Thursday, November 21, 2002

Academic Building 4 Opens Its Doors In Spring

From the Houstonian:
Over a year after construction began, SHSU's newest classroom building is nearing completion. Academic Building Four is on schedule to open its doors to students for the upcoming spring semester. The Board of Regents approved construction of the new building in August 1999 with a budget of $8.5 million. Although initially marked for completion in February 2002, construction met with unexpected problems causing crews to finish the work several months behind schedule. The new 61,070 square-foot building, located at the intersection of 20th Street and Avenue I, replaced five departmental dormitories that once housed students.

"The fact is we really needed the space," Physical Plant Director Douglas Greening said in an interview shortly after construction began. "Several of our departments are in temporary buildings and badly need a permanent home." The structure will serve as the new home of the history, library science and psychology departments as well as Student Advising and Mentoring Center.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Behind the Building: Smith-Kirkley Complex

Yet another article in the Houstonian’s long-running series about the buildings on campus; today we focus on Smith-Kirkley Hall.

Favorite line:
"The Kirkley and Smith buildings were both bought in 1959. Smith Hall was bought for $22,500 and Kirkley Hall was bought for $5,500. Both properties were pieced together to make the Smith-Kirkley complex. The fifth floor dormitory was occupied on 1961."

First, I always thought a “Smith-Kirkley Complex” was the name for the delusions one received from living in this dormitory. (This is a joke, albeit not the funniest I've ever written.)

Second, I’m utterly lost on how the two dorms were “both bought in 1959” (it reads as if the dorms were built by a third-party and later purchased by SHSU - sort of like the Colony Apartments). The 1962 Alcalde plainly shows Smith Hall prior to Kirkley’s construction. Perhaps the article meant the university purchased the land for the buildings in 1959? But then, to be fair, one wonders how old the photograph was? But why would the Alcalde show an outdated photograph as a representation of the current campus? And why do we really care?

Friday, November 8, 2002

Regents Approve Action on $30 Million in Projects

Action was taken on Sam Houston State University projects totaling almost $30 million during a meeting of the university's board of regents Friday in Beaumont.
  • Approval of preliminary plans prepared by Watkins Hamilton Ross Architects, Inc. of Houston for the $18 million renovation and addition to the Farrington Science Building, with work to start in September 2003 and completion scheduled for June 2005.
  • Employment of LAN/Leo A. Daly of Houston to design a baseball/softball, dressing room/athletic complex to be located between Bowers Stadium and Sycamore St. The project is expected to cost about $4 million, with construction expected to begin in September 2003 and completion in June 2005.
  • Employment of Courtney Harper & Partners of Houston to design the renovation of the eight residence halls known as Sorority Hill, with an estimated project cost of $1.2 million, and Jackson-Shaver Hall, with an estimated project cost of $2 million. The Sorority Hill work will be done in the summer of 2003, with Jackson Shaver out of service for the summer and fall.
  • Approval of preliminary plans for the south Campus dining facility as prepared by Brown Reynolds Watford Architects of College Station, for the $2 million project, with construction expected to begin in February 2003 and completion in October 2003.
  • Approval of preliminary plans for an addition to the Teacher Education Center, as prepared by PDG Architects of Houston, for the $1.25 million addition to house a counseling clinic and offices for a new doctorate in counseling education. Construction is scheduled to begin in June 2003 with completion about July 2004.
  • Approval of preliminary plans for renovation of Gresham Library space, as prepared by Molina Walker Architects, Inc. of Houston, which will reconfigure the Learning Assistance Area for offices and archival material storage. The project estimated at $800,000 is expected to begin in June 2003 with completion in December 2003.
  • Award of a contract to Intex United of Houston for construction of campus signage, at a cost of $447,000, to begin in January 2003 and to be competed prior to the 2003 fall semester.

Thursday, November 7, 2002

Houstonian: Red tags mark campus trees to identify more than 30 species

From the Houstonian:
Students curious about the red tags on campus trees should wonder no more. The red tags are the result of an inventory on trees, in which 875 were observed and 32 different species were found on SHSU's main campus.

"The red tags will stay on the trees; we're going to keep them there until they rust," said Justin Williams, professor in biological sciences, who implemented the project.

The inventory began in early June 2002 and is now complete. Each tree was numbered, identified by species, measured by diameter and breast height and tagged. This was done to ensure future identification of each tree. This inventory was also made into a list that is available through the campus library, Williams said.

"First of all, they're beautiful; they add to property value and some of these trees are almost a hundred years old. They represent the age and integrity of the university," said Williams.

This is the first step in conserving SHSU's natural environment. Any future altering of SHSU main campus will now be aided with a campus map of its trees.

SHSU Physical Plant and the university office of Research and Sponsor Projects funded the inventory of trees through grants. The cost was an estimated $7,000, in which $2,000 was directly from the Physical Plant. It was implemented through the research help of Williams and graduate student Lauren Grawey.

