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Library Exhibit Shows Bearkat Spirit

Library Spirit Exhibit
The "Welcome Back Bearkats" exhibit will be displayed in the library through Homecoming.

With school back in session, Bearkat spirit abounds. This year, spirit is not being contained on the football turf, but can be felt throughout campus, including at our own Newton Gresham Library.

The first ever "Welcome Back Bearkats" display is currently being exhibited in the library and will continue to run through Homecoming. The purpose of the display is to increase the level of spirit at the university and to show students a little bit of history surrounding Sam Houston State.

Library employee Sammie Phelps came up with the idea and enlisted the help of co-worker Cheryl Patton to aid in the display set-up. After contacting various departments, compiling items and memorabilia, and doing a little research, they created a unique display of artifacts that span 122 years of history for Sam Houston State.

"We wanted to put school spirit and enthusiasm for the Fall semester in the context of the history of the university," explained Patton.

The display dates back to the university's founding in 1879 and covers the changing face of what is now Sam Houston State University.

"It's been fun setting this up," said Patton. "People have been really interested in it and we've been real gratified."

The display features some rather interesting items. An old Alcalde pictures Frances Handley, the wife of Elliott Bowers, who was president of SHSU from 1970-1989.

"It was odd, in those days, for a married woman to be featured in the Alcalde, but Frances was," explains Patton. Frances and Elliott met when she was the Sam Houston State Teachers College drum major and he was the band director. They later married and were synonymous with SHSU during his reign. Bowers stadium was named in his honor.

Future SHSU Math Professor Tom Davis is featured in his football uniform when he played as a member of the undefeated, untied 1956 Championship team. Information on Bob Samuel, a Huntsvillian who lettered in football all 4 years of college (1921-1925), is also displayed as well as his letterman sweater and team blanket.

A game ball from the 1939 Sam Houston State Teachers College 9-8 victory over Rice rounds out the football display.

Cheerleaders, the Orange Pride Dance team, women basketball players, literary fraternities, and dorm mates are also groups that have information on display.

The library ties in books that were published during the years Sam Houston changed names to show current students what students of the past would have been reading at the time.

Some contemporary spirit items are also on display. T-shirts, mugs, stickers, and various SHSU logo items are encased to let students know what is available for sale at the Office of Alumni Relations.

So far, the library has seen a good response to the exhibit. Patton hopes that in future years, the display will become an annual one.

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SHSU Media Contact: Audrey Wick
September 6, 2001
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