News Archives May 15, 2012

News for May 15, 2012



Sul Ross State University graduate students turned firefighters last week, extinguishing several blazes caused by lightning strikes.

James Weaver, Justin Hoffman and Andy James, graduate students with the Borderlands Research Institute, were checking the status of declining herds of pronghorns on a ranch west of Marfa last Monday (May 7). Brewing storm clouds prompted them to head for the highway, Weaver said.

"We had just finished visiting with some of our landowners and had been checking on some of the restored pronghorn," he said. "The clouds had been blowing in all afternoon and we decided we had better get to the highway before the rains started coming down heavy. We didn’t want to mess up any of the ranch roads."

As they were leaving, lightning strikes occurred, including one near the students’ pickup, which caused a fire. The trio also noticed several other smoke clouds in the vicinity.

The students acted quickly and notified a member of the Valentine Fire Department as well as Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Mike Sullins. Sullins notified the Marfa Fire Department and the rancher. Weaver, Hoffman and James then drove to ranch headquarters, where they assisted a ranch hand with preparing a water trailer. When they returned to the fire, one fire department was on the scene. The graduate students worked for over an hour helping to extinguishing the blaze.

"The humidity and the wind certainly played in our favor," said James. "It could have been a whole lot worse."

Hoffman added, "The landowners of west Texas have been so good to us by allowing access to their properties for our research projects. It was nice to give something back to them."




Throughout his career, Dr. Kip Sullivan has demonstrated leadership through example, both on and off campus.

Sullivan, a professor of Education, specializing in Educational Administration, will retire from Sul Ross State University May 31, completing 23 years of service.

Since joining the Sul Ross faculty in 1989 as director of Teacher Education, Sullivan has been active in numerous professional and community organizations. He has long stressed community involvement to his students.

"I have always tried to model what I want my students to do," he said. "You can’t just talk it, you’ve got to walk it."

"It is important (for an education professional) to have a presence other than the academic presence," Sullivan said. "It is vital to give back to the area you serve."

A former public administrator himself, Sullivan has sought to set an example.

"A leader in schools has to wear many hats," he said. "If I don’t model that behavior, I am not giving the right kind of signals to my students."

His professional activities have included the Big Bend Educational Consortium, past president of the Texas Council of Professors of Educational Administration, coordinating workshops for superintendents and school board members and as a trainer of trainers for the Professional Development Appraisal System.

In addition, Sullivan has been involved in numerous community endeavors. Activities include Big Bend Economic Focus, Alpine Noon Lions, Alpine Chamber of Commerce, Historic Alpine, Inc., Leadership Big Bend, Big Bend Regional Medical Center and the Alpine/Big Bend Community Networking Plan Group.

Overall, Sullivan has 44 years’ experience in education, beginning as a teacher in the Peoria, Ill. Public School System in 1968. He also served as a principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent in Illinois schools, before moving to Texas in 1985. He spent two years at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, and two years at Lamar University, Beaumont, before coming to Sul Ross.

He received a B.S. (1968) and M.A. (1971) from Bradley University, Peoria, Ill.; an Education Specialist degree (1973) from Western Illinois University, Macomb, and an Ed.D. (1985) from Loyola University, Chicago.

"My Sul Ross experience has been a very positive one," he said, adding that the Education program "combines scholarship with real-life situations."

"I have enjoyed the interaction with everybody here. I’m pretty outgoing and I strive for face-to-face meetings as much as possible. It makes for a better overall situation in the workplace."

Sullivan and his wife, Mona, spend summers in northern Michigan, where he enjoys kayaking on Lake Huron. But retirement does not mean moving.

"We’re not moving (from Alpine). We like it here. It has been a good ride and I have enjoyed riding with the brand," he said.

"The only difference is that we won’t necessarily be looking at the ‘dreaded’ third Saturday in August as the departure date from Michigan. That always means four airports and three flights to get back."




Sul Ross State University’s GEAR UP Program will host a summer camp for students entering the eighth grade.

Interested students in the Alpine, Del Rio, Presidio and Terlingua school districts may register for one of three sessions, scheduled July 2-6, 9-13 and 16-20. The camps will emphasize science and will include field trips, outdoor activities and the college experience. Students will stay in residence halls during the camps.

