Latest News from Sul Ross March 5, 2013


More than 1,300 area school children donated over 1,000 pounds of canned and boxed food as part of the Sul Ross State University Children’s Theatre Project.

Children and teachers from Alpine, Big Bend National Park, Del Rio, Marfa, Kermit, Presidio, Terlingua and Valentine attended Feb. 28 and March 1 matinee performances of the Sul Ross production of "Tom Sawyer and the Jackson’s Island Pirates," written and directed by Gregory M. Schwab. Price of admission was a canned or boxed food item. This year’s donations will go directly to the Food Pantry of Alpine.

The Sul Ross Children’s Theatre Project began in the Fall of 2006 and is now finishing its fifth production. The project was conceived to provide an opportunity for Region 18 school children to attend live theatre and participate in charitable giving. Since its inception, over 7,000 children have attended the special school matinees, with the price of admission a canned food item.

For more information, contact the Department of Fine Arts and Communication, (432) 837-8218 or email




Sul Ross State University offices will be closed Wednesday-Friday, March 13-15 for spring break.

No classes will be held Monday-Friday, March 11-15.

Classes will resume and offices will re-open at 8 a.m. Monday, March 18.




John Rayburn’s work experience ranges from oil rig platforms to underground mining to computer technology. His retirement plans are equally diverse.

"People have been asking me, ‘what are you going to do?’ I tell them I have a long-term goal of perfecting underwater BB stacking," he laughed.

"That, and playing a little guitar."

Rayburn, a network administrator for the Office of Information Technology at Sul Ross State University, retired Feb. 28. He began work at Sul Ross in September 1998, managing the newly-installed campus-wide computer network, after a lengthy and much-varied career that began by picking watermelons in his hometown of Falfurrias.

Following high school graduation, Rayburn enrolled in college for a short time, then joined the military, serving in Vietnam. He worked in the oilfields, at construction, worked in an Arizona copper mine 2,000 feet underground, then enrolled at Sul Ross.

Rayburn graduated from Sul Ross in 1985 with a B.S. in Geology and a Mathematics minor. As an undergrad, he also served as a tutor in Calculus, mentored by the late Dr. Gunther Moller.

"I really liked Dr. Moller," he said. "I learned that despite the myth, math isn’t hard; it’s just hard work."

Following graduation, Rayburn went to Colorado Springs, Colo., where he worked as a research assistant in a private company for Dr. David Mattison, who had been his faculty adviser at Sul Ross. Rayburn worked extensively with computers and carried his expertise back to Alpine, where he was employed by Leo Offenstein at Smart Cash Register.

Rayburn also became a private computer consultant, and traveled the Big Bend area to serve customers. His Sul Ross employment followed.

"It has been a lot of fun," he said. "The faculty and staff here are some of the best people I have ever worked with.

"We are here to help faculty teach students; to promote the educational process and help students get their degrees," he said. "Anytime you are involved in the educational process, that’s an honorable profession, regardless of your job title. It has been a pleasure."

Rayburn and his wife, Liz, who is director of Food Services for the Alpine Independent School District, have two sons. John F. is the head of Information Technology for Village Farms and Patrick is a carpenter, cabinet maker and field surveyor. Both live in Alpine.




Representatives from Haliburton, Rio Grande Electric, the National Park Service and Midland Independent School District are among the agencies and businesses who will be present at the "Spring Fling" Career Fair Wednesday, March 20 at Sul Ross State University.

Sponsored by Career Services, the fair will be held in the Espino Conference Center, Morgan University Center, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Representatives of business, agriculture, education, hospitality, non-profit, community service, criminal justice, park services and other fields will be present to recruit, answer questions, network and provide referral contacts. Registrants may call (432) 837-8178 to reserve space at the fair.

Attendees seeking employment are urged to dress appropriately and bring copies of their resumes. The Career Fair is open to Sul Ross students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as high school students and the general public.  Refreshments will be served and door prizes will be awarded. Career Services will also provide information on internships and volunteer opportunities.

For more information, contact Career Services, (432) 837-8178. Career Services is located upstairs in the University Center, open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.




Sul Ross State University’s new Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) is expected to enhance research capacity in the physical and natural sciences.

The microscope, along with lab upgrades exceeding $500,000 are provided through Adelante Tejas (Forward Texas): A Partnership to Improve STEM Education with San Antonio College. The project is 100 percent funded through a Department of Education award. The ultimate goal of Adelante Tejas is to increase enrollment, progress and graduation in the sciences.

The SEM produces images of a sample by bombarding it with a focused beam of electrons, creating a strikingly clear image at high resolution. It is also capable of analyzing the chemistry of very small samples or parts of samples. The SEM will be used by students and faculty for a broad array of basic education and research in the natural and physical sciences.

"A student attending a larger school probably wouldn't get close to a SEM as an undergrad. That experience would be reserved for graduate and post-doctoral candidates and their supervising faculty," said Dr. Kevin Urbanczyk, director of the Rio Grande Research Center.

"The bottom line is: Sul Ross will produce graduates with knowledge of analytical methods and specific, sought-after expertise, enabling them to be academically and professionally competitive candidates for future careers," Urbanczyk said. It is estimated that over 50 percent of Sul Ross students will have an opportunity to experience or work with the SEM

The SEM is also an important advance in improving science education for the region. It is generally recognized that to remain globally competitive the U.S. must increase graduation rates, particularly in the sciences and for traditionally underrepresented populations. Research has shown that engaging in undergraduate research increases retention and graduate school enrollment, particularly among underrepresented STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors.

Since a high percentage of Sul Ross enrollment comes from demographically diverse West Texas, improvements in laboratory infrastructure and increasing the quality of instrumentation used for instruction improves the context for student learning and success across the spectrum.

"In the past, it’s been problematic for students to visualize a structure of certain soil specimens because they are too small for a standard scientific microscope. Having the SEM is going to be a tremendous for our lab courses," said Dr. Bonnie Warnock, chair of the Natural Resource Management program.

Leslie Hopper, Adelante Tejas project director said, "This ability to see the underlying structure or texture of common (or uncommon) item provides students with that ‘a-ha!’ moment that may lead to a career in science. We’re really looking forward to seeing our students have an opportunity to utilize the SEM for their research projects."

For more information, contact Hopper, (432) 837-8648 or




(AUSTIN) – The Board of Regents of The Texas State University System voted today (Monday, March 4) to direct the system’s four-year institutions to develop optional fixed-rate tuition plans that will provide students and parents with more predictability when paying for college. The board approved the proposal unanimously during a special called meeting held in Austin.

The board’s decision requires The Texas State University System’s senior institutions to develop four-year, fixed-rate tuition plans as an option for students who enroll beginning in the fall of 2014. Institutions must submit their proposals to the Board of Regents for consideration during the board’s November 2013 meeting.

TSUS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Perry Moore said the fixed-rate tuition plans should include an academic progress requirement to ensure students have an incentive to complete their degrees on time. "These optional plans will assist students and their families in financial planning and will also encourage more timely graduation within the four years of fixed tuition," said Moore.

While students who want more predictable tuition may participate in the fixed-rate program, they are not required to do so. Students can continue to pay standard tuition, which varies from institution to institution, but traditionally has been below the state average.

The Texas State University System has four senior institutions: Lamar University, Sam Houston State University, Sul Ross State University and Texas State University.

For more information, contact Mike Wintemute, Director of Communications, (512) 463-4682.