Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Opera legend to teach master classes

Legendary mezzo soprano Marilyn Horne is in Fort Worth today for a three-day visit with the TCU School of Music. She is scheduled to teach a series of master classes tomorrow and Thursday, along with a booksigning of her second autobiography Marilyn Horne, The Song Continues and a reception and dinner.

Twelve TCU voice students, selected by juried audition, will have a 30-minute private lesson with Horne and will sing in a closing public recital Thursday.

The public is invited to observe the teaching sessions tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. in PepsiCo Recital Hall at no cost, although seating is limited. Patrons are asked to refrain from photography. Following the teaching sessions, Horne will sign her book in the lobby of the Walsh Center beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Thursday's master classes, also free and open to the public in PepsiCo, run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a 3 p.m. closing recital and closing remarks by Horne. A private reception ($500 per ticket) and dinner ($50 per ticket) with Horne follows in the ballroom of the Brown-Lupton University Union.

Horne, 75, spent 29 years with the Metropolitan Opera during a four-decade career that took her to venues around the world. Today, she keeps a full schedule teaching at universities and music academies. Her Marilyn Horne Foundation which began in 1994 has introduced more than 30,000 aspiring young artists to the art of vocal recital and classical song through education programs across the country and full recital appearances.

In December 2007, she attended opening night of the Fort Worth-TCU Symphonic Choir's Christmas performance with Skitch Henderson's New York Pops at Carnegie Hall in New York. Horne was so moved by the performance that she returned to hear them again the second night and sought out TCU choir director Ron Shirey to offer her compliments, even offering to come to Fort Worth and work with his students.

This week, she makes good on her promise.

Famous fictional Frog

In the Spring issue of The TCU Magazine, we included a fun pop quiz on Horned Frogs in popular culture. Too bad we hadn't seen this week's episode of "The Simpsons" before we went to press.

Turns out, TCU has another famous fictional alum - the Rev. Timothy Lovejoy, the minister of the Homer Simpson and family's home church - The First Church of Springfield, whose denomination is the "Western Branch of American Reformed Presbylutheranism."

In the episode titled "Wedding for Disaster" that aired last Sunday, Lovejoy welcomes his boss, who also turns out to be his "old roommate from Texas Christian."

His degree is backed up by the definitive source - wikipedia - in an entry that says: "He initially came to Springfield an eager, idealistic, guitar-playing, Volkswagen Karmann Ghia-driving young man in the 1970s, only to become cynical and disillusioned about his flock and ministry, mostly due to Ned Flanders, who constantly pesters him with religious non-emergencies such as coveting his own wife. Lovejoy would dispatch such concerns with maximum brevity so that he could return to playing with his model trains."

"The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening has indicated that Lovejoy is named after Lovejoy Street in Portland, Ore., the city where Groening grew up. I guess it sounds better than Rev. University Drive.

To check out the episode click here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sax player headlines Jazz festival

Baritone sax and tuba player Howard Johnson, the director of the originial "Saturday Night Live" Band headlined the 32nd annual TCU Jazz Festival Friday and Saturday nights. Over the years, Johnson has played with a variety of jazz notables including Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius and Jack DeJohnette. He played Friday night at PepsiCo Recital Hall and Saturday with the TCU Jazz Ensembles at Ed Landreth Auditorium. The shows were part of a weekend of activities including classes and workshops with 28 high school and middle school ensembles.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Finding balance in rage-filled world

Kathryn Everest was leaving a restaurant near TCU in September 1999 when a parade of ambulances rushed down University Drive.

“Something must have happened at TCU,” she thought.

Moments later, her cell phone rang. It was her boss. There at been a shooting at Wedgwood Baptist Church and she was needed.

As coordinator of guidance and counseling for the Fort Worth Independent School District, Everest would spend the ensuing hours reconnecting parents and children. But for seven families, that night would end in horror.

“My master’s degree didn’t prepare me for giving death notifications with medical examiner,” she explained to a crowd of about 50 alumni at the Kelly Center.

Six weeks of mourning, soul-searching and questioning would pass for the Fort Worth community. Finally, the emotional weight of the experience came crashing down on Everest one night at home.

“I was in the bathtub shaving my legs, and I nicked myself,” said Everest. “For the first time, I smelled that metallic smell that blood sometimes has, and it hit me. That blood was a common experience for everyone. It was a trigger, and I cried for hours.”

She began to do research on what stressful events do to the body, and she came to an important conclusion: It doesn’t have to take a trauma for stress to be toxic.

“We live in a rageful world,” said Everest, who is teaching graduate courses on counseling at TCU. “People are angry on the road, people are angry at Dillard’s, yelling at salespeople. We live in a world of global connectedness, media saturation and instant information, and the result is that it’s stressed us. It’s made us impatient. We live at a supersonic pace. Here’s the ultimate truth: unmitigated stress is unhealthy and is ultimately deadly.”

Carpool. Stock market. Grades. Mortgage. Bills. Laundry. Stress is all around and it increases with time. Cumulative stress affects body, mind and spirit, and for some leads to fatigue, lateness, depression or drug use.

“I watched an hour of television last night and there were five ads for sleep aids,” she said. “We have a culture of anxiety and worry that bombards us.”

Everest realized she didn’t want to teach stress management. She wanted to teach people to find balance and live a joy-filled life.

“Wellness is the realization that everything you feel, think, do and believe impacts health,” said Everest, who turned her epiphany into a workshop called “Why are my car keys in the refrigerator?” which she has shared across the country. She’s also founded a consulting company called The Everest Edge.

“Finding balance requires the integration of the emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual. It is an everyday, ongoing, multifaceted process to find balance.”

Everest used the rest of the hour to lead the Kelly Center crowd through the symptoms of stress reactions and some suggestions on how to find and maintain balance.

Everest is a fan of walking. When she’s out shopping, she parks at the back of the parking lot and hoofs it into the store. She’s also a proponent of stretching and breathing exercises, which are free, she pointed out.

“I tried to join L.A. Fitness and it wasn’t my scene,” she said, “but you can do these simple things in mere minutes and it doesn’t cost you a penny.”

Among her other tips:

- Practice honesty. “If you would rather go home after a long week than go to dinner with your husband’s friends, tell him and why you feel that way. Save yourself the week of worry about what excuse you will make up. If they love you, they will understand your need for relaxation and comfort.”
- Meditate or pray.
- Read. Or attend a fine arts event. Or learn a new skill.
- Learn to say “No thanks” rather than take on more than you can handle.
- Deal with problems immediately.
- Be realistic.
- Eat healthy. “When we are stressed, we forget the most basic of needs. We revert back to old habits.”

Everest was recognized in 2006 as the Texas School Counselor Supervisor of the Year and in 2007 given the Texas Association of Counseling Education and Supervision Presidential Award for Outstanding Leadership.

Contact Everest at kathryn@theeverestedge.com.

Walkers get rewards

The 4th annual TCU Pedometer Challenge wrapped up today and participants got their just desserts – a table laden with brownies, biscotti and other baked goodies.

The six-week-long event encourages TCU employees to take steps – literally - toward a healthier lifestyle, handing out free pedometers to tally their steps. Today prizes were awarded for those with the highest totals and teams with the highest totals were recognized.

This year’s winners:

First place: Carla Ayala, who logged 1,576,416 steps.

Second place: J. Guadalupe Ventura, 1,563,863 steps

Third Place: Kent Mire 1,208,513 steps.

The winning team was the DMC Frogs, who averaged 758,000 steps per member.

This year more than 1,000 faculty and staff members participated in the challenge. Of those, only about 50 or so made the awards ceremony to chow down on the bounty of goodies. One Brite staffer quipped “I hope they don’t make us walk a mile for eating all this.”

No worries. To the walkers, go the spoils.

Salvage and the city

What makes a city vibrant and alive?

Sociology professor Jeff Ferrell argues it’s the unexpected exchange, spontaneous performances and even the occasional thought-provoking annoyance that truly enrich city dwellers.

Photo courtesy The Daily Skiff

“We forget what makes the city the city,” he said in giving the AddRan distinguished lecture Wednesday night.
“It’s the impurity of it, not perfect streets and manicured lawns. We forget a city should be disorderly, a place you’re not quite sure of.

"It’s not enough to live in the city, you’ve got to live for the city and salvage the ways we can make the city thrive.”

