that launched his second term as governor.

Miss Sayers had been at Austin High for 16 years when she was named one of the original 17 faculty members  at the Normal in 1903. And she added to her education through the years, eventually earning a bachelor of science degree at New York’s Columbia University in the fall of 1915, when she was in her 50s.

From the few mentions of her in the Pedagog yearbooks, she had a reputation as a no-nonsense teacher. She was not an instructor who was universally loved; for most of her time at the school, the Pedagog each year was dedicated to a member of the faculty or administration. She never was included. A poem dedicated to faculty members in the 1911 yearbook included this stanza:

Sayers, from the 1915 yearbook.

Miss Sayers has a rough old frown
When the “exam” papers come around.
Says she does hate to grade them so;
But she likes her “math” more and more.

But for all her tough exterior, she had a poet’s heart. Sometime in the Normal’s first decade, she composed Alma Mater, a five-stanza poem that showed her abiding affection for the place that was more than just an employer. Since she never married, the faculty and students at Southwest Texas were her family, and the preparation of those students was her love.

At some point in Texas State’s history, the decision was made to perform only the first and last verses of Alma Mater, and those are the words that are most familiar to students and alumni. The first makes reference to both the school’s location and the distinctive outlines of the Main Building, now known as Old Main:

O, Alma Mater, set upon the green hills,
With turrets pointing upward to the sky;
We yield to thee our love and our devotion;
Mother of hopes and aspirations high.

The second verse notes two features of the university that are still distinctive today — the San Marcos River and the Texas Hill Country — as well the symbolic elements of oak and laurel wreaths in the university’s seal:

Thy feet are laved by pure and limpid waters,
Fair river flowing gently to the sea;
Thy hills are crowned with ancient oak and laurel
Fit emblems they of strength and victory.

Ever the teacher, Sayers mentions in the third verse that attending college isn’t supposed to be easy, but that it should be a life-changing experience:

Thy walls call tell of struggles and temptations,
Hard honest toil, and eager restless strife;
Hopes, smiles and tears, and radiant youthful friendships,
And all that makes for brave and earnest life.

The fourth verse is a reminder to former students, no matter how far they go in life, to remember Alma Mater (which is Latin for “dear mother”):

Dear mother, ours, should effort be successful,
Ambitions crowned with glory or renown,
We turn to thee with reverence and affection,
Thine is the conquest, thine the victor’s crown.

The final verse is a charge to students to go forth and make a difference in the world, but to always remember where they came from:

Thy spirit urges us to deeds of valor,
Raising the fallen, cheering the oppressed;
Thy call will echo clearly down the ages.
Dear Alma Mater, mother loved and blessed.

Alma Mater is set to the tune of an Episcopal hymn known as both Albany and Ancient of Days. The hymn was composed in Albany, N.Y., by the Episcopal bishop and the organist at the Episcopal cathedral, originally as part of the celebration of Albany’s bicentennial in 1886.

The bishop, William C. Doane, and the organist, John Albert Jeffrey, adapted it for worship, and it was published in the Episcopal church’s standardized hymnals as early as 1892. Sayers was an Episcopalian, so it’s possible she heard the hymn while attending services at St. Mark’s in San Marcos.

Alma Mater first appeared in the Pedagog yearbook in 1917.

The words to Alma Mater first appeared in the Pedagog in 1917, with all five verses, and it became a staple of the school’s yearbook for years. Some even paid tribute to it with photo essays.
Sayers wound up teaching at the school for 30 years, seeing it grow from the Normal to a full-fledged college. In 1936, the board of trustees named a new women’s dormitory after her. Sayers Hall, constructed by the federal Works Progress Administration, was one of the first buildings on campus put up under new fire safety codes. Today, the ASB sits where Sayers Hall was located.
The author of Alma Mater died in a San Marcos hospital on March 25, 1939. She was buried in the family plot in Bastrop, near her brother’s grave. Her words live on.
See a slide show of campus photos and the words to Alma Mater from the 1928 Pedagog yearbook.
Alma Mater played by the Texas State Bobcat Band
Alma Mater on YouTube, with words and campus scenes
Ancient of Days, which is a reference to a phrase in the book of Daniel, sung a capella, on YouTube
Ancient of Days lyrics and played on the organ

Spotlight: Psychology Undergraduate Internship

Psychology internship program gives undergrads graduate-level training

Amanda Barry, at center, works with students at Mendez Elementary for her psychology internship.

By Billi London-Gray

Job competition can be intense for new college graduates. Having professional experience can make a huge difference for job applicants. Thanks to Texas State psychology professor Robyn Rogers, several students get a leg up each semester through the Psychology Undergraduate Internship program.

