TAMIU Looks Back at 2009
Posted: 12/23/2009

Back at 2009

Reflect on Texas A&M International University’s past 12 months and one thing is clear—more students than ever chose to invest in themselves at TAMIU. The vibrant arts and cultural scene, active student groups, generous donations from the community, opportunities to learn from faculty members who are leaders in their fields, made TAMIU the destination for students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

The Laredo community also enthusiastically responded to TAMIU’s growth by turning out to TAMIU’s 40th Birthday Celebration, AutMus Festival, Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra concerts, TAMIU Lamar Bruni Vergara Planetarium shows and events and many other fine arts and cultural events.

The TAMIU Small Business Development Center started the year with a six-month management certification program designed to give small business owners business tools.

Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, TAMIU assistant professor of psychology, published a study saying there is no link between playing video games and an increased likelihood of mass school homicides. Dr. Ferguson’s research proved timely. As parents are trying to stretch their entertainment budget, sales of video games have increased.

TAMIU also continued to make its mark as a major cultural center with the TAMIU International Language Institute’s International Week and concerts that included the Steinway Recital Series and the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Dr. Eunice Yu-Mei Tsai, alumna from Taiwan, Republic of China, returned to TAMIU and brought with her a rare opportunity to enjoy a traditional sign language opera, “Love Transcends the Skyline.”

The Matias De Llano Charitable Trust donated $500,000 to the TAMIU A. R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business for the continuation of its Ph.D. Program in International Business Administration. The pledge was matched by the Sanchez Challenge Grant, which made the total donation $1 million.

Dr. Jerry Thompson, TAMIU Regents Professor of History, received a Southwest Book Award for his collaborative book, “The Reminiscences of Major General Zenas R. Bliss, 1854-1876.” The Border Regional Library Association sponsors the Southwest Book Award. In the book, Dr. Thompson explores the early years of General Zenas R. Bliss, who received the Medal of Honor in the Civil War at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Officials from TAMIU and Nuevo Laredo’s Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas (UAT) signed an agreement to enable border residents to receive joint bachelor's and master's degrees. The agreement allows TAMIU students to begin their degree here and finish at UAT. Their UAT counterparts could begin there and end at TAMIU.

Elizabeth N. Martinez, TAMIU’s associate vice president for administration, was named president of the Texas Higher Education Human Resources Association at its Annual Conference in Austin. As president, Martinez assumed full responsibility for all of the general activities of the organization for a full year.

E-communication expert and TAMIU A. R. Sanchez Jr. School of Business professor, Dr. Ned Kock, edited “Virtual Team Leadership and Collaborative Engineering Advancements: Contemporary Issues and Implications.” The book addresses a range of e-collaboration topics including virtual team leadership and collaborative engineering.

TAMIU dedicated the Dr. F. Allen Briggs Folklore Collection in honor of the late educator—the first English professor hired at the former Texas A&I University at Laredo in 1970 and the first professor emeritus at its successor, Laredo State University. The Briggs Folklore Collection includes student projects which focus on folklore, family trees and languages.

The exponential growth at TAMIU prompted the launch of an expanded and enriched e-mail service, E-Mail for Life, including messaging, chat, Windows Live Spaces, SharedView and Sky Drive—a virtual memory stick. At the time, there were more than 13,000 users.

“Tesoros de lectura,” a comprehensive K-6 Spanish reading series developed by a collaborative team, which includes Dr. Gilberto D. Soto, TAMIU professor of music education, was released by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill Publishing. Dr. Soto, a music education bilingual author and researcher, contributed to the series by linking hands-on music activities through the reading program using extension songs, instruments, listening, movement and rhythm.

Despite a darkening economy, more students chose to make a bright choice and invest in themselves and their futures at TAMIU. The University announced an impressive 10.5 percent enrollment increase to 5,558 students, up from Spring 2008’s 5,017 students.

