Among the outgoing professors are dedicated mentors, supportive teachers, and proud Tigers
by Susie P. Gonzalez
They have taught disciplines ranging from economics and business administration to Spanish and communication, and the seven faculty members retiring in 2016 from Trinity University have definitely left their mark on the campus and the students they taught.
Together, they represent 268 years of classroom experience at Trinity, but they have touched thousands of lives, launched countless programs, and significantly changed the face of the University.
We asked them to answer certain questions; some did, others did not, and we think they warrant going out on their own terms.
Here are the questions we posed. Below them, listed in alphabetical order, are their answers or essays.
Dick Burr: 44 Years of Ideas and Programs
Rich Butler: The Singing Economist with a Plot Twist
Don Clark: Saved from Selling Lingerie
Sammye Johnson: Grading with Red Ink
Arturo Madrid: Maintaining a National Profile
1. I joined the faculty in August 1972. Obviously, the campus has changed dramatically. For instance, the School of Business (yes, it was called that then), the Department of Economics, and the Department of Computer Science all were on the third floor of Halsell. There were six full-time faculty members in the School of Business. There were two libraries, one in Storch, and the other in Chapman North. The dining area in Mabee was called The Refectory. Faculty members had a special area in which to dine.
2. Among my proudest achievements:
3. First and foremost, I will miss working with students, getting to know them, and then following their paths after graduation. I will also miss the many faculty, staff, and administrative friends and colleagues I have had the privilege to know and work with in my 44 years at Trinity.
4. Next, I will enjoy no fixed schedule.
5. I can be reached at rburr [at] trinity.edu.
I came to Trinity in the summer of 1982, freshly appointed as the chair of President Ron Calgaard’s home department. Ron’s ambition for the department was not a modest one: we were to build “one of the country’s top undergraduate economics programs.” The department has grown considerably since then (seven faculty when I came, 11 now), and it has indeed established a national reputation with the Nobel Economists Lecture Series. The department also ranks among the nation’s top 20 in per-capita production of Economics Ph.D.s. I would like to think that Ron is pleased.
At the beginning of my first semester I was immediately thrust into academic politics when I was elected chair of what was then called the General Education Committee, 10 faculty members and three students who spent the ensuing four years directing the process that produced the Common Curriculum. Being the leader and spokesperson for that process was, to say the least, grueling, but since the end result was a curriculum that lasted nearly 30 years, both the committee members and the faculty as a whole can take great pride in the outcome. It is said that changing a university is like moving a cemetery; we have done well to move ours twice in a three-decade span. Knowing what it takes, I so admire Erwin Cook, Glenn Kroeger, and the others who led the process that produced the new Pathways curriculum.
When I stepped down as chair of economics after 12 years in the post, I resumed my long-dormant musical career. As a graduate student in the Boston area I had been active as a singer and conductor of works ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan to Bach to opera. I spent seven years as the assistant conductor of the Texas Bach Choir, including a pilgrimage to sing in Bach’s home church, and I began performing full-length recitals, the last two at Trinity. I thus became known as “the Singing Economist.”
When I came, my scholarship was concentrated in the economics of urban housing and environmental policy, and those lines of work continued for a time. Then we hired John Huston, who had interests in transportation economics, and together we quickly began a program of research in airline economics that resulted in multiple publications and a national reputation. I was also drawn into the study of the economics of bankruptcy by a Federal bankruptcy judge I met while singing in the Texas Bach Choir. Scott Gilpatric ’94, then one of my students, joined me in writing a law journal article that answered the judge’s questions about the economic foundations of bankruptcy law. That led to a presentation at a conference attended by, among others, now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren (then a law professor at Harvard and one of the nation’s top bankruptcy scholars). I had been warned by the judge that she was a tough customer, and I count it as one of my great scholarly accomplishments that she was enthusiastic about our paper.
