Archive | May 2012

Innovation At It’s Best

by Cheval John

The Woodlands, Texas- “Today is an historic day for our institution and yet another example of why Sam Houston State is a great name in Texas education.”

That were the opening remarks of Sam Houston State University (SHSU) president, Dr. Dana Gibson to the audience in attendance at the Grand Opening Ceremony of Sam Houston State University-The Woodlands Center on the campus of Lone Star College-Montgomery.

Among those who were in attendance were members of The Texas State University System’s (TSUS) Board of Regents, TSUS Chancellor Brian McCall, Vice Chancellor of Lone Star College System Rand Key, LSC-Montgemery President Austin A. Lane, U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady, Texas Representative Lois Kolkhorst and representatives from the South Montgomery Woodlands Chambers of Commerce.

The event was streamed lived through SHSU Online for those who could not make it to the ceremony.

The Center is a 144,164 square foot, four story facility that has an auditorium that seats 120, three lecture rooms that holds a seating for 64 students, a five-story parking garage, an 80-seat computer lab and a whole lot more.

It also increases the chance for area residents, who graduated from LSCS with their associate degree and can’t make it onto the main campus, to continue their education at the center to complete their bachelor’s degree.

“The potential for the Woodlands Center is endless,” Dr. Janet Mullings, Executive Director of SHSU-The Woodlands Center said. “As an extension of our main campus, we are bringing the culture of SHSU here.”

“We will enrich this community and in return, they will enrich SHSU through this campus.”

Prior to the opening of the Woodlands Center, SHSU, in conjunction with five area universities, offered classes in the University Center, in partnership with LSCS.

Over time, it became apparent they needed their own building because they were offering 80% percent of the classes.

In 2005, they entered into an agreement that would move the process toward reality.

With the help of Congressman Brady and State Representative Kolkhorst, they secured the funding and in 2009, the deal was finalized that allowed LSCS to donate seven acres of land to Sam Houston, with the understanding that they will be able to teach their classes at the center and use the parking garage for their students, faculty and staff.

They broke ground in the fall of 2010 and in the spring of 2011, they began construction on the property and completed the center in one year.

“Sam Houston State is our top transfer school,” president Lane said. “We are looking forward to offering even more classes out here for our students so that they can transfer seamlessly from Lone Star College-Montgomery.

With the center completed, SHSU have positioned themselves to have a strong presence in the Woodlands and expand their undergraduate and graduate degree programs to the community.

For those students who start their education at a community college, like Lone Star and live in Montgomery County, they do not have to travel long distance to further their education thanks to the Woodlands Center.

“LSCS has been an important partner for us,” Dr. Gibson said. “We realized that many students today need to start at a community college and then transfer….we are really an phenomenal example of that type of partnership with the two of us together.

Staying “In The Zone”

 by Cheval John

When people hear of Huntsville, Texas, the first thing they think of is “prison city”

because it is the headquarters of the

Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

But they fail to realize that there is more to the city than what meets the eye.

For example, it is home to Sam Houston State University, a Carnegie Doctoral Research University that have over 17,000.

These same students would believe that there is nothing to do when they first arrive here,

but would later discover that there is more to do

thanks to a magazine called In The Zone (ITZ).

ITZ is a free monthly entertainment magazine that was founded in 2006 by D.J. Schafer and Jason Naavasard.

It has articles about places to go, sporting events, fashion, movies reviews and a lot more.

“We had quarterly magazines for senior lifestyles…” Schafer said. “The only thing that we didn’t touch was the college.”

The founders held focus groups to find out the type of content that would be suited for the magazine.

They even allowed the participants to write down the possible name of magazine.

After looking at the responses, they came up with the name “In The Zone.”

From there, Schafer built the logo overnight and the first issue was launched in May 2006.

“We decided to start the first issue in the summer instead of the

first day of school because it allowed me to work out the kinks to everything,” Schafer said.

Over time, the magazine has gained popularity among the students, but like any business, it has seen it’s ups and downs.

Naavasard left the magazine last year and they

brought in Mallory Collins as their outside sales representative earlier this year.

Since she joined, the magazines have reached new heights and the team

are looking forward to new opportunities that will come their way

in the fall because of new students that will attend the university.

“You have to re-market yourself every year and target the new comers,” Collins said.

For more information about ITZ, visit their website at

Bearkats Are Tournament Bound

by Cheval John

There’s always a first time for everything.

For the Sam Houston State (SHSU) Bearkat baseball team, it couldn’t come at a better time.

After coming up short in the Southland Conference (SLC) Baseball Post-Season Tournament in the semifinals against eventual champion, University Of Texas-Arlington, they received an at-large bid to the NCAA Baseball Tournament.

It will be the seventh time that the Bearkats will participate in the tournament in their 26 years of competition at the NCAA Division I level.

