Latest News from Sul Ross March 19, 2013


Dr. Mark Saka, Sul Ross State University professor of History, will present a paper Friday, March 22 at the annual Southwest Council of Latin American Scholars in Antigua, Guatemala.

Saka, a former president of the Council (2006-2008), will present "We Are Citizens! Peasant Nationalism and Agrarian Radicalism in the Mexican Huasteca." The topic of the paper analyzes the role of the Huastecan Indians and the impact of participation in wars of national liberation in Mexico, 1810-1821 against the Spanish Empire; against the United States, 1846-1848; and against the French, 1862-1867.

Through participation in these nationalist armed struggles against foreign invaders, the Huastecan Indian peasantry internalized a sense of nationalist consciousness that they transferred to the formation of a radicalized agrarian consciousness that empowered them to seize hacienda lands and divide the lands equally amongst the Indian peasantry.

This paper is part of Saka's forthcoming book "For God and Revolution: Priest, Peasant and Agrarian Socialism in the Mexican Huasteca," to be published by the University of New Mexico Press later this year.

For more information, contact Saka, (432) 837-8304 or




Prospective students and their families can sample campus life and gain information about Sul Ross State University during the second annual Sully Showcase, Saturday, April 6.

Sully Showcase will feature campus tours, visits with faculty and staff and information on admission, financial aid, housing and academic and extra-curricular opportunities.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Pete P. Gallego Center, with a 10 a.m. opening ceremony. An open house will be held from 10:30 a.m.-noon. Sul Ross academic departments, student and service organizations and clubs will have information tables available.

Lunch will be served from noon-1:30 p.m., followed by campus tours. A closing ceremony will be held at 2:30 p.m., followed by an open house at the Turner Range Animal Science Center, from 3:15-4:15 p.m.

Following Sully Showcase, visitors are encouraged to explore the Big Bend Region and sample local cuisine at the Viva Big Bend Food Festival. For a preview of the festival, visit Tickets may be purchased online.

To register for Sully Showcase, visit or call 1-888-722-7778 (SRSU) for more information.





by Steve Lang, News and Publications

Mike Castrignano has chased a dream while preparing for the realities that follow.

Castrignano, a graduate assistant coach for the Sul Ross State University baseball team, arrived in Alpine four years ago with $65 in his pocket and the dream of playing professional baseball.



Graduate assistant pitching coach Mike Castrignano discusses strategy with Sul Ross mound corps. (Photo by Steve Lang)

He will leave with two Sul Ross degrees, at least two independent minor league championships and a solid foundation for a career in strength and conditioning training.

Three years ago, Castrignano, a left-handed pitcher, was at the top of his game, leading the Big Bend (now Alpine) Cowboys to a Continental League championship. As a left-hander with a fastball clocked at 90-92 miles-per-hour, he had a 6-1 record, averaging better than a strikeout per inning.

His prospects for advancement through the professional ranks were promising. But while pitching in the league all-star game, he suffered a torn labrium in his shoulder, shelving his mound activity for nearly two years. Castrignano missed the entire 2011 campaign, then pitched sparingly last summer as the Alpine Cowboys won the Pecos League title.

In the meantime, Castrignano followed the lead of Cowboys teammate Stephen Skzotak and enrolled at Sul Ross in the fall of 2010. The Ocean City, Md. (Stephen Decatur H.S.) native had earned an associate’s degree at Delaware Tech prior to starting his professional career (in 2008 in the Frontier League). He graduated from Sul Ross in May 2012 with a B.S. in Kinesiology and Sports Science. He will complete his Master’s degree in Education this May.

Baseball-wise, he has slowly recovered his velocity, but has decided this season with the Cowboys will be his last on the mound.


Mike Castrignano in action for Alpine Cowboys.

(Photo Courtesy Mike Castrignano)

If the Atlanta Braves call again, Castrignano will forgo the diamond to work in the training room. He was recently contacted by the Braves regarding a strength and conditioning position with their minor league system in Orlando, Fla.

"If they make the offer, I’ll take it," he said. "It will be sad to give up (playing) baseball, though.

"I have been riding baseball out to see where it would take me, but I always planned to go to school (to complete my degree)," he said.

