(The following information was published as a guest column in the Huntsville Item on Feb. 13, 1997.)


On Feb. 10 Reta Shoultz wrote that residents of Huntsville "do not feel particularly welcome" on the Sam Houston State University campus. I would just like to say that people from anywhere, and especially Huntsville, Walker County, and Texas, ARE welcome, and to give some information that the writer may not have known about.

Concerning the lack of visitor parking on campus. There are not enough visitor spaces to make visitors happy, and at this point, none near the library. There are visitor spaces on Avenue I, between the Lowman Student Center and the computer center, which are almost as close as the parking lot behind the library, and the walk is level.

Elsewhere on campus there are visitor spaces available across the street from the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, which are of primary use to the museum and the alumni office. There are several spaces for visitor parking near the extended learning office. These spaces are closed at present because of the Estill Classroom Building renovation project, but they will be available again when that work is completed this summer.

Another point relating to parking is that if visitors cannot go by the university police office for a visitor's pass, any parking ticket received can be mailed to or dropped off at the university police office with no penalty. That information is printed on the front of the ticket.

Concerning classes for non-students. Extended learning does offer a number of courses for fun and enrichment, such as ceramics, surfing the Internet, introduction to computers, Spanish levels I and II and conversational Spanish. Past offerings have included country and western, ballroom, line and swing dancing, painting with watercolors, and others.

Extended learning also offers a number of courses in allied health care which can help area residents improve job skills, including medication aide training, CPR training, EMS instructor training, and sign language training. Call 294-3701 for information on any of the extended learning offerings.

A new feature offered by extended learning is a request line which can be used by area residents to indicate interest in a particular course or area. That 24-hour number is 294-3701. Any individual or group can come up with an idea, request it, and extended learning will attempt to schedule that course.

The writer indicated that at another university fees from $20 to $150 were charged for non-credit courses. The upcoming ceramics course, which will be taught on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon, April 5 through May 24, will cost $150, primarily because of the cost of materials used. The dance courses taught in the past have cost $25 each.

Area residents may also audit any university course taught as part of the regular curriculum, for $50. Auditing students are asked to obtain written permission from instructors before paying the fee, to assure that classroom space is available.

Another area of community/campus involvement that has been extremely successful has been the Small Business Development Center. Resources and courses are available there, many free and some at relatively low fees. That program is considered among the most efficient among similar operations in the Houston area. More information is available at 294-3737.

Concerning library policies. Anyone can use the library and its facilities, including the Thomason Room and Peabody Library rare books and documents areas, free of charge, inside the library. To check books out of the library, a $20 per year fee is charged. Library officials say that this is in line with policies and fees at most other universities.

While it is true that Texas taxpayers paid for many of the books in the library, Sam Houston State University is not "tax-supported" by Legislative appropriations as it has been in the past. SHSU is really only "tax-assisted," in that less than 50 percent of our operating budgets for the past several years has come from state appropriations. Most of the books being bought today are paid for by students who pay tuition.

SHSU library personnel are also working on an arrangement with the Huntsville Public Library to allow users of that facility who have a good record in returning books to check books out as well, at no charge, from the SHSU library.

SHSU is a great place for music, theatre, dance and athletic events, all open to area residents for relatively low admission fees. Monday evening at 7:30 the SHSU Wind Ensemble will perform a concert on campus, with an admission fee of $5, students free. They will perform the same program at the Wortham Theatre Center in Houston on Thursday, with an admission fee of $10 for adults, $5 for students.

The Wortham performance is unusual, in fact the first ever by a SHSU student ensemble, according to conductor Gary Sousa. But most who attend the regularly-scheduled campus cultural and athletic events agree that the quality to cost ratio in comparison with professional offerings in the Houston area is extremely favorable.

On Thursday evenings this spring visitors can see NCAA Division I basketball double-headers, and eat all the jumbo hot dogs they can hold, for $3 admission and 25 cents per dog. Baseball and softball games are free of any admission charge.

Art exhibits are always free. Many other special events, such as the Distinguished Lecturer Series, are free. Some of the speakers in that series over the years have been Ashley Montagu, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Zbigniew Brzezinski, John Kenneth Galbraith, Alvin Toffler, Larry McMurtry, David Halberstam, Liz Carpenter, and just this past fall, Lech Walesa.

One area which does have plenty of free parking and all sorts of possibilities for involvement is the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and Walker Education Center. Almost every Saturday there are pottery, hands-on crafts such as spinning, weaving, and others, offered free of charge.

The exhibits in the Walker Education Center are all free. Upcoming exhibits and programs include "Mapping the West: Nineteenth-Century Landscape Photographs from the Boston Public Library," from April 1 to May 15. In conjunction with that exhibit will be a symposium titled "Western Visions: Art and Photographs of the Frontier," also free, on April 26. A quilt show is scheduled for June 1. Call 294-1832 for information on any of the museum activities.

The museum is always happy to have volunteers as guides and docents, and area residents who might like to get involved in a great example of community/university cooperation can volunteer to work on the General Sam Houston Folk Festival. Call Dr. Caroline Crimm at 294-1487 to offer help on that project, which this year is scheduled April 18-20.

The folk festival was begun 10 years ago when state funding for the Museum Complex was threatened. Community residents rallied in a gratifying and continuing show of support for the museum and the university.

Community/campus projects since that time have also included the General Sam Houston Bicentennial Birthday Celebration and an outgrowth of that observance, construction of the Big Sam statue--the world's tallest statue of an American hero--in the far southern part of the city.

Sam Houston State is really a friendly university. We have been for years and we want to remain that way. We do welcome comments and suggestions, and we will consider each one. If you do not know who to contact, please write to me at Box 2105; SHSU; Huntsville, TX 77341; or call at 294-1833.


Frank Krystyniak

Feb. 13, 1997