April 2011                                                          A Monthly Newsletter for Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Willis Wilson

Former Head Coach at Rice Tapped to Head Islanders Men's Basketball Program
New men's basketball coach Willis Wilson received an Islanders cap from University President Flavius Killebrew and Director of Athletics Tim Fitzpatrick during a March 25 news conference and reception to introduce him to the campus community. Wilson was the head coach at Rice for 16 years, compiling the most wins of any basketball coach in the University's history. Most recently, Wilson served two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis. His appointment is pending approval by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

Sports Management Students Travel to Portugal to Promote Davis Cup Team
Davis CupKinesiology students in Dr. Liette Ocker's sports management class spent nine days in Portugal during March promoting that country's Davis Cup team. The students devised their marketing plan and worked directly with the Portuguese Tennis Federation and its marketing firm to produce the highest attendance in the country's Davis Cup history. In July, another group of Kinesiology students will travel to Switzerland to promote the Portuguese team in its second round of Davis cup play against the Swiss tennis team.

Islander Dance Team Places Third in Division I of Dance/Drill Team Championship
Islanders Dance TeamThe Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi dance team posted an impressive second runner-up finish in Division I at the American Dance/Drill Team Collegiate Championship March 26 at the University of North Texas. The Islanders posted 287 points in the 22-team competition, just one point shy of first runner-up Northwestern State and five points behind champion Stephen F. Austin, which won the competition for the 15th straight year. In addition, team captain Taylor Wilson competed in the solo competition, finishing as the third runner-up in a group that featured 18 competitors across all divisions.

Students Assist the Homeless during Alternative Spring Break Project
Alternative Spring BreakEighteen students spent their spring break volunteering for two non-profit organizations in Atlanta, Ga., as part of the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) service learning project. The students who participated in the program during March 14-18 were Diana Alvarez, Melissa Beeler, Christine Choe, Regina Edwards, Arlene Higueros, Boluwatife Idowu, Juhi Koolwal, Rafael Martinez-Mayorga, Aaron Otero, Vanessa Perez, Jessica Porras, Beronica Reyes, Joshua Sanchez, Marcella Scarsdale, Hillary Vallejo, and Lucy Wanjiku. The trip was planned by student site leaders Jeanette Scarsdale and Christiana Williams, with the supervision of Jack Pence, student activities coordinator. Students were also accompanied by student activities coordinators Tori Amason and Amy Kotulski. The group worked with Safehouse Outreach and Seven Bridges, two non-profits in the metro Atlanta area providing food, human interaction, and advocacy for the homeless and community members in crisis.

Baker Middle School Student Claims Title of Corpus Christi Idol 2011
Corpus Christi IdolBaker Middle School student Quentin Arispe (center) received more than $1,500 in prizes as the winner of the Corpus Christi Idol 2011 finals competition held March 26 at the Performing Arts Center. First runner-up was Tyler Yaklin (right) of Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Second runner-up was Robin Wymer (left) of Tuloso-Midway High School. Both runners-up received more than $700 in prizes. The inaugural solo talent competition was sponsored by the Department of Theatre as a fundraiser for the University's Theatre Program.

Research and Scholarly Activity
Scientists with the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) have launched the new Biodiversity of the Gulf of Mexico (BioGomx) database on the HRI's, a Web portal on Gulf of Mexico Research. The database, which has been in development since 2008, is based on "The Gulf of Mexico Biota," part of the HRI's Gulf of Mexico book series. With 15,419 species listed, it is one of the most comprehensive biotic inventories of a large marine ecosystem. The new database provides updated information about species in the Gulf of Mexico not previously available online.
The College of Science and Technology hosted the Corpus Christi Regional Science Olympiad for students March 26. The event for students in grades 6 through 12 included competitions in the areas of biology, chemistry, geology, engineering and physics. The Science Olympiad was developed to improve the quality of science education, increase student interest in science, and provide recognition of outstanding achievement in science education through interscholastic competition at the local, regional, state, and national level against teams from all 50 states.
Awards, Honors and Grants
Twenty-four faculty members at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi were among those recognized March 28 with the Texas A&M University System's Fall 2010 Student Recognition Award for Teaching Excellence, formerly known as the Teaching Excellence Awards. Each winner will receive a check for $2,500. The Teaching Excellence Awards honor and reward the System's top teachers as selected by students. Each winner will receive a check for $2,500. (Full story)
Michael RendonUniversity Registrar Michael Rendon has been elected president of the Texas Hispanic-Serving Institution Consortium, an organization dedicated to increasing the access, retention and success of students attending consortium member institutions. Rendon was previously vice president of the consortium which provides a mechanism for Hispanic-Serving Institutions to exchange information, establish collaborations, and share resources such as facilities, equipment and personnel between member institutions.
TheatreThree students from the University's Theatre Program won awards at the Region VI Contest of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) held recently in Amarillo, Texas. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi award winners were: Kelsey Clay (from left), "Best Partner" for prelims of the Irene Ryan Acting Competition; Han Fen (Tiana) Liu, the Alcone Company Makeup Design Award; and Julian Verner, senior theatre major, honorable mention in Property design.
Around the Island
Parade of NationsThe Office of International Education will hold its third annual "Parade of Nations" on Monday, April 18, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. Students representing Azerbaijan, Colombia, India, China, Turkey and Vietnam will present dance and music performances. There will also be performances by the Middle Eastern Dance Club, the Latin Girls, the Corpus Christi African Students Organization and other special guests. The event is free and open to the public.
The Skin of Our TeethThe University Theatre will present Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "The Skin of Our Teeth" from Tuesday, April 19, through Sunday, April 24, in the Warren Theatre in the Center for the Arts. Performances are at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets are $10 for adults; $6.50 for students; and $5 for Islander students with their SandDollar$ ID card. Tickets can be purchased online at For more information, call the University Theatre box office at ext. 5800.
  Surf vs. Turf
Cheer on the Islanders as they take on the nationally-ranked Texas Longhorns in the “Surf vs. Turf” baseball game on Tuesday, April 5, beginning at 6 p.m. at Whataburger Field. The six-time NCAA national champion Longhorns will be out to avenge an 8-7 loss to the Islanders earlier this season in Austin. General admission is $10. For more information, call 361.561.HOOK (4665), or click to purchase tickets.

Teams of students from area schools built miniature chariots capable of transporting riders to demonstrate engineering and scientific principles during the Coastal Bend Engineering Competition March 5 at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The teams constructed the chariots using only their imagination and assorted materials. The winners were chosen based on simplicity, ingenuity of the design and quality of construction.

Science Rules
Around 170 fifth-grade students from the West Oso Independent School District performed experiments and visited 15 booths staffed by community professionals and University students, faculty and staff during the Science Rules Exposition in the University Center. The interactive learning experience sponsored by the College of Science and Technology is designed to stimulate interest in science among young students.

Prisoner-turned-poet Jimmy Santiago Baca gave a public reading of his works March 24 as part of the English Department’s "Authors Day." The following day, Baca conducted writing workshops with students from Miller, King, and Moody high schools. The New Mexico-born poet is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, the Hispanic Heritage Award, the prestigious International Prize and the Cornelius P. Turner Award.

Ted Guffy
Dr. Ted Guffy (right), retiring interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, chats with Dr. David Billeaux and Ana Billeaux during a farewell reception held March 25 in the Performing Arts Center lobby. Guffy previously served as interim dean in the University’s College of Education.


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