Latest News from Sul Ross April 30, 2013


by Steve Lang, News and Publications

During her years at Sul Ross State University, Angela Greenroy has gained extensive writing experience in genres from short stories to hard news.

After graduation on May 11, she seeks to expand her creativity in the Master of Fine Arts creative writing program at Oklahoma State University. Greenroy, a two-time participant in Sul Ross’ McNair Scholars Program, was recently awarded a full scholarship to OSU.

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is designed to encourage first generation, low-income students and minority undergraduates to consider careers in college teaching as well as prepare for doctoral study. Students who participate in the program are provided with research opportunities and faculty mentors.

Named in honor of the astronaut who died in the 1986 space-shuttle explosion, the program was established at Sul Ross in November 2007. It is funded through the Department of Education’s TRIO programs.

She learned about the McNair Program during her freshman year, when director Mary Bennett made a presentation in an orientation class taught by Gregory Schwab.

"It piqued my interest and I applied," Greenroy said. Her first project, "The Mystery of Invention: What Writers Revealed About the Craft of Creation," was mentored by Dr. Laura Payne Butler. Greenroy presented her research at the OSU Scholar Research Conference in February, which led to her eventual scholarship acceptance.

"With Dr. Butler, I learned how one can mirror other writers," she said.

This year, Greenroy is researching dystopian literature, which focuses on societies characterized by mass poverty, squalor, suffering, or oppression. One prominent author is Suzanne Collins, who wrote "The Hunger Games."

Her topic is "Contemporary Dystopian American Literature by Women Authors." Dr. Sharon Hileman, professor of English, is her mentor.

"I am studying female characters and how they react to the odious political and social events going on," Greenroy said. She noted that few books on the subject were written between the mid-1980s and 2008, when Collins’ novel was published.

"Now, I can’t keep up trying to read all the books that have come out," she said. "‘The Hunger Games’ opened the door from the aspect of the writer. I am looking at the literature to see what the authors are trying to tell us."

From her own research and writing, "I just want people to think, to consider our actions and identify where people are coming from."

Hileman said, "Angela is an ideal student for this type of project because she is so self-motivated. She has excellent research skills and instincts, which enable her to follow up on promising leads to additional material. Most importantly, she continues to reflect on her topic, modifying her focus, her scope, and her thesis as she delves more deeply into the topic."

Greenroy in turn praised her mentors, adding, "I don’t think you can beat our faculty," and she also gives the McNair Program high marks.

"It’s an awesome experience. I didn’t feel like I was researching so much as I was connecting with writers," she said. "The program in itself, the mentors and the experience with research has all helped me take my (research) papers from basic to highest levels."

While at Sul Ross, Greenroy, a non-traditional student, has been active in two honor societies, Sigma Tau Delta and Alpha Chi; the Photography Club; the Skyline Club; the McNair Program; and for the past academic year, as editor of The Skyline student news magazine. She shared this year’s Outstanding English Student award with fellow McNair participant Phyllis Dunham. She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average while she and her husband, Jonathan, are raising five children, aged 8-17.

"He’s (Jonathan) the reason I’m a 4.0 student," she said. "He cooks, cleans and helps take care of the kids. I’m a mom first and a student second."

As an English major with a creative writing emphasis, Greenroy has moved from her "comfort zone" of fiction to non-fiction venues, including a class in environmental writing with Dr. Barney Nelson and news and editorial writing for The Skyline.

"Dr. Nelson has pushed me into non-fiction; she doesn’t let you stay in your comfort zone, so you come out different than the way you started," Greenroy said.

She said her classwork, McNair research and Skyline writing "have made me what I am (as a writer). There is a lot of different content that I may be able to use later.

"I believe there is a lot of non-fiction in fiction and a lot of fiction in non-fiction."

Greenroy, who will begin her graduate studies in mid-August, hopes to both teach at the college level and find publishing outlets for her creative work.

"I’m excited about the move and the new challenges," she said.




The Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross State University was recently featured on an Austin TV segment.

"We Are Austin," a Sunday morning weekly show, highlighted the museum during its "Road Trippin’" segment. The program is aired on the Austin CBS affiliate, KEYE-TV.

To view the segment, click on the following link:




by Steve Lang, News and Publications

Laura Villasenor calls her McNair Scholars Program and legislative internship pivotal as she prepares for the next phase of her academic career.

Villasenor, El Paso, who will graduate with honors May 11 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, has received a full scholarship to a master’s program at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. She was offered a scholarship during her participation in the OSU Scholar Research Conference in February.

"(Faculty members) saw my poster and asked for a copy of my research paper," she said. "They called me a few hours later to come to the office and they had an offer for me."

Villasenor, who admitted she was "a little hesistant at first," met with faculty members, visited a class, and "felt right at home right away. They made me feel wanted."

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is designed to encourage first generation, low-income students and minority undergraduates to consider careers in college teaching as well as prepare for doctoral study. Students who participate in the program are provided with research opportunities and faculty mentors.