Registration deadline is Friday, May 25.

Interested students may contact their local schools for more information or contact Patrick Clingman, (432) 294-3041 or




Summer session classes will be held May 29-July 3 and July 5-Aug. 9 at Sul Ross State University.

On-line registration for the first summer session ends at midnight Monday, May 28. Residence halls will also open on that day.

Classes, late registration and schedule changes begin Tuesday, May 29. Friday, June 1 is the fourth class day and last day for late registration and schedule changes.

Monday, June 11 is the last day to register for shortened format classes, with the shortened format beginning that day. Tuesday, June 19 is mid-term and Thursday, June 28 is the last day to drop a course with a "W." Drops must be processed and in the Center for Enrollment Services by 4 p.m.

Final examinations for the first summer session will be held Tuesday, July 3.

On-line registration for the second summer session ends at midnight Wednesday, July 4 with classes, late registration and schedule changes beginning Thursday, July 5.

Monday, July 9 is the last day to register for shortened format classes, with the shortened format beginning that day. Tuesday, July 10 is the fourth class day and the last day for schedule changes and late registration.

Tuesday, July 24 is mid-term, and Tuesday, July 31 is the last day to drop a course with a "W." Drops must be processed and in the Center for Enrollment Services by 4 p.m.

Final examinations will be held Thursday, Aug. 9. Summer commencement will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11 in the Pete P. Gallego Center. Residence halls will close on that day.




Sul Ross State University has adopted a smoke-free, tobacco-free policy that will take effect June 1. Sul Ross State joins fellow components of the Texas State University System in adopting a smoke-free, tobacco-free environment.

The policy, adopted by the Executive Cabinet, will prohibit the use of tobacco products, including smoke and smokeless tobacco, on Sul Ross owned or leased premises. The policy will apply to all faculty, staff, students, employees of contractors and visitors.

The complete policy is stated below.

Tobacco Free Policy

APM 2.05 (Adopted 5/2012)

I. General

A. Sul Ross State University is committed to maintaining healthy and safe campuses in Alpine, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Uvalde.

B. The primary purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines prohibiting smoking and the use of all tobacco products at the Sul Ross State University campuses. Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco and all other tobacco products.

C. The university expects all faculty, staff, students, employees of contractors and subcontractors, and visitors to comply with this policy.


II. Prohibition of the Use of All Tobacco Products

A. The university prohibits smoking and the use of all tobacco products on all university property including:

1. All buildings and vehicles owned, leased, or under the supervision of the university; and

2. All outdoor grounds including athletic and recreational fields, and parking lots under the supervision of the university; and

3. All outdoor stadia and grandstands for athletic and recreational fields.

B. Artists or actors who participate in authorized performances which require smoking or the use of another tobacco product as part of artistic productions are exempt from this tobacco policy if approved by the Provost and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.

C. Participants in academic research projects involving tobacco products are exempt from this tobacco policy if approved by the Provost and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.


III. Compliance

A. Offenses shall be dealt with through established administrative/disciplinary policies and procedures.

Students who violate this policy will be handled through the disciplinary process set out in the Student Code of Conduct.

Employees who violate this policy will be referred to their supervisor and shall be handled through the appropriate employee disciplinary process.

Visitors, volunteers, contractors, or other service providers who violate this policy will be asked to leave campus.


IV. Smoking Cessation Resources

A. Faculty, staff and students interested in assistance with smoking cessation may contact the Sul Ross State University Student Health Center at 432-837-8102 for information.

B. Faculty and staff may contact a Human Resources Representative to request information on any employee assistance programs available to university or state employees interested in smoking cessation.


V. Procedures for Dissemination of Tobacco Policy

A. New employees will be made aware of the university's tobacco policy during employee orientation. New students will be informed of the policy during student orientation.

B. The sponsoring Sul Ross department must both notify and enforce this policy with campus visitors.

C. Contractors should receive notice from the department soliciting/employing them that the Sul Ross campuses are tobacco-free and that their employees must comply with this policy. Contractors, upon receiving this notification, are expected to notify all employees and subcontractors assigned to work at all Sul Ross State University campuses of the Sul Ross Tobacco Free Policy and enforce compliance.