The overall objective of the inventory was to make sure no one builds over these trees in the near future. Williams and Grawey's research also evaluated the overall health of the trees. The inventory suggested that 18 trees be removed from campus, while eight were in need of trimming.

Of the 32 different types of trees species located on campus, the most represented tree was the Slash Pine, which is not native to Walker County. Other trees found on campus include Live Oaks, Water Oaks, Shumard Oaks, Willow Oaks and Magnolias.

The research is available on the Internet, as well as throughout campus.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Ghost Tales of Sam Houston State University

Halloween comes to Huntsville and the staff of the Houstonian does a hair-raising job of digging up some of the stories and legends from SHSU:
"The first story I ever heard was a girl shooting herself in a community bathroom on the ground floor of Belvin-Buchanan Hall. You're supposed to see the silhouette of her face on the wall," [Senior Shelbi] Blackmon said. "Supposedly, that's why there is a wall covering up the two bathrooms," she said.

"On the fire emergency exit map on the back of everyone's dorm room door, the maps on the ground floor show two bathrooms. If it's not true, then why are they on the map?" she asked.

JoEllen Tipton, director of Residence Life, begs to differ. "There has been no such thing like someone shooting themselves, or someone murdering somebody. UPD hasn't ever reported anything of that matter. There has been stories, but even then, in Belvin, there has never been bathrooms on the ground floor. The room on the ground floor that people mistake the bathroom for being, is a maintenance closet that holds air conditioning equipment," she said.

"We've heard the girl's face on the wall story, but none of the staff or faculty has ever seen it. In the late 70s, a lot of girls painted murals on the walls of the ground floor, which is also known as the garden floor. Depending on the paint color on the walls, in between the years, I'm guessing that some of the pictures might still show through the repainting renovations," Tipton said.

Blackmon also heard a rumor of a lady's picture hanging in the lobby of Belvin-Buchanan, that follows students when they walk by. The picture is of an old Residence Manager Mrs. W.H. Fannie Matthews.

Natali Rhymes, a resident manager at Elliott Hall had some grueling stories to share.

"Back in the day, there used to be four dorm rooms on the ground floor. Supposedly, a girl was killed in her room. The rooms were then renovated into a lounge for the bottom floor. If you go to the ground floor of Elliot by yourself at nighttime, you're supposed to see a girl combing her hair in the reflection," said Rhymes.

Anyone interested in seeing the facts for themselves will have to wait. A tar problem on the bottom floor caused the lounge area to be reconstructed. Now, the area is being considered for central staff offices.

Rhymes has had plenty of weird and freaky things happen to her, but the worst was when she was a house manager at the old Chi Omega House, now the Stuart House, which houses the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.

"...I heard that an old Chi Omega alum hung herself in her shower of one of the rooms. Some of the sorority girls told me about the incident. Anyways, a little while after that, I was doing room checks and the room that she had killed herself wouldn't open with my master key. In fact, you had to go through the suite to get to the room. If you unlocked the door to the bathroom and left, and then came back, the door would be locked," said Rhymes.

"I think it's fun to think something happened because the buildings are so old," [Belvin-Buchanan Hall Resident Manager Jessica Truscott] explained.

A faculty/staff member who didn't want their name published, said that there are ghosts in the Peabody Building and Austin Hall. In the Peabody Building, there is supposedly an older woman in a long black dress who visits the building in the daytime. If the music being played on the radio is not the music the ghost likes, she'll pull the cord out of the socket. In Austin Hall, an elderly maid stands at the end window looking out towards the courthouse. Sam Houston's ghost is also rumored to appear at nighttime in one of the back windows and also looks out.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Alumni Fountain Vandalism Costs University

From the Houstonian:
The Alumni Fountain between the Lowman Student Center and the Dan Rather Communications Building was vandalized again when unknown person or persons poured soap into the fountain last Thursday. The act of pouring soap in the fountain can be classified as a tradition that has become widely expected, but is also illegal.

The continuing prank of soap in the alumni fountain costs the university an estimated $500 each time. The fountain is usually a relaxed area of campus where many sit and talk or read amongst the flat bricks with the sound of the falling water in the background.

Over the years, this area is also where students, faculty or anyone passing by the fountain may notice soap in the water. When the prank occurs, the SHSU Physical Plant is notified. Men such as John Turman, Mike Yargo and Earl Carter, all workers for the Physical Plant are informed and begin the necessary work to fix the fountain. "It's something that they do," said Carter. "It's been going on for year and years and years; they think it's cute."

Everything from dish washing liquid to washing powder and even bubble bath has been added in the water fountain. "Sometimes students do leave the containers. Last time, we found some Tide and a Mr. Bubble container," said Yargo. The estimated $500 it takes to repair the fountain is subtracted from SHSU's general fund. "We have to drain it, refill it and put more chemicals in it," said Yargo. Despite the frequency of the vandalism, catching the responsible parties is difficult. "To my knowledge, no one has ever been caught," said Yargo.