In 1997 I was approached by George Geis (holder of a master’s degree in economics from Trinity), then serving as a senior advisor to newly-elected San Antonio Mayor Howard Peak. George asked me to help him with one of Mayor Peak’s top priorities: developing a plan to make San Antonio more prosperous. Before I knew it, I found myself serving as the mayor’s right-hand man in his signature economic development initiative, Better Jobs. I had spent my entire academic career teaching about public policy; now, I was a front-line practitioner. What an education! The experience had a profound effect on my teaching, too. The contacts I made working on Better Jobs allowed me to orient my Urban Economics class around consulting projects for real clients, a transformational experience for most of the students who took on that challenge.
Better Jobs was ahead of its time, but it changed the whole conversation about the future of San Antonio and the ways we work together as a community. And it produced some important innovations, foremost among them the Alamo Academies. The Academies are San Antonio’s award-winning program for growing a skilled workforce by offering high school students the opportunity to take enough college-level technical courses in aircraft mechanics, information technology and security, advanced manufacturing, nursing or heavy equipment to graduate workforce-ready, with a year of college credit. What began as a charge from the mayor to find a way to grow a workforce for the aerospace industry became for me a decade of service as founder, CEO, and board chair of the Academies. This program has changed literally thousands of lives and helped expand San Antonio’s economic base. It is an experience few academics will ever have.
My last five years were dedicated to leading Trinity’s business program, first as department chair, then as the founding interim dean of the new School of Business. Yet another unexpected assignment! That marked the end of my recital career, but there were compensations. I made a lot of new friends both on- and off-campus, and I learned a lot about the real world of business.
So, in 34 years I saw a lot of change, and changed a lot myself. My greatest satisfaction comes from the many Butler Alumni who make me proud of them every day. On campus, I would say that I am happiest about leading transformational change in the university curriculum and three academic programs (economics, urban studies and business) and helping to re-boot the environmental studies and entrepreneurship programs. I am proud to have won three major awards here (teaching, service, and advising). And, of course, there is the Alamo Academies and the Singing Economist. All in all, it has been a wonderful life.
What will I miss? The students, of course. The hours I spent in the classroom were always my favorite hours of the week. Many of those students have become good friends, and I am most grateful for that.
So, what’s next? Well, I am retiring but not leaving! As of June 1, I am the new alumni engagement coordinator in the Alumni Relations and Development office. I am looking forward to reconnecting with a third of a century worth of alumni, and I appreciate that Vice President Mike Bacon thinks I might be able to do some good in that role. So, unless I call you first, you can still reach me at rbutler [at] trinity.edu.
History and EAST
When I look back on my Trinity career I remember the 1978 welcome dinner where President Bruce Thomas challenged new faculty to invest our lives in Trinity and to practice what he called “institutional loyalty.” At that point, after many years of wandering, my wife Linda and I were ready to sink roots and raise our children. We had both had fine liberal arts educations at Whitworth College in Washington state, and though we both attended great grad schools later on, we never stopped appreciating the liberal arts college environment. Though we were surprised to land in Texas, we were glad to be able to live out the liberal arts ideal, with Trinity for me and Texas Lutheran for her. Through the years we were loyal to our institutions and the people at our institutions were loyal to us.
My doctoral year, 1978, was a terrible season nationally for new Ph.D.s in the humanities. At Harvard, the history department organized a series of workshops for ABD’s (those who were close to finishing their dissertations) to help us retool ourselves for abandoning academic life in favor of business. In fact one session was led by a representative of Maidenform who tried to convince us that our skills were transferable to the world of ladies’ underwear. That year I looked from coast to coast and was lucky to get one job offer—Trinity in San Antonio. I will always bless my history department colleagues for rescuing me from a possible career selling lingerie.
At the time, my friends warned me darkly that I would disappear off the edge of the flat earth if I went to Texas, and when I got here for a while I thought they were right. In those days Trinity advertised itself as the “University in the Sun.” I was disheartened when another professor welcomed me to campus in the fall using a derogatory term for my academic specialty. The next spring, my first raise was a combination of a tiny salary increase and a visit to my chair’s house to select used suits from the estate of a recently-deceased Trinity Trustee.
