Latest News from Sul Ross October 25, 2013

    by Steve Lang, News and Publications

    By the time she became the first female African American Texas Ranger, Christine Nix was accustomed to breaking barriers.
    She used faith, a soft voice and a keen sense of humor to accomplish her goals and combat adversity.
    Nix, now an assistant professor and program coordinator of Criminal Justice at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belton, traced her life journey Monday evening (Oct. 21) at Sul Ross State University. She addressed “Multifaceted Life Missions: Faith, Military, Law Enforcement, Family,” as this year’s lecturer of the John B. Poindexter Speakers Series. The series, sponsored by the College of Professional Studies, highlights outstanding individuals who have been successful in their respective professions.    
    Nix spent 25 years in law enforcement (1979-2004), as a central Texas police officer and later with the Texas Department of Public Safety, including more than 10 years as a Texas Ranger. A year after her retirement, she began her academic career as an instructor in Criminal Justice at UMHB.
    In addition to fighting discrimination and crime, Nix has also fought for her life as a three-time breast cancer survivor.
    “Faith is really important to me,” she said. “Faith has made a difference in what I have done with my life.”
    As the daughter in a military family, she was born in South Carolina and moved often. The family settled in Abilene when Nix was a teenager. She attended Hardin-Simmons University, where she joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) snd received a B.S. degree and a commission as a U.S. Army Reserve second lieutenant. Nix attained the rank of major with 20 years of reserve military service.
    Two years after graduation from college, she was working at an auto parts store in Temple.
    “I messed up the books so bad they had to bring a lady out of retirement,” she laughed. “I could see my future was not in accounting.”
    She learned the Temple Police Department was recruiting women, so she applied, was accepted, “and I found I liked it.”
    Her diminutive stature, youthful appearance and soft voice did result in some awkward moments, she recalled.
    “When I showed up at the door of a couple of little old ladies, they looked at me, closed the door, called the chief (of police) and asked, ‘do you not have a grown-up you can send out?’”
    After two years as a Temple patrol officer, she went on active Army duty at Fort Rucker, Ala. Returning to Texas, she applied to the Department of Public Safety, weathered the rigors of academy training and after graduation, worked in the driver’s license office in Houston.
    She sustained a broken nose, broken foot and broken rib during her academy training, “and I was wheezing,” she said, but deflected the experience with humor.
    “I really enjoyed the academy and you, too, can be a DPS candidate,” she smiled, referring to criminal justice students in the audience.
    As a driver’s license officer, “I learned to do driver’s tests in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, German and Russian,” and once told a driving student to chase a speeding vehicle. “I said, ‘if you catch him, you pass the test.’”
    Nix later spent five and a half years as a DPS recruiter, resisting invitations to apply for the Texas Rangers. She decided to become a polygrapher instead.
    “I told God this was what I was going to do,” she said, “and if you don’t think God has a sense of humor, just tell him what you are going to do.”
    In 1994, a year after the Rangers started hiring women, Nix joined the force. For the next 10 years, until her retirement, she investigated murders, rapes, white collar crime and political corruption. She used hypnosis as part of her investigative techniques, and jokingly told her children she had psychic powers.
    Her son, she recalled, casually mentioned to his teacher that his mom was a “psycho,” which prompted a call from the school psychologist.
    “He meant ‘psychic,’” Nix recalled, but added, “he also told the psychologist, ‘my mom plays with dead bodies all the time.’”
    “My children got to do a lot of interesting things (as a result of her work),” she added. “They went along to dig up an old gravesite once.”
    She also cautioned that children can exact their revenge, especially in keeping their mother on task.
    “I have been working on my doctorate for over 10 years now, and my daughter, who is also a graduate student, has become my dissertation project manager. I have not been to a movie in the last five years.”
    Expected completion – from San Houston State University – is about a month away.
    Throughout her varied roles, including an educator, Nix has maintained her faith and sense of humor.
    “Clint Eastwood (in a movie role) said, ‘a man’s got to know his limitations.’ I knew my limitations, and as a police officer, I couldn’t run very far, but I warned, ‘if I break a nail or mess up my hair, someone’s going to jail.’”
    She summarized her life experiences as “really a fun ride and I have enjoyed it....I have had a really blessed life.”

    A poster by Sul Ross State University student Jim Wyche, Midland, has been selected for presentation at the annual American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) national conference, scheduled Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Denver, Col.
    Wyche, who is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma, will present “(Antilocapra americana) in the Marathon Basin, Texas.” Wyche, a McNair Program Scholar, presented his undergraduate research, “Utilization of Fence Modifications by Pronghorn in the Marathon Basin, Texas” at the sixth annual McNair-Tafoya Symposium Oct. 23 at Sul Ross.
    The AISES National Conference is a one-of-a-kind, three day event convening graduate, undergraduate , and high school junior and senior students, teachers, workforce professionals, corporate and government partners and all members of the “AISES family”.The national conference has become the premier event for Native American Science, Engineering & Math (STEM) professionals and students, attracting over 1,600 attendees form across the country.
    Wyche is the second Sul Ross student to present at the AISES national conference. David Price Rumbelow, Van, also a member of the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma, made a poster presentation two years ago in Minneapolis, Minn. Rumbelow is presently pursuing a Master’s degree in Natural Resource Management at Sul Ross.

