Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2 alums working Armed Forces Bowl today

If you're watching the Armed Forces Bowl today in TCU's own Amon G. Carter Stadium, pay extra attention to the officiating crew. Yes, the game pits the Air Force Falcons and Houston Cougars, but there's two Horned Frogs out there as well.

The game's referee is Matt Loeffler '86, former equipment manager for the TCU football team in the F.A. Dry and Jim Wacker days. Up in the replay booth is Bill Merritt '69, former Horned Frog golfer. Both are referees with the Sun Belt Conference.

Today's game is the first either of them has worked as a ref in Amon G. Carter Stadium, and the moment is not lost on either of them.

"Since I work most Saturdays in the fall, I'm excited to see the additions to the stadium," said Loeffler, who has worked in the Sun Belt six seasons, three of them as a referee. "I spent a lot of time on that field and being back there will bring back a lot of memories."

Merritt, who has been a ref for 34 years, including the last four as a replay official, had previously worked a couple of scrimmages for former TCU coach Dennis Franchione.

"It is going to be a thrill for me to work a bowl game in my alma mater's stadium. I'm excited," said Merritt, who's working his fourth bowl game.

Both men are members of the Dallas Football Officials Association and started at the pee wee level before working though junior high and high school to the college ranks. It's a side job.

Merritt is a mortgage banking officer in Dallas, while Loeffler owns a glass/window business in Rockwall.

"I just enjoy being a part of the pagentry of college football," said Loeffler, who started as a back judge. "I enjoy the challenge of it. Every snap, you don't know what will be thrown at you. You meet a lot of people and get to be part of the game."

Merritt just loves the game of football.

"It's good exercise, although it's harder for me to keep up with the athletes," Merritt said. "I was going to retire, but then I had a chance to move up to the booth. Deep down, we're all still competitors."

Merritt and Loeffler say they hope for a clean, penalty-free, replay-free game.

"Never had one of those," Merritt said.

- Rick

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Library works with fellow Frog on charity

The Mary Couts Burnett Library staff has historically been very charitable, especially at Christmas. But this season the group - who teamed up with Instructional Services and other departments inside the library - had an especially rewarding experience.

Each November and December, the library seeks out a charity to assist for the holidays. In past years, the group has
worked with Lena Pope Home, Presbyterian Night Shelter and various women's clinics.

This year, they found a fellow Horned Frog to help.

"It was random happenstance," says James Lutz, director of library administrative services, who helped organize the effort. "We wanted to assist a group that benefits children this year and wound up talking to Alliance For Children and meeting Lindsey."

Lindsey Dula '00, forensic interviewer for AFC, was helping coordinate Alliance's gift donations and was eager to work with her alma mater. AFC is a Tarrant County non-profit group that works to prevent
child abuse.

"One of the reasons we liked Alliance For Children was how flexible they were," Lutz said.

The center provided children's wish list tags, which the TCU group took and hung from garland in a hallway in the library. Employees grabbed what they felt they could bring.

"We felt like it was easy to help," Lutz said. "People could bring anything on the tags, even things from their attic. And some people did."

The group got creative in finding ways to get items on the tags. One donor worked with the TCU tennis team to get some old raquets restrung.

Alliance for Children also accepted Christmas supplies, such as wrapping paper, bows and gift bags.

"That part made it feel like more than a charity," Lutz said. "It felt like we were empowering parents and families. They had the tools to be part of Christmas, not just get something someone else wrapped."

It took two staff people to help Lutz transport the gifts to the center just before Christmas.

"They were tremendously grateful for what we brought over," Lutz said. "The response was so good on our side that I think we're going to work with them again next year."

- Rick

Monday, December 22, 2008

New director for the Schieffer School

TCU announced Dec. 22 that John O. Lumpkin, a vice president and former bureau chief for Associated Press, has been named director of the Schieffer School of Journalism. Lumpkin will begin his role as director June 1.

