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Alumni, Friends Celebrate 'Sam' In Austin

March 6, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Meredith Mohr

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Rebecca Halbert Mohr, David Mohr, and Meredith Mohr posing with Texas Rep. Charles Schwrtner and VPSS Frank Parker at the Sam Houston birthday celebration
(From left) SHSU Alumni Association board member Rebecca Halbert Mohr, David Mohr and SHSU senior Meredith Mohr visited with Texas Rep. Charles Schwrtner and vice president for Student Services Frank Parker at the Gen. Sam Houston birthday celebration on March 5.


Gen. Sam Houston once said, “Texas is the finest portion of the globe that has ever blessed my vision.”

Perhaps his observation was prompted by the sight of the bluebonnets that begin to dot the hillsides of Texas highways at the beginning of March, when the birthday of the general and namesake of Sam Houston State University is celebrated.

But more than just the remembrance of a great man is recognized on his birthday on March 2; it is also the legacy of SHSU. That is where the SHSU Alumni Association steps in.

This year, the Alumni Association celebrated Gen. Sam Houston's birthday on March 5 with activities that included visits to each state senator and representative, a congratulatory resolution by the Texas Senate and the House to SHSU head football coach Willie Fritz for earning the 2012 Liberty Mutual NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision “Coach of the Year” award, and a birthday event in the evening at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

The Alumni Association hosts this event at the museum every two years during the legislative session.The morning of the event the alumni board members, clad in orange, visited state legislators to formally invite them to the celebration, hoping that at the end of the day senators and representatives will remember the name of "Sam Houston."

“At the celebration, the legislators who come aren’t being bombarded with information and university affairs; they are just celebrating Sam Houston’s birthday,” said director of Alumni Relations Charlie Vienne. “But when they go back to their office, or when they are voting on legislation about educational issues, we hope that SHSU will come to their mind. We are creating a good partnership and getting a ‘seat at the table’ so to speak at the capital on having support for the goals SHSU is trying to accomplish.

“We are trying to build recognition in Austin about SHSU,” he said. “Other universities have similar events, and we decided to create this event four years ago. Our hope is that the people whose support would be valuable to the university will come away from the day’s events more knowledgeable and familiar with the great school SHSU is.”

The board members—a group of alumni who meet together four times each year to discuss alumni affairs and how to generate support for the university—said this event is a big opportunity to do something for the university that has done so much for them.

“What we get to do is give back to the university by raising awareness,” alumni board member Roland Black said. “We get to do that by talking to people who can actually give support. We are making contacts and connections at this event. By talking to them, they are hearing what we are doing at SHSU firsthand, and we can encourage them to call us if they have any questions. We are ambassadors for the university, and that’s neat.”

Alumni board president Susan Lenamon said the birthday of Gen. Sam Houston is the perfect opportunity to bring up what great things SHSU is doing academically and also to start a conversation about how it could improve with the right support.

“We are at the bottom of the list for funding (per student), but at the top of the heap in terms of what SHSU is accomplishing (with efficient use of state resources)," Lenamon said. "If we can come here and make a difference and show leaders what SHSU is all about, then I say let’s do it enthusiastically. These events bring us together in a social atmosphere to get to know each other, but also to get our work done and try to make a difference.”

First-year alumni board member Shelley Beto said getting involved with SHSU again has been “a really great thing.”

“I grew up in Huntsville and my husband, Mark Beto, also a member of the Alumni Association, and I dated since our freshman year in high school and went through college at SHSU together,” Beto said. “We love this university and this town. It has so many great memories and stories for me, and this is a place I truly feel at home. That’s why I thought I might like to do this, to give back to the university by getting involved with the Alumni Association. I think that is really valuable.”

For Lenamon, Black and Beto, along with the rest of the alumni board and association, these events remind them of their time at SHSU and why they came in the first place, because as Beto said, “it is a really fabulous university.”

“This is a coordinated effort, and an alumni event,” Lenamon said. “It takes a lot to make it happen. I have been to every event that they have hosted and they always get better and better. I think everyone who is a part of the Alumni Association should come and experience it. It is a camaraderie of people who have the same goals and aspirations for SHSU. We all come from different backgrounds, but we all have the same fire in us for being a Bearkat.”



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