Behind the Buildings: Evans Complex

Another in a series of a series of a series of...the Houstonian’s history of some of the campus buildings; this week we learn about the Evans Complex.

Favorite line:
"The new Evans building was constructed in the 1950s and latter renovated to what is now known as the Evans Complex. Evans was two separate buildings before the construction."

Actually, prior to any construction the building didn't exist.

(I know...I know...shut up....)

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Houstonian: Parking garage in the works

From the Houstonian:
Funding has been approved for the construction of a multi-level parking garage between the Lowman Student Center and Sorority Hill.

The completion of the garage should help alleviate continuing parking concerns by adding over 400 spaces on the SHSU campus.

Construction is scheduled to begin in February and the current parking area should remain open until then. The project is expected to cost between $4 million and $4.5 million dollars said Doug Greening, director of the Physical Plant.

"There will be three or four levels with a possible one-half level below grade," Greening said. "The recent rains will be a factor, but we had hoped to get started on it by December."

Earlier this year, the university received proposals from nine different teams of architects and contractors for a design-build project to complete the garage. Bonds were sold to fund the project.

Greening said the planning for this has been different than for other construction on campus. Previously, an architectural firm would design the project, then proposals would be taken from contractors for the construction.

"This time, we advertised for a team to design and build it, consisting of a contractor and an engineering firm," Greening said.

The architectural firm of Graeber, Simmons and Cowan, with contractor CP Snider, both from Austin, submitted the winning team proposal.

Greening said construction should be complete by July or August, barring any other delays.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Houstonian: City annexes Gibbs Ranch

From the Houstonian:
The city of Huntsville annexed the SHSU Gibbs Ranch during a city council meeting last Tuesday.

During the monthly city council meeting Oct. 8, the city voted to annex five new areas in Walker County into the city limits. The land added to the city is all public land, and Huntsville will use it to increase its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Behind the Buildings: Peabody Library

It’s time for the Houstonian to break out the university history book; this week the historic Peabody Library is the topic at hand.

Favorite line:
“The early history of the Peabody Building goes back in time to when Sam Houston State University was known as Sam Houston Normal Institute.”

No, I think I’ll let you wrap your head around that one.

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Behind the Buildings: Farrington Building

Another week, another building history from the pages of the Houstonian; this week we celebrate the Farrington Building.

Favorite line:
“Farrington's daughter married into the Gibbs' family. The Gibbs contributed $400,000 for the chair, White said. It was made into a revolving chair to be used for each faculty member's research or professional things. "The marriage was good news for (the chemistry department)," White said.”

Sorry, but what chair is being discussed here? A department chair? A lab stool sample that swivels? Color me confused but this is the first time “the chair” seems to be mentioned.

Thursday, October 3, 2002

Alumni Garden to be Dedicated

From the Houstonian:
SHSU students will now have a visible memorial of the foundation the university provides with the completion of the Alumni Garden, near the Alumni Fountain on the SHSU campus. A dedication ceremony for the garden will be held Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. as part of homecoming activities.

Developers hope to ultimately incorporate the garden and fountain into an Alumni Plaza. "The Alumni Fountain was created as a memorial to university alumni and friends. It is a link to SHSU," said Ronny Carroll, past president of the Alumni Association and current member of the Alumni Advisory Board.

"Three or four years ago, the developmental committee had the idea to do something on campus so that present students could see the presence of the alumni and provide a memorial for those who had passed here before," he said.

Paving stones were available for purchase by alumni and friends, engraved with the names of graduates and professors or anyone with a special meaning or contribution to the university. The stones were placed beside the fountain for students and visitors alike to enjoy.

Kevin Hayes, director of Alumni Relations and a 1989 graduate of SHSU, said it became apparent the location did not properly recognize individuals in a dignified manner.

"I was out by the fountain one day and I saw one of the stones covered with debris," Hayes said. "That is a high traffic area, people walking through, golf carts going over it. If you come back years from now and want to look at your stone, you don't want to find it covered up and dirty."

From this, the idea of the Alumni Garden evolved to provide a quiet, serene place where everyone can visit and reflect on the history and experiences of SHSU. The Alumni Advisory Board began looking for a site, and President Gaertner ultimately approved the area near the fountain, which was previously a material handling area for the LSC.

Engineer Gerald Harris designed plans to create the landmark that students and visitors can recognize. Hayes said the brick wall provides a dignified area for display of the memorial stones, while allowing a very prominent area on campus to honor the university's history.

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Houstonian: SHSU to build two new housing facilities

From the Houstonian:
President James Gaertner approved the construction of a $15 million apartment-style housing facility at the intersection of Bowers Boulevard and Montgomery Road.