Fortunately, things got better. Ron Calgaard came to Trinity in my second year and he was inspiring in his expressions of vision for the institution. He was audacious in the goals he set, and I perked up at the idea that the “University in the Sun” could possibly become a leading liberal arts college with a horizon extending past the suburbs of Dallas and Houston. In time, I saw this happen, and eventually I even helped by leading in the “internationalization” of Trinity in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The patience and generosity of my history department colleagues were essential as I sought my footing at Trinity, and I’ve tried to do likewise by new hires that have come after me. Don Everett, Terry Smart, Roger McShane, Phil Detweiler, Allan O. Kownslar, and Norman Parmer were all guardian angels as I survived mistakes and found my stride as a teacher of Trinity students. They also supported my arcane research interests, understanding that my scholarly community was in Asia and Europe and no nearer than Chicago and L.A. and arranging for me to travel and take career-building research leaves. My peers Gary Kates, Char Miller, John Martin, Alida Metcalf, and Linda Salvucci all provided sounding boards and examples of how to do new things and set an ambitious pace. In recent times my younger colleagues have done the same, impressing on me the truth that universities are living things that heal and renew themselves. I am proud of the brilliant young teacher-scholars who are replacing me.
International studies was my oyster for 15 years as I founded what has now evolved into the Center for International Engagement, combining campus majors and minors, study abroad, international students, and, more recently, the programs for East Asia (EAST) and Mexico, the Americas, and Spain (MAS). This effort was greatly enhanced by the steady hiring of new international faculty with great ideas about how to raise consciousness of the wider world at Trinity. Concentrating with my colleague Stephen Field on the development of the EAST program since 2006 has been a particular satisfaction, Stephen has built one of the strongest Chinese studies programs anywhere in the world of liberal arts education.
This summer I will join my extended family in Seattle and begin retirement. My balcony overlooks the stadiums where I will hang out with old friends at Mariners and Seahawks games. I will miss my Trinity students and particularly the tutorials we spent in my office getting to know each other. I will also miss the frequent parties that Linda and I gave on Lilac Lane for Trinity colleagues and many others. If I get lonely for the classroom I can pick up gigs in Seoul and on Semester at Sea. All the while I will gratefully hold the years in Texas as sources of satisfaction and keep watch for news of Trinity as it continues to reach new heights.
1. I arrived in August 1980, a year after Ron Calgaard became president and started working his magic on transforming Trinity from the “University in the Sun” to a liberal arts and sciences University that is one of the stars in the academic galaxy. In 1999, John Brazil became president. He was clear about his vision: make an excellent university even better through a $200 million capital campaign that included providing support for faculty research and travel. Under his watch, I was able to present my work at international conferences and study globalization in the magazine industry. Because I spent 30 of my 35 academic years here at Trinity under Calgaard and Brazil, I will always think of them as “my presidents.”
I was hired to teach reporting, editing, and magazine writing courses in the Department of Journalism, Broadcasting, and Film. I still remember receiving a name tag at a convention that had an amusing break in the second line: Sammye Johnson, Broad / Casting and Film. I was glad when we changed our name to the Department of Journalism, Radio, and Television in 1982. Then, recognizing the oncoming technological revolution and merging of media formats, it made sense to become the Department of Communication in 1985. I have worked with four chairs ― Dick Gentry, Rob Blanchard, Bill Christ, and Jennifer Henderson ― and have been strongly supported by them, as a teacher and as a scholar.
I have seen five curricular revisions, interviewed innumerable candidates for umpteen job positions, advised about 3,000 students over 70 semesters, written at least 1,000 letters of recommendations, participated in 140 Trinity in Focus events, and taught 23 different courses (an annotated list is available upon request).
