Winter 2008
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TCU Magazine "Alma Matters"

Class of 2012 sets records

When Chancellor Victor Boschini welcomed TCU’s Class of 2012 in August at the Freshmen Assembly, he proudly announced that they are a record crop of Horned Frogs.

The class’s 1,630 students are one of the university’s most talented and diverse to date. The 2012ers boast the highest average SAT score in school history -- 1754. Thirty-two percent were in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

The group proved to be quick studies of TCU traditions as well. They belted out the alma mater and fight song during the candlelight ceremony, photo at right, in which the chancellor and provost lighted the flame of knowledge and passed it to students to officially begin the academic year.

The 2012 class comprises the highest percentage of students of color at 20 percent, up from 18 percent last year. Fifty-six international students from 18 nations came to campus this year, the second highest number on record.

Sixty-one percent are women. Thirty-nine percent are men. The most popular preferred men’s name is David, while the most common women’s name is Lauren.

The Admissions Office also enjoyed another terrific year. A record 12,212 students from 7,000 different high schools applied for a spot in the Class of 2012 . Only 50.4 percent were accepted, making it the second-most exclusive class in TCU history.

Financial aid also increased. TCU awarded $60 million in scholarships and grants, an increase of 18 percent over the previous year.

"Director of Financial Aid Mike Scott and his staff met the challenge in a financially unstable market. We’re proud to say that a full 75 percent of TCU students benefit from aid of some sort," Boschini said.

Journalism is often called the first draft of history, but when it comes to training the next generation of reporters and editors, the Schieffer School is looking to the future.

Construction could begin as early as March on an addition and renovation to the program’s current facilities in the J.M. Moudy Building, including a new state-of-the-art television studio visible to passersby, located in the courtyard between the north and south buildings of the complex.

The approximately $7 million improvements would also include a "convergence lab" on the second floor where students produce news reports for multiple media platforms from traditional print to online video. It would function along with the TCU Daily Skiff newsroom.

David Whillock, dean of the College of Communications, said the expansion and new technology will better prepare student journalists as the profession evolves toward multimedia news outlets that combine video, audio and still photography with traditional writing and reporting.

"The studio and the convergence lab are really going to bring the journalism program into the 21st century," Whillock said. "It will allow us to give our students more job opportunities. They’ll have the multimedia skills they need."

Whillock said the new facilities and hands-on learning opportunities will enhance the national reputation of the school, which bears the name of CBS newsman Bob Schieffer '59.

"It’s the best thing to happen to the school since Bob Schieffer gave us his name," he said. "We’re thrilled to death about it."

Remodeled Sherley to open as coed hall in Fall 2009

Sherley Hall, a women’s dormitory since 1958, will reopen in Fall 2009 as a coed residence facility after a $16 million renovation is complete. The hall, which housed 350 residents, has been closed since May.

Converting the hall to a coed building is necessary because the university will close Milton Daniel Hall in the fall for renovation, and some of the displaced students will be males, said Craig Allen, director of Residential Services.

After renovations of Milton Daniel are complete, the university will decide if Sherley will remain a coed dorm, Allen said.

The refurbished Sherley Hall will have 316 beds and community bathrooms, along with six "super suites" that will house nine students each. The suites will have three bedrooms and a private common area with couches and oversized chairs. The "super suites" will be filled by enrollment priority.

"The goal of Sherley is to have a fresh living space," Allen said. "With each new building we are constantly raising the bar."

The hall will also have a new patio with benches and grills outside the entrance. Inside, there will be a movie theater and community baking oven, but no stove top, which complies with safety codes.

he basement will include gaming stations, a flat-screen TV and a Nintendo Wii for students to use along with free washers and dryers, similar to those installed in Clark Hall, Allen said.

Meanwhile, construction crews poured the first section of the foundation for Scharbauer Hall in the middle of November. The facility, which will be home to the John V. Roach Honors College, will open December 2009.

Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. marked the start of TCU’s 136th academic year in September by acknowledging that TCU is closer to realizing its vision of creating a world-class, values-centered university experience for its students.