Castrignano joined coach Bobby Mesker’s staff as a student assistant in 2011 and this year is a graduate assistant, serving as the Lobos’ pitching coach. Under his guidance, the Sul Ross pitching staff posted a 4.64 earned run average en route to a 9-12 won-lost record entering this weekend’s (March 22-23) American Southwest Conference series at Concordia-Austin. Last year, Sul Ross endured a 9-30 campaign with a team ERA of over 8.

"Mike is a hard worker and a real professional," Mesker said. "If he’s going to do something, he will do it to the best of his ability....He is reliable and as coaches, we’re on the same page."

Mesker noted that coaching was "something Mike was going to do while getting his degree. He does a lot of strength and conditioning with the pitchers and that’s where his passion is at, but you wouldn’t know it with the job he’s doing (as a pitching coach).

"He holds those guys accountable, and he leads because as a player he has experienced everything they have gone through, the highs and lows. He has a good relationship with the pitchers and they respect him."

Castrignano has learned that baseball-wise at least, nothing is certain. As a sophomore at Delaware Tech in 2007, he hurled a perfect game, then was told by a Los Angeles Angels scout that he would be selected in the lower rounds of the Major League draft.

"That phone call never came," he said. "Things can take you up and take you down....I decided to choose the road that makes me happiest in the long run."

Aside from pitching, Castrignano enjoys helping athletes to improve their strength and conditioning skills.

If the Braves do not call, he plans to pitch for the Cowboys this summer, then return to Maryland to work as a fitness coordinator at a baseball facility and send out his resume.

"I am not going to be upset about giving up baseball; I like to get players ready for their chance to compete."

In the meantime, he has savored both his Alpine and Sul Ross experience.

"Prior to coming to Alpine, I had never been to Texas, never been this far away from home," Castrignano said. "There is nothing like playing underneath the lights (at Kokernot Field) in West Texas. It has really given me a great feeling to be a part of the Cowboys.

"As a pitching coach, I tell my players to try to be better than the guy ahead of you, both in baseball and in life.

"Sul Ross has been a great experience, too," he said. "I learned a lot about professionalism and how to communicate from Coach Mesker, and I have gotten the credentials to get on with my career."




Sul Ross State University faculty members Scarlet Clouse and Dr. Barney Nelson collaborated on an article for Faculty Focus, which published via e-zine on March 11.

Their article, "Better Research Basics, One Sentence at a Time," describes a method both professors use in their own classes to help students catch up on research skills. Their method of using short assignments to teach quotation, paraphrasing, summary, and citation makes grading research possible. They also argue that if students can do it correctly once, then they can do it a thousand times correctly. But if students can’t do it correctly once, then if they attempt a long research paper, they create a frustrating mess for both themselves and their teachers.

Clouse is the Sul Ross coordinator of field experiences and teaches in both the undergraduate and graduate teacher education programs. Nelson is an associate professor of English and director of the Quality Enhancement Plan.

The article explains how their method can also increase student engagement with reading assignments for any subject. The method also uses technology for peer critique and raises the learning bar gradually as the one-sentence assignments can eventually teach students to blend sources, add outside sources, and understand how to follow or create their own style guides.

"Our students seem to appreciate and feel less intimidated working within this method," said Clouse. Nelson added, "These short assignments make teaching research basics possible again both at the college level and for our over-worked public school teachers."

Faculty Focus was created in 2003 by Magna Publications to promote effective teaching strategies for the college classroom. Since 1972 higher education has turned to Magna Publications for timely, high-quality professional development products and services. Today Magna sponsors a growing portfolio of award-winning newsletters, online seminars, online courses, and in-person conferences. Many of these are available free to faculty via email.

The article is available on-line at




"Proof" opens March 22 at Sul Ross

"Proof," written by David Auburn and directed by Dr. Michelle Selk, opens Friday (March 22) at 8:15 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, Francois Fine Arts Building. "Proof" is a drama chronicling the tumultuous life of Catherine who is struggling with balancing her ability to continue her father's supreme mathematical genius, and also his extreme mental instability. Additional performances are Saturday-Sunday, March 23-24 and Friday-Sunday, March 29-31. Friday-Saturday performances are at 8:15 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. For advanced ticket sales visit the website at, or contact the Fine Arts and Communications office at (432)-837-8218. Cast and crew members are (from) left: Adrian Soto, Tony Castro, Michelle Selk, Ashley Page, Timothy Wright, Missy Embrey, Concepcion Gomez, Miguel Pena and Karibeth Page. (Submitted Photo)