"John is an excellent choice," said Bob Schieffer '59 moderator of CBS News "Face the Nation" and a TCU alumnus for whom the journalism school is named. "He brings the kind of real world experience that we need to take the school to a new level. He is widely known and greatly respected in the journalism community and we are fortunate to get him.

"The fact we were able to attract a person of John's caliber is yet another indication of the growing reputation for excellence that our program has already established," Schieffer said. "We are aiming to be nothing less than the best program in the country and John is a fine choice to help us get there."

Lumpkin, a graduate of the University of Virginia, worked with the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before joining AP, the world's largest newsgathering organization, in 1971. Since then, he served as a correspondent and bureau chief in Texas, North Carolina and Iowa before becoming a corporate officer in 2003. He reported on the Watergate-related Milk Fund Scandal and directed coverage of numerous major news stories, including the two space shuttle disasters, the political rise of George W. Bush and the 51-day Branch Davidian siege in Waco.

"The obligation for someone who is named director of the Schieffer School is to live up to the standards and the commitment to journalism that Bob Schieffer has done throughout his professional life," said Lumpkin. "I am both humbled and honored to be chosen as the one who should do that.

"TCU has a valuable asset in the Schieffer School and vice versa. Media is in the midst of tectonic shifts - both in what we describe as 'news' and what is just as important, strategic communication. Our school is uniquely situated to prepare students for what will be instead of what has been."

Lumpkin currently is AP vice president for newspaper markets in the U.S. and Latin America. He is responsible for AP revenue from newspaper companies in the hemisphere, as well as the U.S. domestic bureau chief system. He held company positions in strategic planning and has been involved in AP's shift to multi-media news distribution.

The Schieffer School has plans to build on a multi-media learning experience that is already in place for its students in journalism and strategic communication. Changes in curriculum and facilities are being addressed.

"However," said Lumpkin, "the foundation of our professional school will continue to be the thoughtful preparation of journalists and communicators in the bedrock principles of accuracy, fairness, objectivity and ethics."

Lumpkin's wife Eileen is a 1968 TCU journalism graduate and former reporter for the school's award-winning newspaper, the TCU Daily Skiff. Their older son, John '95, is a former editor of the Skiff and a Pentagon reporter for AP. He now teaches journalism at Metro State University in Denver. Their other son, Robin, is involved in research of combat veterans at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Richmond, Va.

- Rick

Saturday, December 20, 2008

887 graduate today

Some 887 students graduated during Saturday’s Commencement ceremony in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Six students received double degrees and 10 graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA. The graduating class represented 28 states, including Texas, and international students from 29 foreign countries. TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. delivered the Comme
ncement address. Read his remarks here.

To see more photos and download a few, click here.

- Rick

Friday, December 19, 2008

#45 sticker to honor Sam Baugh at bowl

When it faces Boise State Tuesday in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, TCU will have a "45" sticker on its helmet to honor Sam Baugh.

The TCU football legend died Wednesday night in Rotan, Texas. Baugh wore No. 45 during his playing days (1934-36) with the Horned Frogs.

Thursday was TCU's first time on the field after Baugh's death. The Frogs practiced inside the Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility.

The team left this afternoon for San Diego.

- Rick

Thursday, December 18, 2008

TCU legend Sam Baugh dies

Sam Baugh, considered by many as TCU’s all-time greatest football player and as one of the best in NFL history, died Wednesday evening after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in recent years. He was 94.

His son, David, said Baugh died at Fisher County Hospital in Rotan, where he had been since falling ill around Thanksgiving with a variety of ailments that included kidney failure. Funeral services are Monday.

He was known simply as "Slingin' Sam," a nickname he didn't like and earned from his days in baseball, not the gridiron. Six-foot-two, lanky and athletic, he threw pinpoint spirals and booted booming punts that dazzled jam-packed stadiums across the country. A two-time All-American at quarterback, punter and defensive back, Baugh was the hero of the Horned Frogs' 1935 team that finished 12-1, won the Sugar Bowl and captured TCU's first national championship.

Read The TCU Magazine story. The Star-Telegram, The Dallas Morning News, Washington Post, The New York Times, ESPN and others have good accounts of Baugh's life. And for a real treat, watch "King of the Texas Rangers" (1941) serial trailer on YouTube. Here's another of him as a member of the Washington Redskins. Finally, here is former chancellor William Tucker talking about Baugh's importance to TCU.

- Rick

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Long lines at Late Night Breakfast

More than 1,000 students lined up late last night for the 30th annual Late Night Breakfast, sponsored by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. With the event held for the first time in the University Union ballroom, the serving line extended from the third-floor, down the stairs, past the ID Center and throughout much of the second floor.

No one seemed to mind though. Free pancakes are free pancakes. Beats studying for finals.

“There is a reason we've been doing this for 30 years. It's different. It's fun,” said Don Mills, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, who greeted students as they climbed the stairs to the third floor and passed out plastic utencils wrapped in green and red paper napkins. “Students are in a festive mood and have reason to celebrate – the end of semester is at hand.”

Provost Nowell Donovan agreed: “I think they enjoy interacting with the faculty and staff in a different way outside the classroom. And free food is probably a good enticement, too.”

The event provides students with a study break during finals week. About two dozen faculty and staff members dished out breakfast staples such as eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, muffins, orange juice, water and coffee.

Food Services’ Rick Flores estimated they served more than 5,000 pancakes.

Among the faculty/staff servers were Danny Morrison, Athletics Director and Brian Gutierrez, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration.

Students, new and not so new, relished the chance to do something other than study.

“This is really fun. It takes the stress away for a little while,” said Michelle Altenberg, a freshman strategic communication major from Joshua, Texas. “It’s really good for people low on their dining plan.”

At the back of the line, Ashley Iszkun and Courtney Brown were waiting patiently for their turn.

“It’s worth the wait,” said Brown, a senior accounting major from Midland. “It’s a moment to relax. ”

“It's a tradition: I came here as a freshman. I’m coming here as a senior. I wouldn’t miss this,” said Iszkun, a senior advertising/public relations major from Denver.

- Rick

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Student data presented

This week, the Office of Institutional Research presented the results of its annual surveys of graduating seniors and recent alumni, defined as August 2006 to May 2007 grads.

Among the highlights of seniors who graduated December 2007 and May 2008:
- More than 65 percent of graduating seniors (or 1,015) responded to the survey, an all-time record. That was up from 54 percent the 2006-07 survey. Among recent alumni, 351 of 1,408 replied (or 25 percent) replied to the emailed survey.
- 87.3 percent said they were satisfied with TCU, up 2.1 percent from the year before. 72.1 percent said the would definitely recommend TCU to a friend or relative, up from 70.5 percent.
- 72 percent graduated in four years, up 5.1 percent.

Among the highlights of recent alums who graduated between August 2006 and May 2007:
- 93.2 percent would recommend a TCU education to a relative or close friend, down from 95 percent a year ago.
- 86.3 percent said their TCU experience was "worth it," with down from 89.8 percent who said that a year ago. Four percent answered "No," up from 1.5 percent the year before.
- Nearly 30 percent studied abroad.
- 76.6 percent reported graduating GPAs of 3.0 or higher.
- Almost 80 percent worked while at TCU, with 60 percent working 11 hours per week or more.
- About two-thirds are currently employed full time. Just over 20 percent are in graduate or professional school. About 4 percent were still searching for a job.
- A year out of school, about 62 percent were making between $30,000 and $50,000.
- 25.6 percent said they would choose a different major today, up from 20.3 percent a year ago.

- Rick

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Celebrate a Soldier

It was near freezing today, even in the bright sunshine, and Brittany Heminger was standing at the foot of the steps of the Mary Couts Burnett Library in a striped hat and scarf passing out flyers with a wide smile.

It’s the last day of classes for the semester, but Heminger wants every person passing by to have a piece of stationery.