“The program is very selective,” Rogers says. “These employers are just thrilled with our students. They’ve wanted to hire them straight on.”

Rogers, a 29-year member of the Texas State faculty, has been coordinating the internship program for decades. She’s built strong relationships with many organizations in the San Marcos area where her students can gain valuable work experience. ResCare Premier, San Marcos CISD, Roxanne’s House, Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, Rural Talent Search, LiveOak Living Community and the Austin Suicide Hotline give Texas State students hands-on learning experience each semester.

“They get to apply everything they’ve learned in psychology up to this point to see if it’s what they want for life,” Rogers says. “Many of my students find their niche this way.”

The requirements for the program are demanding, but a student receives three credit hours for PSYC 4396 at the completion of the internship. Student must work on the site 120 hours over the course of the semester, which averages around 10-12 hours per week. Interns – about nine students per semester – meet as a group with Rogers and individually with their site supervisors each week. Their additional assignments consist of work logs and papers related to their experiences.

Amanda Barry, a senior at Texas State, got an internship at Mendez Elementary in San Marcos for the fall 2010 semester. Her internship experience has confirmed her desire to counsel children.

“I want to work with kids doing clinical psychology,” Barry says. “I love the job. I love kids.”

Barry works alongside Janice Niemiec, a counselor at Mendez Elementary, doing classroom guidance. She helps young students work through a variety of behavioral issues.

“We work on respect, friendship, trustworthiness, safety, self-esteem – basic core goals,” Barry says. “Sometimes we do mediation and mentoring, which is one-on-one, and sometimes guidance is done with whole classes. It’s all interactive.”

Rogers says the Psychology Undergraduate Internship program is focused on helping her students stand out when they continue on to graduate studies or start their careers.

“It gives undergraduates the chance to gain graduate-level field experience,” Rogers says. “It really is a unique opportunity for them.”

Many Texas State departments offer internships with class credit. For more information about student internships, check out the Student Guide to Internships or contact the Office of Career Services at 512.245.2645 or

Happenings: Austin Science and Engineering Festival

Texas State students lure future engineers with new technology

Jesse Clark tests Jonathan Park's eye tracker, which will be on display at the festival.

By Billi London-Gray

Texas State University’s Ingram School of Engineering is participating in the first-ever Austin Science and Engineering Festival this weekend at the Austin Convention Center. The Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists will host the festival in conjunction with the USA Science and Engineering Festival, which organizes concurrent events throughout the country.

The family-oriented festival aims to inspire young people to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies and careers.  The event lets Texas State reach out to potential students and raise awareness of exciting opportunities for undergraduates in the Ingram School of Engineering.
Texas State representatives, including engineering professor Dr. Larry Larson and student Jonathan Park, will speak with attendees about the university’s technology programs.

“We believe our strengths are our hands-on approach to engineering and our industrial-commercial mindset and approach,” says Larson in describing the Ingram School of Engineering. “Almost all of our classes have attached labs, where the students get to actually do what they have been lectured about. Also, our undergraduate involvement in research provides a great chance to actually participate, as an undergraduate, in real work.”

Park will be demonstrating one of his undergraduate technology projects at the festival. For his human computer interaction class this semester, he created an eye tracker, which he will ask festival visitors to test. The gadget allows users to operate a computer without moving a mouse or other input device and without vocal recognition software.

“The device uses a $20 web camera, some software developed by ITU-Copenhagen and a handful of electronic components. It allows the user to move the computer mouse with his eye,” Park says. “Currently systems that do this reliably can be quite expensive, several thousand dollars. The goal of research with this interface is to make systems that work reliably with relatively inexpensive components.”

As Park demonstrates the eye tracker at the festival, he will gather performance information to use as a base line for further improvements of the ITU-Copenhagen software. His demonstration at the Texas State exhibit will be one of over 100 science and engineering displays at the festival.

Other activities and exhibits at the festival will explore cinema special effects, alternative energy technology, and using technology like the Nintendo Wii and the iPhone to conduct scientific experiments and simulations. Visitors will also be able to “travel” with a virtual reality helmet, compete in solar car races and build candy catapults.

“The great thing about the festival is that it reaches the community as a whole,” festival director Enrique Gomez said in a press release. “Science and technology are indispensable tools for empowering people and should be supported with efforts that promote curiosity toward science and the intelligent use of technology.”

All activities will be held at the Austin Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23 and 24. Admission is free and open to all ages. For a complete schedule of events, visit the event website,