Named in honor of the astronaut who died in the 1986 space-shuttle explosion, the program was established at Sul Ross in November 2007. It is funded through the Department of Education’s TRIO programs.

Villasenor called herself a reluctant McNair participant, but once engaged, "I loved it. I would not change anything....Once I got into it, it was the greatest thing I’ve done."

Mentored by Dr. Amy Moreland, assistant professor of Political Science,Villasenor presented her research, "Maternity Leave and Pregnancy Discrimination Laws: An Analysis of Political, Economic, and Cultural Factors," at both Oklahoma State (Feb. 20-22) and New Orleans, La. (March 27-30, Southwest Social Science Association Conference).

Her research examined international differences in women's rights related to pregnancy. For this project, she collected data about maternity leave policy and pregnancy anti-discrimination laws in 190 countries around the world.

"While much of the existing research concludes that maternity rights are shaped primarily by economic factors, Laura’s groundbreaking research concluded that the presence of women in government and religious differences significantly affect women's maternity rights," Moreland said.

"As the mentor for her McNair project, I am very proud of the work Laura has done," Moreland said. "Her extraordinary dedication, perseverance, and perspective in the field of gender politics have inspired me significantly, and her research has been very well received by other scholars in the field. I am so glad she had the opportunity to complete a McNair project, as it has helped her to develop a research agenda that she can continue to pursue in graduate school."

Villasenor in turn praised McNair Program director Mary Bennett and Moreland.

"Mary and Dr. Moreland have been two blessings," she said. "Mary is very motivating and gives me inspiration to continue. Dr. Moreland wants to lead me in the right path. She makes me want to learn more about political science and she made me go outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself."

Her long-term goals are to receive a Master’s degree, then a Ph.D. in international politics and to work in Latin America for women’s rights. In addition to her coursework and McNair research, Villasenor has also gained legislative experience as an intern for former Texas State Rep. and now Congressman Pete Gallego, himself a Sul Ross graduate.

"I worked with a number of government offices and that’s hands-on political science," she said.

And, after a rocky start, Villasenor has savored her Sul Ross experience.

"After my third day of school, I called my parents and asked them to come and get me," said the 2009 Del Valle High School graduate. "They encouraged me to stay, at least for the semester."

Villasenor transferred to the University of Texas El Paso during Spring 2010, but quickly decided Sul Ross was a better fit and transferred back a semester later.

"Here, I feel like part of the family," she said.





"The Speed of Darkness," written by Steve Tesich, will be the final offering of the 2012-2013 Sul Ross State University theatre season, Thursday-Saturday, May 2-4.  

Performances begin at 7 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, Francois Fine Arts Building.  An after-show talk-back session will be held after each performance. Admission is free.

Directed by theatre student, Joseph Rosco, Beaumont, "The Speed of Darkness"  tells the story of two Vietnam War buddies who have reunited in South Dakota 15 years after the end of the war.

Joe, played by Joseph Matthew Hardison, is a successful businessman, husband to his wife Anne, played by Elizabeth Watson, and father to his daughter Mary, played by Sylvia Samayoa. The other vet is a homeless philosopher, Lou, played by Andrew Ross.

Rosco's direction of this show will be presented as a student laboratory production

For more information, please contact the Fine Arts and Communication Office at (432)-837-8218 or online at




Sul Ross State University faculty member Dr. Chris Estepp will receive a prestigious award for his journal article during the 2013 conference of the National Association of College Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA).

Estepp’s article, "An Experiential Learning Model of Faculty Development to Improve Teaching," published in the NACTA Journal 56(1):79-86 was selected by the NACTA Journal Awards Committee for the 2013 E. B. Knight Journal Award. The award will be presented at the annual banquet to be held Friday, June 28 at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Va. 

Knight was a Tennessee Tech University professor of agriculture from 1949-1964. He was also a charter member of the NACTA, serving as its inaugural president in 1955 and journal editor from 1958-1960.

In addition, an abstract by Estepp and Dr. Byron Housewright, and Mary Bennett, director of the McNair Program, has been accepted for presentation at the conference. Estepp and Housewright, assistant professors of Animal Science, and Bennett will deliver an oral presentation, "The Development of Best Practices in Mentoring Undergraduate Research," at the annual conference, scheduled June 25-29.

For more information, contact Estepp, (432) 837-8210 or The link to Estepp’s paper is




Sul Ross State University ranks in the top 25 affordable online colleges in Texas, according to

In conjunction with partner website, analyzed data including student-to-teacher ratio, in-state and out-of-state tuition, campus setting and program breadth. Sul Ross ranked eighth on the most affordable list, which can be found at

"Online education remains on the rise in Texas, with colleges of all types incorporating distance learning into their curricula," said Wes Ricketts, Vice President and General Manager of "We wanted to showcase the wide range of Texas schools helping students earn their degrees remotely." is a non-profit organization that builds free, open source tools with the goal of increasing accessibility to education and information through the use of new technologies. strives to provide Texans with information about alternative post-secondary educational options, as well as information and advice regarding career choices in the state.