In his own research, Ferrell studies underground groups he believes make a city dynamic - not your typical economic development types, but skateboard punks, street musicians, graffiti artists, bicycle activists and the homeless. He’s spent years doing his own field research, living the lifestyle of these groups, most recently the subculture of dumpster diving.

“I had some sense of it – that people could live from a dumpster, but I wanted to experience it myself,” he said. “I found this entire world filled with all types of people from the homeless, to good-old-boys driving old pick-ups who salvage metal to the under-employed who come to the dump after work in their Wal-Mart uniforms. They’re there because they can’t feed and clothe their family on $7 an hour.”

He said other subgroups in the dumpster diving culture included immigrants and those motivated by ethical and political beliefs. He noted the Freegan movement came out of a group of vegans who believed they could live with an even smaller carbon footprint by eating refuse that was already being thrown out by society.

“They voluntarily commit to living only from what they find in the trash,” he said.
Another group he has studied, Food Not Bombs, aims to take food that’s destined for the dump, and use it to prepare meals for the homeless.

The fact that so many people can survive on garbage, says a lot about the over-consumption of Americans, he added.

“All the things they find are thing that are not worn out, but things that no longer confer status because the fashion has changed,” he said. “Thanks to advertising, we’re totally driven by wants, not needs.”

But what really troubles him is the way subversive groups are increasingly being shut down by city governments who see them as threats. For example, he studied the evolution of Mill Avenue in Tempe. Arizona, a main drag by Arizona State University, as it shifted from independent coffee shops and tattoo parlors to upscale chain stores and Starbucks.

“The city actually privatized the sidewalk and said it was illegal for homeless to sit down there,” he said. “Why should it be illegal to sit down and sip water on a hot Arizona afternoon?’

He said the city of Dallas has taken aim at the homeless by making it illegal to have a shopping cart off the store parking lot and other cities have made attempts to criminalize dumpster diving, calling it theft of property. Instead of fighting these subgroups, he thinks city should see how they actually contribute to the city's diversity and dynamism.

He pointed to skateboarders in Southern California in the late 70s and early 80s who used rundown parking lots, abandoned streets and empty swimming pools to invent a new sport.

“They reclaimed the city and made it a place for fun,” he said.

As a perk of being tapped to deliver the lecture, Ferrell will get a lighter teaching load to devote more time to research and a $2,000 cash award. Not that he’ll use it towards his own wardrobe, he proudly noted he found most of his outfit, including his tie, in the dumpster while doing his field research, which on most weekends, means scouring garbage in and around his Arlington Heights neighborhood.

He encouraged the standing room only audience of students, faculty and staff to see the benefits of dumpster diving – both personal and for society.

“None of this is drudgery,” he said. “Dumpster divers are happy because everyday is an adventure. You never know what you’re going to find. I’ve found it re-animates the city with surprise and pleasure. On some days I feel like I’m a pirate searching for treasure. The loot's there if you know where to look.”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009 football schedule released

TCU's 2009 football schedule has been completed with Thursday's Mountain
West Conference announcement of the dates for league contests.

All 12 games for TCU will be played on Saturdays. The Mountain West
Conference slate will run for eight consecutive weeks, beginning Oct. 10,
and alternate each game between road and home dates.

2009 TCU Football Schedule
Sept. 12 - at Virginia, TBA (TBA)
Sept. 19 - Texas State, 6 p.m.
Sept. 26 - at Clemson, TBA (TBA)
Oct. 3 - SMU, 7 p.m. (The Mtn.)
Oct. 10 - at Air Force*, 6:30 p.m. (CBS College Sports Network - HD)
Oct. 17 - Colorado State*, 3 p.m. (VERSUS - HD)
Oct. 24 - at BYU*, 6:30 p.m. (VERSUS - HD)
Oct. 31 - UNLV*, 3 p.m. (VERSUS - HD)
Nov. 7 - at San Diego State*, 3 p.m. (VERSUS - HD)
Nov. 14 - Utah*, 6:30 p.m. (CBS College Sports - HD)
Nov. 21 - at Wyoming, 1 p.m. (The Mtn.)
Nov. 28 - New Mexico, Noon (The Mtn.)