"We must make big plans and have big dreams. We must stay focused," said Boschini. "We must do all it takes to realize our vision. We can settle for no less."

More than $155 million of construction in facilities is under way or was completed in 2008, including four residence halls, Brown-Lupton University Union, a renovated College of Education, the Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility and TCU Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

"The Campus Commons is the centerpiece of our commitment to providing an unsurpassed 24-7 student experience," he continued. "We know that the greatest universities are residential universities. One of the most significant directives growing from Vision in Action is to ensure that our students benefit from the residential experience. In other words, we have created a place where all the elements of living and learning at TCU will come together 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

TCU also has appointed 89 new faculty positions over the last five years with a goal of reducing the 14:1 student faculty ratio.

The Campaign for TCU is underwriting many achievements throughout the university with commitments now totaling $180 million, or 70 percent, of the $250 million campaign that was publicly launched in April.

TCU also welcomed O. Homer Erekson as the John V. Roach Dean of the Neeley School of Business and David Whillock as the dean of the College of Communication. Mary Patton has assumed the role of interim dean of the College of Education for the academic year.

Top Prof: English professor Richard Enos was named recipient of the 2008 Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher.

Mentor "Mom:" Denise Bennett, academic program specialist for Pre-Health Professions, received the Wassenich Award for Mentoring.

The Deep Purple Gala, performed by students and faculty of the College of Fine Arts, raised more than $230,000 for the college, says Dean Scott Sullivan. More than 330 guests filled the third-floor ballroom of the Brown-Lupton University Union in late October for the event. Funds from the program will be used for scholarships and fine arts programming, Sullivan said. The evening featured performances by the TCU Faculty Jazz Trio of Joey Carter, Joe Eckert and Kyp Green with Corrie Donovan. Other performers included a clarinet solo by professor Gary Whitman, The Janet Pummill Family, DanceTCU, the TCU Jazz Ensemble and the TCU Musical Theatre Ensemble with a rendition of "The Four Frogs."

TCU Police buy T3 transporters

TCU Police are now rollin’ while patrollin’ the campus after the department purchased two T3 Motion Transporters this fall. The transporters, which are powered by a rechargeable battery and produce no emissions, can travel up to 25 miles per hour. Each transporter costs less than $9,000.

The transporters help the department better cover the 260-acre campus as it becomes more pedestrian oriented, police said. "There’s no reverse, but it has a zero-degree turn radius," said Cpl. Brad Murphey. "It’s very easy to maneuver."

The T3’s height provides better visibility than bicycles, police told the TCU Daily Skiff, but operating the vehicle requires standing for prolonged periods, which takes some getting used to.

Overheard @ TCU

"It is no secret that colleges, in general, believe that this bill is going to add enormously to our costs."

- Victor J. Boschini Jr., TCU chancellor, addressing U.S. Department of Education officials in September on the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which numerous college officials say will hamstring universities and reduce the quality of education

"The biggest lie perpetrated on the American public in the last years is the so-called red-state, blue-state division. We should be reflecting on our common concerns."

- Bill Bradley, former New Jersey senator, on what ails American politics, speaking at the 11th annual Fogelson Honors Forum in October

"Personally, I am a skeptic of global warming, but a lot of people think it is the most pressing issue. Where we converge, however, is on finding alternative sources of energy. So why fight? Let’s expend our time on working together on the part of the problem on which we agree."

- Jeb Bush, former Florida governor, on finding common ground in partisan politics, speaking at the 11th annual Fogelson Honors Forum in October

"We had to have the willingness to risk failure. In other words, we had to think outside the box."

- Charlie Wilson, author and former Texas Congressman, on how he steered billions of dollars in secret funding to the CIA to fund a war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, speaking at the Jim Wright Symposium in September

"I felt there was personally some redemption for me in being able to address some of that."

- Sue Monk Kidd '70, author of "The Secret Life of Bees," discussing race issues in her book (now a movie; Ms. Kidd with cast, left) and growing up during desegregation in an interview with the TCU Daily Skiff

Frogs For the Cure - by the numbers

dollars raised for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure

times TCU has hosted the event

balloons released during halftime ceremonies

groups participated on the field

percent of breast cancer patients who survive past five years when cancer is detected before it spreads beyond the breast

To see a gallery of images from Frogs for the Cure, click here.

The Campaign for TCU now tops $184 million

Commitments for the $250 million Campaign for TCU now total some $184 million – or about 74 percent of the campaign goal. In fiscal ’08, the university broke fundraising records for the third consecutive year with gifts and pledges of more than $70 million, and the Annual Fund raised an all-time high of $7 million. High-priority campaign initiatives include scholarships and support for faculty and key academic programs.

McCracken to step down as sciences dean in May

Mike McCracken will step down from serving as dean of the College of Science and Engineering at the end of the academic year. McCracken joined the TCU faculty to teach biology in the AddRan College of Arts and Sciences. In 1981, he was asked to serve as dean on an interim basis, which became permanent. In 2000, the college split into AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Science and Engineering.

Student tailgate policy changed

The student tailgate scene, or Frog Frenzy, was relocated to the Campus Commons in September, and the university banned alcohol, even for those of age. Previously the tailgate, located in a Worth Hills parking lot adjacent to the stadium, permitted alcohol in confined area for those of age. But attendance at the tailgate lagged at the end of 2007 football season when citations by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission increased.

Winter 2008 in photos

Union dedication With landscaping still being completed, Chancellor Victor Boschini and members of the Brown and Lupton families perform the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the dedication of the Union in September.

Dance Hall Dreamer Singer Pat Green performed for a crowd of about 3,500 students outside the Brown-Lupton University Union in September. The concert was a part of the Union’s grand opening.

POW/MIA observance The 24th annual POW-MIA ceremony saw 2,500 flags placed on the campus lawn in honor of prisoners of war. The event also includes a candlelight vigil and flag raising.

Blessing of the animals Rev. Jeremy Albers, associate chaplain, blessed about 20 cats and dogs at the 4th annual Blessing of the Animals outside Robert Carr Chapel in October.

Handy man Jose Carpinteyro of Athletics received the Chancellor’s Staff Award at the Faculty/Staff Opening Luncheon in August. Carpinteyro, who began working at TCU in 1984, handles maintenance and operations for Athletics.

Early voting More than 2,000 people, including 622 on the first day, took advantage of an on-campus polling place inside Brown-Lupton University Union in October to vote early.

5 questions for ... Rabbi Harold Kushner

Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of the bestselling books When Bad Things Happen to Good People and When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough was the guest of honor in September for the 11th annual Gates of Chai Lectureship in Contemporary Judaism sponsored by the Program in Jewish Studies at TCU and Brite Divinity School.

How did you decide to become a rabbi? In college my friends and I would stay up talking all night, debating things like free will and I really enjoyed that. I have a theory that men with strong fathers often grow up to do something their fathers did as a hobby. My father was a successful businessman and the one thing I knew I never wanted to do was try to follow him in the business he had built from the ground up because I knew I would fail. But he was always very active in our temple. When I told him I wanted to study religion and become a rabbi, I told him going into religion wasn’t rejecting him, it was reaffirming what he had taught me.

Your Gates of Chai lecture focused on a Jewish-Christian perspective on atheism, but how do you know God exists? No scientist has ever seen an electron or a quark, but they know they are there because when they look in a microscope, they can see what they are doing. I am convinced of the existence of God because everyday I look around and I see things that could not happen without him. For me, the proof of God is all the times I’ve seen ordinary people do extraordinary things.

Why does God allow terrible things to happen in our world? You want to believe God is all good, all powerful and all knowing, but how do you justify an all-powerful God letting something happen like the Holocaust? I chose to compromise God’s power. What are the limits to God’s power? Nature, one of God’s creatures, isn’t moral. There’s a passage in the Talmud that says God’s justice would demand that certain things not happen, but nature is not just and those things happen. God also can’t control human freedom. If Hitler wants to start a war and kill millions of people, God’s not going to stop him. When God created the world he was all powerful, but he set up certain reservations – he said to man, "you guys are on your own and you’re either going to learn or cause a lot of pain to each other."