"Our planning research indicates that this is a major need, and we are looking at several solutions in partnership with the private sector which will provide apartment-type housing on university property in the Bowers Stadium area," said Gaertner in an article on the "Today @ Sam" Web site.

According to the Web site, the Board of Regents approved the employment of C. F. Jordan, Limited Partners, of College Station, to design and build the structures. There will be two separate apartments, Bearkat Village I and Bearkat Village II. These will be the first residence halls constructed in this area since 1962, and they will replace several residence halls that have been demolished in recent years.

Behind the Building: Estill Building

Here’s another in the Houstonian’s series about the buildings on campus, this time about Estill Building.

Favorite line:
"The Estill Building was constructed as a three-story library and was named the Estill Library in honor of Estill."

And it is still a three-story building.

Houstonian: Students help move and reconstruct oldest log cabin in Walker County

From the Houstonian:
Back in the 1840s, the thought of moving was a big ordeal. Moving your home also? Impossible.

This past year, some dedicated people have moved the oldest known log cabin in Walker County. With some help of history students, and under the guidance and coordination of Caroline Crimm, history professor at SHSU, the Farris-Roberts log cabin was moved 15 miles from where it was located.

During July, about 33 SHSU senior and seven master history students, helped deconstruct the two-room cabin. They mainly removed the roof and some attachments so the structure could be easily moved.

Allen Roberts built the cabin in 1840 or 1841, and before being moved to downtown, it was located on the Farris family property west of Huntsville. The cabin remained in the Farris family for six generations, until it was donated to the city in 2001.

The Farris family had offered to donate the cabin 17 years ago, but apparently some local citizens interested in historical preservation were concerned that moving the structure would damage the cabin and would be lost to deterioration and neglect, Lewis said. The family had also offered $1,000 toward moving and restoring the structure at the time.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Houstonian: Gaertner discusses new housing

From the Houstonian:
Sam Houston State University President James Gaertner met with the student body Wednesday night to inform them of future campus changes, to answer questions, give advice and to hear students' input.

Gaertner believes the time for construction is now because interest rates are at an all-time low. "I am confident that the people who follow us in years to come will say we did a good thing for the university," he said. One of the largest building projects Gaertner discussed was the construction of the Bearkat Village apartment complex, which will be located across from Bowers Stadium. Bearkat Village is expected to be completed for the next academic year.

Gaertner also discussed a structured parking garage located immediately north of the Lee Drain building in the works for Sam Houston students. He hopes to help commuter students and those who park on the south side of campus by building dining facilities in the space where the temporary Barnes & Noble bookstore was located.

The Smith-Hutson Business Building, the Teacher Education Center, and the Farrington building will receive money for renovations and additions as well. One project Gaertner was particularly enthusiastic about was the construction of a visitor's center southwest of the Estill building.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Behind the Building: Johnson Coliseum

Here’s another in the Houstonian’s series about the buildings on campus, focusing this week on Johnson Coliseum.

Favorite line:
“The staff at the Coliseum assures that days are set aside particularly for university and community functions. Some of these functions include commencement exercises, registration, recreational sports programming, Parent's Day, career fairs, award ceremonies, homecoming activities, student recruitment days, organizational fairs, banquets, Greek Life functions and many other functions.”

And weddings, and bar mitzvahs, and conventions, and box socials, and spelling bees, and grammar rodeos, and....

Friday, September 6, 2002

New Auditorium Honors Olson

From Today@Sam:
The auditorium of Sam Houston State University's newest classroom and office building has been named the Dr. James S. Olson Auditorium in honor of the distinguished professor of history and chair of that department.

The Texas State University System Board of Regents took the action "in honor of his many accomplishments...and his continued generous support of Sam Houston State University."

The new building at 20th Street and Ave. I has been designated as Academic Building Four. It will house the history, psychology and philosophy, and library science departments, as well as a Student Advising and Mentoring Center and a new computer services laboratory. Completion is scheduled this fall, with use expected at the beginning of the spring semester. The 4,100-square foot auditorium will seat 286.