*Mountain West Conference game
All times Central

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Weird weather

A front this afternoon brought some eerie darkness, steady rain and Mammatus clouds. Marketing and Communication colleagues Victor Neil and Kate Kent shot these photos around 2 p.m. Tornado sirens went off earlier, but reports were that it was a part of the normal weekly siren tests. No classes were interrupted.

Don Mills' required reading

Donald B. Mills ’72 (MDiv) doesn’t mind the occasional trashy read.

“I remember finding my father’s copy of Peyton Place tucked under his bureau,” said Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs. “He’d go to work and I’d sneak in and read it.”

And while he still loves to take the latest John Grisham novel along on trips, he prefers to savor works awarded literature’s top prizes – the Pullitzer, Man Booker or Nobel.

“I like to read award-winning books because someone else has done the hard work of deciding what’s really good,” said Mills, who detailed his favorite books in a lunchtime chat Wednesday with faculty and staff.

He revealed seven of his top reads including three novels and four non-fiction works. Here’s his list:

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
“I read this book when I was 18 years old. It was the first time I’d read something serious by a serious author. I was overwhelmed by the language that was used. I liked Franny better than Zooey, in part because she’s nuts, but also because Franny is on a quest to be a pilgrim and when you’re 18 years old, starting your life’s journey, you’re on a quest. You want to make sure your life is an important life.”

The Shipping News By Annie Proulx
“It’s a beautifully written book, and very funny too in some ways, about a guy who goes to the most depressing, desolate place you can imagine – Nova Scotia. By the end of the book, I wanted to go to Nova Scotia too. I wanted to see that cold, rocky place. He’s basically a big loser but he goes there and meets a ton of interesting characters and finds himself.”

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
“It’s about a father who is losing his mind to senility and a mother who is trying to hold the family together. It has to do with how our lives are never what they look like to the outside.
It’s not for the squeamish, there’s some bizarre stuff in there, but I loved the language and how it talks about relationships. At least I can say I’m not as nuts as these people.”

Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
“He monitors what’s going on around the world and what we need to do about it. Read this book and look at some of the proposals that have come out of the Obama administration on health care and energy and you’ll see similarities.”

Nixonland by Rick Perlstein
“It’s a history of the United States organized around the rise of Richard Nixon, ending before Watergate. It’s basically a history of the United States while I was growing up. The material is important reading for all of us because it shows how cynical Nixon was in going about getting elected in 1968 – how he separated the United States into different groups. Nixon started the whole process of putting people into a box and demonizing them.”

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
“He’s able to take other people’s insights and make them make sense. We used this book to understand students and how to get them going in a certain direction. For example, if we want to get students to use the library 24 hours a day, and we do, who do we have to talk to in our student body to make that happen.”

Collapse: How Societies Chose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
“He talks about how societies make conscious decisions they know are bad and will cause the society to collapse. For example, the Vikings moved from Scandinavia to Greenland and planted the same crops even though they wouldn’t grow in Greenland.
We know polluting the air and polluting the ground will have bad effects, but we do it anyway.”

Asked what types of book he’d like to write, Mills said, “If I was writing for fun, I’d write a book of poetry. I’m not a good writer. I can get about 25 lines in iambic pentameter, then I become e.e. cummings.”

What if he were to tackle non-fiction?

“I’d like to examine how you sustain a community, a group of people like a church congregation or a university. How does TCU sustain itself and make a difference? Is it facilities? It is how the people gather together and interact? Is it guided by the founding principles? These are important questions. I think about them a lot and if I come up with any answers, I’ll write about it.”

And we’ll be reading.

College Admission. Simplified.

Mac Istook '98 recently launched http://www.universitydrive.com/, a service designed to guide teens through the process of selecting a college.

Istook is now a Los Angeles-based TV producer and host (He's on weeknights on the TV Guide Channel's "411 Hollywood"). But he branched out with partners to start the business, University Drive.

He's just finished production on six DVD episodes called College Admission. Simplified. The episodes, available through the website, guide teens through the process of choosing colleges, as well as applying, preparing and succeeding once they arrive.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Class on the Sadler steps

This afternoon's 72-degree weather was so fabulous that Dr. Lee Daniel decided to teach his 2 p.m. Spanish course, Conversation, outside Sadler Hall today. Daniel said that his students have been urging him to take the class outdoors for weeks. Today, he didn't need a dry erase board or an electrical outlet. But it was a good day for some conversation. - CC

Kudos for The TCU Magazine

The TCU Magazine staff has been recognized for one design and four writing awards by District IV of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. District IV encompasses Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Among the winners:
  • Art Director Tracy Bristol was recognized for the opening spread of her layout for the cover story Bleed Purple, Live Green. It won in the category Magazine Visual Design (Single Editorial Spread).
  • Staff Writer Kathryn Hopper earned plaudits for the story Ropin' the Wind about TCU's wind energy partnership with Oxford University. Her story is a winner in the category Medical/Scientific News Writing.
  • Editor Nancy Bartosek received acclaim for the story Power Hungry about TCU's Energy Institute, which won in the category Medical/Scientific Feature Writing.
  • Bartosek and Hopper were praised for the collection of three stories Ropin' the Wind, Power Hungry and Green Roofs in the category Medical/Scientific Writing Collection.
  • Bartosek, Hopper and assistant editor Rick Waters earned commendation for the collection of three stories Power Hungry, Mighty Moseley and Cooking Up a Final Exam in the category General Writing Collection.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Playing in the shadow of the alma mater

Green River Ordinance, with a TCU alum on the drums, plans a CD release party Friday, March 27, at the Aardvark, 2905 W. Berry St., Fort Worth.

Drummer Denton Hunker '08, as well as former TCU students Jamey Ice on guitar and Geoff Ice on bass are part of the band that released the CD Out of My Hands last month on the prestigious Virgin Records label. The band cites Radiohead, Cold Play, Tom Petty and U2 as among its major influences.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 2 of Alumni Weekend at FrogHouse

Saturday was Day 2 of the Fort Worth alumni chapter's weekend at FrogHouse. More than 25 alums were out helping the junior class, who heads up the annual effort through Habitat for Humanity, and other members of the TCU community. The day's tasks: painting concrete composition siding and nailing it onto the house.

"From an alumni perspective, this is such a rewarding experience because everyone is contributing in whatever way they can," said Susan McInnis '67, chapter president. "We have some people who are very skilled and can do the technical work. Some people are doing smaller tasks like painting and carrying materials. Then we have Sue Parrish '62 and her family who brought lunch."

Fried catfish, fries, hush puppies and purple cole slaw, to be exact. Good eats for a good cause. The weekend is the chapter's annual service project.

"It feels good to be a part of a worthwhile effort like this and working on it together," said Mike Sullivan '90, a former two-time All-Southwest Conference offensive lineman for the Frogs, who brought a team of 10 former Frog lettermen to help. "That sense of teamwork never goes away for us."

Ex-athletes from football, basketball, swimming and diving were among Sullivan's group.

Construction on the three-bedroom, two-bath house, measuring 1,485 square feet, began Feb. 13 and will be finished by Apr. 25. But plans for the house began long before then. The junior class began fundraising for construction through raffles, letter writing and solicitations, said class rep Alex Pierce, an entrepreneurial management major from Decatur.

"I like to make an immediate difference and am excited to get to see the new homeowner's face when they hand her the keys," Pierce said. "We'll get to physically see the difference we're making."

That future homeowner is Alice Villegas, who wants to add room for her large extended family. "I cannot wait to live in my house and enjoy it with my family, especially Thanksgivings, Christmases and birthdays," said Villegas, who works at the Southwst Fort Worth Regional Library.

"We all be together, but we won't be overcrowded," she said. "It'll be home."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Alumni, students work on FrogHouse

The irises are blooming along side homes on the east side of Fort Worth, where Horned Frog alumni and students gathered on the first day of spring to build a Trinity Habitat for Humanity home.

For future homeowner Alice Villegas, 60, the house being erected is a sure sign of renewal and hope. It will be the first home she's ever bought, and it will allow her to move from the house she shares with her sister, brother-in-law and his extended family.

"These students, these people are just awesome," Villegas says as the crew of TCU workers put up siding, painted and installed roof vents. "I'm really grateful."

She'll finally be able to have her grandchildren over to visit once the house is completed in mid-May. Construction began in February and most all the work has been done by Horned Frogs.

For three years, the TCU junior class and the Fort Worth Alumni Association have built FrogHouse homes for Habitat for Humanity. The effort is part of the junior class focus on responsible citizenship. Other student groups participate as well, including the International Student Association that helped out Friday.

"It's an important job," says Zhao Zhang, a sophomore engineering student from Beijing who helped with the painting. "It's a good way to spend spring break."

Alums find the volunteer work rewarding as well.

Jack Larson '86, a member of the Fort Worth Alumni Association board, took a day off from his job as a real estate and business lawyer to work on the three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,485-square-foot home.

"It's a great way for Fort Worth alumni to work with students and see what they are doing these days," Larson said. "I am really proud of them."

For Steve Cowden '82, crew chief for the project, the home is the 167th he's helped build for Trinity Habitat for Humanity since 1992 and he can't seem to get enough.

"It feels good to help people out," Cowden of Fort Worth says. He is retired now and spends his free time doing a range of volunteer work, including tax accounting for AARP and the Joint Air Reserve Base and ushering at Bass Hall.

His sentiments were echoed by volunteer Emily Mooney '01 of Benbrook, an interior design major who recently was laid off from a job in furniture sales.

"I needed to get out and do some good. With everything going on in the world today, we need to help people out."

The house is not a hand-out to Villegas. She'll pay a mortgage and she is investing "sweat equity" in working on the house alongside the TCU group she couldn’t stop praising with just one term: "Awesome. They are just awesome."

For more information, visit www.froghouse.tcu.edu. - JM

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Upbeat update on Horned Frog drummer

It's not such a long way from the TCU jazz band to the big time, at least not for drummer Jordan Richardson '03.

Jordan joined rock guitarist Ben Harper's new band, Relentless 7, and is set to take the stage at Radio City Music Hall in April when the band plays with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney.

Relentless 7's debut album, White Lies for Dark Times, is to be released in stores and on iTunes May 5. Jordan and the band are scheduled for an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman on May 6.

That's quite a gig for a Horned Frog who played in the jazz band from 1999-2003.

Check out the video of Jordan on the drums at http://www.relentless7.com/

Friday, March 13, 2009

Frogs Go the Distance

Meghana Mathew '08 and Carlo Capua '00 finished the 31-mile Cowtown Ultramarathon in February.

The pair ran to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and blood-related cancer research.

"We finished in about the time it would take you to watch the Back to the Future trilogy," Carlo joked.

Nonetheless, they made it to the finish line, where they paused to remember their alma mater.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bear hugs

On May 21, 2007, Taryn Davis' husband was killed by multiple roadside bombs in Iraq and the San Marcos native became a widow at age 21.

Feeling lost and alone, she  began traveling the country, talking with other Iraq and Afghanistan war widows, ultimately finding strength in those connections. She formed the non-profit organization American Widow Project to help other women who receive the devastating news they have lost a loved one. 

Already the group has produced a documentary covering the lives and everyday struggles on war widows that is available to the recently widowed and the organization recently received an RV emblazoned with the names of the fallen from all five branches of the armed forces that travels the country to promote awareness of the group Davis describes as "a new generation of war widows."  Her efforts have gained nationwide media exposure including an upcoming segment on ABC's nightly news broadcast.

Davis was on TCU's campus this week thanks to the efforts of Christina Sessums, a senior social work major, who was moved by her appearance on Larry King Live. She brought Davis to TCU to speak in the fall, but wanted to do more. Together they came up with a hands-on way the Horned Frog community could help the families dealing with their grief - making Daddy Memory Bears.

On Wednesday and again on Thursday, more than 50 students met Davis and two other widows to hear their stories and help add the special touches to each bear - a photo of the fallen soldier and his child. The effort was partially funded by an $850 grant from Junior Transitions and Student Community Involvement/Service Learning. 

Heather Brown, a junior social work major, helped coordinate the bear drive and recruit volunteers. 

 "These widows have made the ultimate sacrifice," she said. "We wanted to do something to honor and support them." 
Christina Sesssums shows how to assemble the Daddy Memory Bears while members of the American Widow Project look on. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Write stuff

TCU has a reputation for nurturing writers and a quick read through the winners of this year’s Creative Writing Wards is proof that the tradition continues.

The winning entries, announced Tuesday in the English Department's annual ceremony, showcase Frog talent across a broad spectrum of literary forms. From an essay by undergrad Kelly Hanson titled "People You See on the Tube While Studying Abroad in London," winner of the Bill Camfield Memorial Award for Humor and Satire to the reflective poem "The Deployment of My Kid Brother" by alum John Wood, '08, now in law school in New York City and winner of the Margie Boswell Poetry Award.

Alex Lemon, a lecturer in the English Department, announced the winners while David Kuhne, editor of TCU literary magazine descant, gave out the coveted checks. Ray Gonzalez, a Texas-born poet who now teaches creative writing at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, was the keynote speaker.

“You know that movie “Fargo,” it’s all true,” he deadpanned to the audience, alluding to the award-winning film that celebrated the stoic residents of the upper MidWest. “So is “Grumpy Old Men.’ But it’s also a beautiful place, particularly the upper part of the state by Lake Superior, north of Duluth.”

Gonzalez read a selection of his poems including those that celebrated the area around El Paso, where he grew up, and other parts of south Texas. He was invited to speak by Lemon, a former student of his who has made his mentor’s work required reading for his TCU students.

Other winners announced were:
Woman’s Wednesday Club Award for Undergraduate Fiction: Elora Davis.

Woman’s Wednesday Club Award for a Research Paper: Daryl Nelson.

Sigma Tau Delta Essay Award: Catherine Paris.

The AddRan English 10803 Award: Jason Lam.

Harry Opperman Short Story Contest: Rhamy Paine.

Thursday Group TCU Women Exes Award for Non-fiction Prose: Emily Cody.

The C.S. Lewis Prize for Christina Literature: Sarah Dombrowsky

Siddie Joe Johnson Poetry Award: Sarah Dombrowsky

The Nancy Evans Memorial Award for Texas Writing: Kelly Hanson.

Kurt Lee Hornbeck Poetry Award: Alicia Frinak

The Betsy Colquitt Graduate Poetry Award: Larisa Asaeli

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

T. Boone Pickens touts energy plan

The United States could be paying $200 to $300 a barrel for foreign oil if it doesn't cut foreign oil dependency, billionaire energy mogul T. Boone Pickens told a crowd of 800 people yesterday at the Brown-Lupton University Union.

"Cheap oil is what has caused us to be in the trap," Pickens said. "Because it's cheap it has caused us to not look at the problems that come with it."

If the country does not begin using its own resources, the current crisis will only get worse, he said.

Pickens, chairman of hedge fund BP Capital Management and author of The First Billion is the Hardest, said moving away from foreign energy sources is key to restoring the United States' prominence.

"The world sees us using the enemy's oil, and other countries have lost respect that we haven't moved past this and solved our problem," Pickens said. "If we could move away from foreign oil I believe our credibility would turn."

In the town hall-style meeting, Pickens said the United States could decrease its need for foreign fossil fuel by using wind power to generate up to 22 percent of the country's electricity. He said the wind power would provide incentives for home and commercial building owners to upgrade their energy saving options.

Pickens said he hopes that the country could use power from wind for transportation fuel within the next 20 years.

The importance of finding alternative means of energy is crucial because the U.S. uses such a large portion of the world's oil.

"We are operating like we have oil," Pickens said. "Our country only has 3 percent of the world's oil reserve, yet we are using 25 percent of the oil produced worldwide everyday and we import 68.7 percent of our oil."

Pickens said younger generations really need to take charge of making a change. He said the crisis is not going to go away, and if younger generations don't acknowledge that, then there will be more problems in the future.

Holt Redwine, a sophomore finance and accounting major, said Pickens' idea that the younger generations need to take on the responsibility is what students needed to hear.

"He's putting the pressure on our generation, which is what we need to motivate others to step up and make a change," Redwine said. "His plan may not be the complete answer, but it's a step in the right direction."

Justin LaPoten, sophomore finance major and co-founder of the Energy Club, said the Pickens Plan seems to be the best way for the U.S. to cut off its need for foreign oil.

"I think when you see the recession we're in right now, the fact that we are importing 70 percent of oil from places like Iran and Saudi Arabia that aren't very friendly with us doesn't seem like something we should be doing," LaPoten said. "The Pickens Plan gives us ways we can get away from that."