What is the role of prayer? We have a fundamental problem with the definition of the word prayer. We think of it like the verb to plea, asking God to do something. Prayer isn’t asking, prayer is acknowledging our limitations. It’s about something that’s important to me that I can’t control. If it does happen, it’s grace. Prayer is about opening ourselves up to God’s presence.

As a non-Christian, how do you view the life of Jesus Christ? I see the value of Jesus, not in the crucifixion, but in his teachings. I see Jesus as God’s instrument for bringing the values of the Hebrew Bible to the rest of the world. If not for Jesus, they would only have been known to a tiny sliver of the world’s population.

Land of the
Permanent Wave

Edwin "Bud" Shrake ’54
UT Press

Shrake estimates he was churning out 50,000 words a week writing for The Fort Worth Press during his undergraduate years at TCU -- the equivalent of a novel a week. The experience served him well, leading to a decades long journalistic career including a 14-year stint at Sports Illustrated and coauthoring’s Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book. This new anthology explores some of his other works including personal letters, essays and excerpts from novels.
To purchase:

What Did You
Get From Christmas?

Don Easterling ’55, MA ’60

As the head coach for the men’s and women’s swimming teams at North Carolina State University for 25 years, Easterling looked for an edge in recruiting. Since his boss was frugal, he devised the low budget approach of sending out holiday greetings with essays that tugged at the heartstrings of athletes and their parents. A member of the American Swimming Coaches Hall of Fame who coached a dozen Olympians, he compiled the best of his annual letters, all showcasing the true joys of the season.
To purchase: 1.434.975.6969.

Dancing Naked: Memorable Encounters with Unforgettable Texans
Mary Rogers
TCU Press

In this collection of 36 profiles and essays, longtime Fort Worth Star-Telegram features reporter Rogers manages to get the famous, infamous, and everyday folks to bravely reveal their dreams and struggles -- something she likens to "dancing naked." Just to show no one should dance alone, Rogers includes her own memories of hearing rain for the first time and an heart-wrenching essay on caring for her mother battling dementia.
To purchase: 1.800.826.8911

God Stories
Crown Publishing Group

Jennifer Skiff ’83 was one of TCU’s first broadcast journalism graduates. Now she’s the author of God Stories: Modern Day Encounters with the Divine, published by Random House in November. Before writing God Stories, Skiff was a correspondent and producer for CNN’s award-winning environmental program, "Earth Matters."

Why did you write this book?
My reason for writing a book of this nature is not the obvious one. I’m certainly not an expert on the subject of God or religion. The idea first came to me when a minister asked if I had any "God Stories." I asked her what she meant and she explained that a God Story was a miracle-like encounter that proves God exists.

No one had ever asked me that question before. I did have stories. I hadn’t dared to tell many people about them, but I definitely had what I believed to be were encounters with the Divine. The concept piqued my interest as a journalist and I wondered if many other people had stories too. To find out, I began to poll people and what happened next surprised me most. I realized that an entity that most people call God is connecting with millions of people every day.

How did you find people to interview?
For a period of three months I conducted an intense media campaign where I went on the radio and spoke to newspaper reporters about the project. People who had stories were asked to go to to submit their story. Hundreds of people responded.

Did you get many responses from those who are nonbelievers?
When I was collecting stories, I asked for people who had personal experiences with God to contact me. I only received stories from people who believe. I have mentioned in the introduction that I believe skepticism is healthy. These stories are true to the people who have submitted them. For people who believe, the stories may confirm what they already know. For those who don’t believe, this book may just change that.

Has the research or writing brought something unexpected into your life?
That’s a good question. Yes. I have become more compassionate toward people. The process of putting together this book has given me a glimpse into the lives of so many good people that, for me, it’s like I’ve been handed a gift about humanity. It has opened my eyes to the everyday joys and sorrows of others in a way I have never experienced.

The book is available at bookstores or by calling 800-826-8911.
To read more of this interview, go to