Friday, August 30, 2002

Today@Sam: Regents Approve $40 Million for New Buildings

Plans for Sam Houston State University projects, improvements, and equipment totaling more than $40 million were approved Friday by the university's board of regents, as well as a new degree and the division of a department.
  • Employment of C. F. Jordan, Limited Partners of College Station to design and build the Bearkat Village I and Bearkat Village II apartment style student housing project, at an expected cost of $15 million. The project at the intersection of Bowers Boulevard and Montgomery Road will be the first residence halls constructed since 1962, and will replace several residence halls demolished in recent years because of poor condition or to make room for other structures.
  • Employment of F & S Partners, Inc. of Dallas to design a recreation center with a project cost estimated at $6.7 million. It will include a 40,000 square foot addition to provide a new indoor/outdoor swimming pool, weight room, multipurpose room and basketball court. One possible configuration is to connect the addition to the southwest corner of the present Health/Kinesiology Building.
  • Employment of Graeber, Simmons & Cowan Architects, Inc. of Austin to design a 32,500 square foot addition to the Smith-Hutson Business Building, with an estimated project cost of $5.8 million. The College of Business Administration has experienced a growth rate of 40 percent over the past five years and projects an additional growth rate of 4 percent per year for the next 10 years. The college is now housed in three buildings and will consolidate into the present Smith/Hutson Building and the planned annex.
  • Employment of C. P. Snider Construction Company, Inc. of Austin to design and build a 300-400 vehicle parking structure just north of the Lowman Student Center, at an expected cost of $4.5 million. The facility is expected to provide additional campus parking on a daily basis as well as badly needed parking for events in the student center.
  • Approval of the demolition of the Baseball Indoor Practice Facility, which had previously been used as a vehicle maintenance shop, near Holleman Field, at a cost not to exceed $50,000. The board previously approved the sale of $4 million in bonds for construction of a baseball, softball, and dressing room complex in the Bowers Stadium area. Details of that project await further approval by the regents as well as the coordinating board.
  • Employment of Brown Reynolds Watford Architects of College Station to design a 5,000 square foot South Campus Dining Facility, at an expected cost of $2 million. SHSU has no dining facility on the south side of the campus. "The existence of 10 south-side residence halls with approximately 600 residents and the hundreds of commuter students parking on the south side justifies a need for this facility," Gaertner told the regents.
  • Employment of PDG Architects, Inc. of Houston to design a 5,500 to 6,000 square foot addition to the southwest corner of the Teacher Education Center at an expected cost of $1 million. The space will be needed as the result of approval for the College of Education and Applied Science to offer a Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Education.
  • Employment of Huitt-Zollars, Inc. of Houston to design a Visitors' Center, at an expected cost of $900,000. The Visitors' Center will provide a location for visitors and prospective students to obtain directions or information about the campus, and will be built near the intersection of Sam Houston Avenue and Bowers Boulevard (20th Street). It will include areas for receiving visitors, several private conference areas, offices and support space for staff.
  • Approval of preliminary plans for renovation of the Estill Classroom Building, prepared by Huitt-Zollars, Inc. of Houston, at an expected cost of $600,000. With relocation of the Department of History to the new classroom/office building in the spring of 2003, the new space on the southeast corner of the second floor and north side of the third floor will provide space for the payroll and registrar offices.
  • Approval of preliminary plans for exterior campus signage prepared by Brown Reynolds Watford Architects, Inc. of College Station, at an expected cost of $500,000. The project will include exterior signage for way finding, directional street signage, parking ot signage, and information kiosks. "Our current system of signage requires updating and modern sign systems will contribute to both our recruitment and retention efforts," said Gaertner.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Today@Sam: President Discusses Campus Progress and Plans

Sam Houston State University President James Gaertner outlined last year's progress and talked about future plans at the university's general faculty and staff meeting on Tuesday morning in Killinger Auditorium.

He also announced plans for campus improvements that are currently in various stages of approval. Among those improvements are a renovation of the Farrington Building which houses chemistry and physics, the construction of a 550-bed residence facility near Bowers Stadium, an addition to the Health and Kinesiology Building which would include a swimming pool, an addition to the Smith-Hutson Building, the construction of a dining facility on the south side of campus, enlargement of the Teacher Education Center, construction of new baseball and softball facilities to include dressing areas, the addition of a three-level parking structure with 450 spaces, upgrading exterior and interior signage, and the construction of a campus visitor's center which would feature state-of-the-art technology.

Gaertner also addressed the proposal to rebuild Old Main, the long-standing university landmark which was destroyed by fire in 1982.

"At this time, I will say that the idea is under serious consideration," Gaertner said. "It would be a wonderful lead item in a capital campaign, and I'm currently listening to comments and concerns that are being made about the idea," he said. "Those who have questioned the feasibility of rebuilding Old Main are concerned that the building would not be identical to the original structure," Gaertner explained. "There are also concerns that the new building would overshadow Austin Hall, which many consider as the authentic historic building on campus," he said. Gaertner said that he had spoken with architects and the general idea is to rebuild with an exterior that is identical to the original building, and have a modern interior for use as an educational facility.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Historical Park Donated to SHSU

The Houston Chronicle tells the story of a recent donation to SHSU that includes a number of historically-significant structures, including one once used by Sam Houston himself:
Carroll Tharp helped design the Hyatt Hotel and other mainstays of the downtown Houston skyline.  But the primary love of the 84-year-old retired architect and his wife, Mae, was preservation of historic cabins deep in the Piney Woods of Montgomery County.

They spent years developing a 45-acre tract, called Fernland, which contains five historic structures - including a cabin that Sam Houston used as a hunting lodge.

