Latest News from Sul Ross April 11, 2014


    by Richard Bonnin, University of Houston Media Relations
    University of Houston System Chancellor Renu Khator has named Dr. Raymond Victor Morgan, Jr., Interim President of the University of Houston-Victoria, effective April 21. Morgan currently is President Emeritus and professor of mathematics at Sul Ross State University.
    “Dr. Morgan has the right blend of experience, accomplishments and understanding of vital transitional issues such as the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) accreditation process,” Khator said. “He is a proven leader with a strong background in academics and a demonstrated record of achievement in student recruitment and retention and student success. He is the ideal person to serve in this important role. I also wish to thank Wayne Beran, vice president of administration at UH-Victoria, for ably serving as acting president while the search for an interim president was underway.”
    Morgan said, “I am excited and looking forward to the opportunities and challenges of serving UHV and Victoria.”
    Morgan was the 10th President of Sul Ross. The Texas State University System Board of Regents appointed him as President in 1990, making him the first president to come from within the ranks of its faculty. He served 19 years before stepping down in 2009. The Board of Regents passed a resolution renaming the Sul Ross University Center in honor of Morgan and his wife, Mary Jane.
    Morgan then served as special assistant to the vice chancellor and President-designate of the University of North Texas at Dallas from December 2009-August 2010. In that role, he assisted the university and the UNT System with the process of transitioning UNT at Dallas from a branch campus of the University of North Texas to a free-standing master’s level institution.
    His Sul Ross career began in 1975 when he joined the university as an associate professor of mathematics. The following year he was named department chair and was appointed science dean in 1979. Morgan moved to the President’s Office in 1986 to serve as executive assistant to the President, with responsibility for athletics, financial aid, student affairs, enrollment management and institutional image. He served as acting president from Nov. 17, 1989 until his appointment as President in September 1990.
    During his tenure, Sul Ross conducted its first major development campaign, which surpassed the challenge goal by 10 percent; increased endowments from $1 million to $13 million; completed a major construction campaign that led to a new university center and multi-purpose center; established a monthly breakfast for community leaders; implemented a system of shared governance; implemented its first two-way interactive distance learning courses in 1994; and implemented the first administrator evaluation system on campus and extended the system to all non-faculty employees.
    A native of Bangs, Morgan received a B.A. (1964) from Howard Payne University, Brownwood; M.A. (1965) from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn; and Ph.D. (1969) from the University of Missouri, Columbia, all in mathematics. He was an assistant professor of mathematics at Southern Methodist University for six years before moving to Alpine and Sul Ross.
    He has published several articles in mathematics and written one book on the mathematics of agriculture. He has taught mathematics at all university levels and enjoys returning to the classroom when opportunities arise.
    Morgan has been active in professional organizations in mathematics, student affairs and professional administration. His hobbies include motorcycling, golf, shooting sports, classical music and travel.

    Christopher Durang turns political humor upside down his  raucous and provocative satire about America's growing homeland “insecurity, ” on stage at Sul Ross State University Friday-Saturday, April 18-19, 25-26 and Sunday-Monday, April 27-28.
    “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them” will be performed at 8:15 p.m. nightly Friday-Saturday, April 18-19, 25-26 and Monday, April 28 in the Studio Theatre, Francois Fine Arts Building. A Sunday, April 27 matinee will begin at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are  $7 for general admission and $5 for seniors.  Content is not suitable for children.
    “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them” tells the story of a young woman suddenly in crisis: Is her new husband, whom she married when drunk, a terrorist, or just crazy, or both? Is her father's hobby of butterfly collecting really a cover for his involvement in a shadow government?  Why does her mother enjoy going to the theatre so much?  Does she seek mental escape, or is she insane?  Add in a minister who directs porno, and a ladylike operative whose underwear just won’t stay up, and this black comedy will make us laugh all the way to the waterboarding room.
    Directed by Sul Ross graduate student Gregory Gonzales, Alpine, “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them” examines our private terrors both at home and abroad.  Durang oddly relieves our fears in this black comedy for an era of yellow, orange and red alerts.  
    Tickets are on sale now by calling (432) 837-8218 or online via

