TAMIU Reflects on Impressive 2008

TAMIU Reflects on Impressive 2008

Texas A&M International University pauses to reflect on 2008, a year framed by remarkable opportunities for higher education, mutually beneficial collaborations and generous partnerships by like-minded partners interested in furthering the University’s growth and development through philanthropic support.


Texas A&M International University A. R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business received a second $10 million grant from A. R. “Tony” and María J. Sanchez. This challenge grant makes possible an innovative opportunity that can “double” donations made to the University over $25,000.
Grammy Award winner and Latin conga percussionist Poncho Sánchez visited with TAMIU music students and the University community and performed a brief jam session.


TAMIU students, faculty and staff started signing up for a new notification system, “DustyALRT,” that will alert them to University emergencies, closures or cancellations through their cell phones as requested by students, faculty or staff.


The Texas Alternative Certification Association named Ronnie Castro, TAMIU College of Education Alternative Certification Program student, 2008 Intern of the Year: 8-12.
TAMIU received a $500,000 earmark from the federal government through the work of Congressman Henry Cuéllar (MBA ’82) that will provide TAMIU critical resources to undertake a path to a more cost-effective, environmentally friendly future.


TAMIU received word from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that it could start offering a Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders through the College of Education. It is the first and only training in the area for speech therapists and the first developed in Texas in decades.
The Laredo community answered the University’s Phonathon call for support for student scholarships. The drive’s earliest and largest responder was the D.D. Hachar Charitable Trust Fund, managed by Compass Bank, which provided $250,000. The Phonathon brought in an additional $60,000 pledged by some 60 local businesses.

Research done by TAMIU College of Education assistant professors Dr. Sukho Lee and Dr. Kyung-shin Park confirmed that first-year female students living on campus do gain the dreaded “freshmen 15,” but they also have a higher level of physical activity.

The U.S. Army Reserve Officers Training Corps at TAMIU and the Javelina Battalion Corps of Cadets celebrated their first Military Dining Out in 30 years. Military Dining Out is an opportunity for cadets, in their formal military uniforms, to participate in a military tradition that dates back to times of the
Roman army.


Congressman Henry Cuéllar announced a $134,724 grant for TAMIU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences’ Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing from the Department of Health and Human Services that will be used to increase nursing educational opportunities for students from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds and from under-represented ethnic minority groups.

The Texas Institute of Letters announced Dr. Jerry Thompson, Regents Professor of History at Texas A&M International University, winner of the TIL’s award for best scholarly book for his book, “Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas” (University Press).

Gisselle Pérez-Milicua, a TAMIU graduate received one of 60 nationwide Fellowships by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi for the 2008-2009 academic year.

TAMIU held 2008 Spring Commencement Exercises at the Laredo Entertainment Center where 453 candidates for undergraduate and graduate degrees celebrated Commencement. Guest speaker was local businessman and philanthropist, Hank Sames III. Sames is the president of Sames Auto Group. The Distinguished Student Scholar comments were provided by Dinesh Suresh Moorjani, who received a BBA with a major in accounting with a 4.0 Grade Point Average.

Five TAMIU professors participated in the Faculty Language Acquisition Program at the Center for Linguistic and Multicultural Studies at Universidad Internacional in Cuernavaca, México. The program helped them improve their knowledge of Spanish and Mexican culture during the University’s Maymester. Dr. Robert Haynes, associate professor of English, Dr. Susan Berdahl, assistant professor of music, Dr. James Norris, assistant professor of political science, Dr. Denise Gates, assistant professor of business, and Dr. Carlene (Miki) Henderson, assistant professor of early childhood, received a scholarship funded by a Title VI Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program, to attend the program.

The Fernando A. Salinas Charitable Trust responded to a matching challenge grant at TAMIU that saw a $1 million gift to the University double to $2 million. The gift will support the University’s A. R. Sánchez, Jr. School of Business’ programming, activities and improvements and includes three naming opportunities for classrooms that will honor Roberto M. and Beatriz S. Benavides.


TAMIU hosted more than 40 students from Taiwan’s Fu Jen Catholic University. Some of the students attended English language classes offered by the University’s International Language Institute and students 11 visited TAMIU nursing programs and local hospitals with an aim to initiating a students and faculty exchange program in the future.

