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PRIDE The Alumni Magazine of Texas A&M University-Commerce Summer 2015

Dear Lion,

Whether you graduated from Texas A&M University-Commerce or “Old ET,” I’m sure that you remember your college years as a special time of your life. That’s because college is a time of life-changing transformations. It is, first and foremost, a time for acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful and productive employees, citizens, and leaders. Whether your major field was accounting, computer science, nursing, agribusiness, or visual design, the degree you earned has been essential to your professional success. But much more than job training goes into a well-rounded university experience. College is a time of discovery, of personal growth and development, of stretching the boundaries of self. It’s an important phase in the journey that has led you to become the person you are today. It’s a time for making friendships that will last a lifetime. And for some of you, it was the time when you met the special person who would become your spouse. This issue of PRIDE is all about the value of higher education. We don’t focus on how a college degree boosts your earning power or how it helps you advance more quickly in your career; you already know that. Instead, we’re going to introduce you to some of your fellow alumni who have used their college degree as the springboard to a better life. For some, higher education opened the door to a lifetime of inquiry and discovery. For others, it provided the opportunity to make a difference through service to others. And as you will see in these profiles, higher education’s greatest gift is the ability to pay forward one’s own transformative experience to future generations of students. My goal, and the goal of every member of the A&M-Commerce family, is to create value for our students. We are restless seekers of innovation, striving always to improve the quality of the A&M-Commerce experience for our students. Whether it means participating in a festive tailgate before a football game, hearing a distinguished speaker at Ferguson Auditorium, or participating in one of more than 100 student organizations on campus, we are committed to ensuring that every day is a great day to be a Lion. I hope that these stories will rekindle within you an appreciation for how your college experience has added value to your life as well. As our celebration of 125 years of excellence draws to a close, I extend my appreciation to you for helping A&M-Commerce transform lives and shape futures through education. Sincerely,

Dan R. Jones, Ph.D. President

PRIDE is published by the Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Department in collaboration with Alumni Relations and Institutional Advancement. PRIDE is distributed without charge to alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Texas A&M University-Commerce.

In this issue of

Marketing Communications Editor-in-Chief Andi Miller Contributing Editors Torie Michelle Anderson Taelor Duckworth Diana Harrell Lisa Martinez


Art Director Paul Bryan Graphic Designer Gary Luke Photographers Jason Flowers Jared Horn Writers Julia Gessner J.D. Isip Kathleen Morrow


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Alumni Relations

Contributors and PRIDE Support

Director Derryle Peace Assistant Director David Morgan


Communication & Events Coordinator Rachel Curling

Institutional Advancement Vice President Randy VanDeven Assistant to the Vice President Amy Bassham Administrative Assistant Marci Campbell

Advancement Services Director of Advancement Services Brenda Morris Coordinator of Gift Processing Kim Jefferies Coordinator of Stewardship Jill Mobley

Annual Programs Associate Director of Annual & Special Programs Stephanie Fiorisi Coordinator of Communication Outreach Marlee Neeley Address changes, inquiries and contributions of information may be made to alumni relations at 903.886.5765, via e-mail to or to Texas A&M University-Commerce Alumni Relations P.O. Box 3011 Commerce, TX 75429


125th Celebration UNIVERSITIES CENTER AT DALLAS EXPANDS TO 1910 PACIFIC PLACE A&M-Commerce upgraded its facilities and expanded its presence in downtown Dallas in 2015. The university held a ribbon cutting ceremony in honor of its newly expanded UCD location on February 6, 2015 at Pacific Place located at 1910 Pacific Ave. To help celebrate the occasion, the crowd of university administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends were joined by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Downtown Dallas, Inc. President John Crawford. The new space, over 42,000 square feet, is connected by sky bridge to the Universities Center at Dallas. One of the first programs to take advantage of the new space is visual communication. The new Pacific Avenue location will allow square footage enough for additional programs as well as meeting spaces for alumni events and other university needs in the downtown area. The visual communication program has over 16,000 square feet of dedicated space including lecture rooms, open critique space, computer labs, letterpress, silkscreen and photography studios.

RECORD BREAKING ENROLLMENT 12,321 students were enrolled for Fall 2014, the highest enrollment in history, which comprises a headcount increase of 4.46 percent and a credit hours increase of 2.10 percent. With the increase in student housing on campus, the number of resident students has grown to an all-time high of 2,238. The university also saw a 15 percent increase in both new freshman and new transfer

students. “Our record-breaking enrollment this fall is a wonderful demonstration of the importance of our mission: to change the face of a region through education,” said President Dan R. Jones. “I truly appreciate the dedication and hard work of our faculty and staff who strive every day to equip our students for success.”

REVEALING A YEAR OF 125 CELEBRATIONS On April 24, 2014, A&M-Commerce held a kick-off reveal celebration in honor of the university’s 125th year as an institution of higher education in East Texas. The campus, community, Lion family and friends got a taste of the university’s year-long celebration plans with festivities at the amphitheater including 125th memorabilia and A&MCommerce historical artifacts. All six historical university names were licensed to help commemorate the occasion and celebrate the university’s past and future.

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Spring Spring 2015 2015

HOMECOMING 2014 On November 1, A&M-Commerce celebrated 125 years of rich history and an enriched future at Homecoming 2014. The week leading up to the game was full of festivities for students, faculty and staff including the annual Homecoming kick-off, Hot Dog Spirit Rally and the bonfire and fireworks celebration. Lion fans were able to enjoy pre-game activities on Saturday with the Homecoming parade followed by tailgate. That afternoon, the Lions defeated the McMurry Warhawks 91-13 to clench the LSC Championship outright. Earning the No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs, the Lions took their first LSC title in 24 years. Homecoming 2015 will take place on October 24, 2015.

FIRST LION SOFTBALL WINNING SEASON The Lion softball team opened their inaugural season on February 1 in the newly constructed Lion Softball Stadium. A&M-Commerce played a double header against St. Edwards University winning 3-0 and 9-4. Ryan Ivey, athletic director, announced the addition of a softball team to the athletic department in May 2013, and the program has been steadily building since then with the addition of Head Coach Richie Bruister in 2013 and Assistant Coach Christina May in 2014. The opening roster was comprised of 18 players ranging from collegiate rookies to seasoned veterans. It was a winning combination as the team made their debut in the Lone Star Conference championship tournament at the end of the season.

A 125TH BIRTHDAY PARTY On September 2, 2014, the university community of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends gathered on the lawn outside the Heritage House to officially celebrate the university’s 125th birthday amidst banners and balloons. Noah Nelson, director of Community Engagement and Media Relations, opened the celebration with words of reflection on the university’s historical highs and lows and the spirit of endurance ingrained in our institution. Dr. Mary Hendrix, vice president of Student Access and Success, also spoke to the crowd on the enduring promise of Professor Mayo’s creed of ceaseless industry, fearless investigation, unfettered thought and unselfish service to others. The event concluded with the singing of happy birthday led by Derryle Peace, director of Alumni Relations, and refreshments and fellowship inside the Heritage House. Summer 2015

KETR DAY April 7, 2015 was officially proclaimed “KETR Day” by Commerce Mayor John Ballotti in celebration of the station’s 40th anniversary. KETR’s original license was granted by the FCC to East Texas State University in 1975, and 40 years later, we continue to carry out a threefold purpose: to educate, inform, and entertain listeners, to share information about our university, and to train the next generation of broadcasters and journalists. The station, which can be heard locally on radios tuned to 88.9 FM or anywhere in the world at, plans to conduct several events over the next 12 months to celebrate this milestone. Of course, you can always catch your favorite NPR programs daily, and as the university’s radio home, tune in each fall for A&M-Commerce football and basketball through the spring. 88.9 KETR-FM is listener-supported radio for Northeast Texas. Texas A&M University–Commerce


Campus Notes

MURAL ADDS ONEOF-A-KIND FLAVOR TO COMMERCE Through a partnership between the City of Commerce, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and the university, downtown Commerce has a mural located at 1123 Main Street. The artwork was painted by A&M-Commerce art students and dedicated in an afternoon ceremony on July 25, 2014.

A&M-COMMERCE NAMED A “FASTESTGROWING COLLEGE” The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked the university No. 17 among its “FastestGrowing Colleges, 2002-12” in its Almanac of Higher Education 2014. In the 10-year time span the university experienced a 39 percent increase in enrollment. A&MCommerce is one of just seven Texas higher education institutions to make the list of fastest-growing public doctoral institutions and one of only two Texas A&M System universities to earn spots in the rankings for that category.

CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING PROGRAM RECEIVES ABET ACCREDITATION The A&M-Commerce Construction Engineering program is now Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accredited, making it one of only 15 construction engineering programs in the country with the accreditation. Receiving ABET accreditation is an 18-month peer review process that provides assurance that the university program meets the quality standards established by the profession. More than 2,000 professionals from academe, industry and government carry out ABET accreditation by reviewing academic programs to ensure that they provide students with the technical and professional skills they need to succeed. 4

PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

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Boxing with the Stars IN MEMORY OF AUBREE BUTTS AND DEVIN OLIVER On June 3, 2014, four high profile campus leaders and members of the A&M-Commerce Lion Women’s Basketball team were involved in a tragic two-vehicle accident on Loop 286 in Paris. Two of the women, Aubree Butts of Lewisville and Devin Oliver of Rowlett, passed away. La’Tisha Hearne and Zenobia Winbush were injured in the crash but have since recovered. The Lion family gathered for a candlelight vigil in their honor on the evening of June 4, and the university established the Devin Oliver and Aubree Butts Memorial Fund. To make a donation, contact Associate Development Officer Raymond Garvin at

TECH TITAN FINALIST The Metroplex Technology Business Council selected the A&M-Commerce Industrial Engineering Senior Design program as a “Tech Titan of the Future-University” finalist for 2014. This is A&M-Commerce’s third time as a finalist for this award which recognizes accredited educational institutions in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex that creatively encourage students to choose engineering and technology careers.

A&M-COMMERCE SELLS LAND TO CVS On August 1, the university signed a contract which completed the sale of a plot of land to CVS Pharmacy, Incorporated. CVS has completed construction on the site and opened on March 16, 2015. The new CVS is located between Whitley Hall and the president’s house on Highway 24, near the new emergency center.

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Boxing professionals Curtis Cokes, Victor Ortiz, Troy Dorsey, Errol Spence Jr., Dickie Cole and Laurence Cole appeared for the “Boxing with the Stars” panel on March 19, 2014. The three former world champions, USA Olympian, championship referee and state administrator/ boxing commissioner spoke about their careers in the sport. Dr. Robert G. Rodriguez, assistant professor of political science, served as moderator.

A&M-COMMERCE PARTNERS WITH TYLER JUNIOR COLLEGE Texas A&M University-Commerce began a three-year partnership with Tyler Junior College in December 2013. The partnership helps students complete their degrees at A&M-Commerce after they receive a foundation at Tyler Junior College. The partnership will have positive implications for students holding associate degrees from Tyler Junior College as well as students with plans to transfer before completing the coursework for their twoyear degrees.

Ballin’ With Bowen On March 27, 2014 the Hispanic Student Association hosted three-time NBA champion Bruce Bowen. Bowen spoke about his experiences as a player, winning three NBA championship rings, his retirement and life as an ESPN analyst.

India.Arie Grammy Award-winning singer/ songwriter India.Arie came to campus in April 2014 as part of the William L. Mayo Prestigious Speaker Series. She spoke about her career and gave a musical performance. The series brings prominent speakers to the university each year. Texas A&M University–Commerce



The A&M-Commerce rodeo program was revived in Fall 2013 with 10 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association card-holding students. Since then, the team has cycled through their first year with a number of accolades under their belts. “I was impressed with these young men and women because they give everything they have during practice and competition,” said Coach Dameon White. “Not only that, but they are successful academically.”

BEST COLLEGE FOR STUDENTS WITH CHILDREN In 2014, A&M-Commerce was ranked No. 11 on’s list of “Best Colleges for Students with Children.” The 54 colleges and universities on the list are not-for-profit, four-year institutions that provide on-campus child care services with a specific set of amenities to students while maintaining low tuition and administrative costs. A&M-Commerce’s listing cites the university’s Children’s Learning Center (CLC), a four-star, accredited program for children ages six weeks to 12 years old. also notes the availability of family housing at A&M-Commerce, where approximately 40 campus apartments are open to students with children.


PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

MEN’S RODEO • Team placed at every rodeo they attended. • Won the team championship at Northeast Texas Community College. • Rowdy Parrott won the Rookie of the World in the Professional Rodeo Association and finished 4th in the region. • Chance Savage earned 6th place in regional team roping. • Cole Mitchell finished in the top 15 of his four events—team roping, heading, calf roping and saddle bronc riding—in the region.

WOMEN’S RODEO • Abby Pursifull placed 3rd in the region, making the College National Finals in Casper, Wyoming. • Claudia Frye competed in the breakaway and barrels. • Channy Speight placed in barrel racing. • Katie White placed in barrels and breakaway.

• Tyler and Caleb Raine ended the season 7th in team roping. • Shane McCall finished strong at 8th place in team roping for the region.

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TEXAS AFFORDABLE BACCALAUREATE DEGREE A&M-Commerce is proud to be a part of the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program, creating the state’s first competencybased bachelor-level degree from a public university—a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences with an emphasis in organizational leadership. This degree launched in 2014 and was created in answer to a challenge issued by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 to develop low-cost alternatives for earning college degrees. The unique degree program includes the cost of digital textbooks and focuses on leadership skills applicable to business, government, non-profit or educational settings. It allows students to accelerate their degree completion by demonstrating relevant application of knowledge and mastery of skills. The B.A.A.S. will soon be open to students nation-wide.

A&M-COMMERCE NAMED A “BEST BUY” A&M-Commerce was named a “best buy” for two graduate programs in 2014. put A&M-Commerce at No. 4 on their list of “Best Buys for Masters in Accounting Online.” Based on a national survey of regionally accredited programs in the area of accounting, gave A&M-Commerce an A- grade for its online master’s degree. After reviewing 207 online business schools, chose 11 for its ranking. The website also ranked A&MCommerce as the No. 3 “Best Buy” for its AACSB-accredited online Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Based on a national survey of 93 MBA programs, gave A&MCommerce an A grade for its online master’s degree. selected 66 AACSB-accredited online programs for its MBA ranking. Summer 2015

WORLD PREMIERE AT THE MEYERSON The A&M-Commerce Wind Ensemble and Chorale performed the world premiere of James Syler’s “The Temptation of St. Anthony” on March 25, 2014 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. In 2012, the group premiered Syler’s “Symphony in Blue” at Carnegie Hall. Syler is a world renowned composer and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of the Incarnate Word. His awards include a commission from the American Composers Forum in New York for the Artaria String Quartet, the 1993 National Band Association Composition Award, two grants from the American Music Center in New York and the 1993 Arnald Gabriel Composition Award.

HANNAH KIRBY PERFORMS ON NBC’S THE VOICE A&M-Commerce psychology major Hannah Kirby was chosen to compete on NBC’s The Voice this year. The Sulphur Springs native was chosen to complete coach Blake Shelton’s team and was the last contestant to make it onto the show. From there, she made it past the blind auditions, the battle rounds, the knockouts and her first live show all on her own merit shuffling between Shelton and coach Pharrell Williams. She ultimately secured a spot in the top eight before her journey on the show ended. Kirby is a singer, songwriter, violinist and performer. She said her first paid gig came when she was 12 years old, and she

hasn’t stopped performing since. In fact, she played in downtown Commerce at the Commerce Songwriters Showcase in 2010. Now with this national platform, Kirby hopes this experience will help to propel her professional music career as she completes her first album. Texas A&M University–Commerce



T-ASSOCIATION REVIVED The T-Association is a group of former student-athletes who lettered while competing for the Lions. This group was started many years ago but was lost over time. Thanks to the help of former student-athletes Mike Lamb (football, 1993-1997) and Blake Cooper (football, 1978-1982), the T-Association has been revived and is trying to grow the membership numbers to where they once were. Any student-athlete who lettered at A&MCommerce can join the T-Association for only $25 per year. The

fee helps the group put on special events at Lion Athletics games and supports the athletics department. “As the leader of the T-Association, it is my goal to have more than 100 members in our first year of getting back together,” said Lamb, T-Association president. “Currently, we are just over halfway there.” If there are any former student-athletes who would like to join the T-Association, they can do so by filling out the form located at the T-Association link under the “Donate” tab on

TEAM STORE The Lion Athletics official team store is now open! Shop for products for fans of all ages by going to and clicking the link located under the “Shop” tab. Show your pride by making a purchase today!


PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

Summer 2015

BIG WINNERS: SOCCER, BASKETBALL, TRACK AND FOOTBALL TAKE CHAMPIONSHIPS The 2014-15 Lion Athletics year started off with a bang and has only skyrocketed from there. The Lions have made history all year long. With six Lone Star Conference championships in football, men’s basketball, men’s indoor and outdoor track and field and two for women’s soccer, this athletic department has brought home the most in Lion history. The last season that came close was in 1942 with four championships. Here are some other notable accomplishments of the season that make us all proud to be Lions:

• LSC Championships: 6 • All-American Honors: 34 • All-Region: 58 • All-LSC: 69 • All-Academic: 14 • Academic Players of the Year: 2 • Collegiate Coach of the Year: 1 • Region Coaches of the Year: 2 • Regional Assistant Coach of the Year: 1

EXCELLENCE IN ATHLETICS A 3-Year Campaign to Raise $125,000

We invite you to get involved in promoting excellence in Lion Athletics! As A&MCommerce celebrates 125 years as a distinguished university dedicated to the vision and principles of our founder, we recognize Lion Athletics’ unique and important contributions to the lives of our students, faculty, alumni, administrators, staff members and friends. To ensure that the needs of our student-athletes are met and to reach the major goals of the Athletics Department, we began developing the following initiatives in the summer of 2014: • The Strength and Conditioning Center project expanded and upgraded the weight room in order to enhance each studentathlete’s strength, power, speed, endurance and body control through a comprehensive strength and conditioning program. • Proudly added as a varsity sport in 2013, our softball team began playing in the spring of 2015. A new Softball Complex—the premiere complex of its kind in East Texas— was completed.


Men’s Basketball

Men’s Outdoor Track and Field

• In the new Academic Center, athletes receive assistance regarding their academic performance, including course and major selection, degree plans, time management, goal setting, career planning, learning and study strategies, test taking and other personal and academic skills that are necessary for success. • The Sports Medicine Center will provide student-athletes with the very best staff and facilities for the prevention and treatment of injuries related to competitive collegiate sports. Get involved in this campaign by joining the Lions Athletic Club and making an annual gift. For more information about the LAC or to sign up today, visit and click on the “Donate” tab.


Soccer Summer 2015

Men’s Indoor Track and Field Texas A&M University–Commerce


A Passion for Education By Taelor Duckworth

When determining the value of one’s degree, three questions typically come to mind: What did you learn? What did you experience? How can you use it in the “real world”? On a campus like Texas A&M University-Commerce, students typically find opportunities to answer all three questions positively thanks to generous benefactors like Mary Bonham. “We are most fortunate to have Mrs. Bonham as a dear friend of the university, the community, and most importantly our deserving students. Her life story resonates with those less fortunate who dream of a better life by way of a college education. Mrs. Bonham leaves with us a legacy never to be forgotten,” said Vice President of Advancement Randy VanDeven. A native of Sulphur Springs, Texas, Bonham said her love for the university began when her daughter, Rhonda, attended East Texas State University. Bonham, herself, grew up on a farm and did not have the fortune to graduate from high school. Instead she chose to continue her family’s work on the farm until her marriage to Sam Bonham. The couple founded the J-B WELD Company in 1968 and built it from the ground up. Today, it is one of the most successful businesses in the world, spanning all 50 states and 27 countries, and it remained in Bonham’s ownership after her husband’s passing. She made the decision to sell in 2008. Bonham said that her passion for higher education, specifically at A&M-Commerce, only grew after her granddaughter, Kristen, graduated in 1999. A great benefactor to the university, Bonham has donated her time and money to various causes including numerous scholarships, like the Rhonda Adair Scholarship Endowment named after her daughter. Her generous donations have helped many


PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

students achieve their dreams of pursuing a higher education. A recent donation allowed for the building of an equine pavilion for agricultural students, named the Mary Bonham Equine Pavilion in her honor. She said being raised on a farm her whole life made her feel that this was an important investment for her, the university and the students. “I hope that each student that walks into that arena or rides into that area becomes a wonderful horse person or a teacher or finds some way to gain and provide extra knowledge about agriculture,” said Bonham.

Mrs. Bonham leaves with us a legacy never to be forgotten. Learning isn’t just about opening a book or passing a test. To produce graduates that will be able to succeed in society, the university must first provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Mary Bonham has made that possible for A&MCommerce. The university can give students opportunities to work in their field of study and get hands-on training for their futures because of her generosity. They are able work in teams, critically think and problem solve because of scholarships she has made available. Any student that has had that kind of experience will be ready for whatever the world may throw at them, and that experience makes a degree priceless.

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Tory Humphries and Scott Stahl wear jeans, boots and cowboy hats to work. They sport the endearing drawl of those raised in northeast Texas and they value community, family, friendship and local ties. But they are not ranchers or farmers. Local business owners, yes, as they head up a successful municipal software applications company called Northeast Texas Data—NET Data—nestled into a Texas limestone headquarters in Sulphur Springs. “Tory’s from Cooper, and I’m from Commerce, and these elected officials who work for counties and buy our software are our kind of people. We know about John Deere tractors and cows, and it’s been a great fit for all of us. We love this area of east Texas, and it’s a great place to be,” says Stahl. NET Data was founded by another East Texas State University alumnus, David Graves, in June of 1983. Early on, he hired Stahl—now vice president—as a programmer when he was still an ET student, and Tory Humphries—now President—as a marketing representative in 1991 shortly after college. Graves has since retired from the business, but in those early days when all three gentlemen were at the helm, they only had two customers.

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Over the years they have expanded their customer base by leaps and bounds, and they have made it a point to open doors for other alumni and northeast Texas residents. “I decided 20 years ago to do this, but it’s only in the last couple of years we’ve had an opportunity. As our company gets younger—as the workforce gets younger—I made it a point to reach out to some people at the college to get young people straight in here,” Humphries explains. “I want an intern every year. I was there one time, and I understand how hard it is to get experience. I was in the same boat. The students are my kind of people. If they go to A&M-Commerce, I know I can work with them.”

Texas A&M University–Commerce



Situated in downtown Marshall, The Hub draws a lot of attention from passersby. It looks like a shoe shop. Then again, maybe it’s a gallery. No, the window reads “law offices.” Perhaps it is a building with an identity crisis. Maybe it’s a building recognizing its full potential. In one of our more creative PRIDE stories, you will find two threads of narration. One is a third-person narration while the other is a more specific interaction with Mr. Smith.


PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

Summer 2015

For many freshmen and upperclass transfers to Texas A&M University-Commerce, the value of the degree they will pursue is nebulous at best. Some of them may not even know what their major will be, much less how they might quantify its worth. Michael C. Smith (B.A. ’86) recalled, “I came to East Texas State University in the fall of 1982. I had many majors.” Smith, now a partner at Siebman, Burg, Phillips & Smith, smiled as he ticked off the majors he tried out. “Photography. ETSU had a great photography program. Computer science. It was an emerging field in the 80s. Music, of course.” He ultimately decided on history but remained active with the music department until his graduation. Smith didn’t let his choice of major limit his involvement on campus. In fact, he became something of a fixture in several aspects of ETSU campus life.