During the past 10 years, I have primarily taught Magazine Writing, Skyline Magazine, Magazines in American Society, Arts Criticism, Women Journalists in Film, and Communication Capstone Seminar. Earlier “signature” courses included Principles of Public Relations, Public Relations Writing, Reporting I, Reporting II, and Graphics & Design. I still have all my grade books and know what students took, how often they came to class, and what they made on each assignment. During Alumni Weekend, I enjoy walking down memory lane with former students as we reminisce about courses; they usually made better grades than they remembered. I have always used red ink pens to grade papers ― that is one aspect of my teaching that never changed over the years.
From the start of my professional career, I have been immersed in the magazine industry, spending a decade as an editor and writer before moving into academia. I have made it a point to continue to freelance; since 1985 I have published more than 450 articles in a variety of magazines and newspapers and received 19 writing awards. I have given numerous editorial and design workshops and consulted with editors and art directors wanting to modify, reposition, or revive an existing publication.
As a researcher, I have focused on magazine content and history, particularly the depiction of women on the covers and editorial pages of such magazines as Time, Cosmopolitan, Maxim, Sassy, Glamour, and Vogue. I am most proud of my co-authored book about the magazine industry, The Magazine from Cover to Cover, now in its third edition. Praised by both educators and professionals, the book is used by more than 50 journalism and mass communication schools and departments throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa ― and was translated into Chinese for use there.
2. Much of the joy and satisfaction I have experienced here has come from the relationships I developed with students. As teachers, we have to be willing to wear a number of different hats in and out of the classroom ― as a lecturer, a discussant, a coach, an advisor, and an editor.
Two awards from Trinity are especially meaningful: the Z.T. Scott Faculty Fellowship for excellence in teaching and the Distinguished Advising Award. Receiving the Z.T. Scott Award in 2005, the University’s highest faculty honor, literally took my breath away because it was recognition of my commitment to teaching and mentoring students. The Distinguished Advising Award, also received in 2005, was another acknowledgment of my concern for students.
I am also proud of being named a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 2011; only 12 Fulbright Awards were given in the academic field of journalism for that year. I taught a graduate magazine course, advised doctoral dissertations, and conducted research about audience construction in international magazines as a visiting professor at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. I have continued to do research with the students and faculty I met there, which has enriched my world vision as a scholar.
However, I am most impressed by the awards won by my Trinity students for their work as researchers and writers. More than a dozen students have presented their capstone and Magazines in American Society research papers at national conferences ― often in the same category with graduate students. Thirty-eight students have won writing or magazine start-up awards in national undergraduate contests, competing against departments and schools of journalism and mass communication with magazine sequences (we have just one magazine writing course). Students in my classes have also done well in receiving competitive national internships, with the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) summer program in New York City being the most prestigious.
I guided and supported students in their work; I did not rewrite or restructure their papers for them. I like to think of myself as an enhancer, helping students to achieve the excellence that was already there, but just needed a little push and some extra polish.
3. I will miss my students. I have tried to make sure students not only gained functional knowledge, but also conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive knowledge. To that end, I have created assignments where students write extensively, where they elaborate about the process, and where they orally discuss and tell about what it means. I have insisted that they have both theoretical and applied skill sets that make them think critically about outcomes. It has required creativity on my part to develop assignments that challenge students, not coddle them. Every semester has been different, and I will miss the excitement that comes from those aha moments in the classroom when students have a sudden insight or realization.
I will miss being a mentor. I have tried to be available for any student who wanted advice, support, or just someone to talk to as a sounding board ― whether he or she was in a current class or not. It was particularly rewarding when those conversations moved beyond questions about an immediate assignment or a whiney rant about a grade to an animated discussion of a student’s interests, dreams, and future goals. You find out a lot about your students when you meet with them one-on-one and you develop relationships that often continue long after a student has graduated. You become peers and professional colleagues, then personal friends who share the ups and downs of our relationships and careers.
My time at Trinity has been enriched by students and supported by faculty and staff. Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham said, “To love what you do and feel that it matters ― how could anything be more fun?” I have loved being here.
4. I will continue to hold workshops and do magazine consulting. I will take on occasional editing projects. I will remain editor of The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture Journal (The IJPC Journal), a refereed journal that I co-founded in 2009 and is published by the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication. This reflects another research interest of mine ― that of the depiction of the role of the journalist ― especially the female journalist ― in films and novels.
I intend to travel, as long as it is not during the summer months with hordes of tourists jockeying to see a cathedral relic. I do not want to feel stressed, surly, or sweaty, so I will be walking the cobblestones of Europe primarily in the spring and fall months over the next year or two. I lived in Nuremberg, Germany, for four years when I was younger, but I did not appreciate museums then. I raced past the “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre in Paris, dashed by the Rosetta Stone at London’s British Museum, and stuck my head into the cavernous room with “The Night Watch” at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Now I plan to spend an entire day in a single museum, going from room to room and reading each painting’s description while listening to the audio commentary. I will eventually move to Santa Fe, where I have a second home.
5. Contact me at sjohnson [at] trinity.edu. I look forward to staying in touch with former students, friends, and colleagues.
1. I joined the faculty of Trinity University in 1993, but I had been affiliated with Trinity since 1988, when I established the Texas office of the Tomas Rivera Center. That office was located in the building that now houses Alumni Relations and Development. I held the appointment as the Norene R. and T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities for 23 years.
I was originally housed on the second floor of old Northrup Hall. I would frequently wander over to then-President Calgaard's office to visit his staff and to have some of the pastries Aramark provided. Ten years later my fellow Northrup residents and I moved into the new Northrup Hall. Since then, of course, there have been multiple refurbishments to campus buildings, including the Coates Library, the Dicke Art and Smith Music Building, Cowles, Storch Memorial, and Marrs McLean, as well as a new building, the Center for the Sciences and Innovation. The campus has a new and beautiful look. I enjoy walking around the upper campus at lunch time.
2. Ron Calgaard charged me with maintaining a high profile nationally; developing a high profile locally and regionally; introducing courses on the historical experience and cultural expression of the Latino populations; and connecting Trinity with the Latino world. Over the course of my tenure at Trinity I dedicated myself to providing both internal and external connections and opportunities for Latino students, staff and faculty and to introducing Trinity students, staff, faculty, and officers to the Latino community of San Antonio. To that end I brought Latino scholars and artists to campus, took students, staff, and colleagues to Latino events throughout the city, and sponsored events with Latino community based organizations. I was supported in this effort by faculty from across the campus. Perhaps what I am most pleased about is that Trinity has become a welcoming space to both the local and national Latino communities, whether students, staff, faculty, or visitors,. The role I was assigned will be taken up by Norma E. Cantu, the newly appointed Norene R. and T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.
3. Except for those years in which I was on sabbatical, I taught at least one First-Year Seminar every semester, and thus got to meet members of 20-plus entering classes and become a friend and mentor to many of them. Some of them took other courses with me. I was part of a very important effort to address the challenges Trinity and other institutions are facing as our students are increasingly the first in their families to enter higher education. I shall miss meeting and getting to know subsequent generations of entering students.
4. I will remain on campus for the next several years and although I will not be teaching, I will continue to involve myself in Trinity's outreach activities to the Latino communities of San Antonio and the nation. My wife, Antonia I. Castaneda, and I are very much involved with local Latino organizations and we will continue to engage in artistic, cultural, educational, political, and social matters. In time I will write a memoir about what my generation of Latino activists did to transform the landscape of American higher education.
5. As professor Emeritus my e-mail will remain amadrid [at] trinity.edu.
Also retiring are Michelle M. Bushey, professor of chemistry, who arrived at Trinity in 1990; Linda McNeil, associate professor of music, who came to campus in 1988; and Matthew Stroud, professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, whose Trinity journey began in 1977.