The law firm of Person, Whitworth, Borchers and Morales presented Texas A&M International University's A.R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business with a gift of $425,000. This gift was matched by The A.R. “Tony” and Maria J. Sanchez Family Foundation, yielding a total gift of $850,000.

Dr. Jaclyn Jeffrey, TAMIU associate professor, College of Arts and Sciences, attended the Fourth Biennial Summer Institute for College and University Teachers at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Va. Dr. Jeffrey was one of 19 national participants selected to attend the Summer Institute funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Lola Orellano Norris, TAMIU doctoral student and visiting assistant professor, received a $4,365 grant for her planned research focused on an analysis of expedition diaries (1686-1690) of General Alonso de León’s five military expeditions into Texas. She was named the recipient of a 2008 Research Grant from the University of Houston’s Recovering the U.S. Hispanic History of Texas Project and she also received a $1,500 Summer Dissertation Research Grant from Texas A&M University’s College of Liberal Arts, department of Hispanic Studies.

TAMIU professor of English Dr. Thomas R. Mitchell was elected president-elect of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society for 2009-2011 at the Society’s Biennial Conference held at Maine’s Bowdoin College, Hawthorne’s alma mater. Dr. Mitchell’s duties as president-elect include organization of the 2010 Conference to be held in Concord, Mass.


TAMIU Athletics Director Dr. Debbie Snell announced that TAMIU was accepted as an active NCAA Division II member, effective Sept. 1, 2008. Dr. Snell also announced that TAMIU’s student-athletes broke perhaps their most impressive record: over 28% of them were named recipients of Heartland Conference Academic Honors for their classroom performances.

Incoming freshmen experienced University life during the first overnight “Orientation: Academic Anchoring” program at TAMIU. The program helps new students understand the structure of the academic community, expectations, the core curriculum, availability of support services and how to get around the growing campus. A second orientation was held in August.

The National Science Foundation awarded TAMIU a $99,210 grant in support of the project, “Major Research Instrument: Acquisition of a Low-Field NMR for Research/Education at TAMIU.” Project principal investigator (PI) is Dr. Qingwen Ni, associate professor of physics. Co-PIs are Dr. Fuming Wu, assistant professor of computer science, Dr. Hoonandara R. Goonatilake, associate professor of mathematics, Dr. Runchang Lin, assistant professor of mathematics, and Dr. Tongdan Jin, assistant professor of systems engineering.


Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man,” the first offering in a new cooperative theatre venture between the Laredo Theatre Guild (LTG) and TAMIU served as the preview of the newly formed alliance, which will formally kick off its season in fall 2009.

In addition to more than 5,000 students, TAMIU welcomed new leaders and approximately 25 new full-time faculty. The Texas A&M University System Board approved key administrative appointments: University Provost Dr. Pablo Arenaz, Dean of Student Success Dr. Minita Ramirez and Vice President for Finance and Administration Juan J. Castillo.


TAMIU received a $299,997 grant to increase participation of minorities and women in science and technology from the U.S. Department of Education.

TAMIU’s International Education Division of International Programs received an honorable mention by the organizers of the national 2008 Examples of Excelencia Award for its work in helping Latino students succeed in higher education through the Guadalupe and Lilia Martínez International Fellows Scholarship.

Gerda Weissmann Klein visited TAMIU to speak with students about her book, “All But My Life.” Her book is the first offering of “Reading the Globe: the TAMIU Freshman Experience,” designed to promote meaningful learning, set high expectations for students, build an intellectual community, and deepen students’ understanding of international issues.

TAMIU hosted students from sister campuses Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Texas A&M University-Kingsville as part of its response to Hurricane Ike. Interagency contracts between TAMIU and other Texas A&M University System campuses designate TAMIU as their evacuation site.

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents honored retiring Vice President for Finance and Administration Joe García for his 28 years of service. García’s service to the University included Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Finance for Administration; he also served as interim President in 1995-95.