D. The university will post tobacco-free or no smoking signs to ensure awareness of the university Tobacco Free Policy at all building and stadia main entrances, in parking areas, and across campus and other university properties.





London-born James Whitford-Stark found a new home in West Texas and a teaching career that covered 30 years.

Whitford-Stark, Sul Ross State University professor of Geology, will retire May 31.

"I have enjoyed every minute of it," he said. "I started teaching at the first geology field camp in 1982 and also taught at the second field camp. We had 100 undergraduate students for the summer and that was quite an introduction to West Texas for a Brit who had lived in Rhode Island and Missouri."

Whitford-Stark, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Keele (1971) and the University of Lancaster (1975) in England, found his way to the U.S. and received a Ph.D. from Brown University in 1980.

"The thought of living in London for the rest of my life didn’t appeal to me," he said. "I wanted a job that would get me outdoors."

After completing his Ph.D. at Brown, he worked as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Missouri before coming to Sul Ross.

Arriving for an interview, Whitford-Stark rode much of the way from the Midland Airport to Alpine in the dark.

"When I woke up, I saw the mountains," he recalled, and quickly accepted the job offer.

"I have loved living in Alpine," he said.

He was an assistant professor from 1982-1987, associate professor and chair of the Geology Department from 1987-1992 and became a full professor in 1993.

During his career, he has taught a wide variety of courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition to West Texas, he has conducted field work in Aruba, Belgium, Canada, Canary Islands, Curacao, Dominica, France, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, U.K., and the Peoples Republic of China.

"The one thing I have loved about geology is going around the world at little expense," he laughed.

He has taught three generations of one family, and by his own admission, "went to lots of places where nobody ever goes to." He has watched an eagle grab a student’s hat off his head, paused to watch a javelina family cross his path and has encountered waves of startled bats when entering a mine shaft.

"I have decided to donate two hats for consideration into the Terlingua Ranch restaurant collection," he said. "Those hats have seen research all over the world."

Upon retirement, Whitford-Stark and his wife, Seta, a Sul Ross graduate, plan to travel. Last summer was a cruise from Seattle to Alaska’s Glacier Bay. This summer Cypress and Bermuda are scheduled itineraries, with Norway and the Dominican Republic additional possibilities.




San Antonio College and Sul Ross State University faculty, staff and administrators made excellent progress recently familiarizing themselves with one another’s academic programs and science resources in the Big Bend Region as part of the Adelante Tejas Project’s Year 1 objectives.

The Sul Ross project team provided the San Antonio team with an orientation to the unique resources in the Big Bend region that are available to students who pursue a degree in the sciences. Included in the agenda was an orientation to Sul Ross facilities, departments and people, and visits to the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center (CDRI), the McDonald Observatory and Big Bend National Park.

Sul Ross administration officials welcomed participants and highlighted ways the Adelante Tejas Project provides Sul Ross and San Antonio College with much needed outreach resources for the sciences. The project responds to the general recognition that the U.S. must increase graduation rates, particularly in the sciences, to remain globally competitive. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s "Closing the Gaps" initiative holds ambitious goals for colleges and universities which are considered in the project objectives

"Given strong pressure from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to increase the graduation rates in our academic programs, these types of grant projects are a great help," said Dr. Jim Case, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, "The Adelante Tejas initiative gives Sul Ross State University a significant presence in San Antonio."

The overarching goal of the Adelante Tejas project is to increase enrollment, progress, and graduation in the sciences for San Antonio College and Sul Ross students. The project seeks to increase availability of upper division science coursework to San Antonio College students and sets the stage for San Antonio College students to complete more coursework toward Sul Ross baccalaureate science degrees through distance education.

Sul Ross and San Antonio both have strong track records as providers of distance education. San Antonio College was one of the first institutions of higher learning in the nation to deliver associates degrees on-line and has subsequently expanded the variety of courses which are available to distance learners.

Since 2002, Sul Ross and Midland College have been engaged in the Midland College – Sul Ross State University Science Initiative to provide students with degrees in the sciences using Distance Education, enabling students from Midland to attain degrees but save tremendously on the cost of travel. Over 60 students have already graduated from the program. Importantly, these institutions have accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

"Using the distance education resources Sul Ross has invested in over the past decade, we can offer lecture instruction to multiple sites, as well as coordinate laboratory activities," said Dr. Chris Ritzi, Sul Ross Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences. "Sul Ross has participated in other successful ‘2+2’ collaborative initiatives. The Midland College–Sul Ross Science Initiative, provides an example of this successful approach."