Tim Wright (Leonard) interrogates his son-in-law Zamir (Eddie Molinar) as daughter Felicity (Mandy Mata) and wife Luella (Elizabeth Watson) try to determine what to do. “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them” will be performed at 8:15 p.m. nightly Friday-Saturday, April 18-19, 25-26 and Monday, April 28 in the Studio Theatre, Francois Fine Arts Building. A Sunday, April 27 matinee will begin at 2 p.m. (Photo by Steve Lang)

    Dr. Kevin Urbanczyk, professor of Geology and director of the Rio Grande Research Center, will deliver the eighth annual Sul Ross State University Arts and Sciences Lecture Thursday, April 24.  There is no admission charge and the public is invited.
    Urbanczyk will address “Fear and Learning in the Big Bend.” The lecture will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Lawrence Hall, Room 300. Refreshments will be served following the lecture.
    Urbanczyk’s lecture will address the perceptions and facts of safety and risks related to field studies on the border and whether it is safe to take a field trip down to Big Bend. He will also discuss how lab facilities on campus allow students to process data and samples taken in the field.
    The Arts and Sciences Spring Lecture was initiated in 2007 to recognize and honor the professional contributions of a senior faculty member to the academic and intellectual life and vitality of the university.  The honored faculty member addresses faculty, students, and staff from the college on a topic of his/her choosing. The event also cites the academic performance and research accomplishments of all the faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences during the past year .
    For more information, contact the Rio Grande Research Center at (432) 837-8648 or email Leslie Hopper at

    In retirement, Patricia “Patty” Manning does not plan to give up gardening, but instead will focus her attention on different garden plots.
    Manning, an environmental science technician at Sul Ross State University, will retire May 31 after 18 years of service. Since first beginning work as a temporary employee, she has maintained the cactus garden in front of Lawrence Hall, managed the greenhouses by Warnock Science Building for the Biology Department, the vineyard and field plot across from the Turner Range Animal Science Center, as well as habitat beds in front of WSB.
    “When I got this job, it was my dream job,” she said. “It was perfectly suited to me and I feel incredibly fortunate to do what I have done here.”
    Manning, a Dallas native, originally studied art, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Baylor University, Waco, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from the University of North Texas, Denton. She came to Sul Ross in 1991 as a graduate student in biology and  received her Master’s degree in 1995.
    “I came here because I wanted to study biology and I really wanted to study the Chihuahuan Desert,” she said. “I got fascinated with the plant side of it (biology), and Dr. (Mike) Powell, Dr. (Jim) Zech and Dr. (Jim) Scudday were great mentors.”
    After brief employment with the Texas Department of Transportation, Manning started work at Sul Ross as a temporary employee, assisting Jack Brady in planting the original cactus garden in front of Lawrence Hall.
    “That (temporary position) morphed into Jack’s position when he left,” she said. Job duties also expanded, including maintenance of the five-acre biology plot off Highway 67/90, nurturing numerous species of cacti and hundreds of other plant varieties in the on-campus greenhouses, as well as planting and maintaining the cactus garden and habitat beds.
    “We try to showcase new varieties so it’s not a static situation,” Manning said. “The gardens are intended to evolve with persons’ interests...and from an education standpoint, we try to make students aware of the different species that are ubiquitous out here.”
    She called her Sul Ross tenure “a really good experience. I had the opportunity to learn, I was given the opportunity to be in the field and have had access to the herbarium, which is a tremendous resource.
    “The people I have studied under have been awesome and the people I have worked with are good people,” she said. “The flexibility of the job has suited me really well.”
    Retirement means continued activity, including raising chickens and tending several garden plots on her acreage in southwest Alpine. Seed collecting and contract field work for various organizations, including the Wildflower Center in Austin, also await. In addition, she is an avid reader.
    “I love the field work, and I love Alpine,” she said. “I have no plans to leave.”
    Manning and her life partner, Cindy Wimberly, were recently married in New York City, and have spent 21 years together.

    Sul Ross State University students Megan Downing, Midland; and Robert LeBlanc, Fort Davis; and former student Emily Urbanovsky, Caldwell, made research presentations at the 2014 Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA) meeting, held April 3-5 in San Antonio.
    Dr. Jay Downing, Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychology, accompanied seven students to the meeting.
    Megan Downing, LeBlanc and Urbanovsky all presented their 2013 McNair Program research projects. Downing presented  “The Role of Uncertainty and Fear in the Extremity of Political Attitudes,” at a social psychology poster session. Dr. Jay Downing was her faculty mentor.
    LeBlanc presented  “Wolf Spiders Associate Food with Predator Cues in a T-Maze,” via an oral presentation sponsored by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. His faculty mentor was Dr. Chris Ritzi, associate professor of Biology and chair of the Department of Biology, Geology, and Physical Sciences.
    Urbanovsky, also mentored by Dr. Downing, presented  “Existential Uncertainty Influences Desire for Popularity Through Risky Sexual Behavior,” at an addictive behavior poster session.  
    According to its mission statement, “SWPA works to promote and strengthen psychology's scientific, professional and educational facets. At its annual meeting, SWPA offers paper, poster, continuing education sessions, workshops, symposia, and invited talks. SWPA prides itself on serving the psychological community by providing access to scientific advances and professional development within a collegial atmosphere. Students are welcomed and treated as active and valued participants in the discipline.”
    For more information, contact Downing, (432) 837-8368 or

    The Sul Ross State University Department of Education will host the annual Job Fair for Teachers and Administrators on Thursday, April 17. The Job Fair includes recruitment efforts for classroom teachers, reading specialists, educational diagnosticians, counselors, and principals.
    Representatives will be available from 9 a.m.-12 noon in the Becky Espino Conference Center, second floor of the Morgan University Center. Anyone interested is invited and welcome to attend.
    The Job Fair provides Sul Ross students, area teachers and administrators an opportunity to visit personally with school district recruiters from around the state.

    For over 40 years, Dr. David Rohr’s has measured research at a snail’s pace...
    ...but dating back an estimated 450 million years and in locations ranging from the Big Bend to Alaska, with stops in Newfoundland and several western states in between.
    Rohr, Sul Ross State University professor of Geology, will retire from full-time teaching at the end of Summer Session I. He will teach half-time and hopes to continue his research projects that specialize in gastropod (snail) fossils. His research has been supported and documented by The National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation, Geological Society of America, and other noted organizations.
    His discovery of Paleozoic-era snail fossils in Alaska – some 420 million years old – was the subject of articles in National Geographic and The Journal of Paleontology several years ago. Most recently, his research on Silurian rocks in Alaska’s Glacier Bay was featured in Alaskan Park Sciences magazine.
    During his 34 years at Sul Ross, Rohr has enjoyed a “pleasant balance” of classroom teaching and field trips along with summer research that has included about 10 trips to Alaska.
    “I have taught at big schools (Universities of Oregon and Washington) and a small school (Sul Ross), and the small school has been more enjoyable,” he said. “I feel like I have more input. Here, you get to know everybody in class, and there is a good balance of teaching and research.
    “Geology classes include field trips, and although most of the students I have taught are from the Big Bend region, trips to Big Bend National Park and into Boquillas Canyon still offer ‘wow!’ moments for some of them,” he said.
    “One of the ways to judge the general success of an academic program is by how well the students have done,” Rohr said. “Many of our graduates have gone on to successful careers in industry, with the (National) Park Service and in other areas of government. Several are presently enrolled in Ph.D. programs.”
    A native of Portsmouth, Va., Rohr received a B.S. degree in Geology (1969) from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., then enrolled at Oregon State University, Corvallis, receiving a M.S. (1972) and Ph.D. (1977) in Geology.
    “I went where there were rocks,” he laughed, referring to his move westward. He spent summers field mapping in sedimentary and igneous rocks in California’s Klamath Mountains.
    Rohr served as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Oregon, Eugene, from 1977-79 and the University of Washington, Seattle, from 1979-80 before joining the Sul Ross faculty. He was promoted to associate professor in 1985 and professor in 1989.
    While at Sul Ross, he helped establish and taught distance education classes in collaboration with Midland College via interactive television.
    His interest in fossil snails began at Oregon State, and he first went to Alaska in the early 1990s.
    “A research party wanted someone with a specialty in snails,” he said. After his first trip, he applied for and was awarded grants from the National Geographic Society to continue his field work. Further research was funded by the National Park Service.
    He has more than 170 publications to his credit, discussing research in Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, several western states and some international settings, as well as the Glass Mountains, Davis Mountains, Big Bend National Park and the Shafter silver mine. In 2013, he was the Sul Ross nominee as a Texas State University System Regents’ Professor.
    Rohr and his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Measures, who is an associate professor of Geology at Sul Ross, plan to continue traveling both for research and leisure. His hobbies include outdoor activities and target shooting.