A group of 15 TAMIU students went on an historic study tour of Poland as part of “Reading the Globe: The TAMIU Freshmen Experience,” a campus-wide reading initiative. The students competed for the first-ever travel opportunity by submitting personal essays on Gerda Weissmann Klein’s “All But
My Life.”

Dr. Whitney Bischoff, associate professor for TAMIU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Dr. F.M. Canseco School of Nursing, was named the recipient of the Texas Organization of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Education’s (TOBGNE) Innovations in Teaching Award. The Award was based on Dr. Bischoff’s submission “Culture in Nursing: Designing an Online Course to Encourage Collaboration and Enhance Learning.”

Four TAMIU criminal justice students shared their research on border violence to criminal justice experts at a conference in Boston. Norma Arreola, Kimberly Hill, Javier Salinas and Daniella Tijerina presented “The Effects of Violence in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo” at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences National Conference. The students had the opportunity to present to graduate students and professors a topic that they know first-hand and present a different perspective from what is shown in the media.

A group of 12 TAMIU students participated in the WorldMUN ’09 Conference at The Hague, Netherlands. The TAMIU student delegations represented the country of Ghana in the Conference, advocating for the country’s interest in a UN-styled forum. James Cortez received the 2,500-member Conference’s Diplomacy Award for his Conference Committee topic, Radioactive Waste Management.

TAMIU’s Sigma Nu Delta Multicultural Co-Ed Society sent care packages to soldiers overseas. TAMIU-HEP students from Crystal City, Eagle Pass and Del Rio donated items; Dr. Dick Davenport, Laredo dentist, provided toothbrushes and toothpaste and Dr. Julio F. Madrigal, executive director, TAMIU Office of Special Programs, donated the postage. TAMIU staff and Sigma Nu Delta students also donated items.

Fifteen of TAMIU’s advanced, intermediate and beginner flamenco students jetted off to Tampa, Fla., and performed at the Southern District American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) Kaleidoscope Gala Dance Concert. The pieces selected encompassed a wide range of Spanish dance from classical to traditional to new.

TAMIU launched “TAMIU Pride,” a betterment effort that encourages the University community’s reporting of any problem with campus facilities through a dedicated Web site, tamiu.edu/tamiupride or by calling P-R-I-D-E from any campus phone.

TAMIU’s Programs for Academic Support, now University College, presented its First Year Academic Conference Student Research Project. The First Year Conference provided freshmen with an opportunity to showcase research skills.

The A. R. Sanchez, Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series celebrated its 10-year anniversary and featured Dr. Mark Lilla, professor of the humanities at Columbia University. His lecture, “The Politics of God” explored the quest to bring political life under God’s authority and why it has been revived.

TAMIU alum, Karina Saldivar, became the first Hispanic woman in history to be enrolled in the Rutgers University public administration Ph.D. program. She was one of eight students nationwide chosen to begin study at one of America’s top public administration Ph.D. programs.

Nearly 250 TAMIU students became a part of a new tradition highlighting undergraduate and graduate research scholarly and creative activity with the first presentation of the Lamar Bruni Vergara Academic Conference. The Conference grew from its origins as the Guillermo Benavides Z. College of Arts and Sciences Academic Conference to include all TAMIU Colleges and Schools with generous partial support from the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust.

The Union Pacific Foundation presented a gift of $10,000 in support of the TAMIU Lamar Bruni Vergara Planetarium’s fourth anniversary celebration, Rock-It Fest.

Mis Raices-No Borders, One Heart awarded its fifth scholarship to TAMIU senior art major Karen Martínez during the Senior Student Art Exhibit.

The TAMIU Annette Olsen-Fazi International Film Festival brought the world to TAMIU through film. The Festival honors the memory of the late Dr. Annette Olsen-Fazi, a TAMIU faculty member who initiated the University’s first French Film Festival in 2007.

More than 400 students participated in the 2009 Spring Commencement Exercises.

Elizabeth Greninger, director of TAMIU’s Alternative Certification Program (ACP), was recognized as an Emerging Leader by Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International, a global association of education professionals. The PDK Emerging Leader program recognizes top educators under age 40 from across the world for their leadership, particularly as it is related to PDK's tenets of service, research, and leadership.

Two rooms in the TAMIU Western Hemispheric Trade Center were formally dedicated to recognize the generosity of the Fernando A. Salinas Charitable Trust. The ceremonies dedicated the Fernando A. Salinas Lecture Hall and Room and the Roberto Benavides and Beatriz Salinas Benavides (both deceased) Lecture Hall.

TAMIU’s 2009 National César Chávez Blood Drive Challenge, a low-effort, high-impact community service event, took the top place nationally as the 2009 Most Successful Blood Drive among college campuses. As the winner of the 2009 National César Chávez Blood Drive Challenge TAMIU gets to hold the trophy for one year until the 2010 winner is determined.

TAMIU A.R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business professor Dr. Ned Kock was announced a winner of IGI Global’s Outstanding Journal Achievement Award for his work as editor-in-chief of the International Journal of e-Collaboration (IJeC) during 2008.

Undergraduate business students in the Regional Economic Integration class taught by Dr. Jaime Ortíz, associate vice president for International Programs, had a two-hour, virtual dialogue with Universidad del Bio Bio students in Chile about how the current global economic crisis is affecting Latin America and the role the United States played in such a crisis. This was the University’s first experience in connecting two classes located in two different countries live.

TAMIU kicked off its new student overnight orientation program, “Dusty Camp.” Students had the opportunity to meet with fellow classmates, learn about expectations and spent the night at the Residential Learning Community to absorb University life to its fullest.

TAMIU A. R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business assistant professor Dr. Andrés E. Rivas keynoted at the Jornada de Bolsas Latinoamericanas in Valencia, Spain. Dr. Rivas’ presentation, “International Stock Markets Linkages and Spillovers: Evidence from Latin America and Europe,” examined the response of equity markets in Brazil, Chile and Mexico to stock prices in the US, Spain and four major European countries during three sub-periods: 1988 to 1994, 1995 to 1998, and 1999 to 2008.

Congressman Henry Cuéllar (’82) announced a grant of $152,031 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for some 30 TAMIU economically disadvantaged students from under-represented racial/ethnic minority groups in the Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing.

A total of 10 students from local high schools, TAMIU and Laredo Community College received Mr. South Texas 2009 Scholarships from State Sen. Judith Zaffirini. The students were honored at a special reception at TAMIU. Sen. Zaffirini created the $1,000 scholarship program and the Mr. South Texas Foundation when she was named Mr. South Texas 1999.

The Texas A&M University System awarded $507,000 to outstanding faculty throughout the System in the second presentation of the Teaching Excellence Awards. Ten winners were named at TAMIU—College of Education: Dr. Patricia Uribe, Dr. Ronald Anderson, Dr. Carlene Henderson, Dr. Diana Linn and Mary Petron; College of Arts and Sciences: Patricia González, Veronica Juarez, Dr. Lynda Brown, Lola Norris and Dr. Claudia San Miguel.

TAMIU received a grant of $424,913 from the U.S. Department of Education for TAMIU’s College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). The funding is the first year of an expected five-year award of $2,124,565. Congressman Henry Cuéllar presented the award at a press conference.

The Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust provided TAMIU with a generous gift of $1 million to endow a scholarship fund to provide emergency financial assistance to qualified TAMIU students.

After a nationwide search, TAMIU announced that it had selected Dr. Stephen Sears as dean of the A. R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business and Dr. Regina C. Aune as the dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

TAMIU received a $635,900 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to fund a program that will provide training for local 6th-12th grade (secondary) teachers and those training to be teachers in the areas of math, science and technology. The program, called the “Rio Grande Roundup – TAMIU Academy for Mathematics, Science and Technology Teaching Excellence” establishes a high quality, research-based mentoring and training academy that is focused on enhancing math, science and technology teaching skills.

The Montgomery GI Bill went into effect Aug. 1 giving veterans new opportunities for higher education. TAMIU formed a Veterans Student Task Force and has dedicated a special Web site that provides full information on Veterans Benefits at TAMIU, including helpful links and contacts at tamiu.edu/affairs/registrar/veterans

TAMIU received $319,793, the first of a three-year grant from AmeriCorps. The TAMIU AmeriCorps program assists community service initiatives, parental support system initiators, youth educational accomplishments, economically disadvantaged, and first-generation college students.

Students were able to take part of the newly created TAMIU Honors Program and option for outstanding students to acquire University honors certificates or diplomas. Find out more about the TAMIU Honors program @txamiu.honors on Facebook.

TAMIU began an aggressive deployment of portal technology, known as Uconnect, to provide web-based primary access to a variety of functions for its students, faculty and staff. Portal technology provides for a personalized web experience and operates as a gateway to both pivotal institutional and personal content. For University communities, students, faculty and staff, it offers a more strategic, effective and consistent communications environment.

TAMIU information systems students David Santos, Juan Reyes, and Manuel Castañeda won first place in an international video-making contest that promotes the field of information systems. The contest drew 12 participating international student groups.

More people decided to live on campus at TAMIU and drove occupancy rates to 100 percent occupancy and more than 92 percent at the two available residential living sites.

TAMIU made planning a much easier task with its new online calendar @TAMIU. The online events calendar is designed to help the University and community at large to fully engage in the life of the University with event reminders sent to requestors or others by e-mail or text), viewing of specific types of events, filtering for events and more. To access @TAMIU, visit tamiu.edu and click on @TAMIU.

Two TAMIU professors and one former professor published their study on youth violence. Dr. Claudia E. San Miguel, assistant professor of criminal justice, Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, assistant professor of psychology and Dr. Richard Hartley, now at the University of Texas at San Antonio, found that the best predictors of youth violence are depression and association with delinquent peers.

TAMIU received a $50,000 grant to implement a program to increase the retention rate and engagement of first-year, first-generation Hispanic students, the non-profit organization Excelencia in Education has announced. TAMIU was one of only 20 colleges and universities from across the nation chosen to receive the award, supported by the Walmart Foundation.

TAMIU welcomed the largest freshmen class ever and posted and an increase in enrollment of 6,419 students, up 9.6 percent from the previous Fall. Students came to TAMIU from 75 different high schools and about 29 percent of the freshmen class graduated at the top 25 percent of their high school classes.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Sonia Nazario spoke to students about her writing process at the University’s Voices in the Monte Writers Series. Nazario wrote “Enrique’s Journey,” the featured book for the 2009 One City, One Book series.

September saw a busy TAMIU Center for the Fine and Performing Arts with a performance by marathon-playing organist, Paul Jacobs, the International Chamber Music Festival, Cellopalooza and an art exhibit by artist Brian Row.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $49,647 grant to TAMIU to fund a team of graduate students to conduct a science policy survey and innovation that aims to study the relationships between East Asian (Japan, Singapore and Taiwan) graduate students and their mentors and how these relationships influence scientific discovery, innovation and productivity. The Project team consists of three TAMIU faculty members—Dr. Marcus Antonius Ynalvez as principal investigator and Dr. John C. Kilburn and Dr. Ruby Ynalvez, co-principal investigators—and Dr. Noriko Hara, associate professor of information science at Indiana University, also co-principal investigator.

Mexican author, journalist, feminist and human rights advocate Lydia Cacho spoke about her experiences with “Censorship and the Mexican Press” at the TAMIU A. R. Sanchez, Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series.

The new theatre and TAMIU’s Center for the Fine and Performing Arts was inaugurated with a dream performance of the beloved musical “Man of La Mancha.” The Laredo Theater Guild International, in cooperation with TAMIU, presented Dale Wasserman’s musical adaptation of his non-musical teleplay as part of the University’s 40th Anniversary Celebration.

Children and their families helped Dusty celebrate the University’s 40th Anniversary Celebration Birthday Party with carnival-style games and activities.

TAMIU was the site once again for the Fifth Annual AutMus Fest that was covered by VH1 and myspace.com

TAMIU hosted the Laredo premiere of “Propridad Ajena” (Others’ Property), a gripping story of family and betrayal. It was part of a series of events commemorating México’s 200 years of independence from Spain and 100 years since the Revolution.

The TAMIU community grew with the launch of an online social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, @txamiu. Students, potential students, alumni and University supporters have shown their enthusiasm for TAMIU by becoming “fans” and following the University.

Paul Jonathan Komiak became the first TAMIU graduate to have completed his entire A. R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business doctoral program at TAMIU. He successfully defended his dissertation in November.

More than 500 student and faculty participants from around the state descended on TAMIU for the 7th Annual Texas A&M University System Pathways Student Research Symposium. That was the first time TAMIU hosted the Pathways Symposium.

TAMIU Athletics hosted a special screening of the South by Southwest Special Jury Award-winning film “The Way We Get By,” a profoundly moving film about life and how we live it. It was part of a celebration for Veterans Day that included a special breakfast for local veterans.

During Green Dependence Day, the TAMIU LBV Planetarium treated audiences to “Bella Gaia: A Poetic Vision of Earth From Space,” that included a 45-minute live performance by director Kenji Williams. It was so popular that additional showings had to be scheduled.

TAMIU and Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas signed an agreement that allows joint degrees in nursing, business and a certificate in education. Students will be able to enroll in the programs starting Fall 2010.

The Laredo Asian Association hosted its third annual Asian Night Extravaganza, a celebration to promote Asian culture and heritage and create scholarships for local students.

TAMIU professor and chair of the College of Arts and Sciences’ department of Engineering, Mathematics and Physics, Dr. Rafic A. Bachnak, was named a participant in the Fulbright Scholar Program. His experience took him to Lebanon to teach and conduct research on the development of an eddy current probe using gyroscopes to add three-dimensional capabilities.

TAMIU students voted their support for increased fees for the 2010-11 school year that will improve the University’s Kinesiology, Wellness and Recreation Center and make possible expansion and remodeling of the food service area. The flat-rate recreation sports fee will change the current per semester credit hour fee to a flat $48 fee per semester, resulting in no increase, and in some cases, a fee reduction for students taking 12 or more hours, about 59 percent of TAMIU students in an average semester. The student-approved fees are now subject to the approval of The Texas A&M University Board of Regents and, if approved, would take effect Fall 2010.

The TAMIU Fall 2009 Commencement Exercises saw more than 630 graduates. Two students, Carroll Howard Griffin and Paul Jonathan Komiak, earned doctoral degrees in International Business from the A. R. Sanchez Jr. School of Business.

Fifteen TAMIU students prepared to leave for Ghana in West Africa during the winter break. The students will travel to Ghana as part of their selection to participate in a competitive study-travel option that’s part of the second offering of the University’s “Reading the Globe” Campus-wide Reading Initiative.

A new study by TAMIU associate professor of public administration and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Peter Haruna, shows that when it comes to volunteering in their community, an overwhelming number of TAMIU grad school alumni are translating higher education into public service and civic engagement. The study found that 98 percent of TAMIU graduate school alumni who are career professionals in Webb County spent some time working on community-based planning activities in 2008.

The TAMIU community showed their generosity with donations to the South Texas Food Bank and The Cover Laredo Project. The TAMIU Staff Senate coordinated a drive that saw more than 400 cans of food collected for the Food Bank. The Cover Laredo Project benefited from efforts made by the TAMIU Student Government Association and the TAMIU Honors Program, as well as area high schools, to collected clothing items and blankets that were then donated to Casa de Misericordia.

The University added to its social media presence with the launch of its own YouTube channel, “Tune in to TxAMIU.” Channel surfers can watch TAMIU commercials, a campus tour and other videos @txamiu.

For additional information, call the University’s Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services, e-mail prmis@tamiu.edu, click on tamiu.edu or follow the University on Facebook and Twitter.

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