Her cause: remembering American soldiers overseas who cannot come home for the holidays. In an effort she named “Celebrate a Soldier,” Heminger is asking students, faculty and staff members to spend five minutes writing a letter to a man or woman in uniform.

“I just want the soldiers to get a show of encouragement by receiving a gift from home,” says the senior psychology major who claims both Fort Worth and San Diego, Calif., as hometowns. Her father flew jets in the Navy.

Why mail? Simple. Letters from home are the No. 1 request of soldiers, according to While the site promotes care packages, Heminger says she’s encouraging letters because stamps are more affordable, and she’s picking up the tab. She’s just asking for one-page well-wishes. Even on notebook paper.

“I have 150 letters right now, and I am hoping to get more with Dead Days coming up,” Heminger says. She’s taken her sign and stationery stash to the Union twice this week and will continue to take letters til the end of Finals Week. “The ones from little kids are the cutest.” [UPDATE: She mailed 413 letters.]

Third-grade students at Starpoint School have contributed, with many of their letters offering holiday greetings and thanks yous. A few even discuss the status of their lists to Santa.

Heminger’s project started three weeks ago when she tried to contribute to the campus holiday shoe box gift drive. When she learned that no one had taken up the cause this year, Heminger felt compelled to start her own mission.

“I just want to leave a mark,” she says.

Even when the holidays end, she plans to keep the effort going until she graduates in May. She’s even lined up a successor in ROTC to take up the cause after that. Before then, she has bigger plans for the campaign.

“I want to extend it out to other schools and have elementary schools through high schools getting involved,” she says.

That's something to write home about.

Contact Brittany at

- Rick

Jerry Hughes All-American

The football team's Jerry Hughes has been named a first-team All-American by

One of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's top defensive player, Hughes, a defensive end, is also a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. Earlier this month, he was named the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

The junior from Sugar Land, Texas, tops the nation with an MWC-record 14 sacks and six forced fumbles. Hughes also ranks in the top-10 nationally with 18.5 tackles for loss and three fumble recoveries. Additionally, he has two interceptions with one returned for a touchdown.

Hughes was a three-time MWC Defensive Player of the Week in 2008. He also earned National Defensive Player of the Week honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski Trophy after his four sacks and two forced fumbles in a 32-7 win over then-No. 8 BYU.

Hughes anchors a TCU defense that is ranked No. 1 in the nation in run defense (48.7 yards per game) while placing second in total defense (215.1 yards per game) and scoring defense (10.9 points per game) and third in
sacks (41).

- Rick

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Love from the TCU family

Cristina Ramos '04 loves this time of year.

As program coordinator for Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services, Ramos takes extra measure that international students and students of color feel like TCU is their home. After all, she was in the same position a few years ago as a Horned Frog undergrad.

"At this point of the semester, a lot of students, even some of my roommates, were getting care packages from home or from people they knew," says Ramos, who is a first generation college graduate. "I didn't. And many minority and international students don't. But we want them to feel like they're getting love from the TCU family."

So Ramos and a crew of volunteers have spent the last few days assembling about 850 gift bags, which contain juices, fruit, granola bars, nuts, popcorn, candy and a little note wishing them good luck on finals. It's a program that dates back to the early 1990s.

Ramos emailed the 800-some students in the program, letting them know that a bag would be delivered to their dorm. Or, if they couldn't wait on the munchies, to come by and pick one up.

"It's just another way to show that we care about our students and want them to succeed," she says. "Everybody needs a little extra push around finals."

- Rick

Frog Calls to go green

Since TCU is becoming a more environmentally-friendly place, Frog Calls will see some changes next year. The popular on-campus phone book of students, faculty and staff will have a cover printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink, according to the university and College Publishing which prints it.

Current and past Frog Calls are entirely recyclable and made with post consumer recycled content. College Publishing and the printing industry have been recycling for decades. The organization is in the process of joining the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership, which encourages and promotes reduction in environmental impact and social responsibility.

The publisher switched from petroleum-based ink to soy-based ink for much of their products in the 1990s. The soy ink greatly assists in the de-inking process to recover the paper fiber. The group recycled more than 149 tons of paper in October 2008 alone.

To read about other green initiatives at TCU, read Kathryn Hopper's story on "Bleed Purple, Live Green."

- Rick

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's official: TCU vs. Boise State in Poinsettia Bowl

It's official: No. 11 TCU (10-2) will make its 10th bowl appearance in the last 11 seasons when it faces ninth-ranked Boise State (12-0) in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

The 5 p.m. game will be televised on ESPN. Ticket information is available through the Horned Frogs’ Web site ( or by calling (817) 257-FROG. If you're interested in attending the game, the alumni office is offering packages through Gulliver's Travels.

Only four other bowls (all BCS games) feature two teams with a higher combined current ranking than the Poinsettia Bowl.

It’s the first time the Frogs have played in a bowl game with the two teams having a combined ranking this high since the 1959 Bluebonnet Bowl, when No. 11 Clemson defeated No. 7 TCU 23-7. The Frogs are 4-4-1 when playing a bowl game with both teams ranked.

TCU and Boise State will face each other for just the second time in their history. The first meeting also featured a battle of top-20 teams as the 18th-ranked Broncos defeated the 19th-ranked Frogs, 34-31, in the inaugural Fort Worth Bowl in 2003.

“We are very excited to play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “Boise State is a BCS-caliber team, and I have a high admiration for (Bronco head coach) Chris Petersen and his staff. They do an outstanding job in all phases of their team.

“All of us were extremely impressed with the Poinsettia Bowl on our last visit in 2006. It was a great experience and we were treated unbelievably. We had a great time and were around quality people. It was one of the best bowls we’ve ever been to.

“It should be an outstanding game with a lot of national interest.”

The two head coaches have a connection from their days together at UC Davis. Patterson was the linebacker coach for the Aggies in 1986 when Petersen was the team’s starting quarterback.

TCU has won three straight bowl games for the first time since the opening three bowl games (1936-39) in its history. In its previous Poinsettia Bowl appearance, TCU defeated Northern Illinois 37-7 in 2006. The Frogs are 10-12-1 all-time in bowl games.

TCU is 6-3 in bowl games with Patterson on its coaching staff and 4-3 with him as head coach. Prior to Patterson's arrival on campus in 1998, the Frogs had just four bowl wins in their history.

The Poinsettia Bowl will be Patterson’s 100th game as head coach of the Frogs. The dean of Mountain West Conference coaches is 72-27 (.727) in eight seasons. Patterson’s 72 victories are two shy of tying Abe Martin (74, 1953-66) for second place on TCU’s career win list.

- Rick

TCU alumna wins "The Amazing Race"

It's been an "Amazing Race" TCU alumna Starr Spangler '08 and older brother Nick.

The siblings took first place and the reality show's $1 million prize in the finale, which aired last night on CBS.

The duo charged through the last leg of the global race in Portland, Ore. They balanced on a beam high in the air, descended a zip line from 2,000 feet and solved a complex puzzle.

They then searched throughout the city for clues to where the finish line was before frantically hailing a taxi to it.

After crossing it, the siblings hugged. Starr, 21, told her brother: "You're my best friend. I love you."
Nick said he was proud of his sister, who is a year her elder.

"She's been unbelievable on this race," he said. "More than $1 million, more than being the winners of 'The Amazing ace,' "I love the experience that I've gone through with my sister, and I've loved seeing her succeed so greatly."

Contestants logged nearly 40,000 miles on a trip that took them through Brazil, Bolivia, New Zealand, Cambodia, India, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Team Spangler won the most rounds on the series thanks to their speed and determination despite the occasional clueless cab driver. Starr even showed her Horned Frog spirit on one episode, wearing a TCU-baseball hat as she spray-painted taxis in India.

While at TCU, Starr was an early standout too – making the Showgirls Dance Team her freshman year at age 17. In the spring of her freshman year, she auditioned for and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, where she appeared on another reality show – CMT’s “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Cut.”

