Austin College Grad Students Lead Summer Learning Adventure

Austin College | Sherman Texas | July 15, 2017

SISD elementary students explore India

This summer marks the 15-year collaboration between the Austin College Austin Teacher Program (ATP) and Sherman Independent School District to offer Thinking Camp to the Gifted and Talented elementary students in the district.

Austin College Teacher ProgramThinking Camp is a program dually designed to give ATP graduate students an opportunity to develop teaching skills and provide a rich learning experience for area elementary students. The annual program is coordinated by Dr. Julia Shahid,  Austin College Education Department Head and associate professor of education, and Cyndi Petray, SISD gifted and talented teacher.

“We are thrilled to have this partnership with the Sherman ISD that exemplifies a win-win for all involved,” said Shahid. “The elementary students have the opportunity for a rich hands-on and minds-on learning. Simultaneously, Austin College students have their first opportunity to run their own class for two weeks as they work with a teammate to accomplish things that a classroom teacher is expected to do.”

Sherman ISD Gifted and Talented Summer CampSISD students will gather at Jefferson Elementary School, near Austin College, to explore India’s culture for two weeks beginning Monday, July 17, from 8:30 a.m. to noon each day. The program is offered to students who are identified as gifted and talented in the district, and there is currently a waiting list to attend. The camp has experienced growth within the past few years totaling a number of 40 to 50 students.

Austin College graduate students Kristen Annis, Hailey Clendennen, Haleigh Hahn, and Brittney Aldridge will teach this year’s curriculum titled  “Exotic India: More Alike than Different.” Rising 2nd through 5th grade Gifted & Talented Sherman ISD students will discover the culture, religion, celebrations, geography, daily life, and challenges of India. The students will also receive dance instructions both weeks led by student members of the Austin College Indian Cultural Association.

Thinking Camp is funded by grant from the Capt. H. T. Hastings Trust. The grant covers costs of curriculum, all supplies, healthy snacks, dance instruction, authentic Indian food, and compensation for the Sherman ISD teacher/liaison.

Shahid emphasized that the program’s ultimate goal is two-fold. First, the program provides a unique, enriching learning experience for the students. Second, the program allows Austin College’s grad students to build confidence in what it means to be a teacher. “It is truly a rich learning experience for all involved,” said Shahid.

Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.

Gail Utter Named to Austin College Board of Trustees

Gail Utter

Austin College | Sherman Texas | July 10, 2017

Gail Utter of Utter Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors has joined the Austin College Board of Trustees. The board of trustees serves as the governing body of the College and is made up of a variety of professionals who give their leadership, time, and resources.

“I have long admired the College’s commitment to quality education in an environment of small classes and strong academic relationships between students and professors. It’s an honor to be asked to join the prestigious Austin College Board of Trustees,” Utter said.

Utter has served the Austin College community since the late 1980s in roles on the Advisory Board, and in leadership for the Austin College Community Campaign. She has been a President’s Council donor and has endowed the Scott B. Smith Scholarship in honor of her late husband, and the Jeffrey Kent Wattman Scholarship in honor of her deceased brother. Her son, Blake Utter is an Austin College alumnus, class of 2007.

“Austin College is a pillar of economic and cultural activity within the Sherman and Denison communities and beyond. The college employs substantial faculty and staff, increases regional commerce, creates and sponsors arts and entertainment events and meaningfully supports local non-profit efforts,” Utter said. “The College leadership has built on the school’s successes, and provided opportunities for continued and important impact for the future of our region.”

Utter is a frequent keynote speaker and is well-known for her philanthropic and community leadership. In addition to Austin College, she serves on the board of trustees of United Way, Grand Central Station (soup kitchen/resource center), and the Grayson County Behavioral Health Leadership Team. She has previously served on airport, hospital, youth improvement, and chamber of commerce boards. She has received numerous community awards, including the Sherman Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen of the Year, the Athena Women’s Award and the Emmett Essin Community Service Award.

She has more than 20 years of experience in the wealth management industry and formed the Utter Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in 2001. She has a BBA from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from the University of North Texas. She is an IMCA Certified Private Wealth Advisor and a College for Financial Planning’s Chartered Retirement Plan Counselor. She has received numerous national third-party professional awards, including multi-year recognition as a Barron’s Top 1200 Advisor for years 2012, 2014-2017, a Barron’s Top 100 Women Advisor years for years 2010-2014, and a Financial Times Top 400 Advisor for 2017. Gail has been named as a Texas Monthly Five-Star Wealth Manager for five years, and has been named a firm-wide Chairman’s Council advisor for more than 20 years.

Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.

Austin College Appoints New Interim President

Austin College | Sherman Texas | June 30, 2017

The Austin College Board of Trustees has named Dr. Michael Imhoff to serve as interim president of the College as of July 1. Former president Dr. Marjorie Hass left in late June to assume the presidency of Rhodes College in Tennessee effective July 1. That move was announced last December and the Austin College Board of Trustees immediately set in motion the process to determine the next president of the College—only the 16th in its 168-year history.

Mike ImhoffImhoff served Austin College as vice president for Academic Affairs from 2000 until his retirement in 2013. He already knew the College well, having become a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry in 1970. He was named the Rupert B. Lowe Chair in Chemistry in 1995, and received the College’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1997. His career in the classroom, which included courses in general chemistry and organic chemistry, involved research opportunities for many students. During his teaching career, he served as department chair and dean of the Sciences, as well as the first director of the Austin College Center for Environmental Studies.

“We are confident that Dr. Imhoff’s long-tenured experience and knowledge of Austin College and its constituencies, as well as his leadership and great wisdom, will bring a sense of steadiness and positive direction to this transition period,” said Scott Austin, Austin College 1983 graduate, member of the Board of Trustees, and chair of the Search Committee for the 16th President. “We are grateful to Mike for his love of Austin College and his willingness to serve.”

“Austin College is very special to me and I am honored to be asked to serve as the interim president during this transition,” Imhoff said. “I look forward to working with my many friends and colleagues as Austin College continues the tradition of offering the very finest liberal arts education.”

Imhoff was selected as the College’s Homer P. Rainey Award recipient in 2013. Announcing the award, Tim Millerick, vice president for Student Affairs, said that Mike brought a combination of administrative skill, calm demeanor, and personal integrity to his role as vice president. “The benefit to the College was enormous and his commitment to liberal arts education is deep,” Millerick said. “As a faculty member in the Sciences, he put his time where his beliefs were and made major contributions to the overall academic program of the College. He has what is regarded as the single most important intellectual quality: curiosity. This led him to climb over the walls of his discipline and made him an outstanding teacher and administrator.”

Upon retirement in May 2013, after 43 years of service to the College, Imhoff was granted status as professor emeritus of chemistry and vice president emeritus of Academic Affairs. He had been instrumental in the planning and design of the College’s IDEA Center, and its opening in Fall Term 2013 was a fitting capstone to Imhoff’s esteemed career in academics.

He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Riverside and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.

The Search for the 16th President

With the efforts of the nationally recognized search firm of Wheless Partners, selected to assist the board in identifying and recruiting qualified candidates for the new president, the search committee received a vetted pool of aspirants in May. The search committee since has narrowed those to 10 candidates, completed video interviews to narrow the field to five, and now begins personal interviews with the finalists. “Things are happening; we are moving forward, and I feel very confident about the future president of Austin College,” Austin said.

Imhoff added, “There is great anticipation on the Austin College campus as we look forward to the arrival of new president. It is indeed a rare event. In my 43-year career at the college I have engaged in only three transitions of presidential leadership.”

Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.

Two Area Women Receive ATHENA Leadership Awards

Two Area Women Receive ATHENA Leadership Awards

Athena AwardsAustin College | May 5, 2017

Sherman, Texas

Austin College recognized two exemplary leaders from the region on May 3, awarding the prestigious ATHENA Leadership Award® to Michelle Castle, branch manager at Guild Mortgage Company, and the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award to Trish Bridges, director of critical care services at Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center. The event was presented by the College’s Center for Community and Regional Development and its Texoma Women Get Connected program. At the luncheon, Kourtny Garrett, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc., spoke about her work with nonprofit agencies.

ATHENA Leadership Award Nominees

The ATHENA Leadership Award® is presented to individuals who have attained and embody the highest level of professional excellence in their business or profession, devote time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential.

Michelle CastleCastle, the region’s 2017 honoree, opened the Sherman branch of Guild Mortgage in 2011 with three employees, and since has added four locations and increased the support staff to almost 30. She is recognized for creating an office culture and processes that serve as a role model for Guild Mortgage branches across the country, and often presents at the company’s national summit to share her marketing expertise. Castle also is known for mentorship and strong support of career advancement for women working in the mortgage banking business. A generous sponsor of local charity events, including the Guild Breakfast with Santa at Sherman’s Snowflake Festival, she serves as board president of the Child & Family Guidance Center of Texoma.

Other nominee honorees for the ATHENA Leadership Award were Janis Fletcher, City of Sherman certified court clerk in the Municipal Court; and Leigh Ann Sims, commercial loan officer at Legends Bank.

ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award Nominees

ATHENA Young Professional Leadership nominees are emerging women leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession; provide valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in their community; and clearly serve as role models for young women both personally and professionally.

ATHENA Young Professional recipient for 2017, Bridges was recognized for her leadership skills and heart for service early in her career as a nurse. Today, she is the director of critical care services at WNJ Regional Medical Center, which encompasses several departments in the hospital including the Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Room. Beyond the hospital’s walls, Trish has been described as an “invaluable” member of the North Texas Young Professionals, first as a volunteer and then on the board of directors. She currently services as NTYP president

The other nominee for the 2017 Young Professional Leadership Award was Mikayla Stocks, volunteer coordinator, case worker, and grant writer at Grayson County Shelter.  

Sponsors for the 2017 event included Texoma Health Foundation, United Way of Grayson County, Austin College Institutional Advancement staff in honor of Jill Joiner Roberts, Kristine McKinney in memory of Clara Blackford Smith, and Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center. Event sponsorships benefit the College’s Social Entrepreneurship for Poverty Alleviation (SEPA) summer intern program.

 Austin College reinstated the local awards three years ago, with nominations open to leaders in Cooke, Fannin, and Grayson counties. Nomination information for 2018 honorees can be found at www.austincollege.edu/athena.

Austin College Presents an Evening of Chamber Music and Jazz

Austin College Presents an Evening of Chamber Music and Jazz

Evening of Chamber Music and JazzThe Austin College Chamber Orchestra and the Greater Texoma Jazz Ensemble together present their spring concert on Monday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. in Wynne Chapel on campus. The concert is free and open to the public.

The instrumental ensembles, under the direction of Dr. Ricky Duhaime, will present two distinct styles of music beginning with the Austin College Chamber Orchestra performing two movements of a Chamber Suite by G.F. Handel for violas and cellos arranged by Duhaime, and a set of Antique Dances and Airs by O. Respighi arranged by Harry Alshin.

The second half of the concert will feature the Greater Texoma Jazz Ensemble performing a variety of big band charts in both traditional and contemporary styles, including an arrangement by Duhaime.

The Chamber Orchestra is comprised of Austin College string and woodwind students, joined this semester by community members from across northeastern Texas. The Greater Texoma Jazz Ensemble consists of students, faculty, and community members from throughout the region.

The April 17 concert will feature jazz soloists James Carter on alto saxophone, Paul Onspaugh on tenor saxophone, Jesse Speer on trombone, Andrew Gregg on trumpet, Phil Pitts on piano, David Moore on guitar, and Richard Burleson on drums. Section features include current Austin College students Shelby Brooks and Mason Byrd on saxophone and Truman Dowdy on trombone. For additional information, contact the Music Department at Austin College at 903-813-2251.

Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book College’s That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of 1,250 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 12:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates and inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.