McNair-Tafoya Symposium presenters

Sul Ross State University students presented undergraduate research through oral and poster presentations at the sixth annual McNair-Tafoya Symposium Wednesday (Oct. 23). Oral presenters were (top photo, from left): Jim Wyche, Midland; Robert LeBlanc, Fort Davis; Kaylee Kocian, Florence; Matthew Hall, Era; and Jose Etchart, El Paso. The annual symposium recognizes excellence in undergraduate research across the campus. Oral presentations were selected by the faculty symposium committee who juried the papers for presentation. A total of 15 poster presentations (bottom photo) were displayed at the symposium. (Photos by Steve Lang)

    Noted Western artist Mike Capron will conduct an en plein air (“in the open air”) painting class Friday-Sunday, Nov. 1-3 at the Museum of the Big Bend, Sul Ross State University.
    Capron will give a gallery talk at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 at the Museum, discussing Western illustrator Frederic Remington, whose works are currently on exhibition. Classes will be held at Kokernot Lodge on Saturday, Nov. 2, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Lunch on your own from noon-1 p.m.) and Sunday, Nov. 3, 9 a.m.-noon. Cost is $150 per student, with students responsible for their art supplies. Enrollment is limited to 20 students. To register, contact Noemi Acosta, (432) 837-8345 or email
    Capron’s works have been exhibited in Trappings of Texas for 26 years, along with other museums across the Southwest, and in private collections, book illustrations and other mediums.
    Kokernot Lodge is the site of the summer Art Colony, held in the 1930s. Sstudents are encouraged to the learn the techniques and skills in creating works in nature. Both oil and watercolorists at all levels are encouraged to attend.
    En plein air is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. Artists have long painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century, working in natural light became particularly important to the Barbizon school and Impressionism. Popularity increased in the 1870s with the introduction of paints in tubes.

    The Sul Ross State University Theatre Program presents “Assassins,” written by John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim, Friday-Sunday, Nov. 15-17 and 22-24.
    Curtain times are 8:15 p.m. Firday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Studio Theatre, Francois Fine Arts Building. “Assassins,” directed by Dona W. Roman with musical direction by Donald Callen Freed and Lana Potts, has been called "dark, demented humor, as horrifying as it is hilarious," by Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press.     Evoking a fraternity of political assassins and would-be assassins across a hundred years of our history, Sondheim and Weidman daringly examine success, failure and the questionable drive for power and celebrity in American society.
    Weidman and Sondheim have created a cast of characters that are very human and relatable about nine successful and would-be assassins of US presidents. “Assassins” includes some of Sondheim’s tightest and most deft lyrics incorporating classic American music.
    Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for seniors and children.  “Assassins” contains strong language, so parental discretion is advised.  Tickets are on sale now through of by calling (432) 837-8218.  The Sul Ross Theatre Program production of “Assassins” is a featured location of Alpine's 20th ArtWalk.

    Potential students and their families will have the chance to explore academic opportunities and campus life.during Sully’s Showcase, scheduled Saturday, Nov. 16 at Sul Ross State University.                        Sully’s Showcase will be held from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and is free of charge. Prospective students will receive free T-shirts and may register for the chance to win a $1,000 scholarship. Online registration and more information may be found at:
    “We are excited abut the opportunity to showcase our academic programs and our beautiful campus,” said MaryBeth Marks, assistant vice president for Enrollment Management. “We have a small, private university feel, but at a very affordable, public university price.”
    Prospective students and their families can learn about major requirements, degree programs, sponsored activities and course offerings. Information on admissions, financial aid, housing and student activities will be provided. Students and faculty will be available to discuss programs and research as well.
    “Sul Ross is among the lowest in the state in tuition and fees, and is a safe and secure campus with modern living facilities, fun student organizations and many outdoor activities to enjoy,” Marks said. “ Sul Ross faculty take pride in preparing students for their future careers by providing hands-on learning and state of the art technology in our classrooms.”         
    For more information, contact Shannon Stockbridge, assistant director of admissions, or (432) 837-8053.

               “The Devil’s Swing (El Columpio Del Diabo),” a film documenting the rich history and culture of La Junta de los Rios, will be shown at the 20th annual Center for Big Bend Studies (CBBS) conference. The conference, scheduled Friday-Saturday, Nov. 8-9, will be held at Sul Ross State University.
               The annual conference will feature over 20 presenters who will speak on the history, archaeology, and culture of the Big Bend and northern Mexico. Registration begins at 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8; the director’s welcome is at 2 p.m. and sessions begin at 2:15 p.m. On Saturday, registration begins at 8 a.m. and sessions start at 8:30 a.m. The conference ends late Saturday afternoon.
               Directed by Alan Govenar, “The Devil’s Swing,” produced in 2005, will be shown Friday evening, Nov. 8 in the Espino Conference Center, Morgan University Center, following the main banquet. The film depicts the area centered around Presidio, Texas and Ojinaga, Mexico, where people in the film say the devil has mounted a swing. From there, he can affect everything, revealing himself through seemingly unrelated worlds – sacred rituals, corridos, drug lords, Pancho Villa and the tragic killing of a 19-year-old boy.
               Cost of the conference is $35 for CBBS members, $40 for non-members, increasing to $40 and $45, respectively, after Nov. 1. Cost to attend the banquet is $30 for members and $33 for non-members, increasing to $35 and $37, respectively, after Nov. 1. Membership rates to the Center for Big Bend Studies are $35 for an individual, $50 for a family, and $50 for an institution.
               A reception will be held Friday, Nov. 8, 5:15-6:30 p.m. for all conference attendees, participants, and board members. Continuing professional education credits are available through the Texas Archeological Society for Texas teachers attending the conference. All Sul Ross faculty, staff, and students can attend the conference free of charge.
              For more information, call (432) 837-8179 or email