Today@Sam Article

SHSU Update For Week Of Jan. 25

Jan. 23, 2015
SHSU Media Contact: Tammy Parrett


Cajun Band To Bring Mardi Gras Spirit To Campus

For the 14th year, Sam Houston State University will highlight the music and culture of Fat Tuesday during the annual Cajun Mardi Gras Festival on Thursday (Feb. 5).

The early celebration (Fat Tuesday is Feb. 17) will include a symposium on Mardi Gras and Cajun music and culture, as well as the annual Mardi Gras dance.

Menard, and the Jambalaya Cajun Band on stage playing their instruments
D.L. Menard and the Jambalaya Cajun Band will return to SHSU to perform for the annual Mardi Gras celebration on Feb. 5. —Photo by David Simpson

The symposium, which will begin at 6 p.m. in Evans Building Room 105, will feature a panel discussion with Jambalaya Cajun Band members Terry Huval and Reggie Matte, Cajun music hall of fame member and Grammy nominee D. L. Menard, and moderator and Cajun historian Terry Thibodeaux, professor of communication studies at SHSU.

The group will discuss the history of the Cajun people, its music and the tradition of Mardi Gras.

“D.L. Menard always bring a certain humor and charm to the proceedings,” said Thibodeaux, who created the festival at SHSU in 2003. “Songs will be played and discussed by the musicians to illustrate the various traditional and popular Cajun styles of music.”

The symposium is open to the public, who is encouraged to ask questions and participate.

That evening the five-member Jambalaya Cajun Band, from Lafayette, Louisiana, joined by Menard, will play a traditional dance in the “fais do do” style during the Cajun Mardi Gras Dance, from 8-10 p.m. in the Estill Building Atrium.

“The ‘fais do do’ style has chairs around the edges of the room and dancers wind their way around the center as they dance in the traditional counter-clockwise pattern found at any Cajun dance anywhere in Louisiana,” Thibodeaux said.

“Regulars at the SHSU dance are happy to show rookies how to do the Cajun version of the waltz and two-step,” he said, “and dancers often find themselves dodging not only other dancers but also Terry Huval as he occasionally plays his fiddle amidst the dancers.

"They play some wonderful dance music, and we have a good time every year.”

Admission to both events is free.

For more information, contact Thibodeaux at 936.294.1356.


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Liberty, Security Lecture To Address Militarization Of Police

In light of the recent events in cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, police across the country are facing criticism over use of deadly force.

Radley Balko will discuss the “Militarization of Police Forces” on Tuesday (Jan. 27) from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom for the College of Criminal Justice’s “Liberty and Security” speaker series.

group of police officers wearing riot gear
Washington Post reporter Radley Balko will discuss the changes in police weaponry and tactics, which have been criticized for being unnecessarily militaristic, as seen above.

Balko, a reporter for the Washington Post, is also the author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces,” which documents the changes in police weaponry and tactics over the history of this country, from early colonists to today’s SWAT teams and special response units.

“Under the auspices of the war on crime, drugs and terrorism, policy makers have approved aggressive methods of policing, which are leading to unnecessary deaths and injuries, blurring the lines between police officer and soldier and decimating the Fourth Amendment,” Balko said.

Balko specializes in vice and civil liberty issues; trade and globalization issues; and politics and culture. In 2009, Balko won the Western Publication Association’s “Maggie Award” for his feature on forensic fraud in a Louisiana murder case, and in 2011, Balko was named the L.A. Press Club’s “Journalist of the Year.”

He has testified twice before the U.S. Congress and his reporting has been credited with helping to get Cory Maye off of death row.

"Recently, in the Ferguson case, we have seen both the heavy-handedness of the militarization of the police, as well as its need,” said Willard Oliver, assistant professor of criminal justice at SHSU. “It is well time we had a conversation in America about the militarization of the police. Radley Balko is at the forefront of this discussion and he is coming to start that conversation."

For more information, contact Beth Kuhles, publications coordinator for the College of Criminal Justice, at 936.294.4425.


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Physics Colloquium To Explore Cutting-Edge Research

Rice University post-doctoral research associate Jason Nguyen will discuss his research on matter-wave solitons and the discoveries his team made in a study that was later published on Thursday (Jan. 29).

The SHSU physics department’s Physics Colloquium presentation will begin at 3 p.m. in Farrington Building Room 209.

In the study, titled “Collisions of Matter-Wave Solitons,” Nguyen and his team found that when dealing with ultracold matter, results may produce an important new idea that was previously unknown to the physics community.

Solitons are non-dispersive waves that have been observed in many wave phenomena, such as the motion of water waves in narrow canals and light pulses in optical fibers. When Nguyen and his team began their study, they noticed that while solitons are supposed to pass through one another, some seemed to bounce off of one another.

“We are proud to host these conferences, because they provide an opportunity for students and faculty to continue to learn more and stay up to date with what is new in the physics community,” said Barry Friedman, professor of physics at SHSU. “If you’re interested in physics, this is a chance to hear cutting-edge information from the best group of physicists in the country.”

For more information, call the physics department at 936.294.1601.


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Office To Host Study Abroad Informational Sessions

Looking for a change of scenery? How would you like to learn more about your field of study, in a country in which your discipline directly applies?

SHSU’s Office of International Programs will provide interested students with all the information they need to study abroad through presentations beginning Tuesday (Jan. 27).

Study abroad coordinator Cassie Cure will discuss the options of studying abroad through faculty-led, exchange and independent programs from 4-5 p.m. in Farrington Building Room 101. Sessions will also be held on Feb. 4 and Feb. 12.

The session will also include an overview of study abroad scholarship options, safety while abroad, and application and payment deadlines. There also will be a question-and-answer portion during which time students may ask questions, and returning SHSU study abroad students and exchange students will be on hand to share their experiences.

