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Museum Director Channels The Spirit Of Sam

July 19, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Meredith Mohr

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Mac Woodward, who has largely spent his career within SHSU's Sam Houston Memorial Museum, became one of several who have simultaneously served the dual role of university employee and Huntsville mayor when he was elected to the position in November 2011. —Photo by Brian Blalock

 

Perched in a shiny glass case, in a corner of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, is a green velvet hat. It’s nestled amidst other pieces of Sam Houston’s life and the lives of the people he was close to.

Mac Woodward, who is a man of many hats himself, says it is his favorite among all the artifacts.

He says it reminds him of the personality of Sam Houston—friendly, bigger-than-life and bold—a personality that is ever present in the city of Huntsville.

Woodward was selected as director of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in January after serving as a curator of collections for 16 years. In November 2011, Woodward was also elected mayor of Huntsville.

Though he is not the first employee to serve as mayor of Huntsville, as he continues both his term as mayor, which ends November 2013, and his job as museum director, Woodward has a vision for the community and the university that has the spirit of Gen. Sam Houston at it’s heart.

“For me, it is really exciting because the museum is a part of the university, which we will continue to be, but we’re also a part of the city too,” Woodward said. “The city is very supportive of us, and I see us as a real link between the city and the university. It’s really exciting that I get to be a part of both of those things as director and mayor.”

Woodward had served on the city council for several years when he considered running for mayor last fall.

“I decided to run for the city council because I wanted to have the opportunity to give back to Huntsville,” Woodward said. “There are so many good people in our community that make a difference, and I thought this would be a way to hopefully do the same.

He said that becoming mayor for a town like Huntsville has a huge benefit: the people.

“You know everyone and you have the ability to interact with so many different people daily,” Woodward said. “You aren’t isolated like you might be with a bigger city, and the relationships are really good because of that. I see fellow council members in the grocery store and out and about; it’s a great experience in a small town.”

As fall rapidly approaches, he and the city council are working on the budget and staying mindful of the current economic situation, a task that has “allowed them to really learn to work together as team to create the best outcome for the city,” Woodward said.

“After six months, it is really rewarding for me to see us coming together and working together with teamwork,” Woodward said. “The main thing we are working on is the budget, as that sets the tone and vision and projects for the year.”

In moving forward, Woodward has been working with the city and the university in his time as mayor so far on accomplishing and planning for a number of projects, including finishing and reopening the Huntsville Public Library, completing the fire station on the east side of town, and working on the future establishment of a research development park that would provide benefit to the university and the town with new businesses, industries and services.

The most important goal in moving forward is fostering good relationships between the city and university.

“The most important way for the relationship between the city and university to continue to improve is through communication,” Woodward said. “I sincerely believe as that relationship grows the people of Huntsville benefit. That also applies to the city's relationship with others, for example Walker County, Huntsville Independent School District, and TDCJ.”

As director of the museum, he puts on other hats – historian, Sam Houston alumnus, and overseer of manuscripts, historic buildings and artifacts.

Woodward earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from SHSU and later graduated from the University of Houston’s Institute for Public History with his master’s degree. He was a historical interpreter and later the curator of collections before being named director of the museum.

“The city and the university and the museum, these are the areas that are nearest and dearest to me, especially since I graduated from Sam,” Woodward said. “It’s been really nice to serve both of them and to be able to bring them together to have a great relationship that connects different parts of Huntsville.”

Whether he is among the artifacts at the museum, immersed in the rich history of Gen. Sam Houston, or working hard on budgets for the city of Huntsville, Woodward, who perhaps might identify with the general himself as a politician, said he hopes his two new jobs have fallen into place together to make Huntsville an overall better town to live in.

“I hope that I can play a role to keep the effort of building a great relationship between the city and the university going,” Woodward said. “The university is such an important part of the community. Just look how the football team united us.

“The fact that this is a small, close-knit community really helps, and a lot of people involved in the city have university connections. I hope we can really maintain that small-town feel while expanding the valuable relationship between the city and the university that we have established.”

 

 

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