The Zeta Delta Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi at Sul Ross State University will hold the spring initiation ceremony for qualifying undergraduate and graduate students on Friday, May 10.

Induction ceremonies begin, at 7 p.m. in Espino B, Morgan University Center. Friends and family of the new members are invited to attend, along with the Education faculty, to recognize the outstanding academic accomplishments of these students.

Dr. Jeanne Qvarnstrom, Zeta Delta Chapter counselor, and Delaney Lattimer, Alpine, Chapter president, will lead the ceremony honoring the new members. Graduating seniors also will be awarded Kappa Delta Honor Cords during the event.

The Society inducts only those individuals who have exhibited the ideals of scholarship, integrity in service, and commitment to excellence in teaching and its allied professions. Selection as a member of Kappa Delta Pi is based on high academic achievement, a commitment to education as a career, and a professional attitude that assures steady growth in the profession.

Founded in 1911 at the University of Illinois, Kappa Delta Pi is the largest honor society in education, representing 582 undergraduate and professional chapters and more than 45,000 active members. Its most distinguished members over the last century have included Margaret Mead, Albert Einstein, George Washington Carver, and current leaders in education Howard Gardner, Maxine Greene, and Carol Gilligan.

For more information, contact Qvarnstrom, (432) 837-8395.




Thursday, May 2 is the date for the annual Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and Sul Ross State University spring workshop for school trustees and administrators. The program will be held in the Espino Conference Center of the Morgan University Center.

Registration begins at 4 p.m. At 4:30, Dr. Quint Thurman, Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, will welcome the participants. Then the first session, "Legislative Update," will be provided by James Crow, TASB executive director.

Dinner will be served at 5:45, followed by the second general session, "Test Your Knowledge: Hiring and Firing Facts," will be presented by April Mabry, assistant director for TASB Human Resource Services.

In the closing session, David Koempel, senior consultant for TASB Leadership Team Services will provide "Oversight or Overstepping? How Will We Know the Difference?"

Workshop coordinators are Debbie Farnum and Ernesto Martinez, TASB, and Dr. Kip Sullivan, Sul Ross State University. Further information is available at (432) 837-8394 and




John F. "Jeff" Fort III, retired Chief Executive Officer of Tyco International, will deliver the commencement address at Sul Ross State University-Alpine Campus graduation ceremonies Saturday, May 11.

Spring commencement exercises will be held at 10 a.m. in the Pete P. Gallego Center.

Rio Grande College ceremonies will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the International Center for Trade, Eagle Pass. Dr Hector Gonzales, President-elect of Southwest Texas Junior College, will be the featured speaker.

Fort oversaw the massive growth of Tyco International, then returned from retirement to guide the company through a time of turmoil, helping to restore both its credibility and financial stability.

Fort, who began an illustrious business career as a part-time production control clerk while attending graduate school, rose to serve as President, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Tyco International. During his tenure, the company grew internally and by acquisition from sales of $250 million to $3.5 billion. Upon his retirement in 1993, international sales had increased from 10 percent to 50 percent.

Fort graduated from the Landon School (1959), Bethesda, Md., then received a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering (1963) from Princeton University. While attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received an M.S. in Industrial Management (1966), he served as production control clerk for Simplex Wire and Cable Co., Cambridge, Mass.

He was promoted to program manager, manager of production control, manager of operations research and finally to vice president and general manager during an eight-year period (1966-1974). As vice president and general manager, division sales doubled, to $12 million, under Fort’s leadership.

Simplex was purchased by Tyco International in 1974, and for the next six years, Fort served as President of Simplex Wire and Cable Co., a Tyco subsidiary. Simplex sales rose from $12 million to $100 million. He was named Tyco International’s Senior Vice President of Operations in 1980, and in 1982, was elevated to President, Chairman of the Board and CEO.

In retirement, Fort served as a Tyco International Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee until 2002. He returned at the Board’s request to serve as interim CEO. He guided the company through a time of turmoil, recruited new leadership and stabilized the company’s financial situation, then retired again in 2004.

Fort continues to serve as Chairman of the Compensation Committee for Roper Industries – New York Stock Exchange, Sarasota, Fla; and on the Board of Visitors for the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. He previously served on the boards of numerous public companies around the world.

A Houston resident, he enjoys ranching and horse breeding, amateur archeology, ancient to contemporary art, mountaineering, hiking and skiing.




Cottle lecturer

Dr. Robert McLean, University Distinguished Professor of Microbiology, Texas State University-San Marcos, delivered  the 19th  H. J. Cottle Lecture Friday (April 26) at Sul Ross State University.McLean discussed “The Importance of Surface-Adherent Bacteria on Earth and in Space,” noting the importance and impact of surface-adherent bacteria, those bacteria that create biofilms capable of sustaining life in varied habitats, both on earth and possibly in other environments. (Photo by Steve Lang)