A framed article from The Texas Bar Journal hangs in the foyer of The Hub. “You take the best of the past,” Smith, then editor for the journal, wrote, “and adapt it to the ever-dynamic present.” A 1985 article in the campus newspaper, The East Texan, featured Smith, boasting his involvement in the Freshmen Leadership Class, Honors Council, Honors Student Association, French Club, Golden Leos, Trombone Choir, marching band and orchestra. Not much has changed. In addition to practicing law full time, Smith has researched, written and published two books on aircraft carriers; he and his wife are co-owners of a local Italian restaurant, Gucci’s Pizza; and he’s a member of the Marshall Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

The tin ceiling has been painstakingly restored. A beautiful domed skylight opens up the building, contrasting the intimate spaces of the conference rooms and “war room” (which is lawyer-speak for a space to practice being in the courtroom). Smith and his father-in-law did a lot of the design themselves. “I do a little carpentry,” Smith said, pointing out fixtures in his Marshall law offices. The building dates back to 1897, and when Smith purchased the property, he saw an opportunity to bring together a few of his interests. “When you have the second oldest place in town, you take advantage of the historical significance,” Smith said. Smith—attorney, writer, business owner…and carpenter—has lovingly preserved the old-timey feel of the original shoe store while creating state-of-the-art accommodations for his partners and for visiting lawyers. Every room has a clever nod to the previous incarnation of the building. An original marquee for the old shoe store is above the front door. And Smith, ever the historian, has named each conference room for a previous owner, complete with a framed picture and explanation of that person’s role in the building’s past.


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Texas A&M University–Commerce


As the outgoing chair of the governing council of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas, the multitalented Smith hand-crafted gifts for lawyers and judges to promote a little bit of Marshall. He used lumber from the shoe store to create the frames and commissioned local artist, Carol Pace, to create a watercolor courtroom scene. “These were done by local artists. Marshall is really trying to push the arts,” Smith said of the dozen paintings lining the long hallway stretching across the front half of the building. “We keep the lights on when the office is closed so it looks like a small gallery. It really looks nice.” He has a vested interest in Marshall. It is his hometown; just outside of The Hub, there is a spot where he placed his name in the concrete as a kid. Smith came back to practice law, and now the ETSU alumnus is preserving Marshall’s history while investing in its future as a lawyer, businessman and father of three young boys. “My oldest son has his own pizza featured on the menu,” Smith 14

PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

said of Gucci’s Pizza. The Smiths decided to invest in the restaurant in 2013. “It was a place everyone knew. It has been here for twenty years.”

Smith’s office has three small doors above the desk—one for each of his sons. Behind those doors is a treehouse-like room for the boys to entertain themselves while their father is downstairs talking with clients or partners or researching aircraft carriers or writing for one of his two blogs, EDTexweblog and Puttering in the Study. On a recent visit to A&M-Commerce, Smith regaled music majors with stories of his days in band and orchestra. The truth is, he could have grabbed a group of students from a dozen different majors and told them something about the value of every one of their degrees—proof that being “undecided” is no limit to reaching one’s full potential. Summer 2015



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Texas A&M University–Commerce



Success By Torie Michelle Anderson

“You guys are going to be running the show quicker than you think,” said Eric Olsen, vice president for partner support and university relations director at Synchro Software. “It all starts right here.” Directed to the students in the audience for the Third Annual BIM 4 & 5D Scheduling and Project Delivery Symposium on March 4, 2014, Olsen’s “right here” is quite literally A&M-Commerce—the university Synchro has identified as the most visible institution of higher education using the company’s software in the U.S. Since 2007 England-based Synchro has been producing cutting edge 4D construction management software, with the intention to “fundamentally change the way construction projects are delivered.” In the hands of Dr. Greg Wilson, now-retired associate professor of construction engineering, and a team of ambitious students in the program— seniors Italo Cruz, CoyDean Harmon and Tyler Lynch—Synchro’s technology is certainly changing construction education at A&MCommerce. It all began with an email from Synchro CEO Tom Dengenis in 2011. The message, intended to gauge interest for higher education partnerships, found its way to Wilson. Dengenis put Wilson in touch with Olsen, and within a month, the professor was headed for Synchro’s first user conference in January 2012 in Orlando, Fla. The conference brought together construction companies and engineering firms from all over the globe and allowed Wilson a glimpse of what Synchro could do. “It was an opportunity to get a hold


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Summer 2015

of a piece of software that I could tell was very progressive and innovative,” said Wilson. “It was something that we needed to get involved with in the future.” At Synchro, the future is software that combines 3D BIM, or building information modeling, with scheduling to link digital models of construction projects with precise timetables that track builds from ground breaking to ribbon cutting. While 3D BIM has been in use in automotive engineering and other fields for years, the construction industry is just now perfecting its use of the technology. Previously, construction professionals relied on two dimensional blueprints and bar graph schedules known as Gantt charts, compelling them to imagine what a project would look like at completion and how long it would take to arrive at that point. While Wilson earned his degrees in the time of 2D, Gantt charts and slide rules, he keenly understood the need to bring this newer technology to A&M-Commerce. He began to incorporate the software into his courses several years ago, giving students the chance to schedule a project for a courthouse in Grand Prairie, Texas. Meanwhile, Synchro was developing a new project of its own. In 2013, the company launched its inaugural university challenge for students to create one-day and one-month projects in competition for a lucrative prize package. Unsurprisingly, Wilson proposed the challenge to his class. Three hands went up to volunteer. “You will never recognize a great opportunity until you try it. I knew that it would be a great chance; I thought that it would be near impossible to win,” said Cruz. “But it would be worth the shot.” Cruz, Harmon and Lynch received the guidelines in late October and put in 200 working hours to submit their creations by the early December deadline. Those hours included toiling away during nights and over Thanksgiving break and braving hour-long commutes to campus for classes. For the one-day project, the team took a class assignment for building retaining walls and placed it into the Synchro program to sequence the tasks. They analyzed the work of Wilson’s seniors from two years ago as a case study before moving on to their month-long project, which used Synchro to prepare an efficient schedule for a five-story building design. “It was a chance to showcase skillsets from the first graduating group, and then these guys came along behind them and took it one step further. They touched it up a lot,” said Wilson. His pride in his team is apparent. Again and again, Wilson asserts that they did all the work and deserve all the glory. In fact, before they were done, he had already informed Olsen that they should go ahead and engrave their names on the trophy. His prediction was accurate. “There were several teams that expressed serious interest,” Olsen said. “But the team that stepped up to the plate, showed the most enthusiasm and really went into it was A&M-Commerce.” When the trio learned that they had won

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the challenge on December 12, 2014, aside from bragging rights, they received $2,500, an invitation to Orlando for Synchro’s third annual user conference and free lifetime access to Synchro’s software. At the conference in January, they were able to see the grand possibilities for 4D BIM just as Wilson had two years earlier. They were also able to present their work to an audience of over 100. It was an experience all three summed up in one word: awesome. “There were companies from all over the world there,” said Harmon. “And they all seemed to like what we did. We had numerous companies come up and try to talk to us. . . .” “Trying to get us to work for them,” Lynch continued. Among the top 50 contractors in the U.S., 30 use Synchro Professional software. Fifty of the top 200 international contractors do the same. And now A&M-Commerce is a part of the Synchro Software University Program, which grants free professional software licenses to schools offering construction-related coursework. In February, Synchro granted $325,000 worth of software, including 50 licenses and one year of maintenance, to A&M-Commerce. Beyond the first year, the university will continue to receive annual maintenance—valued at $62,500—at no cost. The university holds more licensing seats than any other educational institution in the program. This means that in the future, the luxury of practice with premier construction management software won’t only be afforded to lifelong license holders Cruz, Harmon and Lynch; construction engineering students at A&MCommerce for years to come will have access as well. Back at the March 2014 BIM Symposium, the winning team members accepted plaques recognizing their achievement. Their success has been significant in bringing the university to the forefront of construction engineering education and highlighting the power of connections with companies. The symposium brought together nearly 20 organizations, many of which operate internationally and are the largest contractors worldwide. With Synchro at A&M-Commerce, graduates will be “running the show” as soon as they step into the offices of any of them. “We learned so much more about all the different aspects of construction in the 200 hours we spent on that project,” said Harmon. “Their skill sets are such that they don’t spend the first two years learning how to do it. They already know how to do it,” Wilson added. “Trying to make these guys valuable early on is the key.” As for the 2015 Synchro University Challenge, the group realized the competition would be stiff, but they still planned to repeat. With an expanded roster of students including Italo Cruz, Tyler Culliver, Josh Hughes, Arturo Ledezma, Coy Warner, George West and Coydean Harmon, they triumphed again under the leadership of Wilson and the additional guidance of Dr. Eddie Oh, Engineering and Technology department head. “During the 2015 conference we learned how people from around the world are using Synchro, enabling us to evaluate our use of the software and to understand what would be expected of us in the real world. My career transformed after the challenges and I am very excited to see the same thing happen for other students,” said Cruz. “Very few people know where Commerce is,” Wilson said. “But the construction companies that we do business with are telling other schools, ‘You guys better pay attention because Commerce is leading the pack.’” Since Dr. Greg Wilson’s retirement from the university, Dr. Eddie Oh, department head of Engineering and Technology, has assumed the role of team advisor. Italo Cruz, Tyler Culliver, Josh Hughes, Arturo Ledezma, Coy Warner, George West, and Coydean Harmon triumphed again at the Synchro University Challenge in early 2015 when they competed against 14 schools including some of the top engineering programs from around the U.S.

"You will never recognize a great opportunity until you try it."


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Summer 2015

Conquering the First Year By Taelor Duckworth

TEA requires 30 hours of early field experience. A&MA common misconception about teachers is that they leave Commerce EC-6 and 4-8 students will have more than 200 college to conquer the classroom and from there, they retire. In hours of field experience prior to their first full-time semester reality, many teachers drop out of the profession after only one in official student teaching. The first year of teaching can be a year in the classroom. So what makes the difference between a difficult transition for many new teachers, but Letzring says that teacher with enduring passion and one who fizzles out before the time our university requires students to be in school is a the first contract is up? key factor that minimizes their transitional period. In a In a recent study of teacher retention trends done by the way, they are not really “first-year” teachers when they Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher get their first job. Education (CREATE), Texas A&M University-Commerce has a There are many reasons that much greater retention rate of first-year teachers burn out in the first teachers when comparing our graduates “The only program that has five years. First-year teachers to those from other public and private been around for all 125 years experience many trials while universities in the state. is teacher preparation. It is trying to learn the ropes of the “We are celebrating 125 years as a classroom. Issues that university,” said Dr. Tim Letzring, dean part of this institution’s DNA drive some of of the College of Education and Human to train teachers… them out Services. “The only program that has of the been around for all 125 years is teacher profession include classroom preparation. It is part of this institution’s DNA to train teachers, management, working and we have not lost that ability. School districts seek out our with other teachers and students because they know they are well-trained.” administrators, and learning CREATE, a consortium of the University of Houston System, how to communicate with the Texas A&M University System, the Texas State University parents. Letzring feels that the System and the University of Texas System, worked to compile intensive support from our the data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The study, university and the mentor which covered teachers’ first five years in the workforce after teachers are the main factors graduation, showed that once A&M-Commerce teachers are out that provide insight, time working in public schools, they have greater longevity than other and experience for our teachers. Different states and private schools were not counted graduates to know how in this study. At the end of the five-year period in 2014, A&Mto handle the challenges Commerce had an 82.6 percent retention rate, a staggering 11.7 they may face. percent more than the state total. Our elementary teachers came Letzring says the role in 11.1 percent higher than the state total with 86.2 percent of he plays in our teachers’ them remaining in schools. success is to “try to From the data collected, it is clear that the teachers that our support the faculty and university is producing have consistently had a higher retention programs to do what rate than other public and private institutions in the state for needs to be done, and the first five years. So, what makes A&M-Commerce different? stay out of the way.” Letzring said that he feels it is because of the hands-on time our students spend in schools during their undergraduate studies. “The extensive time we require our students to spend in school classrooms, along with intensive support from university liaisons and K-12 mentor teachers, is the most important aspect of our university’s teaching curriculum,” said Letzring. Dr. Tim Letzring, dean of the College of Education “Between our early field placements and clinical teaching, & Human Services our students spend many more hours in K-12 schools than the 2015 Texas Education Agency requires.” Summer Texas A&M University–Commerce



