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