Latest News from Sul Ross April 16, 2013


Sul Ross State University administrators Dr. Quint Thurman and Cesario Valenzuela will make a four-day visit to China to recruit graduate students and juniors and seniors who wish to complete their studies in an American university.

Thurman, Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, and Valenzuela, Vice President of Finance and Operations, will leave Friday, April 19 for Heze University in Heze, China. They are visiting at the request of Sul Ross graduate Matthew Parkman, who teaches English at Heze University. The university enrolls about 15,000 students in a city of six million, located south of Beijing.

"Sul Ross is an ideal university for Chinese students who may be looking for an American college degree," said Thurman. "International students who have learned English but may lack the benefit of a small town/small college campus where they can practice speaking a second language will find Sul Ross to be an exceptional place to develop their language skills.

"Not only will they enjoy the beauty of Alpine and the Big Bend Region but also the advantage of small class sizes, great weather, and an intimate campus. And no one matches West Texas for friendliness," Thurman said.

Although the trip to Heze will be grueling – about 18 hours in the air and several hours by car just to reach their destination – Thurman and Valenzuela will be meeting with students and officials from several universities in the region in the hopes of expanding educational markets for Sul Ross.

Not only is it expected that Chinese students will want to come here but universities in China also hope to attract Sul Ross graduates to China to help them learn English. And while the primary purpose of the trip is to sign a partnership document between Heze University and Sul Ross during the visit, Thurman and Valenzuela hope to establish a relationship that will grow significantly over time.

Thurman noted that Eastern New Mexico State University, Portales, N.M., has enjoyed tremendous success attracting Chinese students, with more than 100 students enrolled there in any given year.




Jessica Jo Wood, Terrebonne, Ore., has clinched the Southwest Region goat tying title in this year’s National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) competition.

Wood did not place in last week’s Howard College Rodeo at Big Spring, but with one rodeo remaining, has scored 930 points, 348 more than her nearest competitor. The maximum points possible in one event is 180. Entering last weekend’s competition, Wood ranked second nationally, behind Millie Marie Twitchell (1,146 points) of Southern Utah University.

The top three place winners in each region qualify for the NIRA Finals Rodeo, scheduled June 9-15 in Casper, Wyo.

Sul Ross scored in four events at Howard College. KC Fryer, Kamas, Utah, finished second in the long round of steer wrestling. Seth Mahaffey, Sweetwater, split second and third in the long round of bull riding and finished fourth in the calf roping long round. Sadie Sacra, Needville, placed in the short round of goat tying.

Sul Ross concludes the regular rodeo season Thursday-Saturday (April 18-20) at Tarleton State University, Stephenville. The women’s team has amassed over 1,000 points to rank in the top four in region standings.

"The team has had an outstanding year," said coach Chance Campbell. "We have shown a marked improvement from last season and the program is continuing to grow stronger.

"We have recruited several outstanding individuals to join the team in the fall, and our future is looking bright."




Sul Ross State University students Marley Boyd, Alpine; Jason Leyva, Alpine; and Geoffrey Schuette, Midland, made undergraduate research presentations at the Mathematical Association of America Texas Section 93rd annual meeting, held April 11-13 at Texas Tech University, Lubbock.

Dr. Kristofer Jorgenson, Sul Ross associate professor of Mathematics, also made a presentation, addressing "The Rota Method for Solving Polynomial Equations: A Modern Application of Invariant Theory." More than 350 persons from throughout Texas attended the annual meeting.

Boyd presented "Who is the Greatest Player in all the Land;" Leyva discussed "Minimum Folding of an Infinite Ribbon" and Schuette’s topic was "A Brief Look Into the History of Galois and Galois Groups." Boyd received a special award for the best presentation in his category.

Also attending the meeting were Sul Ross students Estefana Galindo, Monahans; and Marcos Rodriguez, Alpine; and Dr. Angela Brown, assistant professor of Mathematics; and Dr. David Martin, associate professor of Mathematics.

Boyd, a senior mathematics major, will present his research, "Baseball as a Markov Chain," during a mathematics seminar Friday, April 26, 2 p.m. in ACR, Room 204. Boyd studied more than 400 Major League players to determine a more accurate method of calculating offensive run production averages.


At Mathematical Association meeting

Sul Ross students and faculty attended and made presentations at the Mathematical Association of America Texas Section’s 93rd annual meeting, held April 11-13 at Texas Tech University. Pictured are (from left): Dr. Kristofer Jorgensen; Marcos Rodriguez, Alpine; Geoffrey Schuette, Midland; Dr. Angela Brown; Estefana Galindo, Monahans; Marley Boyd, Alpine; Dr. David Martin; Jason Leyva, Alpine. (Submitted Photo)





by Steve Lang, News and Publications

Through genetics, Sul Ross State University researchers hope to develop a type of beef cattle more compatible for West Texas grasslands.

In short, the researchers seek to develop a smaller, healthier cow, better suited to grazing.

"A larger cow takes more feed," said Dr. Bonnie Warnock, associate professor of Natural Resource Management,. "This research seeks to decrease the overall body size...and develop a cow that really does well on grassland forage without a lot of supplements.

"We are looking for an animal that will gain well and do well on forage rather than in a feedlot situation."

Warnock and Dr. Scott Ericsson, professor of Animal Science, are working on a five-year grant from the Dixon Water Foundation. The $245,000 project will use Hereford bull semen frozen since the 1960’s, donated by the National Animal Germplasm Program, Fort Collins, Colo., to artificially inseminate the Sul Ross cow herd and the Mimms Ranch cow herd.

Thirty cows on the Mimms Ranch and 30 in the Sul Ross herd have been inseminated, with the first crop of calves due in August.

Sul Ross student Annabel Gallegos, El Paso, under Ericsson’s mentoring, is participating in the project as part of the McNair Program. Her research is entitled "Effect of Storage Time on the Viability of Cryopreserved Bovine Spermatozoa."

Justin Boatright, El Paso, is a grant-funded graduate student working on his Master’s thesis involving the main portion of the project.

Ericsson said the research will use high density SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) chips to distinguish allelic (alternative forms of the same gene or group of genes) differences between older Hereford bulls, the Dixon Water Foundation (Mimms Ranch) Mexican bulls and those currently found in the cattle industry.

"Having this information will enable us to explore differences [markers] in factors such as milk production, longevity and carcass merit," he said. "We hope to be able to determine which cattle are suitable for the West Texas range. Based on the data, we can design an animal much better suited for this environment."

Cattle with traditional Hereford genetics were hardy, early maturing and capable of fattening on grazed forage. These cattle had good fertility and were easy calving with excellent mothering-milking qualities. In addition, they were docile, easily managed, and had great longevity. Herefords could efficiently and economically convert grass into beef products without having to grain finish them in order to produce a quality carcass.

The National Animal Germplasm Program has conserved traditional Hereford genetics in the form of frozen semen and has allowed industry and the research community to access the collection of semen from bulls born from the 1960’s to the present.

Two Sul Ross graduates, Dr. Phil Purdy and Scott Spiller, are on the staff, .

Working with the National Animal Germplasm Program will "allow us access and data analysis," Ericsson added, noting that this research puts Sul Ross in a prominent position in re-establishing animals to their former territory.

Research headed by Warnock will include studies of grazing practices.

"Rangelands are much healthier if you have cattle on them, with proper management decisions."

Consumer demand for grass-fed beef has increased, as there is some evidence that grass-fed beef might have some health advantages over grain-fed beef. Grazed forages are generally more economical than harvested or supplemented feeds.

Collectively, the research hopes to combine the best grazing practices with a new-old type of cattle best suited for this area’s rangelands. Successful results could play a major role in reinvigorating the cattle industry.

"In 2011, Texas saw a huge decrease in the number of cattle on rangelands, as the drought caused a major sell-off," Warnock said.

"We are seeking sustainable production and profitablity instead of maximum production."




Sul Ross State University is hosting a night of one-act plays, Thursday, April 18, 7 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, Francois Fine Arts Building.

These plays are student-directed productions as a part of Student Laboratory Productions. Directing students seek to receive feedback about their directing style and experience. The productions are free and open to the public.

Performances are: "Under Control," "Far Away" and "Laundry and Bourbon." After the performances there will be an open discussion where audience members can share their opinions and ideas about each of the shows.

For more information, contact the Fine Arts and Communication office, (432)-837-8218, or visit the website at 




Announcement of the 2013 Man and Woman of the Year will highlight the annual Sul Ross State University Honors Convocation, scheduled Monday, April 22, 7:30 p.m. in Marshall Auditorium.

The convocation, sponsored by the Office of Academic and Student Affairs, is free and open to the public. In addition to the Man and Woman of the Year presentation, departmental awards will be given to outstanding students.

Mitchell Waechter, Devine, and Grace Fox, Killeen, were named the 2012 Sul Ross State University Man and Woman of the Year.

For more information, contact Ana Dragoo, (432)837-8036.




A ribbon cutting/naming ceremony of the newly-acquired Scanning Electron Microscope is among the featured events of Sul Ross State University’s "Science Friday," slated April 26. There is no admission charge and the public is invited.

Other events include Marfa Public Radio (KRTS) "Talk at Ten" discussions by Dr. James Ward, Angelo State University assistant professor of Geology; and Dr. Kevin Urbanczyk, Sul Ross professor of Geology and director of the Rio Grande Research Institute.

From 12:30-2 p.m., the ribbon cutting and naming ceremony of the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) will be held in the Rio Grande Research Center, Warnock Science Building, Room 115. SEM images will be shown and refreshments will be served.

Ward will address "Small(ish) Texas Towns, Fast Horses and the Magnificent Study of Geology" at 7 p.m. in Lawrence Hall, Room 300.

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




On July 15, Kay Whitley will conclude an extremely well-traveled career at Sul Ross State University.

Whitley will conclude 33 years’ service as lecturer, coach – of three different sports – and athletics director, that included miles and miles of Texas and beyond.

"I have tried to calculate how many miles I have driven Sul Ross vehicles over 33 years," she said. "I think half a million is a conservative estimate."

She can add more miles as a Lobo student-athlete, as her Sul Ross connection dates back to 1968, when she enrolled as a freshman. As an undergraduate, she was a member of the first intercollegiate volleyball team at Sul Ross, and played on the 1971 national championship team coached by Paul Pierce. She also competed on the 1972 team, which won the Texas state intercollegiate championship, and placed fifth in the National Association of Girls and Women's Sports tournament.

The Brownfield native received B.S. (1972) and M.S. (1975) degrees in Biology, then enrolled in the doctoral program at New Mexico State University. She was a science teacher and coach at Rochester High School for three years before returning to Sul Ross in 1979 as head women’s basketball and volleyball coach and instructor in Physical Education.

Whitley was named Sul Ross athletics director in 1997, the same year the American Southwest Conference was formed. When she stepped down earlier this year, she was the conference’s longest-tenured athletics director.

"It has been fun," she said. "I have had a lot of enjoyable people to work with. Staff members have helped each other out and people have always been cooperative in doing what they needed to do."

Since joining the Sul Ross faculty, Whitley has coached women’s basketball, volleyball and men’s and women’s tennis. During her 18-season tenure as volleyball coach (1979-1996) her Lady Lobo teams won nine Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles, the last in 1991. In 1979 and 1980, Sul Ross finished eighth and fourth respectively, in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national tournament, and had a total of eight playoff appearances.         

She has also coached the Lobo tennis teams to seven women's conference titles and one men's championship. Two of her players competed in the NAIA individual championships.

Other duties include serving as the university’s compliance officer and senior women’s administrator. She also served on several NCAA Division III committees, including: Student Athlete Reinstatement Infraction Appeals, Strategic Planning and Budget, Working Committee on Membership Issues and chair of the Practice and Playing Season sub-committee.

She has taught a wide variety of courses in biology, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and sports science, as well as driver’s education and Red Cross swimming and life-guarding classes.

"If you had asked me as a high school senior what I planned to do, I really and truly thought I would just be a science teacher," Whitley said, noting that Sul Ross did not offer women’s intercollegiate sports when she first enrolled.

"As far as athletics, I would never have thought I would have been as involved as I have."

Retirement may re-kindle her interest in biology, as she spent a number of summers as a naturalist at Davis Mountains State Park. Her Sul Ross mentor was the late Dr. Barton Warnock.

"I may also stay involved with Sul Ross as an adjunct faculty member, to help with compliance and I hope to remain as tennis coach for another year."

She also plans to travel and spend more time with family members, including her mother, Lois Harvell,Andrews; sisters Lynda Brown, Andrews; Carolyn Hillis, Midland; Regina Isbel, Post; Kara Hale, Brownfield; step-sisters Shirley Gutierrez, Seagraves; and Cathy Purcell, Fort Worth; and step-brothers David Hale, Houston; and Rusty Hale, Midland.

"I am grateful to Dr. Chet Sample for the opportunity to be involved in intercollegiate coaching," she said. "I also thank Presidents [R. Vic] Morgan and [Ricardo] Maestas for the privilege to have served as an administrator."




GED testing will be offered at Sul Ross State University Thursday and Friday, April 25-26.

Testing begins at 8 a.m. each day in the Morgan University Center, Room 211B. Pre-registration is required a week in advance. To pre-register, call Career Services and Testing, (432) 837-8357 or 837-8178.

GED tests are administered the fourth Thursday and Friday of each month excepting December. Future testing dates are: May 30-31; June 27-28; July 25-26; Aug. 29-30; Sept. 26-27; Oct. 24-25; Nov. 21-22.

This the final year for the current test battery. Persons who need to pass an individual test or tests to receive their diplomas have until Dec. 31, 2013 to complete the testing. Otherwise, all five tests must be taken beginning January 2014.

Also in January 2014, the GED test will change from paper-based to computer-based testing format.

For more information, call (432) 837-8357 or 837-8178.




"Esencia Floral," a graduate art exhibition by Olivia Gallegos, Ojinaga, Mexico, will be on display through Friday, April 26 at the Main Gallery, Francois Fine Arts Building at Sul Ross State University.

A closing reception will be held from 5-7 p.m. Friday, April 26 at the Gallery. There is no admission charge and the public is invited.

Gallegos, who will graduate in May with a Master’s degree in Art, presents a series of oil paintings that trace specific childhood memories. She refers to "esencia floral" as the essence of life. She has exhibited paintings in the annual Artwalk, Sul Ross Fine Arts Gallery and shops around the tri-county. She has had a solo undergraduate exhibition Memorias, at the Fine Arts Gallery and some of her paintings were featured in the Pueblo Unido Latino Festival in 2009.





Jim Senneff’s April 30 retirement from Sul Ross State University marks the second time around.

Senneff, a collections supervisor in the Center for Enrollment Services, will conclude 15 years’ service at Sul Ross – after his first retirement.

"Maybe I’ll get it right this time," he laughed.

Senneff and his wife, Charlotte, moved to Alpine in early 1995 after his retirement from Union Texas Petroleum Corp. in December 1994. He spent 27 years in the private sector, the first four with Allied Chemical Corp. (The former parent company of Union Texas Petroleum) and the last 23 with the Union Texas Petroleum in Houston.

"When we took trips [throughout Texas], we looked around to see where would be a neat place to retire," he said.

While camping at Balmorhea State Park, the couple drove into Fort Davis to find a laundromat. During their visit, they were encouraged to visit Alpine.

"After 20 minutes [in Alpine], we decided to quit looking," Senneff said. "Alpine was like coming home. I grew up in a town this size in Pennsylvania and Charlotte grew up in a small town in Virginia. Everything in Alpine paralleled my home town."

The Senneffs purchased land in Double Diamond, where they constructed a log home. They joined First United Methodist Church, where Jim served as chairman of the Finance Committee. Fellow member Bill Peters, then the Sul Ross controller, urged Senneff to apply for a vacant position in Financial Assistance.

Senneff was first hired to direct the Perkins Loan Program. He later was in charge of short-term loans, served as loan coordinator and was transferred to the Office of the Controller, where he was in charge of student receivable collections and third party billings.

"What impressed me most about Sul Ross...was the emphasis on a student-centered campus," he said. "This was the first educational institution I had ever seen where the emphasis was on providing service to the students. The students made the university what it is.

"Over the years I have been here, I have never met a single, solitary person I didn’t like," Senneff said. "People have helped me along and I have tried to return the favor. Probably the most enjoyable part is when you are able to make a difference in the life of a student who really needs help."

Senneff grew up in Downingtown, Pa. and attended Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University) in Philadelphia, graduating with a B.S. in Business. A member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served 10 years, rising to the rank of captain. Upon his discharge, he joined Allied Chemical Co., working 27 years until his retirement. While in Houston with Union Texas Petroleum, he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Houston.

The Senneffs are the parents of two sons, John (wife Jo-Anne) and James, Jr. (wife Angie), both of Houston, and two grandsons, Phillip and Kyle.

During retirement, Senneff intends to stay busy around his house and also will be active in the Gallery on the Square, where Charlotte exhibits her paintings.




Sul Ross honors Special Olympians

The Sul Ross State University Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Lobo baseball team honored Alpine ISD  Special Olympics team members prior to Friday evening’s (April 12) American Southwest Conference baseball game vs. Howard Payne at Kokernot Field. SAAC member Cody Lecroy, Needville, presented baseballs autographed by team members. The Special Olympians met the Lobo players and were introduced to the crowd. The following day, the Special Olympians competed at the Area Games at Odessa’s Ratliff Stadium.  Pictured are (front row, from left): David Wright III, Abby Clayton, Dominique Gonzales, Seth Portillo, Sawyer Jackson, Martin Zapata.  Back Row: Lecroy, Salvador Hernandez, Nick Zapata, Cristi Upshaw, Shiloh Savas. (Photo by Thalia Aparicio)