Way Home By Torie Michelle Anderson

T’S 1955 AND A CLEVER JUNIOR TRANSFER STUDENT AND HIS FRIENDS HAVE SET OUT TO TIE TWO BED SHEETS BETWEEN THE LAMPPOSTS OUTSIDE THE SOCIAL SCIENCES BUILDING. THE MAKESHIFT BANNER READS “VOTE BOB GALVAN FOR CHEERLEADER.” Inside the A&M-Commerce Alumni Center in March 2014, Dr. Bob Galvan shared the story of his successful cheerleading campaign with a smile. It is one of many stories he has to share about his student experience at East Texas State University and about his subsequent career in education; however, these are tales that could have easily gone untold. In more than 40 years as an alumnus, Galvan had kept in touch with former professors, but he had not been on campus since the 1990s when he attended his daughter’s graduation. Now 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Galvan is sharing his story—and his commitment to the university—with renewed Lion spirit. Galvan grew up in Longview, Texas, as the son of Mexican immigrants—a father who made a living as a janitor and a mother who worked as a seamstress. During summers and after school, Galvan helped his father, Joe, clean Longview High School. There, young Galvan met the late Dr. J.E. Franklin, former professor and head of the East Texas State Teachers College (ETSTC) Department of Secondary Education. Franklin taught an extension course in Longview at the time


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and came to know Galvan as “Joe’s boy.” The professor cheered Galvan on in his studies and encouraged him to apply to ETSTC. As a high school senior, however, Galvan took up track and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin. When an injury brought an end to his track career in his freshman year, he attended Kilgore College before returning to Austin to work his way through school without the scholarship. On a visit home to Longview, he reconnected with Franklin. “He said, ‘Why don’t you come up to Commerce? Come and be my guest and spend some time over the Christmas holidays,’” said Galvan. “So I drove up to Commerce and was welcomed into his home. I spent a couple of days here. I got to know him very well, and I walked the campus.” When Franklin asked him what he thought of the place, Galvan responded that he thought Commerce was very friendly. “I thought he’d told people, ‘Be good to this guy when he comes to visit,’” Galvan joked. “But that wasn’t the fact at all.” Galvan transferred to ETSTC in the spring of 1955 and selected chemistry

History Maker First Hispanic student to graduate from Old ET with three degrees—one at each academic level.

Lion Legacy Brother and daughter are also graduates of the university. Youngest son has recently conducted research with the athletics department for his thesis.

Abundant Accolades Listed in Who’s Who in American Education, The Journal of International Biography, Outstanding Educators in America and Hispanic Who’s Who.

Reputation of Service Served on board of directors for the Y.M.C.A., the Boy Scouts of America, the City of Houston Commission on Minority Relations and numerous other organizations.

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“What was amazing to me was the dedication of not only Dr. Franklin, but all these other professors—Drs. Grady Tice, “PULL QUOTE - purus. Nunc tempor luctusWebb inter-Jones, Everett Shepherd, dum. Duis libero leo, consequat ut accumsan eu, Ron Wheeler, William Truax, viverra et erat.” Harold Murphy, Margaret Berry—they were just marvelous individuals who respected you as a student and called upon you as a colleague,” said Galvan. “They made a profound impact in my life. I felt like I needed to be the same way with my students.”

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FUTURE TEACHERS OF AMERICA Galvan, back row, fifth from the left, was a member of the Future Teachers of America while at East Texas State University.

and physics as his majors. It could have been the first step to his livelihood as a chemist, but instead it was the start to an exceptional—though unexpected—career in academia, stoked by the compassion and skill of dedicated faculty and staff members in East Texas. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1956, Galvan interviewed with companies who were eager to hire him, until they learned that his draft status was 1-A. Each offer was rescinded. Looking for other options, he went to Harold Murphy, director of placement and alumni affairs. Murphy suggested teaching—the last thing Galvan wanted to do. It took some convincing, but he went on to teach at Corsicana High School before being drafted into the military. Galvan’s service in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army took him to Europe for two years before he received a release from the military to teach there. In 1960, he came back to the U.S. and continued to teach until returning to Old ET for his master’s and doctoral degrees in education. As it turned out, Murphy’s suggestion was a gift. Galvan thoroughly enjoyed teaching, a professional path that allowed him to see the transformative power of education from all angles and over all obstacles, such as the boiling pot of the country’s race relation issues that was 1960s Mississippi, where he taught the first integrated workshop for teachers in the state. The lessons he learned early on spurred an extensive career of championing equal access to education. Before retiring from his assistant vice president position at the University of Texas at Austin in 2004, Galvan had held many titles: college professor, department chair, dean, executive director, superintendent, consultant and program manager. He served as 22

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an international advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Central America and on the White House Committee on Education under President Lyndon B. Johnson. And at UT-Austin, he was instrumental in building the University Scholars Program, as well as in assisting in the launch of the university’s first billion dollar capital campaign. For this extraordinary career, Galvan gives thanks to Old ET—to the professors who helped him back-transfer credits during the overhaul of his doctoral program in Commerce, to those who taught him how to follow in their footsteps. “What was amazing to me was the dedication of not only Dr. Franklin, but all these other professors—Drs. Grady Tice, Everett Shepherd, Webb Jones, Ron Wheeler, William Truax, Harold Murphy, Margaret Berry—they were just marvelous individuals who respected you as a student and called upon you as a colleague,” said Galvan. “They made a profound impact in my life. I felt like I needed to be the same way with my students.” After decades, Galvan still calls the names of his mentors with ease and says that he was well-prepared academically. But as an Old ET student, Galvan was also very involved on campus, having become a cheerleader, a member of the Paragon Club (now Kappa Alpha Order), a Varsity Cadet, a singer in the university chorale and more—all in a year and a half. As an alumnus, he has returned with the same passion for engagement. Last football season, he didn’t miss a home game. And within the A&M-Commerce Athletics Department, Galvan has worked with Athletic Director Ryan Ivey to bolster the department’s public fundraising efforts. He is helping to launch the athletic capital campaign, to develop the Lion Athletic Club booster organization and to help develop the T-Association for former letter award recipients. Summer 2015

Additionally, Galvan will commit time to the A&M-Commerce Department of Educational Leadership, offering his expertise in creating executive programs for teachers and administrators. Galvan has given financial gifts alongside the invaluable gift of his time and talent, including a memorial endowment in honor of his father-in-law who was a member of the 305th Bombardment Group at Chelveston airbase in England during World War II. Furthermore, Galvan is donating original documents, photographs and grids from war initiatives to Gee Library, where they will be available to students for scholarly research through the East Texas War and Memory Project. “This is how you extend some of your own wishes,” said Galvan. “People give according to their passion. If you’ve got a passion, you

want to see that passion developed. If we have a true passion—a true love for this institution—then the time has come for us to begin to show that.” Having attended through three university name changes, Galvan says that his alma mater has grown in ways that may make it unfamiliar, which could cause some alumni to exclude themselves from the progress at A&M-Commerce. But he encourages them to take the step to reengage with the institution that propelled them forward. In that way, Galvan is still very much a cheerleader for the university. “For those of us who want to come back, we’ve got to extend ourselves,” said Galvan. “They say you can’t come back home, but you can. You can come back home.”

LION SPIRIT Bob Galvan, far right, was a member of the East Texas State University Lion cheerleaders. The cheerleaders backed the teams in all basketball and football games and sponsored pep rallies and all-school assemblies to keep up school spirit.

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Value in CHOIC By Andi Miller


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CE Summer 2015

ohn Horn, Loretta Kibler and Sherry Maysonave are three individuals whose achievements are staggering. Their combined professional accolades span the fields of public education, higher education, publishing and consulting, and the three also happen to be siblings. In fact, they represent three of the nine siblings from the Horn family, six of whom attended Texas A&M University-Commerce—then East Texas State Teachers College and East Texas State University—in their pursuit of higher education. Here, they built upon a robust thirst for knowledge and the ambition to change the world, traits they acquired from their upbringing. Though all three of these remarkable individuals have accolades stacked to the ceiling, they are quiet, soft-spoken and apt to brag on each other’s achievements rather than focusing on their own. Although they come from the same family and have similar values, they each had unique experiences during their college years. They credit their experiences and the value they gained from their degrees with propelling them toward professional success. The Horn family beginnings were humble having grown up on a farm in North Texas in a family of faith. They shared everything, from the flu to a set of World Book encyclopedias provided by their older sister. “There was an unspoken value in our family that we go beyond what our parents did. That included education, and it would not have been acceptable if we didn’t exceed what they had done,” said Maysonave. All of the Horn children maintain a deep and abiding respect for their parents who instilled in them an appreciation for a job well done and the need for a solid education. “Our faith and value orientation caused us to have a keen sense of responsibility to use and develop our talents, and perhaps more importantly, to care for and serve others,” Horn added. Beginning with the first sibling to graduate with a college degree, Dr. John Horn is a powerhouse in public education. He retired from a 38-year career in June 2001 when he stepped down from his post as superintendent of the Mesquite Independent School District, a position he held for 15 years. Horn is a lifelong educator, and he has filled many roles, but his name is familiar to many for Dr. John D. Horn High School in Mesquite, which was named in his honor. Horn is also known for cultivating cultures of life-long learning, development of leaders at all levels and utilizing emerging technologies to enhance education. As such, he helped establish the Professional Development Center in Mesquite, which houses the A&M-Commerce Mesquite Metroplex location. He is far from retired, though, as he is an active and sought-after educational consultant working across the nation. Texas A&M University–Commerce


“My degrees from East Texas expanded my horizons and opened doors I never thought would be opened as I got into administration. The partnerships we had between Mesquite and the university is one of the highlights of my career,” said Horn. The next Horn sibling is Commerce’s own Loretta Kibler who was named superintendent of Commerce ISD in 1994. Her tenure was peppered with striking achievements such as her work with Dr. Jerry Morris, former A&M-Commerce president, to secure a lease for $1 per year for 99 years for the property on which Commerce High School was built. Passage of a $14 million bond cleared the way for the new high school, and the library was named in Kibler’s honor. For all her successes, she remains humble and recalls that one of her favorite experiences as an educator and administrator was listening to first graders read each year knowing that the skill was critical to their learning and opened doors to their future choices. “My degrees allowed me to pursue my dream to be an educator. I think I was a natural teacher, and I loved every moment in the classroom,” said Kibler. “Then, I had the opportunity to take Educational Leadership classes and become certified as a principal and then a superintendent. It was always my desire to grow and be involved in learning so my students could have options. You can be successful if you have choices.” All of the Horn siblings embraced their choices. Finally, the “baby” of the family—an endearment she cherishes—is Sherry Maysonave. An accomplished and lauded motivational speaker and author of “Casual Power,” Maysonave has made appearances and been interviewed by more than 200 television, radio and print publications across North America. While she majored in education and began her career as a classroom teacher, she later moved into business and consulting where she continues to fill an educator’s role by sharing her skills and business savvy with others. She is the founder and president of Empowerment Enterprises, one of America’s leading communication-image firms. Her work addresses empowering individuals through verbal and nonverbal 26

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communication, apparel, demeanor and all aspects of presentation. Maysonave is also a published author of children’s books. While John, Loretta and Sherry attended Old ET and went into education, some of their other siblings felt very different callings as chief financial officers, inventors, human resource professionals and artists. But what is it about a family that sets its members up with such motivation and ambition? Not to mention a willingness to help others and nurture excellence? For the Horn family, there was value in a job done right and in excelling in one’s endeavors instilled in them by their parents. With that value in mind, these three Old ET graduates were able to harness the

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“My degrees from East Texas expanded my horizons and opened doors I never thought would be opened.”

knowledge and skills they learned to spread their deep love of learning and excellence to others. “The value of the degree for me is immeasurable. It was so empowering for me and it personally gave me confidence. Loretta always says it’s important to have opportunities and options, and I would extend that to optimism,” said Maysonave. A degree is valuable for a bevy of reasons: the doors it opens, the networking opportunities inherent in time spent on campus, the skills gained and refined over the course of one’s educational career and for the distinction inherent in having earned it. For these three former students, the value varies but there is no doubting the power of the degree and how personally empowering their experiences have been.