“The benefits to study abroad are endless,” said Cure. “You learn to become more independent, improve your second language skills, form new and rewarding relationships with fellow students, and can network for your future career. Immerse yourself in a new culture and study abroad!”

The majority of students attend faculty-led programs during summer or winter break. Though they vary each year, the 2015 summer programs include foreign language courses in France, Spain and Costa Rica; biology in South Africa; chemistry in Germany and France; art in France and Italy; business in Japan; education in Europe; and more.

Through exchange programs, students typically spend a semester or a year abroad, and they attend classes taught by the host university but pay tuition and fees to SHSU.

SHSU currently has exchange partnerships with 21 universities in 13 different countries, including Albania, Chile, China, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland and Turkey. 

With independent third party programs, students can go for the summer or semester and typically select from one of six affiliated study abroad companies (API, AIFS, KEI, ISA, SOL Education Abroad, and JLI) or, with approval, can choose another program. All payments are made to the independent program and students receive transfer credit for courses.

Between the three types of program options—faculty-led, exchange or independent—International Programs offers a program for any major, although some are more limited than others.

For more information on any of these events, contact Cure at 936.294.3276.


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Spanish Prof To Speak At Roundtable Event

Since President Barack Obama’s recent announcement to improve relations between the United States and Cuba, many are expressing thoughts and opinions of what Cuba will be like if the embargo is lifted.

headshot Saumell-Munoz
Rafael Saumell-Muñoz will discuss the implications of the United State's announcement to lift the Cuban embargo.

Rafael Saumell-Muñoz, professor of Spanish at Sam Houston State University, will participate in “Imagining Cuba in a Post-Embargo Era: Ideas from the Cuban Diaspora in Texas,” a panel discussion, at the University of Texas at Austin on Jan. 30.

The discussion will bring together members of the Cuban diaspora in Texas to share their views, hopes and reservations about the coming changes.

The panelists joining Saumell-Muñoz include: Mabel Cuesta, assistant professor of Spanish Caribbean literature at the University of Houston; Michael Hernández-Miranda, graduate student and Spanish instructor at Texas A&M University; Martha M. Montejo Pizarro, doctoral candidate on Hispanic Studies at Texas A&M University, journalist and editor; Francisco Morán, associate professor of Latin American literature at Southern Methodist University; and Jorge R. Piñón, interim director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy in the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin.

A Cuban native, Saumell-Muñoz was imprisoned in his homeland after it was discovered that he had written an unpublished collection of short stories that were deemed as “enemy propaganda” by the Cuban penal code.

When he was released from prison in 1986, he applied for an American visa and eventually became a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he completed his doctorate.


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Texas Review Press Gives Voice To Women Of War

book coverWhile there are many accounts of the quality of life during the Civil War, there are few that embody the true suffering and sacrifice of the wives and children of soldiers such as those in “Women of War: Selected Memoirs, Poems, and Fiction by Virginia Women Who Lived Through The Civil War,” according to a review by Wayne L. Wolf, professor emeritus at South Suburban College.

The review appeared in Civil War News.

The book, published by Texas Review Press at Sam Houston State University, was compiled by Casey Clabough, and consists of a selection of passages from previously published works, divided into memoirs, poems and fiction by women from Virginia.

“All of the passages relate to the war’s home front and highlight the stamina, stoic resolve and continual sacrifice of the wives and children who sent loved ones to war and endured the hardships of their absence,” Wolf said. “Women lost not just their homes and possessions but their sense of safety, certainty and even morality.”

“The selections chosen for this book realistically reflect the sights and horrors of the home front during the Civil War,” he said. “Mangled soldiers, vermin-infested food, hyper-inflated currency, daily shortages of basic needs and the ever-present fear of death and loss permeate the writing.”

Poetry selections from Makgabet Figoot, Susan Archer Tally and C.A. Ball all deal with Southern honor, in the context of death, loss and grief.

“Women of War” is available for purchase through Texas Review Press, or


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Today@Sam Seeks Spring Calendar Info

The university Communications Office is now collecting information on campus events for its spring calendar pages.

Departmental calendars or events can be sent to or or faxed to 294.1834. Please include the date, location and time of the event, as well as a brief description and a contact person.

Information collected for the Today@Sam calendar pages,, is used by various media outlets, as well as the Communications Office for news stories and releases.

All information, including story ideas and update items for Today@Sam, should be sent a minimum of a week in advance of the event in order to make necessary contacts and write a story.

To see a full list of the Today@Sam submission guidelines, or to access submission forms for news or feature stories, calendar submissions, or hometown releases,

For more information, call 936.294.1836.


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Submit Update Items Here

In order to assist members of the Sam Houston State University community in publicizing events, the SHSU Communications Office (Today@Sam) is now requesting that students, faculty and staff submit information about events, accomplishments or ideas for feature stories online.

Submission criteria and guidelines, including deadlines, have now been placed online, This information is also accessible through the “Submissions” link in the right-hand navigation on Today@Sam.

From there, those submitting ideas can access forms that will allow them to provide detailed information about their idea, as well as attach event calendars, vitas/resumes or photos, depending on the type of submission.

Ideas submitted to the SHSU Communications Office are directly utilized in several ways: as news stories, “slider” or SHSU home page stories, hometown releases, and on the Today@Sam calendar.

If your submission qualifies for distribution, we will either contact you for more detailed information, or we will edit the information using SHSU/journalistic style and forward the final release to the appropriate media.

All information is verified before release, so please provide complete, accurate and timely information. Please type all responses in appropriate upper and lower cases.

For more information, contact the Communications Office at 936.294.1836

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