"We thought driving 100 miles to check your mail was just a West Texas legend," said Barbara Knotts, director of the San Antonio College project team. "You have such amazing resources for studying science in the Big Bend! Sul Ross, the McDonald Observatory, the state and national parks, CDRI and the inspiring surroundings. Our students are going to be thrilled!"




Use a positive spirit to turn dreams into reality, State Rep. Jim Pitts told Sul Ross State University graduates.

Pitts, Waxahachie, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee of the Texas State Legislature, delivered the address during spring commencement exercises Saturday (May 12) at the Pete P. Gallego Center. Dr. Jaime Garza, a member of the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System, delivered the address at Rio Grande College exercises, held in the Del Rio Civic Center. A total of 226 students were candidates for degrees, 144 at Sul Ross-Alpine and 82 at RGC.

Pitts, who has served in the Texas Legislature since 1993, referred to the motion picture, "Field of Dreams." The main character, played by Kevin Costner, decided to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield to accommodate players from the past. A voice told him, "If you build it, they will come."

"People thought he was crazy, but the character played by Costner followed his dream and the dream became a reality," Pitts said.

"What I see in this room are a lot of dreams," Pitts said. "You can make your dream come true. Don’t let anybody tell you what you want in life is impossible."

Above all, Pitts said, avoid negative thinking, and repeated a statement several times:

"Can’t never did anything."

"You will be facing challenges in a world far different from the one you experienced at Sul Ross," he said, but added that with challenges come opportunities.

"Your lives will be enriched by what lies ahead."

Pitts, who stressed that the graduates should value their education, referred to the late Dave Thomas, the founder of the Wendy’s restaurant chain. Thomas, who was adopted at birth, began working at 12 and eventually dropped out of high school. In 1992, at the age of 59, he returned to school and eventually earned his high school diploma.

"This happened because a self-made millionaire realized the importance of education," Pitts said. "Dave Thomas became a success because of a recipe for hamburgers and a recipe he had for success: work hard, be honest, give back to your community and believe in yourself."

Pitts told graduates that they had persisted and achieved their goal of receiving a degree. He added that the changes taking place in the world offer unbelievable opportunities, "and each of you has a chance to make a difference.

"Whatever you dream, follow it. Be willing to work hard for whatever you seek," he concluded. "I believe and I know you can make your dream come true."

Prior to the commencement address, five retiring Sul Ross faculty members were recognized. They are: Rob Mathews, professor of Business Administration; Dr. James Whitford-Stark, professor of Geology; Dr. Kip Sullivan, professor of Education; Dr. Melanie Croy, professor of Physical Education and dean of the School of Professional Studies; and Dr. Tyra Manning, associate professor of Education.




by Jason Hennington, News Writer.

Kent Dunegan began his new duties as lieutenant of the University Department of Public Safety at Sul Ross State University.

Dunegan, who was sworn in on May 10, replaces Andrew Powell, who resigned earlier this year.

Dunegan hails from Lawton, Okla. and has 30 years experience in law enforcement. He has worked with the Drug Task Force, served as a trainer for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) Academy, worked in the private sector as a supervisor and trainer for a private federal corrections prison. and also worked with the police department at Cameron University in Lawton.

"During the 30 years when I was a police officer, we interacted with Cameron and shared all of our information from the police department to the public safety department," he said.

Dunegan is a TCLEOSE firearms instructor, criminal justice instructor, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and also teaches CPR and blood-borne pathogens classes for Red Cross.

He became interested in the position at Sul Ross after speaking with his friend Lloyd Dragoo, who is the director of the Law Enforcement Academy. The two met eight years ago when Dragoo taught Dunegan’s TCLEOSE jailer class. Dunegan trained officers, then sent them to Dragoo’s class to become certified jailers.

"I looked at the school, the academics, and I looked at the area, and I have a friend in Criminal Justice," Dunegan said. "He is the one who put me on to the position that was opening up."