Tharp ... and his wife recently donated the acreage and structures to Sam Houston State University.

"We are delighted that the university will continue the work we started and preserve this segment of Texas history for many people to enjoy," Tharp said.

The park, in an area rapidly becoming residential, is filled with towering trees and a creek bubbling with pure water.  It originally was named Fernland because of two fern bogs on the property.

Patrick Nolan, director of the Sam Houston Museum said the university's first priority is to preserve and protect the valuable historic resource.  "Our second priority is to develop a minimal amount of infrastructure to accommodate visitors....  We want to put in water, lights, restroom facilities and parking....  After those two goals are met, they plan to begin permitting visitors to the park."

The land and buildings are valued at $355,000 and the contents at $92,947, but the Tharps' visitors often describe it as "priceless."

Structures at the site include:
  • The Crane cabin, which was moved from Angelina County.
  • The Bear Bend hunting lodge, originally located on a bend of Atkins Creek, now under Lake Conroe.
  • The Hulon House, a typical Texas Greek revival farmhouse.
  • The Jordan cabin, considered to be the oldest house in Walker County, which was originally a part of Montgomery County.
  • A blacksmith shop, which started its life in 1919 as a corn crib.

Thursday, June 6, 2002

Today@Sam: President Notes Campus Project Progress

President James Gaertner writes at Today@Sam:
The spring semester at Sam Houston State University is over and before long I will be looking back at my first year as president. It has been an exciting year, and a busy one, and I would like to share with you some of our recent activities and accomplishments. When I was formally installed as Sam Houston State University's 12th president in February, I said that Sam Houston State is a wonderful place, but that we would all work together to "renew" it, physically and spiritually. I believe that renewal is well under way.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Today@Sam: York Establishes Endowment With Proceeds from Historic Ranch

Lee County land has been good to Sam Houston State University, and so has Miriam and Meredith York. Miriam and Meredith York were school teachers and ranchers. He died in 1983 and she lives in Giddings.

Mrs. York recently notified Sam Houston State that she was establishing the Miriam and Meredith York Presidential Endowment for Excellence with a gift of $300,000, bringing to more than a half million dollars the amount which the Yorks have given to Sam Houston State over the years.

"I have sold the farm (actually Meredith's) and the cattle," Mrs. York wrote to Sam Houston President James F. Gaertner. "Meredith would want Sam Houston to receive this."

"The farm" is actually known as the Y Bar Ranch, which Meredith York's grandfather established in Lee County in 1865. From that ranch Meredith York's father came to Sam Houston Normal Institute, from which he graduated in 1894.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Today@Sam: Former postmaster returns to old stomping grounds

Rowe Creager, who managed the campus post office from 1974-79, has returned to his old stomping grounds as a full-time post office employee.

Creager is definitely no stranger to Huntsville and Sam Houston State University. He has lived in Huntsville his entire life and his father, W. Truett, was dean of students and a professor of education in the 50's before passing away in 1963.

Friday, May 10, 2002

Today@Sam: Regents Approve Building Projects

Expenditures for building renovations and additions and campus signage and parking, with costs of more than $20 million, as well as fee increases, a new doctorate, and summer study programs were all approved Friday by Sam Houston State University's governing body. The Texas State University System Board of Regents approved the measures at a regular quarterly meeting at Southwest Texas State University, one of the eight system component institutions.

The largest expenditure item approved by the regents was $18 million for renovation and an addition to the Farrington Building, which houses the chemistry and physics departments. James F. Gaertner, SHSU president, told the board that laboratory space in the 43-year-old building is inadequate for the program of instruction that is conducted there and research space is outdated and deficient.

The building now has 51,000 square feet of space. An addition of 40,000 square feet will contain new laboratory facilities, offices, classrooms, and supporting functions that will increase laboratory space by about a third. The board approved hiring the Watkins Hamilton Ross Architects, Inc. firm of Houston to design the renovation and addition.

A $368,747 contract was awarded to Riata Construction of Conroe for the second phase of a project to complete 750 additional parking spaces by the beginning of the fall semester. The lots are near White Hall and the Colony Apartments. Construction has already begun on two lots at Ave. J and Bobby K. Marks Drive.

Molina Walker Architects, Inc. of Houston was hired to design a renovation of the Newton Gresham Library which is expected to cost $800,000. The work will be done this summer after movement of the library science department and Learning Assistance Center to the new classroom/office building. The reconfiguration of the library space will allow its use for library offices and storage of archival material now in the Peabody Library.

The Huitt Zollar architecture firm of Houston was hired to design a renovation to the Estill Classroom Building for use by the internal auditor and registrar offices, with an expected cost of $400,000. That space will become available when the history department moves into the new classroom/office building.