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Mari Ann Cook In 1957 by Taelor Duckworth

, Mari Ann Cook graduated from East Texas State Teachers College, now Texas A&M UniversityCommerce, with a bachelor’s degree in music education. She was a young girl from the small town of Avinger, Texas who had a dream of educating the youth of the future. Cook loved music, and she wanted to share the profound greatness of it and the joy it gave her. She ultimately spent 15 years teaching music in schools in Texas and New Mexico before moving on to work for the state of Texas as a social worker. By her retirement in 1993, she had worked her way up to supervisor, and little by little, she’d put money back for a very specific purpose: to share her love of music with future generations. Cook’s love of music education and her experience at East Texas State Teachers College, led her to stipulate in her will that $100,000 should support scholarships in the music department. Her sister and executor of her estate, Peggy Smith, facilitated the transfer of funds to the Texas A&M University-Commerce Foundation. The $100,000 gift set up the Mari Ann Cook Music Endowment for declared music majors who are of sophomore classification and above. Cook’s donation to the university shows an enduring commitment and desire to pay her experiences forward. During the time that Cook attended, many people came to Commerce for their educations because it was affordable, and without this university they may not have had an opportunity to pursue higher education. Her appreciation for her degree was reflected in her life’s work. As her final gift back to Old ET, she will provide a valued education to many students for years to come.

She was a young girl from the small town of Avinger, Texas who had a dream of educating the youth of the future. The Woodwind Choir under the direction of William Hall. 28

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As her final gift back to Old ET, Mari Ann will provide a valued education to many students for years to come.

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James B. Cowley, Ed.D, class of 1987, 1990 and 2003, is a second generation A&M-Commerce graduate. Cowley taught in Lone Oak, Mt. Vernon and Sulphur Springs ISDs before serving as a principal and director of assessment and technology for Saltillo ISD and later, assistant superintendent of Sunnyvale ISD. Formerly an adjunct professor for the A&M-Commerce Department of Educational Leadership, Cowley now serves as an adjunct professor for Dallas Baptist University’s College of Education while working as superintendent for the Calhoun County ISD. Cowley has held leadership positions in the Texas Rural Education Association, the Science Teachers Association of Texas, the Sulphur Springs Area Classroom Teachers Association, the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class and is the current chairman of the board for the Northeast Texas Regional Education Telecommunications Network and the treasurer for the Alumni Board of Directors. In 2012, Cowley was named the Texas Rural Education Association Superintendent of the Year.

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Marion A. Houff, class of 1985, enrolled in Texarkana Community College and Texas A&M University-Texarkana before transferring to East Texas State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in French and Spanish. In 1987, Houff began teaching Spanish at Terrell High School when the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International awarded him a scholarship for a year of study abroad that led him to the Universite de Tours and the Universite de Toulouse II Le Mirail in France. After returning to Texas, Houff began teaching Spanish for Pleasant Grove ISD in Texarkana, where he currently serves as chair of the foreign language department and the faculty adviser and sponsor for the Interact Club. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Houff is the current president of the Rotary Club of Texarkana International and the chairman for the Japanese Youth Exchange program for Rotary District 5830 while serving as the secretary of the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association of A&M-Commerce. Houff is a member of Hickory Hill Baptist Church in Nash, Texas and lives in Texarkana.

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Dr. Greg Hulsey, class of 1988, received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from East Texas State University before earning a degree in physical therapy from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Hulsey worked for a local out-patient practice before starting his own private practice rehabilitation agency in Commerce. He is the president and CEO of Hulsey Therapy Services PC, which has more than 27 employees at two locations in Commerce and Greenville. In addition, Hulsey currently serves the university as a PRN adjunct instructor in the Department of Health and Human Performance, as the Lions Athletics team physical therapist and as a corporate sponsor for the football program. His community involvement includes the Lions Club of Commerce, First Baptist Church-Commerce, leadership on the Planning and Zoning Board of the City of Commerce and the Commerce Chamber Board. A proud member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, Hulsey has been recognized by the Ivory Moore Foundation as the “most influential citizen of Commerce, Texas” and was named Distinguished Healthcare Provider for Commerce.

W. Ben King, class of 1965, earned his bachelor’s degree in math and business before earning an MBA in business and marketing from Southern Methodist University. King’s time at Old ET continued a Lion legacy; his father, Weldon B. King, taught business at the university for 23 years, and his grandfather, A.C. Ferguson, served as dean and president. As an undergraduate student, King was president of Kappa Alpha Order and led the first leadership conference organized by the Sam Rayburn Memorial Student Center Board. After graduation, he worked for the JCPenney regional office in Dallas before volunteering for the U.S. Air Force and attending Officers Training School for service in the Army Reserve. King worked with two major New York Stock Exchange companies, and in 1985 he continued his career with LoneStar Capital, where he is still involved. King and his wife, Janice, live in Bedford, Texas. They are members of Saint Michael Catholic Church and active associates of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. King serves on the A&M-Commerce Alumni Association Board.

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H. Gordon Allen, class of 1972 and 1984, received a bachelor’s degree and an MBA in finance. He held several positions with GTE Corporation (now known as Verizon Corporation). In 1991, Alleng developed GTE Card Services. During his time as president of card services, the integration of calling cards with cellular technology and nationwide programs for co-branded credit cards and pre-paid calling cards were developed and implemented. Allen was a limited partner in Bolsa Restaurant, one of Dallas’s Four Star Dining experiences. Gordon and his wife, Rhonda, have three children and six grandchildren, ages five to 18. He was an avid golfer and traveler who was actively involved with his church, the Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Council, A&M-Texarkana and other community organizations. Gordon Allen passed away on Dec. 7, 2014. We send our condolences and best wishes to his family and loved ones.



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Barbara Bass received her degree in accounting in 1977 and became the first in her family to graduate with a four-year degree. She has had more than 35 years of experience in public accounting and was part of the core group that opened the doors of the certified public accountancy firm Gollob Morgan Peddy in 1982. Bass was the mayor of Tyler beginning in 2008 and completed her allowable terms in May 2014. She is responsible for a variety of tax clients and enjoys consulting for small businesses. She participated in the first Leadership Tyler class and has served as chairman of numerous organizations, including the Hospice of East Texas, the Tyler Economic Development Council and the Better Business Bureau of Central East Texas. Bass is also the foundation treasurer of Pollard United Methodist Church and a board member of the Texas Society of CPAs.

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Distinguished Alumnus, Will Cureton, graduated in 1973 and he was both an accounting student and a star athlete. He became quarterback for the Cleveland Browns until he retired in 1976 to pursue a career in public accounting with Coopers & Lybrand in Dallas. Cureton served as COO of Columbus Realty Trust, a market leader in the development of residential communities in the Uptown district of Dallas. He then co-founded CLB Partners in 1997 and the company’s first-of-its-kind loft highrise was completed in 2000. Cureton was co-founder, president and CEO of Texana, a commercial real estate investment and property management company that completed two major acquisitions totaling $80 million during its first year of operations. In addition, Cureton has served on the advisory board for Frost Bank and CityHomes, as well as the board of directors for Ascendant Solutions.

Robert R. Galvan, class of 1956, 1965 and 1967 is the first student of Hispanic descent to earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Old ET. His career in education spanned almost five decades until retiring from his role as assistant vice president for community and school relations at the University of Texas at Austin in 2004. Galvan has held numerous academic and administrative positions as well as related roles in business and government, including stints as dean, department chair and executive director. He also served as an advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Central America and the U.S. Office of Education. Galvan works with Lion Athletics and has assisted in launching a capital campaign and developing a booster club for A&M-Commerce. He has also created an endowment in honor of his veteran father-inlaw in addition to offering a donation of World War II memorabilia to Gee Library.

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Alumni Patricia A. Krebs, class of 1973, received a bachelor’s degree in history and English before obtaining master’s and doctoral degrees from Tulane University. After graduating magna cum laude from Tulane Law School, Krebs began her career in maritime law and started her own practice, King, Krebs & Jurgens. A former president of the Louisiana Bar Foundation and the New Orleans Bar Association, Krebs received the New Orleans Bar Association’s Distinguished Maritime Lawyer Award for 2009, making her the first female recipient of the award. Krebs served as president of the Fulbright Association National Board and the Fulbright Association Louisiana Chapter. She is an American Bar Foundation Fellow and a charter fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America while being a member of the Maritime Law Association, Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, Admiralty Law Institute planning and program committees, and American Inns of Court. She also worked on the Louisiana State Bar Association Board of Governors and House of Delegates. Krebs has served the community as president of both Covenant House New Orleans and Lighthouse for the Blind.


PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

Summer 2015

Joe D. May, class of 1980, is the seventh chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District. Prior to his chancellorship, May served as president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. May began his higher education career in 1978 as an adjunct faculty member at Cedar Valley College before earning his doctoral degree in education from East Texas State University two years later. Throughout his career, he has expanded opportunities for students who want to pursue bachelor’s degrees by beginning their education at community colleges. As the first member of his family to attend college, May was inspired to create Rebuilding America’s Middle Class, a national consortium of community colleges dedicated to ensuring equal opportunity in education. May has served as president and other leadership roles for several colleges in the U.S., but he is world-renowned for his community college advocacy and has delivered consulting services to new community college initiatives in Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Summer 2015

John F. Moss, class of 1955 and 1960, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Old ET in industrial arts. Moss received his doctorate from the University of Missouri and then returned to the university as a faculty member. In 1967, he was appointed assistant dean of the College of Education. In 1971, Moss was asked to found Texas A&M University-Texarkana, where he served as president until his retirement in 1994. Moss was recognized by former Governor of Texas Ann Richards and the Texas Legislature for his service to the state. The East Texas State University Board of Regents named him president emeritus in 1996, and he served as a board member of the Greater Texas Higher Education Authority as well as president for six years. Moss has served as a board member or chair of numerous other organizations. Currently he serves as co-chair of the Charitable Activities Committee of the Greater Texas Foundation. Following retirement, Moss was a parttime instructor at A&M-Commerce until 2005. He and his wife Peggy live in Pecan Gap, Texas.

Steve Sullivan, class of 1969, is a prominent former newspaper publishing executive who retired from his position as vice president of newspaper operations at The E.W. Scripps Company after a 34-year career in the industry. After his graduation from Old ET, Sullivan sold advertising for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. He has held several positions in newspaper management, including account executive, marketing director, general manager and president. In 1992, he was named president of Harte Hanks Newspapers, a position he continued to hold alongside his role as president and publisher of the Caller-Times when both companies were acquired by Scripps in 1997. Sullivan assumed his vice president role with Scripps three years later. Sullivan has provided service to the community as the board chairman for organizations such as the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, the Texas State Aquarium, the Texas Daily Newspaper Association and the College of Communication Advisory Council at the University of Texas at Austin.

Texas A&M University–Commerce


Noteworthy To celebrate the university’s 125th year as an institution of higher education in Northeast Texas, A&M-Commerce enlisted the help of designer Simon Stipp to create a commemorative 125 logo. Stipp graduated from A&M-Commerce in 2013 with a degree in visual communication and a focus in design. He said he was happy to take on the task and felt like it would be a great learning opportunity for him. “Playing a part in creating something that represents a landmark in the university’s history was a huge honor,” said Stipp.

New Look for the Lion Lion Athletics got a face lift at the hands of designer Brad Bishop. Bishop (’95) studied design communication at A&M-Commerce, then East Texas State University. He founded Torch Creative in 2005 with hopes of focusing on athletic branding and design. Bishop said he always had his eye on athletic logos, uniforms and helmet decals as a child, so when he graduated from ETSU, he knew what avenue he wanted to pursue. “I don’t consider drawing logos, especially athletic-based logos, a task. It’s a love… a love that I am thankful for each day when I sit down in front of my computer,” said Bishop. “So, when I was approached to work on the new logo, it was more like a dream come true; designing a new athletic logo for your alma mater. I don’t think it can get much better than that.” 36

PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

To be used above 2in. PMS-281 Blue, PMS-124 Gold

Bishop and his business partner have focused their collective design energies on pursuing university and professional sports teams and leagues as clients. They’ve worked with clients like the NHL, NBA and many universities. Bishop said it was a rush when he got the opportunity to return to the university for Homecoming 2013 with his family to see the logo displayed at midfield in Memorial Stadium. It made such an impact on his daughter that she now says she wants to play volleyball for the Lions. “I have always been especially proud to be an alumnus, and this honor just made it all the more special for me, personally,” said Bishop. “I kept the design clean, bold and stoic with hope that it will last for many more generations.” Summer 2015

Noteworthy The Metroplex Technology Business Council (MTBC) selected Dr. Delbert Horton and the Industrial Engineering Senior Design program as a “Tech Titan of the Future – University” finalist for the 14th Annual Tech Titans Awards. Each year the MTBC recognizes individuals and companies in North Texas who have contributed significantly to the technology industry.

The A&M-Commerce Department of Engineering & Technology established and equipped a Pavement Engineering Laboratory (PEL). The lab is housed in the department’s off-campus 2,400-square-foot building on a 1.65 acre site. The existing on-campus Soils and Strength of Materials Laboratories will also support the PEL. Dr. Eddie Oh is the director of the PEL.

The Third Annual BIM 4 & 5D Scheduling and Project Delivery Platform Symposium was held on March 4, 2014 in A&M-Commerce’s Rayburn Student Center. Organized by the construction engineering program, the event gathered representatives from the largest contracting firms in the region and the nation to share the latest techniques in building information modeling (BIM).

Dr. Inma Lyons was named Hispanic Outreach Faculty of the Year. Lyons was nominated by students in May 2014 for “her constant dedication and for going above and beyond to help reach out to the Hispanic community [at] A&M-Commerce.”

The Department of Engineering & Technology at A&MCommerce hosted the Fifth Annual Lion’s Pride BEST Robotics competition on Oct. 25, 2014. More than 250 students from 22 area middle and high schools participated in the event.

Summer 2015

Texas A&M University–Commerce


Noteworthy Funded by a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board grant, Dr. Brent Donham, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, hosted a summer engineering camp for Commerce Middle School students. The camp was designed to promote awareness of engineering disciplines and careers through hands-on experiences. The program was recognized by the Commerce ISD Board during their August 2014 meeting. Dr. Flavia Belpoliti, assistant professor of Spanish, was named director of Spanish programs. She was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she completed her undergraduate and graduate studies in the areas of Spanish linguistics and discourse analysis. She obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Houston. Her fields of study include Spanish sociolinguistics, Spanish in the U.S., and acquisition of Spanish as Second Language and as Heritage Language. Two papers coauthored by Dr. Srinivas Nippani were cited in a book on calendar anomalies published in Europe. One of these is co-authored with Dr. Chuck Arize. A paper published by the Australian Centre for Financial Studies, a leading Australian body on financial thought leadership, uses several tables from Nippani’s co-authored work “Human Capital and the Balance Sheet.”


PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

Dr. Robin Reid, professor of literature and languages, presented at two conferences in August 2014. She spoke on queerness and religion in the fantasy novels of Lois McMaster Bujold at Angela Ruskin University in Cambridge, and on racisms and anti-racist activisms in online science fiction media fandom at the University of Warwick in England. Dr. Julia Ballenger, associate professor in the A&M-Commerce Department of Educational Leadership, was recently awarded Advocate of the Year by The Texas Council of Professors in Educational Leadership (TCPEA). The award recognizes outstanding professors focused on service to the profession and the organization. Dr. William Newton received $35,000 from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement’s Cottrell College Science Program. The award allows Newton and two undergraduate students to conduct research during the summer months into the properties of super-dense matter in the neutron star interiors.

Dr. Henry Ross, current president of the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD), will be heading up the state conference in December. TAHPERD is a professional association for health, physical education, recreation and dance professionals with more than 4,500 members and an annual operating budget approaching half a million dollars. Dr. Tara TietjenSmith was recently appointed chair of the university’s Institutional Review Board. TietjenSmith also was invited to present a strategic planning workshop at the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE) Leadership Development Workshop in Atlanta, Ga., in July. Dr. Vipa Bernhardt was recently a postdoctoral research fellow studying obesity and shortness of breath for the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Health at Texas Health Presbyterian Health Sciences Center and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She recently co-published some of her findings in two prestigious physiology research journals, Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology and Chest.

Summer 2015

Noteworthy Dr. María Fernández Lamarque, associate professor in the Department of Literature and Languages at A&M-Commerce, organized “Preparing Students for an Interconnected World Through Cinema,” sponsored by PRAGDA, the Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C. and the Office of the Provost in Spring 2014. In Spring and Summer 2014, she was invited to publish her work in four academic journals: Cuadernos de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil (Spain), International Research Journal in Children’s Literature (Scotland), Hispania (U.S.) and Revista Cronopios (Colombia). In addition, Lamarque presented her research in two international conferences: LASA 2014 in Chicago (Latin American Studies Association) and AATSP 2014 in Panama (American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese) during spring and summer 2014. Dr. Quynh Dang is the 2014 recipient of the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance’s University Health Educator of the Year Award. The award is in recognition of her excellence in teaching at the college or university level in health education. The 2014 Fall Academic Convocation held on September 30, 2014 to honor Dr. Jon Travis, regent’s professor and professor of educational leadership. Dr. Travis received the university’s highest academic distinction, Regents Professor, which is bestowed upon faculty by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

Summer 2015

Jerome Osborne and a group of 12 students comprised the Sophomore Year Experience in Greece during Summer 2014. They attended the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) 14th annual International Conference on Sports: Economics, Management, Marketing and Social Aspects and presented a paper titled, “The Age of Supercomplexity and Its Influence on Epistemology and Gender Equality in Sport.” The group has received two invitations for publication, from the Athens Institute of Education and Research as well as the Journal of Business and Economics. Student presenters included Nicolas Gonzalez, Tyler King, Thomas Lam, John Pollock and Jacob Sheard. Antoinette Carter, Sokkim Chet, Vikki Coronado, Jasmine Jones, Makayla Knabe, Alexis Villareal and Kenisha Zachariah also attended.

In April 2014, four students working with Dr. Susan Stewart on the East Texas War and Memory Project, and eight students from Dr. Gerald Duchovnay’s film classes, presented separate roundtables on their work at the National Popular/ American Culture Conference in Chicago. Dr. Duchovnay’s students also presented on their individual research projects on scholarly panels.

Ten A&M-Commerce students competed in the final round of the 94th annual meeting of the Texas Section Mathematical Association of America Calculus Bowl on April 3, 2014. The A&M-Commerce Department of Mathematics took these students, comprising 3 teams, to the competition and placed second, sixth, and eighth in the state. The teams traveled to Laredo to compete at Texas A&M International University. The Calculus Bowl is held annually in conjunction with the pure and applied mathematics and mathematics education state conference. The MAA was started in 1915, and it is the largest professional society that focuses on mathematics at the undergraduate level with over one hundred national committees and 29 regional sections. Texas A&M University–Commerce


Class Notes .1940s.

Dr. George S. Kendrick (B.S. ’49) has returned a valued sweater to Mt. Pleasant High School after 70 years.


Maj. Gen. Rex Driggers, U.S. Air Force (Ret.) (B.S. ’55) was selected for induction into the Texas Guard Hall of Honor at Camp Mabry in Austin on May 17. James “Jim” E. Gray (B.S. ’54, M.Ed. ’63) was inducted into the Panola College Athletic Hall of Fame for 2014. Tommy M. Lovell, Jr. (B.S. ’53) was recently inducted into the Farmersville Ex-Students Hall of Fame. Dana M. Ransom (B.S. ’56, M.S. ’57) was inducted into the Carthage High School Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.


Jane Silvey (B.A. ’69) became director of curriculum and instruction in the Lindale Independent School District. She is known for her work on House Bill 5, which established new high school graduation requirements. Dr. Kenneth P. Walker (M.S. ’62) recently retired after a 50-year career in higher education, serving as a college president for 38 of those years. Randall Wooten (B.S. ’68) was named the East Texas regional executive for a new Fort Bend County campus as well as vice chancellor of Texas State Technical College strategic initiatives.

.1970s. David G. Davis (B.B.A. ’72) has returned as sports writer for the Grand Saline Sun newspaper. Gary D. Finney (B.S. ’79) joined the University of North Texas at Dallas as the human resource director.

Duane Allen (B.S. ’65), lead singer and business manager of The Oak Ridge Boys, had a bridge named after him by the Lamar County Commissioners.

Dr. James Goode (B.S. ’70, M.S. ’80, M.Ed. ’83) has been nominated for the 35th Blues Music Awards for “That’s When the Blues Begins.”

Robert “Robby” L. Bates CFSP, CCO (B.B.A. ’68) was installed as president of the National Funeral Directors Association. He is the owner of Bates Family Funeral Home in DeKalb, Texas.

Dr. Richard Harrison (M.S. ’72, M.A. ’73, Ed.D. ’75) is retiring after working at Kilgore College for 39 years, most recently as dean of liberal arts.

Ronald L. Bigony (B.S. ’64) had one of his paintings accepted into the National Watercolor Society’s 145th International Exhibition. James Dawson (B.S. ’66, M.S. ’68) will retire after his long-time service as superintendent of North Lamar Independent School District. Lanny “Hoss” Huggins (B.S. ’67) was inducted into the Paris Junior College Academic Hall of Honor in the Fine Arts Division. 40

PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

Dr. Jacinto P. Juarez (Ph.D. ’78), dean emeritus at Laredo Community College, was appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry to serve as chair of the State Health Services Council. Joyce A. Kinkead (Ed.D. ’79) was named the 2013 Professor of the Year for the state of Utah. Kenneth “Ken” Lane (B.B.A. ’77) was named a new board director for the Terrell Chamber of Commerce. Joe Dan Lee (B.S. ’75, M.S. ’76) has been appointed as Bullard Independent School District Board of Trustees interim superintendent. Lee has been in public education for more than 30 years. He has spent 27 of those years as a superintendent in various school districts in Texas including Redwater Independent School District, Pine Tree Independent School District and Georgetown Independent School District. He was named the Region 8 Superintendent of the Year in 1988, and was a finalist for the 2002 Region 7 Superintendent of the Year. He also worked for the Texas Association of School Boards from 2007-2010. Dr. James “Jim” Clay Lewis (B.A. ’76, M.S. ’78) has been appointed by Big Brothers Big Sisters as executive vice president of development for North Texas, West Central Texas and the Greater Houston area.

Charles T. Hatcher (B.B.A. ’70, M.S. ’71) has been named vice president of human resources of Greene’s Energy Group, LLC (GEG), a leading provider of integrated testing, rentals and specialty services with corporations in Houston, Texas, and Lafayette, La.

