Latest News from Sul Ross August 16, 2013

    by Steve Lang, News and Publications

    Through persistence and a recent energy surge, Dr. Mark Saka turned his extensive research on peasant rebellions in northeast Mexico into a book.
    Saka’s work, “For God and Revolution: Priest, Peasant and Agrarian Socialism in the Mexican Huasteca,” has been published by the University of New Mexico Press. The 210-page book will be available in hard copy and electronic version Sept. 1. Saka, a professor of History at Sul Ross State University, has been a faculty member since 1995.
    His book traces the history of peasant rebellions in the 19th century, particularly in the Huasteca region of northeast Mexico. “For God and Revolution” tells the story of peasants in the state of San Luis Potosi, who, with encouragement from a priest, revolted against landowners in the 1800s.
    “The book discusses both material and ideological origins of the rebellions, which took place from 1810-1884,” Saka said. “They parallel the 19th century political and social unrest in Mexico and also foreshadow the 1910 Mexican Revolution.”
    Saka’s idea for a book stemmed  from research compiled for his doctoral dissertation, dealing with Mexican peasant nationalism and agrarian revolt. He started writing a number of years ago, then shelved the project.

Dr. Mark Saka, Sul Ross State University professor of History, reviews research for his recently-published book. "For God and Revolution: Priest, Peasant and Agrarian Socialism in the Mexican Huasteca," will be released Sept. 1 by the University of New Mexico Press. (Photo by Steve Lang)

    “I got my second wind about three years ago,” he said. “I had put it (project) away for a number of years because I got very busy teaching and raising a family.
    “But I never gave up,” he said, adding that he approached the University of New Mexico Press after being rejected by two other publishers.
    He spent roughly 18 months compiling research and another 18 months writing, including re-writes during the summers of 2011 and 2012. His book was formally accepted by UNM Press during the spring of 2012 and Saka  made all the final revisions the following summer.
    Saka calls his book “a true labor of love. I did this for the Indians who were killed in the rebellion. Their story needed to be told.
    “I fell in love with the story,” he added, which chronicles the struggles of the Indians, who rebelled against social and racial oppression, and the Catholic priest who helped organize the rebellion. Many of the Indians were killed, and the priest was ultimately exiled.
    He said the book should serve as a supplement to modern Mexican history texts.
    Saka received a B.S. in Political Science (1986); M.A. in Mexican History (1990); and Ph.D. in Latin American History (1995), all from the University of Houston. He was a Fulbright-Hays Fellow and conducted research in Mexico in 1992-93.
    He received the Outstanding Teaching Award from Sul Ross in 1999.
    For more information, contact Saka, (432) 837-8304 or

    Fall semester classes will begin Wednesday, Aug. 28 at Sul Ross State University.
    Residence halls will open Saturday, Aug. 24 at 9 a.m.. Late Orientation Days for new and transfer students will be held Saturday-Tuesday, Aug. 24-27.
    Sul Ross will host the annual New Student Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 25, 7:15 p.m. in Marshall Auditorium.
     A faculty meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 26 in Marshall Auditorium, with school and departmental meetings to follow at 10:30.
    Tuesday, Aug. 27 is the last day for regular registration and also the last day for students to register in Education block courses. Aug. 27 is also the last registration day for new incoming freshmen and transfer students. New students who have not previously registered for fall classes should go online to the Sul Ross website under Orientation and fill out this form:
    Classes, late registration and schedule changes begin Wednesday, Aug. 28. Weekend Format classes begin Saturday, Aug. 31    
    Monday, Sept. 2 is the Labor Day holiday, with no classes scheduled and offices closed. Tuesday, Sept. 3 is the last day for late registration and schedule changes.
    Thursday, Sept. 12 is the 12th class day.
    Friday, Sept. 20 is the final day for students enrolled in Education block courses to drop a course and receive a “W.”
    Monday, Sept. 23 is the deadline for applying to student teach during Spring 2014 semester.
    A University as Community Meal on the Mall will be served on Monday, Sept. 30.
    Tuesday, Oct. 15 is mid-semester.
    Friday, Nov. 15 is the last day to withdraw from the university or drop a course with a “W.” Drops must be processed with Enrollment Services by 4  p.m
    Thanksgiving holidays will be observed Wednesday-Sunday, Nov. 27-Dec. 1. Holidays begin after the last scheduled class on Tuesday, Nov. 26. Residence halls will close at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27 and re-open at noon Sunday, Dec. 1.
     Wednesday, Dec. 4 is the final class day. Final examinations will be held Monday-Thursday, Dec. 9-12.
       Fall commencement exercises will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14 in the Pete P. Gallego Center.

    Park Cities Quail (PCQ) of the Dallas area has awarded $25,000 to the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University for quail research.
    The funds will be used for the BRI’s Desert Quail Program. Dr. Ryan Luna, assistant professor of Natural Resource Management, said the grant will be used in several capacities.
    “We are studying nest site selection and nest success on three different ranches,” he said. “We are also looking at clutch sizes and how they might change with environmental conditions; as well as identifying species predating on quail nests, and determining if there are any correlations between nest sites where predation occurs.”
    In addition, Luna said research funds will be used to compare nesting sites, food sources and habitat use by Gambel’s and Blue Scaled quail. Studies on habitat use with and without spiking (use of herbicides to control invasive vegetation) will also be conducted.
    Park Cities Quail is a non-profit organization directed by Dallas area volunteers. In the past seven years, the group has raised and donated nearly $3.4 million for quail research and youth education. PCQ is a charter chapter of the Texas Quail Coalition, a statewide organization of 13 chapters and over 4,000 members.
    “The Texas Quail Coalition has emerged as a very strong leader in quail conservation and research,” said Dr. Louis Harveson, BRI director and professor of Natural Resource Management. “The Cross Timbers Chapter and the San Antonio Chapter have also donated $5,000 each to this effort.”
    For more information on quail research, contact Luna, (432) 837-8615 or; or Harveson, (432) 837-8488 or