U.S. Representative Henry Cuéllar announced a grant for $2,159,877 from the U.S. Department of Education to TAMIU to benefit the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-Recruitment, Retention and Graduation project proposed by the University’s College of Arts and Sciences department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Dr. Chen-Han Sung, TAMIU professor of mathematics, computer science and industrial engineering, met with more than 100 other scientists in Arlington, Va., to review close to 600 research proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program.

The TAMIU Athletics unveiled the new official mascot, its friendly Dustdevil, “Dusty,” at the Hoops Madness Festival.

TAMIU set a historic first: enrollment grew to 5,858 students enrolled, an increase over Fall 2007 of 13.1%. Fall 2007’s enrollment was 5,188. Semester Credit Hours (SCH), upon which crucial State funding is based, grew 10.8% to 57,716 over Fall 2007’s 52,176.

TAMIU’s College of Education was named by the National 2008 Examples of Excelencia Award as a semi-finalist in the baccalaureate level division for its “Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers Today” Title V program.

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant of $335,709 to TAMIU for support of the project, “MOD — Transmission of Tacit Skills in East Asian Graduate Science Programs.” The Project team includes three TAMIU faculty members: Dr. Marcus Antonius Ynalvez as PI, Dr. John C. Kilburn, co-principal investigator, and Dr. Ruby Ynalvez, co-investigator.

Rep. Henry Cuéllar announced $1.2 million dollars in funding to expand the proposed Southern Border Operations Training Center. The funding provided for purchase of servers, installation, wiring updates, server expansion and software updates. TAMIU is one of the partners in the project that include the Texas National Guard, Laredo Community College (LCC), and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

TAMIU hosted its first-ever town hall meeting to discuss the global economic crisis. “The Global Financial Crisis - from Wall Street to the Streets of Laredo,” a round-table style discussion by TAMIU faculty and guest speakers, focused on understanding the Laredo ramifications of today’s headlines for world markets near and far. Dr. Tagi Sagafi–nejad, A. R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business Radcliffe Killam Distinguished Professor and director of the Texas Center for Border Economics and Enterprise Development (TCBEED) and moderator for the event, said the initiative comes as a response to community inquiries.


TAMIU announced a new phone number designed to provide weekly up-to-date information on fine and performing arts events happening at TAMIU: 326-ARTS (2787). The dedicated line gives information on concerts, art gallery exhibits and theater performances.

The TAMIU Athletics Department hosted the Laredo premiere of the film, “Swim,” presented by co-producer, director and Iraqi war veteran Matt Cook. The event was an effort to help raise awareness about wounded veterans and in honor of Veterans Day.

TAMIU was awarded phase two funding for a community energy conservation education program by the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The $87,000 grant funds the “Utility Resource Education Network,” a collaboration between TAMIU, the Texas A&M College of Architecture’s Center for Housing and Urban Development (CHUD) Colonias Program and local energy providers.

The TAMIU Ballet Folklórico jetted off to Detroit, Mich., where they performed at LaSED, a senior citizen organization and Wayne State University.

John A. Adams Jr., historian and long-time former economic development leader in Laredo, visited TAMIU in support of his book, a first-ever panoramic business and economic history of Laredo in “Conflict and Commerce on the Rio Grande: Laredo, 1755-1955” (Texas A&M University Press).


Dr. Tom Mitchell was named the sole finalist to become dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He will serve as interim dean pending confirmation by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents at their January meeting.

Two Fall Commencement Exercises were held at TAMIU with 617 candidates for graduation, one of the largest graduating classes in TAMIU’s history. The morning Exercise featured a Commencement Address by Congressman Chet Edwards (D)-17th District and retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez provided the Commencement Address for the afternoon ceremony.

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents approved a far-reaching financial assistance plan that will provide gift aid to cover tuition and fees at all Texas A&M System academic campuses, including TAMIU, for admitted students whose families earn less than $30,000 annually. At TAMIU, the program, active for the past two years, is known as the Dusty Promise.

Two TAMIU graduates found out that they will spend the 81st Legislative Session as part of the 2009 Senator Gregory Luna Legislative Scholar Fellows Program. The Texas Senate Hispanic Research Council awarded fellowships to Adan Arriaga, TAMIU political science graduate student, and Rodolfo Morales III, TAMIU December 2008 summa cum laude political science graduate.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu