Latest News from Sul Ross April 25, 2014


    U. S. Congressman Pete P. Gallego, an Alpine native and Sul Ross State University graduate, will deliver the spring commencement address Saturday, May 10 at the Sul Ross-Alpine Campus.
    Ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. in the Pete P. Gallego Center. Rio Grande College ceremonies will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Uvalde High School Auditorium. William J. “Bill” Rankin, Chief Financial Officer for Blue Bell Ice Cream and a 2013 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, will deliver the RGC commencement address..
    A total of 234 students are candidates for degrees, 162 at Sul Ross-Alpine and 72 at RGC.
    Gallego represents the 23rd Congressional District of Texas which includes parts of Bexar, El Paso and La Salle counties as well as Brewster, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kinney, Loving, Maverick, Medina, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Reeves, Schleicher, Sutton, Terrell, Upton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Ward, Winkler, and Zavala counties.
    The son of a World War II veteran and a state employee, Gallego was born in Alpine where he attended local public schools and worked in his family`s restaurant. He graduated from Sul Ross in only two years even while balancing three jobs. He went on to earn a degree from The University of Texas School of Law. He became an assistant attorney general before returning home to serve as a felony prosecutor.
    Congressman Gallego serves on the House Armed Services Committee, of particular significance because of the large military presence in Texas. The Armed Services Committee has jurisdiction over defense policy, ongoing military operations, the organization and reform of the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, counter-drug programs, acquisition and industrial base policy, technology transfer and export controls, joint interoperability, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, Department of Energy nonproliferation programs, and detainee affairs and policy.
    Prior to Congress, Gallego represented House District 74 in the Texas State Legislature, first elected at the age of 28 and serving from 1991-2013.  Gallego was an expert in appropriations, law enforcement, criminal justice, campaign finance and victims' rights. He served on the joint House/Senate conference committee on the state budget for five consecutive sessions from 1993-2001 and has received numerous awards, including the Advocate for Justice Award from a coalition of Texas victims’ groups and the Star of Texas public service award by Common Cause of Texas.
`    He was selected as one of Texas Monthly's Ten Best legislators. Gallego also served as chair of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus (MALC), a group of 43 House members who are of Mexican-American descent or who serve a significant Mexican-American constituency, for eight years.
    In the state legislature Gallego worked to increase investments in public education and universities, fought on behalf of disabled children and helped build roads and schools in low-income areas of West Texas. He has worked to reform the criminal justice system and support Texas veterans. Gallego used his experience as a prosecutor to pass Texas’ “Life Without Parole” law and helped to create the state’s DNA database which helps make sure criminals are convicted of their crimes.    
    Throughout his career, Gallego has been a trusted voice for Texas families. Congressman Gallego’s first priority is getting the economy back on track and saving the middle class in this country. He will also heavily focus on providing services to the constituents of 23rd Congressional District of Texas, protect veterans and military families by ensuring that wounded veterans get help coming home, and provide programs so these men and women can find jobs once they get here.
       He and his wife, Maria Elena, are raising their young son, Nicolas.  

    by Steve Lang, News and Publications

    Despite the reliability of witnesses, the presence of evidence and even confessions, people are arrested, convicted and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit...thousands each year.
    Dr. Kim Rossmo outlined the flaws of criminal investigation in his Marshall Lecture, “True Crime, True Detectives, Real Failures: What Can Go Wrong in a Criminal Investigation.” Rossmo, the University Endowed Chair in Criminology, and the Director of the Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation in the School of Criminal Justice at Texas State University, presented the 25th Mary Thomas Marshall Lecture Tuesday evening (April 22) at Sul Ross State University.
    “In criminal justice, we keep repeating history,” said Rossmo, and the history includes investigative mistakes. He noted that up to five percent of all homicide and sexual assault convictions are wrongful, “and a wrongful conviction gives the real offender a ‘get out of jail free’ card.
    “Then, you not only have injustice, but you are also allowing the predator to run around free and to commit more crimes,” he said.
    The only three ways to solve a crime are through a confession, the testimony of eyewitnesses and the presence of physical evidence, Rossmo said. “These are the only three tools police have available and it is important to remember that all three have some risk of error.”
    During his presentation, Rossmo used examples of major crimes and how human error in the use of each “tool” led to wrongful convictions, including:
    * Eyewitnesses: “Observation isn’t everything. What changes is how the brain interprets movement,” he said. Rossmo illustrated through slides and computer images how subtle changes can escape vision, adding, “the point here is that seeing is not believing....Humans make mistakes because of what they expected to see, what they wanted to see and what they actually saw.”
    * Confessions: False confessions occur more frequently than assumed, according to Rossmo. Juveniles, persons with mental disabilities, those weak or susceptible to threats and persons under duress from lengthy interrogation are all prone to false confessions. “False confessions are so powerful they can influence and bias an investigation,” Rossmo said. In addition, the quality of the confession can be a deciding factor in a conviction. Rossmo said quality of confessions vary depending on information known only to the offender; details known only by the police; information leaks to suspects during an investigation; and overuse of “yes” and “no” questions.
    * Physical evidence: “Science is never wrong,” is a popular contention, but Rossmo pointed out that according to the National Academy of Sciences, only a few forensic science techniques are solidly based on science (DNA).  Some techniques are likely valid, he said, but the error rates are unknown, including fingerprinting. He referred to the 2004 terrorist train bombing in Madrid, Spain, where a latent fingerprint, somewhat smudged, was found, and elements of the print matched those of an Oregon resident of the Muslim faith. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the suspect had never traveled to Spain and the print was not an exact match. Rossmo said “circular reasoning” used in finding points of similarity in physical evidence could wrongly influence the investigative process.
    Rossmo used numerous illustrations of real cases where errors in thought process, assumptions based on coincidence and failure to consider other possibilities have led to wrongful convictions.
    He quoted one St. Louis detective, who said, “If it weren’t for DNA, I could have convicted three guys by now.”
    In conclusion, Rossmo said, “the role of the detective is not to catch ‘the bad guy’‘ it is to find the truth and ultimately, the right ‘bad guy.’”
    Rossmo was formerly the Director of Research for the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C., and the Detective Inspector in charge of the Vancouver Police Department’s Geographic Profiling Section, which provided investigative support for the international law enforcement community.  He has researched and published in the areas of environmental criminology, the geography of crime, and criminal investigations, including books on geographic profiling and criminal investigative failures.
    The Sul Ross State University Lecture Series was renamed in 1985 to honor Mary Thomas Marshall, a good friend of the university.  On Feb. 21, 1992, the Board of Regents, Texas State University System, approved renaming the Main Auditorium of Sul Ross to the Marshall Auditorium in recognition of Mrs. Marshall's many contributions to the University.

Spring Arts and Science lecture

Dr. Kevin Urbanczyk, Sul Ross professor of Geology and director of the Rio Grande Research Center, discussed "Fear and Learning in the Big Bend" Thursday (April 24). Urbanczyk presented the College of Arts and Science 2014 Spring Lecture in Lawrence Hall. He addressed the necessary safety precautions taken for field trips in the Big Bend and discussed scientific research conducted during his numerous trips to the area. (Photo by Steve Lang)


    The City of Alpine recently approved spending $19,000 to “skin” Sul Ross State University buses with the Alpine landscape.
    The design, yet to be approved, will promote the city and the university during the frequent travels by Sul Ross athletic teams. Sul Ross purchased a 40-passenger 2011 Glaval Apollo bus in February and plans to acquire a second vehicle.
    Dr. Quint Thurman. Sul Ross interim President, said the university is working with Stewart Ramser of Ramser Media, Austin, to develop a design. Among Ramser Media’s projects is the recent Viva Big Bend Food Festival.
    “We are very excited to partner with Stewart on a design that will showcase the natural beauty of Alpine and attract visitors far and wide to the area,” he said.
    “We are grateful for the City of Alpine’s contribution,” said  Thurman.  “Our athletic teams travel about 50,000 miles a year, and the skin design on the buses will serve as a moving billboard to attract attention to Sul Ross, Alpine and the Big Bend region.”

    Dr. Bruce A. Glasrud, reitred dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Robert J. Mallouf, retired director of the Center for Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross State University, have been honored by the West Texas Historical Association.
    “Big Bend’s Ancient and Modern Past,” edited by Glasrud and Mallouf, has received the Rupert Norval Richardson Award. Established in 1996, The award recognizes nonfiction books that focus on West Texas History. Richardson, founder of the West Texas Historical Association, was considered one of the preeminent Texas and Western historians and authored numerous books.
    With “Big Bend’s Ancient and Modern Past,” Glasrud and Mallouf provide a helpful compilation of articles originally published in the Journal of Big Bend Studies, reviewing the unique past of the Big Bend area from the earliest habitation to 1900.
    Glasrud’s numerous previously published books include “Texas Labor History” (with James C. Maroney) and “Southern Black Women in the Modern Civil Rights Movement” (with Merline Pitre), both published in 2013 by Texas A&M University Press. He lives in San Antonio.
    Mallouf, formerly Texas State Archeologist and director of the Center for Big Bend Studies, has published extensively on the prehistory and history of Texas, Kansas and north-central Mexico.

    Sul Ross State University faculty and staff who have attained 20 to 35 years of service and five to 25 years of accident-free work will be recognized at a reception Thursday, May 1, 2 p.m. in the Espino Conference Center, Morgan University Center.
    In addition, four recent recipients of the Bar-SR-Bar Award for Employee Excellence will be honored, along with nine retiring employees. Rio Grande College (RGC) employees will be feted by the Associate Provost’s office at a later date.
    Longevity awards are as follows:
    35 Years: Mazie Will, Industrial Technology    
    30 Years: Cesar Valenzuela, Finance and Operations
    25 Years: Oscar Jimenez, Accounting Services; Flora Fuentez, Physical Plant    
    20 Years: Loretta Garcia, Big Bend Regional Minority Small Business Development Center; Arturo Leyva, Physical Plant; William Green, Business Administration
    Safety award recipients are as follows:
    Five Years: Geoffrey Calderon, Animal Science; Rachel Carvajal, Computer Science Initiative; Cassandra Guevara, Purchasing; Patricia Manning, Biology, Geology and Physical Sciences; Steve Conant, Information Technology; Maribel Laredo, Business Services, RGC; Gracie Navarrette, Physical Plant; Cheryl Zinsmeyer, News and Publications    
    10 Years: Alfredo Armendariz, Physical Plant; Celia Cano, Physical Plant; Matthew Walter, Museum of the Big Bend; Alicia Bustos, Enrollment Services; Karlin DeVoll, Human Resources; Robert DeLaO, Purchasing; John Young, Accounting Services; Mayra Rodriguez, Admissions and Records, RGC;     
    15 Years: Maria Adams, Student Life        
    25 Years: Flora Fuentez, Physical Plant
    Sul Ross retirees are: Camilo Celaya, Physical Plant (retired May 2013); Kathy Ann Johnson, Languages and Literature (May 2013); Ross Burns, Wildenthal Library (June 2013); Chester Sample, Education (January 2014); Mary Lou Williamson, Faculty Secretary, RGC (January 2014); George Hernandez, Physical Plant (January 2014); Patricia Manning, Biology, Geology and Physical Sciences (May 2014); Hoi Tay Wong, Business Administration, RGC (May 2014); and David Rohr, Biology, Geology and Physical Sciences (May 2014).    
    Recipients of the Bar-SR-Bar award for Employee Excellence will be announced at the ceremony.