Summer 1998
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TCU Magazine Features

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Second, third, fourth and sixth rocks from the sun

On the only planet known to support human life -- and on the only campus known to support Horned Frogs -- Green Honors Professor Ron Greeley told Honors Week audiences in April what's going on beyond Earth -- and why we should be concerned.

"Consider Venus: Here's a planet that is in the same part of the solar system as Earth, same size and mass, and yet you have a planet covered with clouds that are composed of droplets of sulfuric acid," said the Arizona State geology professor, presently involved in the Galileo Jupiter Mission, the Mars Pathfinder Lander and the upcoming Mars Surveyor '98 Lander. "And on Mars, there is much evidence that it once flowed with water. What happened in the geological evolution of Venus and Mars and Earth, that Venus went this way, Mars went that way and Earth went this way? Is there something we need to know?"

Greeley further pointed out that the atmosphere of Venus is composed mostly of carbon dioxide, and Earth's could have been, too. "If we were to extract all that carbon dioxide out of our limestone," he said, "we would be a Venus. The term 'greenhouse effect' is being used on Earth right now but was actually coined years ago to describe what happened on Venus."

Greeley also related the common ground between the spacecraft Galileo (currently near Jupiter) and the astronomer Galileo.

"What he saw through his primitive telescope, tiny dots of light orbiting around Jupiter, we now see from the spacecraft Galileo, bizarre worlds of rock and ice and brimstone," Greeley said, adding that the four moons of Jupiter -- Io, Callisto, Ganymede and Europa -- are completely different geologically, with Europa's possibility of supporting life in the past or future making it the "gem" of the solar system. "Galileo the man could not have known the fantastic world the moons he discovered turned out to be, but I'm sure he would have relished the results from Galileo the spacecraft."

Greeley ended his convocation address with a quote from Apollo astronaut Michael Collins, words that could apply to the Honors Program as well as to the space program. "It's human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand. Exploration is really not a choice, it's an imperative."

Into the writers' Lehrer

Fellow authors and soulmates Kate Staples Lehrer '59 and Jim Lehrer came to campus on April 3 for the Friends of the TCU Library "Evening with the Authors" and to promote their latest works -- Out of Eden for Kate and White Widow for Jim. He is the executive editor and anchor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Kate now has three best-selling novels, including Best Intentions and When They Took Away the Man in the Moon. Her Out of Eden has won critical acclaim and received the Western Heritage Award as the Outstanding Novel of 1996. In 1997, Kate told The TCU Magazine that when she graduated from TCU, " I decided that I would teach and give back to the community in that way, and write for the most selfish reasons... because I enjoy it."

Speaking Texan

Give them a home where the buffalo roam -- or at least put a few longhorns on your land and in your brochures -- and the idea of doing business in Texas becomes that much more attractive, said billionaire investor Ross Perot Jr., the keynote speaker for the Center for Productive Communication's Corporate Communication Week, held in March. It's a practice his dad started, Perot said, a Texas-sized way to at least begin communicating the intangible, "vague" elements of business. "We sell Texas every day in the Alliance program," said the company chair. "If you grew up in Texas, it's not that big of a deal, but when you leave Texas and go to other parts of the country, it's amazing how many people still have a romantic image of Texas. We sell that romance." But what the business students wanted, if gauged by the questions after his address, was entrepreneurial advice from someone who knows. "A lot of young people get trapped following conventional wisdom, and they do what they think people want them to do, not necessarily what they wanted to do," he said. "How do you follow your dream? You try to make yourself different, try to have unique experiences and always try to challenge yourself, try to figure out what makes you tick. "I think real knowledge is knowing yourself."

The Buck doesn't stop here.

Buck Fielding, assistant director of physical maintenance, celebrated an unmatched 50 years of service this spring. The reception for service and retirement included faculty who have given their last final exam: Bill Smith (chemistry, 42 years), Henry C. "Jim" Kelly (chemistry, 33 years), Allene Jones (nursing, 30 years), Gail C. Davis (nursing, 23 years). Well-known staff members who also are retiring include Chancellor William E. Tucker (29 years) and Athletics Director Frank Windegger (39 years).

With honors

Geology Chair Nowell Donovan, joked at Honors Convocation that geologists have long contended "we should rule the world for we are the only people who understand it." Honors students might agree: They nominated Geology Prof. John Breyer, at TCU since 1975, as the 1998 Honors Professor. Ann Crassons, political science junior and Honors Cabinet chair, told audience members that Breyer is her favorite professor, despite his prediction that her Louisiana home state will eventually be flooded by ocean.

Raising the curtain

At the spring dedication of the Mary D. and F. Howard Walsh Center for Performing Arts, Ms. Walsh took center stage, but it was the work commissioned by Ron Moore '65, chair of the Fine Arts Board of Visitors, that brought down Ed Landreth Hall: Colombian composer Blas Emilio Atehortua's Musical Offering for TCU used the alma mater as the theme of a 30-minute cantata enlisting 240 student instrumentalists and singers, along with faculty tenor soloist Richard Estes and soprano soloist Nancy Elledge.

The walls might have blushed

When nationally known sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer dropped by campus in March, she noted that the Student Center Ballroom had probably never heard the kind of language she was about to use, a comment which drew the first of many waves of raucous laughter from the more than 1,300 students packed in the standing-room-only crowd. Claiming she is "old-fashioned and a square," the straight-talking doctor and media personality explained that her goal is to educate. "I believe sex is a private matter," she said. "I also believe everybody has to be sexually literate, but I could never say [whether they should participate in sex] before marriage or after marriage."

The Thanks for the Memories gala in March honoring the retirement of Chancellor William E. Tucker, held March 27, brought news of the end of TCU's five-year comprehensive campaign, The Next Frontier, which earned $126,177,850 and brought one more bit of information: a $17 million technology building to be named for the chancellor and first lady, Jean Jones Tucker '56.

Examining engineers

Bell Helicopter-Textron hired nine seniors (left, with three Bell execs) nine months ago to build a high-tech calibration table for the company's sensitive measuring devices. And in late April, the students delivered. Given $9,118 dollars for the project, the students produced an instrument that measures with a margin of error of 1/1000th of an inch -- all for $7,803.44. Students called the extra money a surplus, to which Bell executive Warren Young responded, "You have a slight problem in your nomenclature; in business, we call that a profit." Maybe that's why the students delivered their final design review in the business school's Dan Rogers Hall. In store for next year's seniors is a project for oil-equipment supplier RockBit International.


UC-Berkeley jazz guru Herb Wong in 1995 said that "TCU Jazz shows diligence and savvy in its efforts toward excellence," and he appears to still feel the same way: He included the 22-student jazz ensemble's latest live CD, Texas Christian University with John Faddis (currently musical director for New York's Carnegie Hall Jazz Band), on his 1997 Blue Chip Jazz CD Awards. "I got into trouble once saying that 'these are the best students I've ever had,' " said jazz studies Director Curt Wilson, the drive behind TCU's jazz excellence. "But the students I have right now are extremely good, I would say."

"We have memorized America. . ."

began Miller Williams, weaving a mesmerizing verse before President Bill Clinton and millions of visitors at the 1996 inauguration. A member of an elite group that includes only himself, Robert Frost and Maya Angelou, Williams is the third wordsmith honored as an inaugural poet in the nation. In March, the teacher whom many consider to be one of the finest performance poets today read for about 75 students during a visit to campus. Williams, author of 27 books, is currently the director of the University of Arkansas Press and a professor of English and foreign languages at the University of Arkansas.

Examining engineers

Bell Helicopter-Textron hired nine seniors (left, with three Bell execs) nine months ago to build a high-tech calibration table for the company's sensitive measuring devices. And in late April, the students delivered. Given $9,118 dollars for the project, the students produced an instrument that measures with a margin of error of 1/1000th of an inch -- all for $7,803.44. Students called the extra money a surplus, to which Bell executive Warren Young responded, "You have a slight problem in your nomenclature; in business, we call that a profit." Maybe that's why the students delivered their final design review in the business school's Dan Rogers Hall. In store for next year's seniors is a project for oil-equipment supplier RockBit International.

Hunger pains

Taking pains to stop hunger is the goal of Experience India, the annual fashion show held by Students for Asian-Indian Cultural Awareness (SAICA). This year's show in April -- graced by Journalism Chair Anantha Babbili and his wife, Mary -- raised more than $2,500. To date, SAICA has contributed more than $50,000 to Indian charities.


Adding successes. Tuition goes up. At the annual spring Board meeting, trustees raised tuition 4.5 percent and approved a $138 million operating budget for the 1998-99 school year. Students will pay $345 a semester hour, the total cost for tuition, fees and housing for a full-time student $10,350 per semester. Board Chair John V. Roach '61 said that despite the increase, TCU's tuition is still lower than six other private Texas universities.

Graduation. A hefty 934 graduates walked across the stage for spring Commencement, including six 4.0 graduates and one chancellor, who counted himself among those who will be encountering "new adventures and new explorations."

Appointments. Nursing Dean Kathy Bond was chosen president-elect of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. In March 2000 she will assume the presidency to lead the organization, the national voice for university and four-year college nursing programs.

Marketing Prof. Bill Moncrief has been named a 1998-99 fellow for the American Council on Education (ACE) to study the selection and development of university faculty for the 21st century. He was among only 35 fellows chosen nationally. n


Picking Apple

Several professors at Texas Christian University organized an informal "Save the Mac" campaign late last year to protect their beloved computers. TCU's top administration was considering ending the technical support of Apple's machines on campus

"The administration said they were considering it," says Arthur Busbey, an associate professor of geology at TCU. "And that's when a bunch of us started raising hell about it."

According to a 1996 survey, professors had 148 Macs and 189 PCs running the Windows operating system. In the student computer laboratories, there were 302 Macs and 392 PCs. . . . "Basically, the administration did not have a clear idea how many Macintoshes were on campus."

Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News; World Reporter, April 13

A real B.S. degree

Just in time for March Madness, a Crowley pastor is selling what might be the ultimate TCU Horned Frogs gift. For $300 ("Don't wait!") you can become the proud owner of a complete bachelor's degree and diploma -- from Texas Christian Bible University.

In TCU-purple tones, a new advertisement on the Internet offers mail-order master's degrees for $400 and doctorates for $500 -- from a mysterious college that borrowed TCU's name and apparently convenes inside a Crowley post office box. . . . At $300, it's a pricey sheet of paper, although much faster and cheaper than the authentic Texas Christian University version, which requires four years and $70,000.

TCU plans no legal action, a university spokesman said. But the next special delivery to that Crowley postal box will be a warning letter from the state of Texas.

As they say around TCU -- or around the chapel, anyway -- praise the Lord. (And go Frogs.)

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 5

But Bill knows that practice makes perfect

Mrs. Clinton -- a Yale University-trained lawyer like her husband -- also appears more skillful than the president at managing a personal crisis, said Paul Boller, a retired Texas Christian University government professor.

"When a crisis hits, Clinton appears to fumble around a bit," said Dr. Boller, the author of a book on first ladies. "Mrs. Clinton is more disciplined and better organized. She can build a defense in an orderly fashion."

Dallas Morning News, Jan. 28

Maybe he should propose the dumb penalty while he's at it

Currently, no one under age 17 can be sentenced to death in Texas. Under the proposal outlined by Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, those 11 or older would be subject to the death penalty. They would be executed after reaching 17. . . .

Carol Thompson, an assistant professor of criminal justice and sociology at Texas Christian University, suggested that Pitts was parlaying a tragic news event into a political cause. "Politicians have a tendency to use criminal events as a way to popularize themselves in the eyes of the voting public."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 20

Stay tuned for the Rapture

It was odd from the beginning -- a Taiwanese Christian-Buddhist religious group relocating to Texas to await the Supreme Being's return; a local government that planned the event like a rock concert. . . .

Has religion -- unorthodox religion, at least -- become just another media event? . . . . Rebekah Miles, who teaches Christian ethics at Texas Christian University's Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, says the group's combination of familiarity and utter foreignness generates curiosity and a good news story.

"I grew up in Southern communities where all the talk was about Revelation. There was kind of a thrill to it," she says. "Most Christians, particularly in the South, have heard this all their life. But they never get much press. It's some preacher saying it in a little church out in the rural end of the county."

The Sacramento Bee, March 29

The secrets of her success

Betty Buckley ['68] is, at 50, a reigning diva of the musical theater. . . .

Before each show, she takes time to meditate and recite her mantra. Then she ritualistically touches the ground, shakes hands with her dresser (a secret handshake) and kisses the air. Only then does she walk onstage, where she seems extraordinarily at home.

New York Times, April 16

Fetch, boy

"I think I kind of knew it was weird," says Rick L'Amie, director of communications at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. "When I was a kid, I grew up with a dachshund named Gretel, and mom kept the box of Milk-Bones in the cabinet right next to the ginger snaps," he explains. "I figured if Gretel liked them, then why not give them a try? And it wasn't that bad. But I never got a shiny coat or bright eyes as a result."

The San Diego Union-Tribune, April 16, on crazy things kids eat

HTML 'em up, URL 'em out!

It seems only fitting that one of the nation's first cattle auctions on the Internet should originate from Cowtown.

Justin Gifford, a master of business administration candidate and a former feedlot cattle marketer who grew up in Amarillo, has already activated his Web site for matching cattle sellers and buyers for one-on-one private trading. Since its late July debut, more than 35,000 cattle have been offered and nearly 24,000 sold, Gifford says. . . .

The idea grew out of a TCU class project to build a Web site for a home builder; his feedlot experience; and his part-time work as a commodities broker. His sales representatives use digital cameras to photograph the cattle, download the images into laptop computers and use cellular phones to upload the images to the Internet site -- all direct from pasture or corral.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 2