The BRW company of College Station was hired to design exterior campus signage in the form of way finding, directional street signage, parking lot signage and information kiosks, at a cost of $500,000. "The present exterior signage is too little, worn out and incomplete from a directional standpoint," Gaertner told the regents. "The university wants to put forth a better image to our students and visitors, including those with disabilities."

Thursday, March 21, 2002

City approves proposal to take over rundown Oakwood Cemetery

"The world will take care of Houston's fame," said Andrew Jackson about his long-time friend. But who will take care of Sam Houston's grave?

So begins an article in today’s Houstonian about Oakwood Cemetery and the Huntsville City Council’s approval to take on the assets of the Oakwood Cemetery Association.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Today@Sam: Museum Renovation Phase I Scheduled for Dedication

The Sam Houston Memorial Museum historic site at Sam Houston State University has had its ups and downs. What else would one expect of a complex that tells the story of a man whose life followed that pattern on his path to becoming Texas' greatest hero?

On Saturday at 2 p.m. the Museum will dedicate a $250,000 renovation of its West Wing, an exhibit entitled "The Tallest Texan." It tells the Houston story from his arrival in Texas through the Revolution, San Jacinto, and his two terms as president of the Republic, ending with Texas' annexation to the United States. It also covers his marriage to Margaret Lea and their early family life.

Almost as soon as the punch and cookies are gone from that event, work is scheduled to begin on Phase II, the North Gallery. It will be called "Champion of the Union" and covers Houston's terms as a U.S. Senator, Governor of Texas, the fight to preserve the Union, the coming of Secession and Civil War, Houston's removal as governor, and his death. That work is expected to be completed by summer.

The Memorial Museum building was built in 1936, on the 100th anniversary of Texas independence from Mexico, on property that was once owned by Sam Houston. On the grounds are also his Woodland Home and his law office, on their original sites, as well as the house in which he died (Steamboat House), and the Walker Education Center.

On the "down" side of the Museum's life history are many years of making do, scraping by, and relying on history-minded citizens of Texas and Huntsville for moral and monetary support. In 1988 the Museum's meager appropriation was cut from the state budget.

The result of that action was organization of the East Texas Folk Festival, re-named in its third year as the General Sam Houston Folk Festival, and this year planning its 15th celebration of that event on April 19-21.

While the festival had not raised huge amounts of money for the museum, significant improvements have been made as a result of its donations. More importantly, however, it has served as a rallying point for those who sought to preserve the Museum and its ties to Texas and United States history.

Another boost came from the two-year celebration of Sam Houston's 200th birthday, on March 2, 1993. An outgrowth of that event was the March 2, 1995 dedication of the Katy and E. Don Walker Education Center, which has become the "front door" for the Museum complex.

While efforts are under way seeking funds for future work, nothing is certain. The completion of Phases III and IV are contingent on continued fund-raising.

"We have enough money in hand to complete Phases I & II but not the rest," said Nolan. The next two phases will be the South Gallery and the Rotunda, although the order has not been determined.

The South Gallery is called "Man of the American Frontier." It starts the Houston family story in Scotland, brings the Houstons to the New World, tells Sam's early life in Virginia,the migration to Tennessee, his early life with the Native American Cherokees and as a school teacher, and his aborted term as Governor of Tennessee, his unhappy marriage to Eliza Allen, and his departure from Tennessee to live again among the Cherokee.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Investiture of President James F. Gaertner

From the Houstonian:
President James F. Gaertner was inaugurated as the 12th president in SHSU history last Thursday to a crowd of about 1,600 in the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.

"We are brought together today," said Gaertner in his acceptance speech, "not as much to celebrate any one individual, but rather this event gives us all the opportunity to celebrate our wonderful university...and to look to the promise of the future, and the great potential of Sam Houston State."

Friday, February 22, 2002

Today@Sam: Regents Approve SHSU Projects

Installation of a new roof on Johnson Coliseum, the purchase of equipment for the renovated Lowman Student Center, new computers for faculty and students, and increases in housing and food service rates were approved Friday for Sam Houston State University; of note:
  • The board voted to table a motion to change the name of Southwest Texas State University to Texas State University. Nancy Neal of Lubbock, who offered the motion to table, said she felt the issue should be delayed until the selection of a new Southwest Texas president is made.
  • A total of $1.25 million will be spent on dining furniture, dining equipment, signage and graphics for brand franchises in the Lowman Student Center, as well as general furniture and fixtures. All are expected to be fully operational in August.
  • Approval was also given to a project to seek proposals for the installation of a $1.3 million copper metal roof on Johnson Coliseum, which has had three roof replacements in its 26 year history. Winning bidder for the new roof will be asked to provide a 20-year warranty.
  • A contract for $730,000 was also awarded for construction of two new parking lots, and the university was authorized to award contracts for another two lots when the bid process is completed in late February or early March. The four new lots are expected to be completed for use during the Fall 2002 Semester, and will add 500 spaces.
  • Also approved was a project with an estimated cost of $50,000 for the demolition of the industrial education laboratory and metals laboratory facilities, which is being replaced by an Industrial Technology Laboratory. Both will be demolished after their activities have been transferred to the new facility.