The last six appearances were results of winning post-season tournaments in the Gulf Star Conference (1987) and SLC (1996, 2007, 2008, 2009).

The latter did not hold a post-season tournament until 1992.

The Bearkats, under first year head coach David Pierce, compiled an overall record of 38-20 and an SLC record of 24-9.

In the process, they won the SLC regular season title for the first time since 1989.

Everything went right for them this past season as their Rate Percentage Index (RPI) was 49th in the country.

The NCAA baseball selection committee uses this formula to choose who would get one of the 34 at-large bids for the tournaments.

The rest of the slots are filled with teams that have won either their respective conference regular season titles or post-season titles.

The majority of the bids goes to teams who are members these conferences depending on if they have a winning record and a higher RPI: Big Ten, Pacific 12 (PAC 12), Southeastern Conference (SEC), Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big 12, and the Big East.

Teams from a mid-major conferences like the Southland Conference have an opportunity to get in if they have won their respective post-season tournament because their RPI is normally low in the rankings.

The Bearkats, however, was ranked 49th in RPI because of competition against top ranked RPI teams like Baylor (#4), Texas A&M (#8), Rice (#11), Dallas Baptist (#22) and San Diego (#28).

They also won the majority of their conference series that included three straight weekend sweeps that began with last year’s defending SLC regular season and post-season champs Texas State.

Their only series loss would come against, you guess it, UTA.

The Kats have come a long way this year because with three returning starters and a new head coach, they were projected to finish sixth in the SLC and now they are heading to the NCAA tournament.

The Bearkats begin tournament play on Friday at 1 p.m. against the University of Arkansas in the Houston regional hosted by Rice University.

Here is a video of the reaction of the Bearkat Baseball Players receiving the news of their at-large bid.

Remembering Our Heroes

by Cheval John

People hear this advice in many forms, “Be thankful for what you have,” even if things are not going your way.

The advice rings true because of the sacrifice that soldiers make on a daily basis to preserve our freedom.

Have you ever thought of what would happen if they decided, “I am not going to serve in the army, navy, marines, etc. but I am going to pursue what I want to be happy.

Then we would not have the freedom to do what we take for granted, like choosing what to watch, were to go to school, were to worship, etc.

They made up their minds to serve our country.

Some were assigned in war zones to make sure that no threat would come on the shores of the United States.

But, some would not return to see their love ones as they pay the ultimate price to preserve our freedoms.

And for those who were wounded, they would have to go through rehabilitation in order to get back to health.

They even go through therapy because they have recurring nightmares of the battles that they went through and have to live with for the rest of their lives.

So, on this memorial day and frankly, everyday, lets remember those who gave their lives for our freedom and to thank those who are currently serving in the arm forces.

That is what we can truly be thankful for.

Here is a video from God Divine of a soldier receiving a warm welcome from her golden retriever after a tour of duty from Afghanistan on this link:

Winds of Change

by Cheval John

With the 2012 Southland Conference (SLC) Baseball Tournament winding down this weekend in San Marcos, one could wonder what the future holds for the conference.

Almost two years ago, Texas State University-San Marcos (TXST), University of Texas-Arlington (UTA) and University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) informed SLC Commissioner Tom Burnett that they were departing the conference effective July 1.

Though their destination was the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in the beginning, each university had second thoughts because they did not know if the conference was going to be there in the future.

Suddenly, UTSA changed their minds and said that they will join Conference USA on July 1.

UTA  followed their lead and will leave for the Sun Belt Conference on July 1.

TXST on the other hand will keep their commitment to the WAC on July 1.

The twist to all of this is that they will be a member for only a year before joining the Sun Belt in 2014.

The irony in all of this is that they left a solid conference, like the SLC for a conference that probably will not be there in the future and that put them in a situation in which they had to scramble to be in a conference before July 1.

Commissioner Burnett  was not rattled by their decision as he immediately sought for replacements.

After the delegation visited Oral Roberts (ORU) and Houston Baptist University early last year, the commissioner made a formal invitation to both the universities to join the conference and both gladly accepted.

ORU will join effective July 1 of this year to compete in all sports except football because they don’t have a football team while Houston Baptist joining the following year.

In the process, they have fielded a football team that will begin athletic competition in 2014.

ORU have been dominant in the Summit League over the years as their basketball team have made a couple of appearances in the NCAA basketball tournament.

The acquisitions of both those schools increases the possibility of future expansion for the  Southland Conference.

In addition, both schools will not have to travel as far as New York for in- conference competition because members of the SLC are within an driving distance between 3-8 hours of each other.

That alone will save the athletics department money while the other three schools that left will now have to expand their budget to accomodate to their travels because of distance of each school in both the Sun Belt and Conference USA.

In the end, the SLC got the last laugh.