Borderlands Research Institute Advisory Board member, Kelly Thompson (left) of Fort Worth, receives a $25,000 check from Jay Stine of Texas Quail Coalition (center) and Jack Wilson, 2013 Dinner and Auction Event Chairman. (Photo Courtesy Park Cities Quail)


    The 15th annual Sul Ross State University new student convocation will be held Sunday, Aug. 25, 7:15 p.m. in Marshall Auditorium.
    Convocation 2017 welcomes all new Sul Ross students and acquaints them with the history and traditions of Sul Ross.  Among the events will be the traditional passing of the Spirit Stick from a Class of 2016 representative to a representative of the incoming Class of 2017.
    For more information on the convocation, contact Joan Oesper, (432) 837-8432.                                  


    There are limited openings for new students in the Sul Ross State University Piano Academy. Openings for students in grades 1-8 will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Tuesday, Aug. 27.
    Students will attend one afternoon per week, either Tuesday or Thursday, and receive a 30-minute individual piano lesson and a 30-minute group music theory lesson. Fall semester lessons begin Tuesday, Sept. 3 and end Thursday, Dec. 12.
    All lessons are taught by Sul Ross music majors under the direction of Lana Potts, music faculty member. Cost is $25 per week and payment for each month is due at the first lesson of the month.
    Parents wishing to enroll their children in the Piano Academy may come to Potts’ studio, Room 107, Francois Fine Arts Building, between 4 and 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27 or Thursday, Aug. 29. Applications will be completed and payment of $100 is due to cover the first month’s lessons for each child enrolled.
    For more information, contact Potts, (432) 837-8222 or

    Sul Ross State University recently hosted a week-long series of professional development workshops highlighting analytical instrumentation, lab methods and undergraduate research and the use of new instrumentation and equipment acquired through the Adelante Tejas project.
    Faculty and key staff participants received over 36 hours of training in an array of scientific analytical methods including scanning electron microscopy, spectrophotometer analysis, and other quantitative methods central to research and study in the physical and natural sciences. Faculty and staff from San Antonio College, Sul Ross’ Adelante Tejas partner, joined their Big Bend colleagues for the week-long workshop.
    Dr. Kevin Urbanczyk, Director of the Rio Grande Research Center and Sul Ross professor of Geology, provided participants with instruction on the fundamentals of how to use the university’s new Scanning Electron Microscope. He then led participants through use of the instrument for imaging and for the identification of the elemental content of particular samples. Urbanczyk was assisted by Rebecca Loos, Sul Ross’ Analytical Lab technician.
    "It was very rewarding to see our efforts coming to fruition,” said Loos. “Even more exciting is that we will be able to host such events in the future with new equipment being acquired through the grant. Students will also receive training which will expand research and mentorship during their time at Sul Ross. These are invaluable experiences, especially for undergraduates!”
    Dr. Chris Ritzi, Sul Ross associate professor of Biology, hopes to use the SEM to identify new species of insects. He  led participants through the preparation of various plant, animal and microbial samples, such as plant tissue, bone cross sections, and even whole specimens of ticks and fossilized snails for viewing with the SEM.
    In addition to attending the laboratory methods sessions, participants learned how to use readily-accessible multimedia and communication tools to develop instructional support materials that can be integrated into curriculum.
    “The workshop on podcasting for supplemental lectures was extremely valuable to me,” said Dr. Jim Case, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  “Aaron Ellis (San Antonio College multimedia specialist) did an excellent job introducing the possibilities that podcasting provides to instructors who want to provide more clarification to their subject matter, but don’t have the classroom time to give the topic. The potential for web course development and enhancement is great, too. I particularly appreciated and enjoyed the time we spent actually filming a podcast. The workshop was great.”
    Ellis said, “The Sul Ross Adelante Tejas staff went above and beyond the call of duty in making both presentations a success. The attendees were attentive, asked excellent questions and had interesting ideas for future collaborative projects.
    “The use of the iPad Minis was greatly appreciated for the hands-on Podcasting presentation activity,” Ellis said. “The iPad Mini was the perfect tool for that activity -- nice video quality, lightweight, and easy for everyone to use.” The iPad Mini’s were acquired early this year through the grant and have also been loaded with specialized apps for a new Introduction to Field Studies course being developed and piloted by Dr. Bonnie Warnock in Natural Resource Management.
    Luncheons throughout the week long series of workshops featured keynote speakers on undergraduate research opportunities in the Big Bend, S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) advising for undergraduate students, academic and professional career planning, and perspectives on undergraduate research.
    “It was a delightful experience to talk with faculty and staff from both San Antonio College and SRSU,” commented Mary Bennett, Director of Sul Ross’ McNair Program. “I am excited about the university’s potential to admit highly motivated transfer students from San Antonio College, and pair them with Sul Ross faculty mentors in order to conduct undergraduate research.”
     Adelante Tejas’ objectives center on improving access to industry standard instrumentation for Sul Ross and San Antonio College students, and providing research-centered opportunities for students and faculty that support retention, persistence and success.  It is fully funded through the Department of Education.
    For more information, contact Leslie Hopper, Adelante Tejas Project Director, (432) 837-8648 or