Today@Sam:Gaertner Becomes 12th President of SHSU

Beneath blue skies, colorful banners, and the attentive eyes of an enthusiastic coliseum crowd, James F. Gaertner was formally installed as the 12th president of Sam Houston State University Thursday.

The investiture, a pure celebration of not only the new president but also of the university as a whole, began with a processional of university faculty members marching to "Pomp and Circumstance," performed by the SHSU Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Symphonic Band. After the SHSU ROTC Color Guard completed the posting of the colors, the entire crowd sang the National Anthem. The official ceremony was underway.

Read the speech by James F. Gaertner on February 21, 2002, at his investiture as the 12th president of Sam Houston State University.

Item: Hail to the Chief

State, local and school leaders welcomed Sam Houston State University president James Gaertner "home" to his alma mater during his investiture in Johnson Coliseum on Thursday. Gaertner, who assumed the responsibilities of his position in August, received his bachelor's degree in business administration in 1965 from SHSU and later his master's degree in business administration in 1970.

In his speech at the ceremony, Gaertner told the story of how his first job as a teaching assistant at the university was in the very room that now serves as his office. "I am very fortunate to have been able to begin my career and to close it, not only at the university that I love, but at exactly the same location," Gaertner said.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Past Presidents and Their Duties

The Houstonian discusses the role of University President and how the role has changed at SHSU since 1879.

Houstonian: President James F. Gaertner

From the Houstonian:
When 18-year-old James Gaertner, from the small town of Yoakum, Texas, was scouting for a college to attend in the early 1960s, he settled on SHSU for the beauty of the campus and a good location.

Some 40 years later, although he never imagined it at the time, he would become president of the university.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Gaertner investiture set for next Thursday

From the Houstonian:
James F. Gaertner, who earned two degrees from Sam Houston State University, will be installed as SHSU's 12th president in a ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 21 in Johnson Coliseum.

Classes will be dismissed beginning at 12:30 p.m. to allow faculty, staff, and students to attend the ceremony. A reception is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in the Health & Kinesiology Building, and classes resume at 5 p.m.

SH! New logo installed...

Today’s Houstonian discusses some of the signage on campus; interesting to read where one of the signs would have gone:
Bowers Stadium and Johnson Coliseum received a face-lift thanks to new SHSU logo signs installed on their walls Wednesday.

The two lighted signs each measure six feet wide by six feet tall. They are replicas of the new school logo adopted by the administration last year.

"We initially wanted the signs installed on the communications tower of the Dan Rather Building," said John Hitzeman, director of purchasing and stores. After engineers evaluated and estimated the cost of installation, allowing for the wind load on the tower, "we decided it would just cost way too much," Hitzeman said.

Hitzeman said the university put out bids on the $7,900 project last year....

One sign was placed on the side of Bowers Stadium facing the Newton Gresham Library. The second sign was placed on Johnson Coliseum facing the HKC Building.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Houstonian: LSC offers tours to students

From the Houstonian:
Students who may be wondering what the Lowman Student Center will look like when the construction is done now have the opportunity to see its progression. The Lowman Student Center Office is offering tours of the facility to interested students and organizations, according to Keith Jenkins, associate dean of Student Life.

Jenkins said students should expect to see a lot more space in the renovated LSC.

"We've gained a lot of square footage in the building," he said. "Student organizations will have a room just to themselves to go and do work. We've never had that. We'll have a nice ballroom (where the swimming pool used to be). They'll see a Barnes and Nobles that's gong to be double the size it's ever been."

The renovation, which began in December 2000, is running on time, and the LSC should be fully operational by the fall, Jenkins said.

"It's coming along great. I would say we're probably about 85 to 88 percent complete," he said. "The contractors could be out within the next couple of months."

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

A History of Huntsville

The Houstonian has a short piece on the origins and early history of Huntsville.

Fountain Fixed After Being Soaped

Today’s Houstonian reports that the Mall Area fountain is operational again after recent vandalism:
Plumber John Turman, a SHSU Physical Plant employee, was in charge of cleaning the fountain and making it functional again.

The fountain was turned off for a few days because vandals poured soap into the fountain pump. Turman had to clear the pump with cleaning chemicals several times to remove the soap.

"It had so much soap in it we had to shut it for a few days to completely clean it out," Turman said.

The prank has become a recurring problem for the maintenance staff. There were 18 incidents last semester alone.

This latest incident causes more damage than usual because the person or persons responsible almost tore the pump's electrical box off the wall.

Although no suspects have been identified, Turman has his suspicions as to who's involved.

"They're probably college students with an elementary education," Turman said.