University Convocation and Annual General Faculty Meeting (Fall 2020)

Finding Certainty in Uncertain Times

Watch the achievements highlight video featured in the Convocation presentation.

As we begin a new academic year, we look back on the past year and celebrate the many achievements of Texas State students, faculty, and staff. Enjoy this video featuring some of the major accomplishments brought to fruition by the Bobcat family over the past year. There are simply too many to fit into one video, so we’ve shared more highlights of faculty and student honors below.

Click for a captioned version of the achievements highlight video.

Highlights of Achievements from the Past Year

There are countless achievements among members of the Bobcat family that have filled us with pride over the past year. Some of these accolades are featured in the Video Highlights of Achievements of the 2019-2020 Academic Year, and even more are featured below. Click the boxes below to expand each area and view additional milestones and honors.

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  • Texas State is a research university. So when the pandemic hit, our faculty wasted no time harnessing their expertise to find solutions to problems caused by COVID-19.

    Visit the TXST Responds To COVID-19 page for more COVID-related research and faculty expertise

  • Our excellence in research and creative expression extends into every aspect of our quality of life and the way we interact with our world.

    • The National Science Foundation (NSF) partnered with faculty in the College of Fine Arts and Communication and the College of Education to instruct educators on how to teach real-world problem-solving skills to children. The NSF awarded Professor Lori Assaf and Assistant Professor Sean Justice a grant for their research project, “Exploring PreK-2 Teachers’ Abilities to Identify CT Precursors and Implement Learning Activities that Strengthen Computer Science in Early Childhood Classrooms.”
    • The Institute of Education Sciences awarded our College of Education a grant to identify evidence-based resources and interventions that can be utilized to improve students’ writing. Assistant professors Dr. Alyson Collins and Dr. Stephen Ciullo partnered with Arizona State University to launch their research project, “Comprehensive Meta-Analysis of Writing Interventions for Students in Grade K to 5.”
    • The Department of Defense tapped our College of Health Professions to study the threat of Chagas disease for military bases in the southwest. Dr. Paula Stigler Granados, assistant professor in the School of Health Administration, is the lead organizer of the Texas Chagas Taskforce.
    • Dr. Sandra Vanegas, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work, is leading transformational research into educational and health disparities among underserved children with disabilities, including children with autism, with projects that have been funded in the last year by the National Institutes of Health, the Autism Science Foundation, and the federal government’s primary disability research agency.
    • Texas Parks and Wildlife partnered with two biology faculty members in our College of Science and Engineering, Assistant Professor Dr. Sarah Fritts and Associate Professor Dr. Ivan Castro-Arellano, to study the population and distribution of summer bats in Texas.
    • Dr. Cody Patterson, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, received a National Science Foundation grant to study ways to improve the teaching of algebra in middle and high schools to better prepare students for the rigors of college algebra.
    • Faculty in the College of Liberal Arts have achieved major research milestones, increasing research expenditures with grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the McKnight Foundation, and other national and international sponsors.
    • Our LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research brought home the national Phi Kappa Phi Excellence in Innovation award. Texas State was nominated for the NASA Future Aerospace Engineers and Mathematicians Academy, led by Dr. Araceli Martinez Ortiz, associate professor of engineering education in the College of Education.
    • Cyrus Cassells, professor in the Department of English, was awarded one of the highly prestigious National Research University Funding (NRUF) distinctions, a Guggenheim Award. This marks the second year in a row a College of Liberal Arts faculty member received an NRUF distinction. In 2018-2019, Dr. Valentina Glajar, a professor of German in the Department of Modern Languages, was named an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow.
    • The National Book Critics Circle named Naomi Shihab Nye, a professor of creative writing in the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts, was a recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement.
    • Jennifer Ling Datchuk, an assistant professor of ceramics in the School of Art and Design, has been named a 2020 USA Fellow by United States Artists. She is one of 50 artists across 10 creative disciplines recognized for her creative accomplishments.
    • Dr. Rodney Rohde, associate director of the Translational Health Research Initiative, professor in the College of Health Professionals, and chair for the Clinical Laboratory Science program, was named a finalist in the Pathologist's Power List 2020 which recognizes innovators who have made a dramatic impact on laboratory medicine.
    • Dr. Debra Monroe, professor of creative writing in the Department of English, won the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) Outstanding Mentor Award. Since more than 200 graduate colleges belong to CSGS, the competition for this award is fierce and being selected is a special honor.
  • At the heart of every Texas State endeavor, is our calling to help students succeed. In the last year, our students brought home numerous federal research fellowships and national competition honors. Here are highlights.

    • Texas State students have received every award offered at the graduate level from the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO): the Scholar Award, the International Peace Scholarship (IPS), and the Program for Continuing Education grant.
    • Each year, only 100 PEO Scholar awards are awarded to doctoral students nationwide. During the 2019-2020 academic year, three TXST students won – one from the College of Education and two from the College of Liberal Arts. (Ann Marie Cotman, School Improvement; Christina Lopez, Geography; Sophia Mavroudas, Applied Anthropology)
    • TXST students brought home a record 16 prestigious PEO International Peace Scholarships during 2019-2020, which represents an astonishing three-fold increase from the previous year.
    • A trio of TXST students from the Colleges of Health Professions, Business, and Science and Engineering were named Forbes Scholars -- an honor given to about 1,000 college students nationwide.
    • Eight TXST graduate students in the College of Applied Arts were named U.S. Department of Agriculture Caminos Fellows for 2020: Crystal Alvarez, Fabiola Mancha, Melody Martinez, Whitney Ortiz, Anisa P. Elizondo, Zaira Suarez, Carla Vidal and Ian J. Gomez.
    • A senior in agricultural education in the College of Applied Arts, Tatum Bauer, received the American FFA degree, the highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization.
    • A master’s of social work student, Stacy Russell, interned at Bluebonnet Advocacy Center where, as her capstone project, she secured several grants to operate programs for grandparents raising their grandchildren. Read more under “Collaboration and Determination Leads to Help within our Communities.”
    • Students in the College of Business Administration competed in the 21st annual National Collegiate Sales Competition and placed eighth out of 140 college students from 70 universities. Corbin Douds placed first in the opening round, and Chelsea Fuchs won the wild card round of the competition. Congratulations to all TXST competitors on the team.
    • The accounting case competition team from the McCoy College of Business Administration won the 2020 Institute of Management Accountants Student Case Competition National Championship. The team included Amanda Craig, Addison LePere, Caitlynn Grimes, and Hannah Torres.
    • Amy Biederman, a PhD student in the College of Education’s Adult, Professional, and Community Education doctoral program, received the international Humanity in Action John Lewis Fellowship. This award recognizes social justice leaders and she is Texas State’s first recipient of this award.
    • Veronika “Nika” Teiler, a graduate student in Public Health, and Gail Sylvester-Conrad, a graduate student in Educational Technology, received the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) International Peace Scholarship. Nika joined Texas State from Russia and Gail joined Texas State from Trinidad & Tobago. Several other awardees were chosen across colleges at Texas State.
    • Ann Marie Cotman, a School Improvement PhD student, received the highly-competitive P.E.O. Scholar Award. This award recognizes excellence and achievement by women in doctoral programs.
    • A doctoral student in developmental education, Meagan Hoff, competed at the  regional Conference of Southern Graduate Schools competition with her research on barriers to higher education for refugees, after she won first place at TXST’s 3 Minute Thesis competition.
    • Communication Design students in the College of Fine Arts and Communication won a school-record 65 awards in the Graphis New Talent national competition. TXST was the 2nd most awarded program in the country.
    • Our American Advertising Federation team in the College of Fine Arts and Communication competed against 102 teams and won second place in the AAF National Student Advertising Competition, the nation’s premiere advertising competition.
    • A pair of students in the College of Fine Arts and Communication -- Caitlin Turnage and Lila Perlman -- placed 2nd nationally in their respective playwriting categories in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival competition.
    • When the pandemic hit, students from our respiratory care program in the College of Health Professions on the Round Rock Campus got to work quickly and joined the front lines in understaffed local hospitals.
    • Michael Alvarez, a health information management graduate, conducted research into personalized health and genomics that was accepted for presentation at the 2020 HIMSS Global Conference. His work, titled “Are you ready for Precision Health?” explores the topic of personalized health and genomics.
    • A clinical laboratory science (CLS) student, Doryan E. Redding, published an article in the National American Society for CLS and was awarded a grant to attend the Legislative Day in Washington, DC. Doryan was one of only five students nationwide to receive the coveted 2019 Joint Beckman Coulter / American Society for CLS Travel Grant.
    • A senior studying communication disorders, Carly Rodriguez, completed her 2019-2020 term serving as the Texas Student State Officer position to the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
    • Respiratory care student Tiffany Leonard received the George G. Burton, MD Student Education Research Scholarship Award for 2020 -- a national scholarship presented by the accrediting agency’s board of commissioners on accreditation for respiratory care.
    • Four 2020 Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduates were featured as part of a national two-year study supervised by Dr. Jen Hale on the experiences of Black students in PT education in the US – Mercia Bakouetila, Andrea Pantoja, Amy Lucero, Stephanie Williams.
    • Broderick Turner, who graduated spring 2020 and majored in international studies and French in the Honors College, was awarded a prestigious Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship from the U.S. Department of State. The program prepares young people for careers as diplomats in the State Department's Foreign Service.
    • A pair of anthropology graduate students in the College of Liberal Arts were TXST’s first National Institute of Justice Graduate Research Fellowship awardees. Courtney Siegert and Devora Glieber won $150K Graduate Research Fellowships in STEM from National Institute of Justice.
    • A PHD geography student in the College of Liberal Arts, Mael Le Noc, was selected as the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research's Margee and Douglas Greenberg Research Fellow. He also received Texas State University’s first Dissertation Fellowship from Phi Kappa Phi, one of only ten honorees nationwide.
    • Tom Myers, a graduate student in Sustainability Studies in the College of Liberal Arts, was accepted into the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s From Linear to Circular Program, and was a Finalist for the Texas Business Hall of Fame 2020 Future Texas Legend Veteran Award. He was also selected to pitch at the 2020 SXSW Texas State Innovation Lab for his innovative solar-powered food truck model.
    • Javier Ortiz, an industrial engineering graduate from the College of Science and Engineering who graduated in the spring, was selected for the prestigious Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute STEM-Public Policy Fellowship in Washington D.C. He will work on Capitol Hill with a major nonprofit think tank in technology and climate policy.
    • Alex Guzman, an undergraduate biology major in the College of Science and Engineering, assisted in conducting research in the laboratory of Dr. Caitlin Gabor, a professor in the Department of Biology. Alex received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and will continue working with Dr. Gabor to study the relationship between chemical exposure and water quality on the reproduction of fish.
    • NSF Graduate Research Fellowships were also awarded to Alexis Baide, a master’s student in anthropology, and Samantha Aziz, a computer science major accepted into Texas State’s computer science doctoral program.
    • The Honors College hosted a record-breaking virtual thesis forum and undergraduate research conference. Student Jazmine Beatty presented her thesis at the forum about Creative Collision, a community performing arts event she founded and hosted for adolescents to explore and expand possibilities in the arts. She was also featured in the spring for being part of a team that designed mobile apps for inclusion and mobility.
    • Twenty-five Texas State students out of 377 applicants were selected to be Undergraduate Research Fellows in the College of Science and Engineering in spring 2020. With the onset of COVID-19, their research was delayed and will resume in the fall in laboratories across the college.
    • The women’s volleyball team took home the 2019 Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Championship and made their 11th appearance in the NCAA Division 1 Volleyball Tournament.
    • Although sports seasons were cut short due to the pandemic, this was our best year ever for student-athletes academic performance. Men’s golf, women’s golf, women’s soccer and women’s tennis were all publicly recognized by the NCAA for being the top 10% in their sport for Academic Progress Rates.
    • Eight of our teams achieved a perfect APR in 2018-19: Men’s Basketball, Men’s Cross Country, Men’s Golf, Women’s Basketball, Women’s Cross Country, Women’s Golf, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Tennis.
  • Over the last year:

    • We added a major expansion to the LBJ Student Center, the beating heart of our San Marcos Campus.
    • Alkek Library added new high-tech learning spaces, upgraded with new technology, makerspaces, a VR immersion studio, and multimedia studios. 
    • We’ve added a beautifully restored historic mural by artist Buck Winn, an amazing piece of Texas cultural history.
    • The Wittliff Collections on the seventh floor of Alkek Library now has double the gallery and exhibit space.
    • We also made lighting improvements on both our San Marcos and Round Rock Campuses for safety.
    • New recreation fields await at both campuses – with new recreation space in Avery Hall at Round Rock.
  • We’re educating future leaders and change-makers, so our degree programs are tailored to prepare them for growing industries and in-demand jobs. We launched several new degrees to meet workforce demand.

    • Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering
    • Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences
    • Bachelor’s degree in Public Health
    • Master’s degree in Public Health Education and Promotion
    • Master’s degree in Data Analytics and Information Systems
    • Master’s degree in Marketing Research and Analysis
    • Undergraduate Minor in African American Studies
    • Undergraduate Minor in Public Health
    • Graduate Minor in Public Health Education and Promotion

Onward, Bobcats!

There are things about this special place, this community, that are everlasting. Things no crisis can take from us. Our excellence is a certainty – because of you, our students, our faculty, our staff. We are unstoppable. Our compassion and tenacity are unshakable. This is your Texas State. So, together, we go onward, Bobcats. Onward!

If you have questions or would like to learn more about any of these milestones, contact TXST University Advancement-Communications at 512.245.2922.