She was on the squad for three years and according to her website, got an inside look at the entertainment industry while working with a wide variety of acts from Kelly Clarkson to Sheryl Crow.

“It was an incredible journey where Starr truly grew from a girl to a woman, learning the ins and outs of the media entertainment industry in a classy way,” the site reports. “As Starr approached her senior year of college, thoughts of whether or not to stay in Texas with the Cowboys rang in her ears. After randomly seeing an Amazing Race repeat episode one day, she decided to call her brother Nick, demanding it was now or never once again. She flew to see him in Colorado, and in two days they put together their audition video, sent it to CBS, and hoped for the best.

“As she and Nick prepared for the race it was clear that new doors were opening and her time in Texas was coming to a close. Starr graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Christian University and is currently an Analytical Behavior Analyst, working with autistic children.”

Already Team Spangler has racked up an impressive array of Travelocity prizes for their Pit Stop first place finishes including last night’s trip for two to Anguilla complete with sunset cruise and spa treatments.
Just goes to show Frogs are true globehoppers.

For more info including previously aired episodes, go to
- Kathryn and Rick

Friday, December 5, 2008

Football team going to Poinsettia Bowl

While it won't be official until Sunday, the football team has been invited to the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 in San Diego to face the Boise State Broncos. The game should be a very good one, pitting the #11 Horned Frogs against the #9 Broncos.

- Rick

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday tree lighting

More than 400 presents were collected last night for the Order of Omega fund-raiser at the annual holiday tree lighting. The gifts will benefit the children of Child Protective Services of Fort Worth. Students formed a long chain around the north side of Sadler Hall and passed the gifts to a CPS truck.

But all of that was preceded by the traditional favorites: caroling (enhanced again this year with the dulcet tones of the O.D. Wyatt High School Gospel Choir), the arrival of the purple-suited Mr. and Mrs. Claus (played once again by Howard '48 and Mildred Erby Payne '48), the reading of "Twas the Night Before Finals," candles, hot chocolate and the ceremonial lighting of the university tree on the steps of Sadler.

Standing 33 feet tall, the blue spruce tree in front of Sadler will be the tallest tree ever to grace the admin building's steps. But it won't be the largest on campus. New this year was a second tree – a 37-foot-tall, 3,000-pound blue spruce tree – placed in the Brown-Lupton University Union Amphitheater on the Union Plaza. The Union tree is the second-largest live tree in Fort Worth. (The City of Fort Worth's tree in Sundance Square is 17 feet taller. Read the Star-Telegram's account of the man who cut both trees.)

Also new this year was the sounds and smells of 5-year-old reindeer named Donner. (No, not Donder.) Students clamored to pose with the hoofed visitor, which was enclosed in a small pen on the Clark Hall lawn.

Once again, fun was had by all and 400 kids in Tarrant County will enjoy new toys. Chancellor Victor Boschini ended the evening on the right note when he read the final line of the poem: "Happy finals to all and to all a good night."

To watch a video of the night's revelry, check out this.

- Rick

New Frog Blog

It's taken a lot longer than we planned, but our long-awaited new web site will go live in January 2009. In the meantime, we have debuted our new Frog Blog with easier navigation and open to reader comments. Let us know what you think.

Ten years after launching its first web site, The TCU Magazine is about to roll out a redesigned site. The address remains the same -

The magazine's content has been online since 1998, but now readers will find lots of extra content not found in the print edition, published four times a year.

New features include:
- A new look and easier navigation
- Expanded versions of stories in the print version
- Web-only stories and interviews
- Comments section for all stories
- Wallpapers and extras
- Archive of SuperFrog Fun Pages
- Photo galleries

All the original features are still there: Send your latest news for Class Notes, write a letter to the editor, comment on a story, update your mailing address or search issues back to 1998. Frog Blog has gotten a fresh look too and will be much easier to explore the archives.

We'll be tweaking the Frog Blog and the new site as we go, so please share your feedback with us.

- Rick