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Buildings Named, Professors Honored at Regents' Meeting

ALPINE--Two Sam Houston State University buildings have new names, and two SHSU professors are the first recipients of the Regents' Professor Award after a Thursday meeting of the university's governing body at Sul Ross State University.

The Texas State University System approved changing the name of the Visitor and Alumni Center to the John R. Ragsdale Visitor and Alumni Center in recognition of the gift of $1.25 million from Ragsdale, a 1959 graduate who now lives in Montgomery.

Ragsdale is the former owner of 23 Burger King Restaurants in the Houston area. He also was one of five directors and owners of the original Klein Bank, which was acquired by Southwest Bank and is now known as Amegy.

While earning his bachelor of business administration degree, Ragsdale was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. His gift will provide a $985,000 program endowment for alumni relations, a $100,000 endowed scholarship in honor of his mother, a $150,000 program endowment for enrollment management, and a $15,000 gift to the Alumni Life Member Endowment.

The regents also approved changing the name of Academic Building V, which is under construction, to College of Humanities and Social Sciences. At a cost of $30 million and with 150,000 square feet of space, it will be the largest academic building on campus and is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2008.

In addition to its academic programs and academic administrative offices, the building will house a new Teaching Enhancement Center and the Student Advising and Mentoring Center, as well as university administrative offices including Accounts Payable, Business Office, Human Resources, Payroll and Purchasing.

Rolando V. del Carmen, distinguished professor of criminal justice, and James S. Olson, distinguished professor of history, are among the six faculty members from nine institutions in the Texas State University System who were recognized by the TSUS Board of Regents for exemplary performance and contributions in teaching, research and publication, and service.

 Del Carmen is a world-renowned criminal justice scholar and has taught at Sam Houston State for 33 years.   He is one of only two professors in the criminal justice discipline to receive all three of the major awards presented by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and is the recipient of the prestigious Piper Foundation Award -- the state award that recognizes outstanding college/university teaching throughout Texas.   He has served as commissioner and vice chair of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, and was an instructor, coordinator and consultant for the Peace Corps.

Olson has written or edited almost 50 books, placing him in the top one-half of one percent of historians with publications in the Library of Congress.   He has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and the Pulitzer Prize in History.   He also has been recognized as a Piper Professor and was the Carnegie Foundation Texas Professor of the Year in 2005.   He is the only SHSU faculty member ever to receive all three university awards - Excellence in Teaching, Excellence in Research and Excellence in Service.

Del Carmen and Olson, along with the other four professors selected for the honor, will receive a $5,000 award and commemorative medallion.   They will also maintain the title of TSUS Regents' Professor for the duration of their service.

 Other business approved by the Regents included:

Relocation of the university's telecommunications operations at a cost of $4.2 million and providing a new Voice Over Internet Protocol phone system;
Academic administrative changes in political science, mass communication, geography and geology, mathematics and art.
The granting of tenure to five faculty members;

The university's telecommunications equipment, including phone, computer and Internet functions, is now located in a small building on the edge of the university's new landscaped mall area between the student center and Lee Drain Building.

The relocation of these functions will be completed by July 1, 2008, so that the building can be demolished and the mall area completed. With that exception, the mall is scheduled for completion early this fall.

The academic administrative changes include the replacement of Bob Biles by John Holcomb as acting chair of the Department of Political Science and Chris White as acting chair of the Department of Mass Communication, replacing Janet Bridges.

Mark Klespis will step down as chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, with Ken Smith being named chair. Ben Gillespie steps down as chair of the Department of Geography and Geology, with Chris Baldwin named as acting chair pending board approval. Biles, Bridges, Klespis and Gillespie will continue to teach.

Tony Shipp, acting chair of the Department of Art, becomes department chair.

Another academic administrative change for the fall semester is Stanley Kelly as acting chair of the Department of Agricultural and Industrial Sciences.

Philip Morris, as chair of the Department of Accounting, and Don Freeman, chair of the Department of Economics and International Business, were approved in a previous regents meeting.

With the split of the Departments of English and Foreign Languages, Bill Bridges' new title will be chair, Department of English. The Department of Speech Communication has been renamed the Department of Communication Studies, with J. D. Ragsdale as chair.

Faculty members granted tenure, effective in the fall semester, include Smith, professor and chair in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics; Debra Andrist, professor and chair in the Department of Foreign Languages; Enrique Mallen, professor in the Department of Foreign Languages; Lawrence Baines, professor in the Department of Languages, Literacy and Special Populations; and Jihong Zhao, professor in the College of Criminal Justice.


SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Aug. 16, 2007
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