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Fall Equinox at Austin College Idea Center

Texoma News Fall Equinox at Austin College

Fall Equinox to Arrive with Movement of Sun

A carefully designed but ancient feature of Austin College’s IDEA Center will be “in action” Monday, September 23, as the precise arrival of the Fall Equinox is marked. The IDEA Center itself serves as a large astronomical observatory that displays the movement of the Sun through the gnomon hole in the roof across the building’s Oscar C. Page Atrium to mark the winter and summer solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes along a meridian line built into the floor.

The public is invited to join the gathering of students and faculty from 1 to 1:25 p.m. to watch the progress of the Sun as it casts an image on the atrium floor and aligns with the equinox marker at exactly “solar noon,” (1:18 p.m. CDT). The IDEA Center is located on the Austin College campus at 1108 E. Richards Street in Sherman. The event is free and open to the public, weather and sunlight permitting. Sunlight is required for the event.

The annual fall and spring equinoxes are the two days when the sun shines directly on the equator and provides nearly equal daylight and night hours. A gnomon hole is an ancient device originally used to compute time.

Dr. David Baker, professor of physics, director of the Adams Observatory, and author of the award-winning book The 50 Most Extreme Places in the Solar System, will provide comments and instruction during the event.

“Watching the sunbeam march across the floor of the Page Atrium and arrive at the equinox marker is magical,” said Baker. “It marks a significant moment in time, one that has been observed by many civilizations throughout history. The solar observatory at Austin College does it in a special way. It’s worth seeing.”

The atrium was constructed so that the sunbeams of the fall and spring equinoxes fall on the Chinese symbol for the Sun in recognition of Asian contributions to knowledge of the universe. The summer solstice is marked by the Greek/Macedonian symbol for the Sun to symbolize the contributions of the West in the understanding of the universe, and the winter solstice is marked by the Mayan symbol to recognize Native American contributions.

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 LivesAustin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 50 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. This year, the campus recognizes 100 years of co-education and has had several opportunities to recognize the history of women and accomplishments of current alumnae. Austin 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.

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Austin College to Begin 171st Year

Moving into Austin College

SHERMAN, TEXAS—Nearly 400 first-year students and their parents will arrive at Austin College Friday in preparation for the opening of the 171st year of the College next week. New student and transfer orientation will continue over the next several days, and returning students will make their way to campus next Tuesday and Wednesday. Classes begin Thursday, August 29.

President Steven P. O’Day and his wife, Cece, will be among the campus community leaders awaiting new students and families as they arrive for residence hall move-in and a weekend of orientation activities. Several students, faculty, and staff, plus a number of area alumni, will also lend a welcoming hand as families unload packed vehicles and try to determine how all the belongings can fit into the assigned residence hall rooms.

Friday’s agenda also will include necessary paperwork and signatures, ID cards, and the gathering of information—still leaving time to put rooms in order and perhaps visit area retailers to stock up on snacks, toiletries, and other last-minute items. 

The new students join athletes who have been on campus nearly a week for fall camps in football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s water polo, volleyball, and cross country. A number of student organization leaders and student residence life staff arrived early to prepare for the year ahead. 

The New Student Conference schedule will begin in earnest Saturday morning, with an official Welcome session, including greetings and guidance from President O’Day, student body president Hunter Williams, and other campus administrators. Residence hall meetings, freshman seminar gatherings with classmates and faculty, various Student Life orientation sessions, and a time for student socializing round out the day.  

Parents end their activities on campus just after noon on Sunday and leave the new students to settle in on their own. Freshmen and transfer students will continue their preparation for the beginning of classes, with sessions on Academic Integrity, guidance on successful academic progress, and residence hall adjustments from returning students.

A faculty group will provide a number of additional offerings to help students become more acclimated to the campus and the programs available to them. A growing number of first-generation college students sometimes find the transition to college life more challenging and the additional sessions allow them in particular, as well as their classmates, a closer look at college life before classes get underway. 

The “First We Serve” volunteer project has become a tradition for Austin College new students over the past several years. The students have come together to assemble thousands of nutritious food packets for shipment to those in need through the nonprofit Kids Against Hunger.

Returning students will move into campus housing Tuesday and Wednesday.

The academic year officially will get underway with the traditional Opening of School Convocation in Sid Richardson Center of the Robert T. Mason Athletic/Recreation Complex on Wednesday, August 28, at 7 p.m. The event begins with the entrance of the new students, then the procession of rising seniors in caps and gowns for the first time, and the College faculty in full academic regalia. Dr. David Baker, professor of physics, serves as College marshal and leads the procession carrying the official College mace.

Dr. Elizabeth Gill, vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty, will present the opening address, “Building a Better World: One Choice at a Time.” The convocation also will include performances by the A Cappella Choir, led by choral director Dr. Wayne Crannell; the official Investiture of the Class of 2023 and presentation of the class banner to new students; students’ presentation of the class Academic Integrity book to President O’Day; and prayers for the new academic year.

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 46 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. This year, the campus recognizes 100 years of co-education and has had several opportunities to recognize the history of women and accomplishments of current alumnae. Austin 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. -30-

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Austin College Announces 2019 Athena Award Finalists

Austin College Athena Internatioal

Austin College will welcome Ann Ross ’66, Austin College senior trustee and a descendant of early Texas matriarch Emily Austin, to the annual ATHENA Award luncheon May 2, at noon in Mabee Hall of Wright Campus Center. Interested individuals may register for the luncheon at www.123signup.com/register?id=rzyhr by April 29 at a cost of $25 per person.

Ross will be joined by retired educator Kay Kinkler Casey ’68 of Denison in a conversation about Emily Austin, an original benefactress of the College and sister to the College’s namesake, Stephen F. Austin. Ross and Casey will explore Austin family history and discuss the qualities of leadership in women. The recipients of the prestigious ATHENA leadership awards will be announced at the luncheon.

The annual award luncheon is sponsored by the Austin College Center for Community & Regional Development and the Texoma Women Get Connected program. 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. Austin College reinstated the local honors, given previously by the chambers of commerce, and began presenting the awards to qualified professionals living and working in Grayson, Fannin, or Cooke counties in 2014.

This year’s ATHENA Leadership Award finalists are Kelly Ashmore, Grayson County district clerk; Sandy Barber, executive director of Fannin County Children’s Center, Tamra Bragg, vice president of human resources for Douglass Distributing; and Dr. Dava Washburn, vice president of instruction for Grayson College.

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.

This year’s ATHENA Young Professional Leadership finalists are Tiffany Dancer, clinical director for Child and Family Guidance Center of Texoma; and Lindsay Wright, association executive of Greater Texoma Association of Realtors.

Event sponsors and table sponsors are sought for the event. For information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Ginger Nye at 903.813.2834 or gnye@austincollege.edu.

The Austin College Center for Community & Regional Development and Texoma Women Get Connected will debut a new mentoring program that connects professional women with Texoma ATHENA Awards alumnae in mentoring relationships. Prospective mentees can register at the luncheon and will be matched with a mentor in time for the Speed Mentoring Happy Hour (& a Half) on June 4, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Austin College.

The ATHENA Leadership Award Program is administered by ATHENA International, a non-profit women’s leadership organization, along with licensed host organizations and sponsors. Over 6,000 awards have been presented in the U.S. and around the world since the program’s inception in 1982. Recent recipients include Condoleezza Rice, Billie Jean King, the late Pat Summit, and Gabby Giffords. A list of all known local recipients is included on the Austin College Athena Award website.

Austin College was founded in 1849 and is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter. During the 2018-2019 academic year, the campus recognizes 100 years of co-education and has hosted several events commemorating the history of women and accomplishments of current alumnae. Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives and boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with 46 % of students identifying as persons of color.

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