Dora Martinez (M.B.A. ’79) has been promoted to senior vice president at Kleberg Bank.

Ben T. Haygood (M.S. ’70) retired from East Texas Baptist University as associate professor of behavior sciences.

Cathy Morrison (B.A. ’77) has released two books: “Dino Treasures” by Rhonda Lucas Donald. Their first book was “Dino Tracks” (2013). A book release party, presentation and book signing took place in October at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

Charles Hill (B.S. ’73) has been elected to serve as the 2014-15 chairman for the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jo McMahan (B.S. ’75) has started a complete grant consulting service for non-profit organizations. Find her at

Summer 2015

Robert Newsom (B.S. ’74) has been presented the Community Builder award by the Sulphur Bluff Masonic Lodge #246. Leslie A. Perry (M.S. ’75) has published several Kindle e-books including “Poems for a Greener Earth” and “What Do Kids Need to Know about Finance?” Dr. William G. Rafetto (M.S. ’73, Ed.D. ’81) has been selected as provost of the North Campus at San Jacinto College in Houston. Rafetto has served the college district for 30 years, most recently as vice president of student services for the multi-campus district of 30,000 credit students. Dr. Chester E. Sample (Ed.D. ’75) has retired after nearly 38 years with Sul Ross State University as a faculty member, coach, athletic director and dean of the College of Professional Studies. Randall Schmit (B.A. ’77, M.F.A ’79) had a solo exhibition at the Woodstock Artists Association Museum in Woodstock, N.Y., in September. Billy C. Walker (B.S. ’72, M.Ed. ’89), a teacher at Greenville Christian School, received the 2014 Teacher of the Year award from the Northeast Texas Chapter of the Air Force Association. John Walker (M.S. ’77) was inducted into the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association Hall of Fame. John Westbrook (B.S. ’77) has been named general manager at Menlo Park Mall in Edison, N.J. Dorothy H. Winfield (M.Ed. ’79) was inducted into the Franklin County League of Honor. She retired from teaching in 1989 and continues to be active in her local community.

.1980s. Jeanette L. Bach (M.Ed. ’87) has retired after 14 years as the Michigan Pigeon Library Director. Summer 2015

Lori Burton (B.S. ’87, M.Ed. ’97) was named Southeast Texas Teacher of the Year. Deanya Kueckelhan Cocanougher (B.S. ’82, M.S. ’84) joined the law practice of Cantey Hanger LLP in Southlake, Texas.

Linda A. Timmerman (B.S. ’81, Ed.D. ’91) has been named to the Family and Protective Services Council by Gov. Rick Perry.

David T. Eisele (B.B.A. ’89) has joined Peoples Bank in Paris, Texas, as a director. Debra “Deb” Fleming (B.S. ’87, M.S. ’98) was named Teacher of the Year for Paris Independent School District. Timothy M. Ford (M.Ed. ’80) has been named athletic director at Lewisville Independent School District. Linda K. Fox (B.S. ’82) recently received the Rotary Club of Marana, Ariz., Educator of the Year Heritage Award. Larry P. Goddard (B.S. ’80, M.S. ’81) was re-appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to continue his service on the OneStar Foundation Board and National Service Commission Board through 2017. W. Bryan Ingram (B.S. ’85) has joined the Wood County National Bank as assistant vice president and lender. He and his wife, Lisa, reside in Quitman, Texas. Chester Juroska (Ed.D. ’88) is retiring after a 15-year career in education at Alvarado Independent School District. Christopher “Chris” Kosterman (B.M. ’81, M.M. ’96) has been named the new fine arts director for Rockwall Independent School District. Gentry “Ace” Little (B.S. ’87) has started his 33rd year doing radio play-by-play for high school athletics. Dr. Joe D. May (Ed.D. ’80) has become the new chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District. Kim E. Ruyle (M.Ed. ’88) is president of Inventive Talent Consulting and has co-authored four books on talent management.

Jimmy D. Turner (B.S. ’82, M.Ed. ’96) is more than 9,000 miles from home. When you’re confident about your calling, no distance is too far to travel for a dream job. Turner had already decided what kind of job that would be when he stepped onto on the East Texas State University campus in 1984. Attending the university on scholarships from the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Association and the Texas Garden Clubs, the Lone Oak native graduated with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and has enjoyed an ever-blossoming career ever since. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden thrived under Turner’s leadership for a decade before he was handpicked last year for the role of director of horticulture operations at the Royal Botanic Garden and Doman Trust in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. In this position, Turner oversees the main garden in Sydney, the Blue Mountain Botanic Gardens at Mount Tomah and the Australian Botanic Garden at Mount Annan. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I owe it to my mentors like Dr. Reid and the professors at ETSU who opened the doors for me,” said Turner. “The four years I spent in Commerce . . . are some of my fondest memories. My first steps into public horticulture began [there], and they have formed a solid path I’ve continued to follow. I owe the university a huge debt of gratitude.” The Timber Press Encyclopedia of Annuals, Turner’s new book, will be published this year.

Texas A&M University–Commerce


Class Notes Brian J. Weast (B.S. ’89) was named an honoree for America’s Best Real Estate Agents: Top Teams in Texas. He is affiliated with Keller Williams Realty.

Dr. Sherilyn R. Emberton (Ed.D ’99) entered Huntington University in October 2013 as the 13th president of the institution.

Candace E. Williams (B.S. ’87) is a retired principal and educator since 1998 and currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas, where she is active in the community and various ministries.

Debra George (B.S. ’90, M.Ed. ’98) authored a children’s book that was previously a college project. The name of the book is “My Face … and Me!”

.1990s. Brandon Y. Bell (B.P.A. ’99) has returned home to Paris, Texas, to practice law with Brad Hutchison and Don Biard. Dr. J. Blair Blackburn (M.E. ’93), executive vice president at Dallas Baptist University, recently published “A City on a Hill: Dallas Baptist University – An Architectural History.” Chad C. Brown (B.B.A. ’90) was named to the board of directors at Peoples Bank in Paris, Texas.

Stacey Gibson-Cooper (B.S.C.J. ’98) and husband David, announce the birth of their daughter, Ainsleigh, born in January 2014. They reside in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Stacey was recently named global head of university relations for HCL Technologies, Inc. Joseph D. Hayes (B.S. ’94, M.S. ’97) has teamed up with A&M-Commerce professor, Dr. LaVelle Hendricks (Ed.D. ’96), to write a book about anger management called “Managing Anger-Cool Anger Management.”

Bryan K. Bryant (B.S. ’92) has been named principal at Brenham Junior High.

Trenton Doyle Hancock (B.F.A. ’97) was featured at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. His exhibition was titled “Skin & Bones, 20 Years of Drawing.”

Paige Bussell (B.B.A. ’94, M.B.A. ’02), university registrar, received the 2013 Barton/Nelson Leadership Award at the 2013 CoHEsion Conference in Salt Lake City.

C. Eddie Jaynes (B.S. ’90, M.Ed. ’95) has been named the new director of transportation at Mesquite Independent School District.

Jeff Cleveland (B.S. ’94, M.S. ’95) was named Commerce Independent School District’s men’s athletic director and head football coach.

Willie Fred Johnson, Jr. (B.S. ’92, M.S. ’01) received his Ed.D. degree from Walden University in December 2013. He is currently the principal of Comstock Junior High in the Dallas Independent School District. He and his wife, Denorah, live in Lancaster, Texas. Jamee G. Jolly (B.S. ’97) was named president and CEO for the Plano Chamber of Commerce in 2010. She was also selected for Collin County Business Press’s “40 Under 40” in 2012. Jason S. Jones (B.B.A. ’99, M.Ed. ’06) is the new superintendent of Oglesby Independent School District.


PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

Dr. Thurston B. Lamb (M.Ed. ’99) has been named principal of Desoto High School. Donna Gilson Leadford (M.Ed. ’99) has been named principal of Prestonwood Christian Academy North in Dallas. Stacey Leigh (B.S.I.S. ’93) has been named a 2014 Educator of the Year by the Kaufman Chamber of Commerce. Micah Lewis (B.S. ’92), retired educator, has been named the top educator of Frankston Independent School District. Scottie Luke (B.B.A. ’98) has joined the staff of Texas Bank and Trust, Co., in Longview, Texas as vice president. Judy F. Mackey (M.Ed. ’93) was recently elected to the leadership board expanding her involvement with Jake E’s Riding Round UP, a Kaufman-based therapeutic horseback riding facility. Suzanne McWilliams (M.Ed. ’90) has become the superintendent of Forney Independent School District.

Tadd L. Myers (B.S. ’96) has published “Portraits of the American Craftsman,” which captures artisans who make products from baseball gloves and banjos to surfboards. Rachael Cole Oats, CAE (B.S. ’97) has been named an associate executive director of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Patricia Opon (B.S. ’90, M.Ed. ’00) has been appointed principal at St. Mark Catholic School in Plano, Texas.

Summer 2015

Gregory Priest (B.S. ’93, M.S. ’95) has been named the new athletic director for Tyler Independent School District. Kellie Spencer (B.S.I.S. ’97, M.Ed. ’01) has been named one of the new assistant superintendents of operations at Cedar Hill Independent School District. Virginia Thompson (B.S. ’99, M.S. ’02) has been named the Grayson College Outstanding Professor of the Year. Thompson is a former Grayson College graduate who returned to her roots to join the faculty at Grayson College to teach psychology. Dr. A’Lann Truelock (M.Ed. ’96, Ed.D. ’98) has been named superintendent of the Hondo Independent School District. Dr. Paula A. Wilhite (Ed.D. ’96) received the 2013 American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges Award for Teaching Excellence. She currently teaches at Northeast Texas Community College.

.2000s. Christopher P. Babin (B.S. ’03) became the Warren Independent School District athletic director and head football coach. He was previously athletic director in the Deweyville Independent School District. Chris Bassham (B.S. ’03) received Firefighter of the Year and Employee of the Year awards at the Annual Commerce Chamber of Commerce Banquet in April 2014. He also received the Fire Prevention Commendation Award by the Sons of the American Revolution in November 2013. Dr. Pamela J. Boehm (Ed.D. ’06) has been named president of Hill College. She was formerly the vice president of instruction, research and planning. David C. Carter (B.P.A. ’06, M.B.A. ’06) began his duties as the chief financial officer for the Royse City Independent School District. Summer 2015

Texas A&M University–Commerce


Class Notes Toby Cason, PA-C (B.S. ’00) joined the East Texas Medical Center First Physicians Clinic in Pittsburg, Texas, as an orthopedic specialist. Dr. Marty Crawford (Ed.D. ’06) has been named the new district superintendent of Tyler Independent School District. Daniel “Dan” Cummings (M.S. ’05) has become the new principal of MacArthur High School. Brian Cyprian (B.S.C.I.S. ’02, M.B.A. ’04) was presented with the Distinguished William H. Webster Award at the 60th National Convention of the Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Nicole L. Dawly (M.Ed. ’06) was named Teacher of the Year at O.H. Whitehurst School in the Groesbeck Independent School District. Tommy Felts (B.S. ’04) was recently named to Editor & Publisher’s “25 Under 35.” Felts is currently managing editor of The Ottawa Herald in Ottawa, KS. Dr. David W. Fitts (Ed.D. ’04) has been named the Region 8 Education Service Center executive director.

Amanda R. Fletcher (B.S.I.S. ’08) was married Feb. 22, 2014, to Donald Fisher in Anna, Texas.

Isabel Salazar (M.Ed. ’05) has been selected to lead Lady Bird Johnson Middle School as its new principal in Irving, Texas.

Michael J. Ford (B.S. ’02) has been promoted to major in the U.S. Army. He is currently the range operations manager at Camp Maxey in Powderly, Texas.

Kevin W. Samples (M.Ed. ’04) has been named principal at Mesquite High School.

Maria Gonzalez (B.S.I.S ’05) has been named Teacher of the Year by Annie Sims Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, Texas.

Breanna Smith (B.S. ’09) was united in marriage with Thomas Bolwerk on May 24, 2014, in Royse City, Texas. Juan Solis (M.Ed. ’08, Ed.D. ’13) has been named principal of Terrell High School.

Cynthia R. Hamilton (M.B.A. ’08) has joined the San Antonio Symphony as executive vice president of development and marketing. Christie Harvill (B.S.C.J. ’03) was married May 31, 2014 to Timothy Ridenour in Alabama. Corey Homer (B.S. ’01, M.Ed. ’02) has been named athletic director and head football coach for Mount Pleasant Independent School District. John V. Lejeune (Ed.D. ’02) has been named the new director of curriculum and student services in Louise, Texas. Jonathan Louvier (B.S. ’06) has been named the Gladewater High School offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. Judd H. Marshall (M.Ed. ’06) has been named superintendent at Mount Pleasant Independent School District. Katherine E. Park (B.S.I.S. ’08) has been named a 2014 Educator of the Year by the Kaufman Chamber of Commerce. Brent Ringo (Ed.D. ’08) has been named Allen Independent School District’s new director of finance. Dr. Robert Riza (M.S. ’00, Ed.D. ’03) has been named the 19th president of Clarendon College. Cody A. Rushing (B.S. ’08) is the new pastor at Meadow Park Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, Texas.


PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

Summer 2015

Kent N. Taylor (M.B.A. ’08) has been hired as vice president of operations at Akorbi. Jay Brian Thompson (B.S.I.S. ’06) has been named principal of Furlough Middle School in Terrell, Texas. He began his doctoral program at A&M-Commerce in the fall of 2014. Linda Torres-Rangel (M.S. ’04) has been named director of language and parent services for Irving Independent School District. Lorie Nanette Verner (B.S. ’01) has been named Teacher of the Year by E.C. Brice Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Jean A. Waldrop (M.S. ’04) has become the director of the Brackett Library at Harding University in Searcy, Ark. Michael R. West (M.B.A. ’09) has joined Neiman Marcus Group, Inc., as senior vice president of distribution, logistics and fulfillment. Jennifer Wiseman (B.S.I.S. ’00, M.Ed. ’14) has been selected as assistant principal at Cox Elementary School in Wylie, Texas. Wiseman has 13 years of experience in education and currently serves as the education quality coordinator for Wylie Independent School District.

.2010s. Jeremy W. Bell (B.S.I.S. ’13) has been promoted to assistant vice president of Guaranty Bond Bank in Paris, Texas. Kayla B. Clemmons (B.G.S. ’12) married Dustin M. Huff on June 15, 2013. She is employed in the Roxton Independent School District as a math teacher. Nina Crow-Sprague (B.S. ’13) was united in marriage with Dalton Sprague on April 27, 2014 in Palestine, Texas.

Andrew Dahir (B.S. ’13) received The National Science Foundation’s 2014 Graduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship program recognizes and supports students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Dahir, a current aerospace engineering sciences student at the University of Colorado Boulder, will receive three years of support from NSF and access to the XSEDE Supercomputer. The fellowship will allow Dahir to continue his doctoral research, “Autonomous Spacecraft Determination using X-ray Navigation Technology.” Amanda Goodman-Pruitt (B.S. ’10) tours with her Rugged Heart band and writes songs with country music legend Tony Stampley of Nashville, Tenn. Emilie Hobbs (M.B.A. ’13) has been named the new director of human resources for the Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin, Texas. Austin J. Lambert (B.S. ’11) is the new student minister at First Baptist Church of Sherman, Texas. Chad R. Nowlin (B.S. ’10) was married to Jenna Maraldo in August 2013. Nowlin recently graduated with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Harding University in Seary, Ark. He is employed by Hulsey Therapy Services in Commerce, Texas. Jalayne Robinson (B.S.W. ’12, M.S.W. ’13) has joined the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association (TDCAA) as the victim services director in Wood County. Judith “Judy” Webber (M.S. ’12) has been named the new executive director of innovative learning in the Forney Independent School District. Dana N. Withers (B.S. ’12) and Seth Little were married Oct. 12, 2013.

Summer 2015

In Memory A&M-Commerce endured great losses in 2014 with the passing of Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Barry B. Thompson and Professor Emeritus Dr. Fred A. Tarpley.

Thompson received a master’s degree from Old ET and served as a department head and later vice president for academic affairs from 1975-1982. Tarpley was employed by the university from 1957 until his retirement in 1992, and he was named Professor Emeritus of Literature and Languages in 2004. Texas A&M University–Commerce


A Celebration 125 Years in the Making! This year’s Royal Roar was truly an evening of recognition, celebration and commemoration amidst the grand opulence of Union Station. Upon arrival at Union Station, Royal Roar guests were greeted by more

But that’s not all! After dinner, guests danced the night away to

than 100 recent and vintage photographs from the past 125 years.

The Motion Band and chatted over Wolfgang Puck pizzas and rich

Guests enjoyed showing their pride and personality in the photo booth

cheesecake truffles.

complete with university-related props like Professor Mayo’s mustache and plenty of blue and gold attire. Guests also had an opportunity to bid on silent auction items and interact with students and faculty at Experience Stations. Proceeds from the auction benefitted student scholarships and departmental Excellence accounts.

To be used above 2in. PMS-281 Blue, PMS-124 Gold

Royal Roar attendance grew again this year increasing from 340 last year to 460, and more than half the tables in the room were sponsored tables. Due to the growth of the event, donor recognition was handled a bit differently. The evening began with an honoree reception hosted by Chancellor John Sharp of The Texas A&M University System and

Dinner was a feast for the senses as Royal Roar guests dined on double

university President Dan R. Jones honoring those who would be

glazed beef short ribs and lobster risotto. The dinner presentation

recognized later during the dinner program. It’s always a pleasure to

included the induction of the 2014 Presidents Club members and a

celebrate with familiar faces and new attendees at every Royal Roar, but

one-of-a-kind tribute to our 125th anniversary including individuals

this was truly a special evening.

representing 10 of the 11 university presidents. The program concluded with a spirited champagne toast celebrating our rich history and enriched future.

It’s difficult to truly express our gratitude to everyone involved for investing their time and generosity into this year’s Royal Roar. We can’t wait to see you at the next one.

It’s always a great day to be a Lion!


PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

Summer 2015

A Historic Gathering: 125 Years of University Presidents Represented on One Stage Front Row: (Left to Right)

Back row: (Left to Right)

Mr. Bill Fuhrmeister, Great Nephew of Randolph Bunyan Binnion (2nd President)

Mr. Walker Mayo; Great-Great Nephew of founder Mr. William Leonidas Mayo

Col. Sam Whitley, Grandson of Samual H. Whitley (3rd President) Ms. Claire Hale, Granddaughter of Dr. Arthur Clinton Ferguson (4th President) Mr. Ben King, Grandson of Dr. Arthur Ferguson (4th President) Mr. Christopher Gee, Grandson of Dr. James Gilliam Gee (5th President)

Ms. Whitney Halladay Whitelaw; Daughter of Dr. D. Whitney Halladay (6th President) Mr. Charles Austin III; Grandson of Dr. Charles J. Austin (8th President) Mr. Andrew Austin, Son of Dr. Charles J. Austin (8th President) Ms. Marilyn Morris, wife of the late Dr. Jerry D. Morris (9th President) Dr. Keith D. McFarland, 10th President Dr. Dan R. Jones, 11th and current President

Thank You to Our Event Sponsors Thanks once again to our event sponsors, the following scholarships will be awarded during the 2015-2016 academic year:

Thank You to Our Table Sponsors Roaring Spirit $5,000

Regal Spirit - $15,000 $1,500 Scholarship Mary H. Spencer

Royal Spirit - $10,000 $1,000 Scholarship Summer 2015

Hunt Regional Healthcare

Roaring Spirit $5,000

Resounding Spirit $2,500

Texas A&M University–Commerce



Our graduates are Lions for Life, and we are thankful to everyone who chooses to give back

to the university. No matter what you remember or value about your experience at Old ET or A&M-Commerce, there is a meaningful, rewarding giving option for you. I’m proud to contribute to A&M-Commerce because the education, training and memorable experiences that the university provided me are priceless. A&MCommerce prepared me for a successful career in government and corporate America. I want to pay it forward and assist others in sharing the wonderful opportunities that await them at A&M-Commerce. Go Lions! —Carl S. Richie, Jr.

Texas A&M UniversityCommerce has afforded me with countless opportunities as a former student-athlete and current staff member. My education and experiences in Commerce have molded who I am, and I carry this university everywhere I go. The Bridge Builder program is a wonderful opportunity to give back to this great institution and I hope you choose to do so! #WeAreLions —Robert Reed

At A&M-Commerce, I learned firsthand the impact giving back to the university can make on a student. I am a product of that generosity, and it has always inspired me to give back in hopes that the next generation can benefit in the same way. —Jandy J. Thompson, RPA

The educational opportunity and positive experience I received at ET gave me not only a more authentic view of life, but a sense of self, which forever changed me for the better. —Marilyn Lavender Jones

To explore ways that you can give, visit or contact Stephanie Fiorisi at 903-468-8181.


PRIDE The Alumni Magazine

Summer 2015

Greetings Alumni and Friends, It is my pleasure to greet you during this remarkable time in the university’s history. On Sept. 2, 2014, we celebrated the university’s 125th anniversary. Our founder, Professor William L. Mayo, would be proud to know how far we have come and the number of lives that have been forever changed as a result of the education and opportunities that this institution has provided. There have been countless quotes and studies that have addressed the value of a college degree. A college degree opens doors of opportunity that would not occur without one. My education has certainly made a difference in my life and the lives of my extended family. A degree from A&M-Commerce (Old ET) has so much more value than meets the eye. If your experience was similar to mine, there were special relationships developed with faculty or staff that played a significant role in your success. I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard alumni talk with admiration about a special professor, organization advisor, staff member or coach who went the extra mile to share wisdom that had nothing to do with a degree plan. A degree earned from this university allows graduates to successfully compete in a global market with graduates from more prestigious or larger universities. To prove this point, look at yourself and your circle of friends who graduated from the university and see how many have led successful lives. I encourage you to share your stories with others about the remarkable education you received here. Peace and blessings,

Derryle G. Peace

Summer 2015

As a way to commemorate 125 years as an institution, and to lend a helping hand to future generations, the Alumni Association of A&MCommerce invites you to add your legacy to our Brick Garden. The garden will be located behind the Alumni Center and connect to the existing walking mall. Alumni, students, parents and friends of the university can purchase an engraved brick to serve as a lifelong tribute, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Legacy Scholarship. Brick Garden construction will begin the last week of September 2015. If you would like to purchase a brick and leave your mark, please make your order by August 28, 2015. Custom, engraved 4” x 8” bricks are available for purchase for $125. Visit for more information and to place your order.

Texas A&M University–Commerce



Join the Conversation Online!

Follow our social media channels to find out more about innovative research, noteworthy achievements and opportunities to reconnect with the university. To be used above 2in. PMS-281 Blue, PMS-124 Gold


Made in the Shade


Patrick Dougherty (right photo) is a world renowned artist, and we were honored to have him at Texas A&M University-Commerce to design a site-specific sculpture for our campus. His works are large environmental installations made of sticks and saplings. A&M-Commerce’s piece is located in the heart of the campus in the large grassy area in front of the library. Dougherty connected two of the trees with large structures, all made from materials gathered locally from the Commerce area. Dougherty’s process is unique because he invites members of the community to be involved. At A&M-Commerce, he worked with students and volunteers gathering the sticks to help complete the building of the artwork.

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PRIDE Summer 2015  

The Alumni Magazine of Texas A&M University-Commerce

PRIDE Summer 2015  

The Alumni Magazine of Texas A&M University-Commerce

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