August 2010                                                                A Monthly Newsletter for Faculty, Staff and Friends of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

University Celebrates 'Topping Out' of Michael and Karen O'Connor Building
Topping Out Ceremony University President Flavius Killebrew (left), Kathy Killebrew (center), Karen O'Connor Urban (right) and other Islanders put their signatures on the beam that was hoisted atop the new Michael and Karen O'Connor building that will be home to the University's College of Business during a "Topping Out" ceremony July 8. When completed, the $25 million, 75,000-square foot facility made possible in large part to a $6 million gift from the late Corpus Christi businessman Michael A. O'Connor and his wife, Karen O'Connor Urban, will house a Center for Economic Research with space for an Executive Education Department, offices, classrooms and two computer labs.


Cifuentes Named Associate VP for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies
Dr. Luis CifuentesDr. Luis A. Cifuentes has been named associate vice president for Research and dean of Graduate Studies and will assume his duties on Sept. 1. Cifuentes has been a scientist and faculty member in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University for more than 20 years. He has been with the College of Geosciences administration since January 2003 and served in several positions, most recently as the executive associate dean and associate dean for research.


Young Business Professionals Get Advice from Successful Serial Entrepreneur
Dr. Keith RoseDr. Keith Rose (left), entrepreneur and president and CEO of The Doctors' Center, visited with attendees at the Young Business Professionals' Mixer July 22 at Katz 21. Rose, who as an Army Reserve field surgeon developed the Integrated Tourniquet System, spoke to the group on "Focus Forward, Eyes Straight: Marching the Trail, Jumping Barricades," the basics of becoming an entrepreneur and overcoming barriers in the business world.

Research and Scholarly Activity
The Book of ShellsA book co-written by Dr. Fabio Moretzsohn, assistant research scientist at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies has made the best-seller list on "The Book of Shells: A Life-Size Guide to Identifying and Classifying Six Hundred Seashells" reached number 57 among the millions of books sold on, and number one on several lists, including Biological Sciences, Marine Biology, Outdoors and Nature, Zoology, Animals, and Seashells. Moretzsohn's co-author is Dr. M. G. Harasewych, curator of mollusks at the Smithsonian Institution.
Awards, Honors and Grants
Dr. Elaine YoungDr. Elaine Young, an associate professor of mathematics, has been presented with the 2010 Leadership Award by the Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics (TCTM). Each year, the award is presented to an outstanding leader in mathematics education who supports teachers at the local and state level. Young was recognized for her role as a teacher of teachers at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and her work as co-chair of the annual "ME by the Sea" conference sponsored by the University's Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the Coastal Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has been recognized by the Nursing Education Performance Initiative (NEPI) for demonstrating best practices in retaining and graduating students from their initial licensure programs. The University was one of three schools in Texas to earn the recognition and will receive a $25,000 grant. The University's College of Nursing and Health Sciences nursing students have a 93 percent graduation rate and a first-time NCLEX pass rate of 92 percent on the Texas Board of Nursing examination.

Seventeen Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi faculty members have received Texas A&M University System Teaching Excellence Awards.
The following faculty scored in the top 5 percent for their respective classes:
  • Dr. Philippe Tissot, associate professor- Department of Physical/Environmental Health
  • Candy C. Skelton, adjunct-Department of Humanities
  • Dr. Cherie McCollough, assistant professor- Department of Life Sciences

The following faculty scored in the next 15 percent for their respective classes:

  • Dr. Pamela Meyer, professor- Department of Social Sciences
  • Dr. Rebekah Thomas-Young, associate professor- Department of Life Sciences
  • Dr. David A. Jensen, adjunct- Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences
  • Felicia C. Dziadek, adjunct- Department of Humanities
  • Dr. Laura Munoz, assistant professor- Department of Humanities
  • Dr. Sandrine Sanos, assistant professor- Department of Humanities
  • Dr. Faydale E Curtice, adjunct- Department of Science, Math and Technology Education
  • Dr. Virginia Wheeless, professor- Department of Communication and Theatre
  • Dr. Kevin Concannon, assistant professor- Department of Humanities
  • Dr. James Silliman, associate professor- Department of Physical/Environmental Sciences
  • Dr. Mary B. Davis, assistant professor- Department of Humanities
  • Dr. Kent Byus, professor- Department of Marketing and Management
  • Dr. Kristin L. Welch, instructor- Department of Social Sciences
  • Dr. Manuela Gardner, instructor-Department of Life Sciences
Dr. Janet TillingerDr. Janet Tillinger, an accounting professor and former Ennis S. & Virginia C. Joslin Endowed Chair in Accounting, has been presented with the "Faculty of the Year" award by the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Tillinger was one of three recipients of the first "Innovation Center Awards." The "Student of the Year" award was shared by graduate assistants Etienne Couret and Gabriela Manciu.

Rachel BrewtonSenior environmental science major Rachel Brewton has received the Ecological Society of America (ESA) Student Section Best Undergraduate Presentation Award for Outstanding Poster Presentation. Brewton, whose poster is titled "The Role of Intertidal Oyster Reefs as Habitat in Estuarine Ecosystems" will be honored in August at the annual ESA Meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Dr. Gary Jeffress, director of the Conrad Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science, has received $299,700 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the Jefferson County Height Modernization Project.

Gretchen Arnold, director of the University's Pollution Prevention Partnership, has received $87,235 from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the City of Corpus Christi, for community Outreach programs.
Around the Island
Dr. Harvey KnullThe University will hold its Summer 2010 Commencement on Saturday, Aug. 7, at 10:30 a.m. at the American Bank Center arena. Commencement speaker will be Dr. Harvey Knull, who is retiring after 10 years as the University's associate vice president for Research and Scholarly Activity and dean of Graduate Education. For more information, contact Norma Cantu at ext. 2722.

The University community is invited to join in welcoming First-Year Islanders to the University and celebrating their official beginning as a member of the University's academic community during the first FYI Convocation on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. For more information, call JoAnna Benavides-Franke at ext. 6052.


You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
University Theatre students brought the magic of Charles Schulz's comic strip "Peanuts" to life with their production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" July 15-18 in the Performing Arts Center. The play, directed by Kelly Russell, associate professor of theatre, and Alison Frost, visiting professor of theatre, follows the Peanuts gang through a series of misunderstandings before they realize what makes them happy.

Island Warriors
The Island Warriors of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi raised $2,854 to fight cancer during the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life held July 16-17 at Whataburger Field. More than 1,300 people participated in the 12-hour overnight event themed "Creating a World with Less Cancer" that included a luminaria ceremony, a silent auction, games and contests. The Island Warriors were awarded a second place ribbon for their "Childhood Cancer" education poster and were a bronze level fundraiser.

Engineering Technology Summer Camp
High school teachers from across the Coastal Bend received first-hand knowledge that translates classroom math problems and science experiments into real life scenarios in the nuclear power industry during the Engineering Technology Summer Camp July 12-16. Participants in the camp sponsored by the College of Science and Technology also visited the South Texas Project nuclear power plant in Wadsworth, Texas.

Islander Volleyball Camps
Islander coaches and players instructed middle and high school athletes in all phases of the game during a series of Islander Volleyball Camps held in July. Campers received instruction in areas ranging from improving their arm swing, timing and approach mechanics, transitioning from defense, blocking and serve receive, jump serving and out-of-system play.

Baseball Skills Camp
The Islander baseball coaching staff worked on basics with boys grades eight and below during the Baseball Skills Camp July 12-15 at Chapman Field. The camp introduced players to the fundamentals of defensive positions and included hitting and team drills.


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