Archive | April 2011

It Feels Good To Be “ACED”

by Cheval John

What does business professor Sanjay Mehta, Ph.D., sociology professor Lee Miller, Ph.D., and education professor Joyce McCauley, Ph.D. have in common? Is it the fact that each one of them have spent time overseas? Yes, but that is not the only thing they have in common.

They are one of the members of the Engaged Scholars Committee at Sam Houston State University (SHSU). The Engaged Scholars Committee was the brainchild of Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs David Payne, Ph.D. and is made up of professors that represent each of the six colleges at the University.

One of the responsibilities of the committee is to create an atmosphere that will encourage students to build on SHSU’s traditions of public service and community engagement. The committee has brought greater visibility to community engagement by the recent Carnegie recognition of SHSU as an engaged campus. Additionally, the committee is fostering an environment where more faculty offer Academic Community Engagement (ACE) courses. These courses require students to be involved with the community and will begin in the fall of 2011.

An example of  an ACE course is Marketing 570, a graduate level course that is taught by Dr. Mehta. The objective of the course is for students to create a marketing plan for small businesses throughout Huntsville. Dr. Mehta choose a small business from a list of businesses that are recommended by the Small Business Development Center. The class is divided into teams of 3-5 students. The course is designed as a competition, where by they compete with one another to develop the best marketing plan. Each of the groups presents their plans (with 5-10 unique ideas) to the business owner. After the presentations, the owner helps Dr. Mehta select the best marketing plan. According to Dr. Mehta, “out of the 60-70 businesses we have written marketing plans over the past 10 years, roughly 90% of them are still in business today.”

According to Dr. Miller, they are three things that students will get from taking an ACE course:

  1. Students can apply what they are learning in the classroom and means more because they see that knowledge matters in the real world.
  2. As students are engaged in their communities, they are learning from their communities and are bringing it back into the classroom
  3. Students are learning that they can make a difference in their communities

On a very practical level, students in ACE courses also gain experience in organizations associated with their field of study. This is experience that can be used to build their resumes and make them stronger candidates for jobs when they leave SHSU.

Dr. McCauley is the chair of the Engaged Scholars Committee and she believes that the students will benefit from the courses because applying what is being learned in a real world situation helps to make course content more meaningful. Because of the committee’s efforts, Sam Houston has achieved the Carnegie Foundation’s classification of “Community Engagement.” It is one of 161 public intstitutions nationwide to receive that classification in 2011.

“Receiving the Carnegie designation is a great accomplishment,” said McCauley. “It took two years of gathering data and each of the members was dedicated to this and it was worth it in the end.”

For those wondering if they should take an ACE designated course, Dr. Miller has this to say:

“When you are involve with any organization through an ACE course, and you do a great job for them, then the supervisor may be willing to write a letter of recommendation that will set you apart from the competition for a job when you graduate.”

For more information about the Engaged Scholars Committee, and to see which classes are designated as an ACE course, visit the ACE website at:

Beating Cancer One Day At A Time

by Cheval John

“I’m sorry, but you have cancer.”

When a person hears these words from the doctor, fear would grip their hearts and they would wonder if they’re going to live long enough to see their children grow up to be adults, or celebrate their wedding anniversaries and many more important milestones.

That’s the case of James S. Olson, Ph.D., Regents Professor of History at Sam Houston State University. He has written or co-written more than 40 books, and his most recent book, “Making Cancer History: Disease and Discovery at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center,” describes the difference the center has made in the lives of cancer patients and their families.

Olson received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Brigham Young University in 1967, and a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees in History from Stony Brook University in 1969 and 1972, respectively.

“During my time as a graduate student, I was married and had a family,” said Olson. “I had part-time jobs which included washing dishes and mopping floors to support the family.”

After Stony Brook, Olson started teaching at Sam Houston in 1972 and made an immediate impact on the students he taught. By 1977, he had written his first book and received the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Everything was going well for him until receiving that fateful news in 1981 that he had cancer.

“It was very frightening,” said Olson. “I was worried because of the 50/50 survival rate and I had to confront it.”

He received radiation therapy and it had appeared to be gone until it returned years later in his arm and he had no choice but to get it amputated to keep it from spreading.

He had adjusted to life and continued teaching and doing research and in 1994, he received the title of Distinguished Professor. Years later, he received the news that he had a tumor in his brain. It is a slow growth tumor and every few months, he goes to the doctor to make sure that it hasn’t grow to the point that it is life threatening.

During this ordeal, he received great news. In 2003, after the completion of the Academic Building IV, the Texas State University System Board of Regents approved the naming of the auditorium, the James S. Olson Auditorium, in honor of Dr. Olson’s dedication to teaching, research and service to the students of Sam Houston. Three years later, he received the title of Regents Professor from the Texas State University System Board of Regents.

Dr. Olson is an inspiration to many students and especially to his colleagues at Sam Houston. His teaching style makes it easy for the students to understand the material and after a person hears his story and understands the trials and tribulations that he has went through, a person has to appreciate life and to enjoy every moment that is given to them.

One way to honor those that either are survivors or are dealing with cancer, is to participate in Relay for Life that will be held on April 29 at the Elliot T. Bowers Stadium from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

For more information, visit their website at:

Getting On The Right Career Path

“What are you going to do after you graduate?”

That’s the question that every student hears at one time or another. But some students in their final semester of their undergraduate studies wonder what the next step is after graduation.

That’s where Career Services at Sam Houston State University can help.

Career Services began in 1915 as the “Teachers Positions Committee.” It went through several names before it received its current name in 1996.

Their mission is to provide students with advice that will prepare them for the transition from student to professional.

There is a variety of services the center provides. One example includes counseling to help freshman decide their major. Sophomores receive assistance in finding part-time jobs that’s available on campus. Juniors receive assistance in writing resumes, mock interviews and finding internships that would give them relevant work experience. Seniors have the opportunity to put their resumes out on Jobs for Kats where companies can view a potential job candidate and attend Career Services-sponsored events like the Junior/Senior Etiquette Dinner. Services are available for alumni after they graduate.

“Students come to us with their unique concerns,” Pam Laughlin, director of Career Services said. “For the student that have an interview with a prospective employer, they can do a mock interview with us. For the students that need to improve their resumes, they can go to a counselor to get their resume critique.”

Career Services is one of the best resource that are available on campus. They’re dedicated professionals that will go out of their way to make sure that students are well prepared for their future careers.

For more information on Career Services, visit their website at:

You can get the timeline at the SHSU Archives on the fourth floor in the Newton Grisham Library and the contact person is Barbara Mason. Her e-mail address is: