The Jimmie Long Era

(By Dr. Andrew A. Dewees, February, 2007)


Dr. James D. Long had a lifelong affiliation with the Biology Department and Sam Houston State University, and he is largely responsible for the development of the Department into its current form. As Director of the Department of Biology during a period of rapid university enrollment growth, Dr. Long helped established professional faculty hiring practices, modern curricula, faculty workloads and class scheduling strategies, practices that remain in effect in the Department today

James D. Long was born and raised on the family farm near the east Texas town of Rusk, where he graduated from high school at the age of 16.  He then attended Lon Morris Junior College in the nearby town of Jacksonville from 1942 to 1944, after which, at age 18, he was drafted into the U. S. Navy.  He was trained in Malariaology at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, and spent one year in mosquito control on New Caldonia in the South Pacific. These experiences led him to a lifelong professional interest in mosquito biology and mosquito control. After returning from Service, he attended Sam Houston State Teachers College from 1946 to 1948, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Following 1 ½ years as a biology teacher in Groveton, Texas, Long returned to SHSTC were he earned an MA degree in Biology in 1951, working under Mr. Frank A. Cowan. Following one year as high school biology teacher in Houston and one year on the faculty of biology at Lamar Institute of Technology (now Lamar University) in Beaumont, Long entered the doctorate program (1953-1957) at the University of Texas in Austin, majoring in zoology with a minor in botany. He studied mosquito biology under Professor Osmond P. Breland, who, incidentally, was a student of Alfred Kinsey, the expert in human sexuality at Indiana University. 

Dr. Long’s first faculty assignment was as associate Professor of Biology and Department Director at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where he remained for three years. Interested in coming back to East Texas, Dr. Long was hired in 1959 as Associate Professor of Biology at Sam Houston State Teachers College, and was appointed Department Director and full professor in 1961. He remained as Department Director until 1972 when he returned to the regular faculty.

During Dr. Long’s tenure as Department Director, he increased the number of Ph.D.-level faculty positions from four to 16, replacing three faculty having the MA degree with Ph.D.-trained  faculty. These new faculty had a lasting impact on the programs in the Biology Department. Among the 17 Ph.D.- level faculty hired by Dr. Long, 12 served 25 years or more with Dr Harold Foerster serving 42 years. Among this group of 12, the median tenure was 32 years of service on the faculty. This growth in the Biology Department paralleled the growth of SHSTC, which became Sam Houston State College in 1965 and then Sam Houston State University in 1969.  From 1961 through 1972, fall enrollment increased from 5044 to 10,438. During this period, university enrollments were increasing significantly throughout the U. S. as “Baby Boomers” began attending college.  However, university enrollments leveled off in the 1970s, and the enrollment at SHSU was only at 10,685 in the fall of 1987.  Following rapid growth during the past five years, the fall 2006 enrollment at SHSU was 15,935.

Dr. Long helped establish faculty hiring practices that soon were incorporated by other programs across the university.  Unlike his predecessors, he set up faculty committees to advertise, screen and interview job applicants from across the country. These hiring procedures moved the Department, and the University, away from a highly inbred status, where it was common to hire back our own, to a diverse Ph.D.- level faculty trained in institutions from across the nation. He further strengthened the quality of the teaching program by assigning only faculty to teach lectures, rather the previous custom of having graduate students teach lecture sections in introductory biology courses. Graduate students were assigned to laboratory teaching only. The graduate program expanded to the point where 20 graduate teaching fellowships were awarded each semester in the early 1970’s. To help manage the expanding introductory laboratory teaching program, Dr. Long established the position of Laboratory Coordinator in 1968 with the hiring of a fulltime, MA-level staff person. The following individuals served as Laboratory Coordinators, and all played significant roles in the Biology program:
1968-74 Wayne Prince, 1974-79 Robert Phelps, 1979-81 Jerry Rutledge, 1981-90 Leanna Smith, and 1990-present Lori Henderson Rose.

Following his return to regular faculty status, Dr. Long made significant contributions to Departmental curriculum development, assisted in the acquisition of the old Huntsville State Fish Hatchery for use as the SHSU Center for Biological Field Studies. He also played an important role in the planning of new departmental facilities in the Lee Drain Building, constructed in 1984. In addition, Dr. Long served for 20 years as editor of the Department’s annual alumni newsletter, which has helped maintain strong ties with Departmental alumni. He also served for 36 years on the university alumni committee, and was chairman of this group for 15 years.

Dr. Long was a dedicated teacher of biology and introduced this subject to several thousand students during his tenure with the Department. Many former students still comment on the instruction that they received in his introductory biology and entomology classes. He was thoughtful in the selection and preparation of class topics, and was particularly effective in the laboratory. Dr. Long served as an effective mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students, serving as thesis advisor to 15 master's degree students. Many of these students obtained additional advanced degrees and have made significant contributions as professional biologists in teaching and research.

As a practicing scientist and science educator, Dr. Long made significant contributions to these professions and to several professional organizations. In 1966, he was a founding father of TUEBS (Texas Undergraduate Education in the Biological Sciences), an organization that, until recently, met yearly to consider curriculum matters of common interest to area junior and senior colleges. Throughout his career, Dr. Long played a key role in the activities of the Texas Academy of Science. While serving as President of this organization, he was responsible for revising the TAS constitution and placing the academy on a sound financial footing. 

As a mosquito biologist, Dr. Long was a long-time participant and leader in the activities of the American Mosquito Control Associations. In 1998 he received the distinguished service award from this organization for his 13 years of service as editor of their national newsletter. Dr. Long also provided significant, long-term service to the Texas Mosquito Control Association. For 25 years he organized and coordinated their annual Spring workshops and served as treasurer of the organization from1987 to 2001. 

As a researcher in the biological sciences, Dr. Long is nationally recognized for his work with Texas mosquitoes. He is one of the few scientists in the state knowledgeable about species of mosquitoes native to Texas. He and his students published numerous articles on the ecology and distribution of important Texas mosquito species.  On a yearly basis, Dr. Long, accompanied by other Texas entomologists, visited different regions of Texas to monitor local mosquito populations. This information has proven useful in the control of mosquito species that transmit human disease. 

In summary, Dr. James D. Long has made lasting and significant contributions to teaching in the biological sciences, to research in mosquito biology, and to service both within the university, across the state and at the national level. In recognition of his many accomplishments in education, Dr. Long was awarded Professor Emeritus status by the University upon his retirement in 1999.