Chemistry from Venezuela
Oct02

Chemistry from Venezuela

A long way from home, Dr. Otsmar Villarroel and Dr. Ivanna Laboren were hired as adjunct chemistry professors at the university this past summer. Chemistry professor and department chair Dr. Ruth Ann Murphy, expressed her excitement about the new faculty. “We’re just really glad to have them, and I like the diversity they bring to the department,” she said. Natives of Caracas, Venezuela, the two majored in chemistry at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, one of the oldest universities in the western hemisphere. Founded in 1721, this university of more than 65,000 students is the largest of the country. Villarroel and Laboren worked together on their bachelor’s theses at UCV and graduated in 2005 with degrees in chemistry. They decided to look abroad for graduate work. From Caracas they decided to move to Waco, and Baylor University was their choice for graduate school as they pursued their doctorates.Baylor Professor Carlos Manzanares, also a native of Venezuela and alumnus of UCV, recruited them to attend Baylor for their doctoral work. Villarroel said, “(We) came together to Baylor, where we joined the same lab to perform our doctoral research, where we published six scientific articles. Our research was based on research with lasers and mass spectrometry.” Mass spectrometry is a technique for measuring the mass-to-charge ratio of charged particles. Their research impressed the professors at Baylor, which in turn led to the referral to work at the university. “I have friends at Baylor University,” Murphy said, “and when the opening came about after Dr. (Darrell) Watson retired, I was in communication with people at Baylor, and so they suggested these two apply for the position.” Villarroel and Laboren graduated this past December from Baylor with their doctorates and are now adjunct professors not only for UMHB but also McLennan Community College in Waco. After Watson’s retirement concluding his 31 years with UMHB, the chemistry department needed additional faculty, and Villarroel and Laboren wanted experience at a university. “I decided to teach at UHMB with the idea of gaining experience in teaching in a big university environment,” Villarroel said. The professors oversee labs and teach classes. They have adapted well to the university and enjoy the experience. “What I like about UMHB is (it’s) a small university, so you actually know your students, and the students can reach you as a professor,” Laboren said. On the long journey from Venezuela to central Texas, the two professors have remained close friends. “Our relationship is a really good relationship,” Villarroel said, “More than 12 years of...

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Students own the night through dancing
Oct02

Students own the night through dancing

Want to go out dancing but don’t want to drive far and pay money? For those who like to dance the night away without worry, the perfect place is a parking lot. Impromptu dancing has brought relief to students who don’t have the money or desire to go to a crowded venue. Every other Thursday night from 10 to midnight, students gather for a dance called Own the Night at the empty parking lot on University Drive. Over the course of just a few weeks, the dance has become increasingly popular among students, bringing in more than 120 Crusaders this past Thursday. Using only a couple of speakers and a dance-worthy playlist, students grooved to the music in one of the most unlikely places. As the night progressed, dancers synchronized their steps to the remake of “Footloose” by Blake Shelton. The scene was an uncanny resemblance to one of the secret dances that take place in the 2011 remake of the film with the same title, and the fact that the event itself felt like a secret made it that much more exciting. While the majority of the music was country at the UMHB event, a few hip-hop songs and dance grooves were thrown into the mix to give the night more variety. Senior sociology major Mary Baucom loves the fact that the dance is so casual. “You don’t have to dress up; you can wear whatever you want like a T-shirt and shorts, and outside you have so much space,” she said. With the low-key atmosphere and familiarity of the crowd, many feel this is a safer and more fun option than some others. Sophomore international business major Jonathan Kendall believes this is a great alternative to the party scene in bigger cities. “We put this on because we just don’t feel like it’s worth the money, time and effort to go other places like Waco and Austin to go dancing,” he said. “Here, there’s no alcohol, no smoke. It’s open air, and all the people here are your friends.” Sophomore Donavan Catron’s first visit to the dance was this past Thursday, and he definitely plans to attend the next one. “There’s a lot of people having a lot of fun, and it’s very enjoyable. Everyone should come out here and have a good time,” he said. Baucom thinks the dance will grow in popularity and become even more successful. “To be able to have a community like this is so exciting,” she said. “This is going to be a new tradition without a doubt in my mind.” If the dance continues to grow in popularity, it could...

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Alerts issued as gas leaks occur around construction

By Jasmine Simmons Caution tape surrounded the perimeter of the construction site as the foul odor of gas tainted the air. Police stood nearby, and students walking by wondered what the cause of the commotion was. During the first weeks of the semester, Aug. 4, Aug. 23 and Sept. 4, some dorms and campus buildings had to be temporarily evacuated due to breakage in underground gas pipes. “Construction is the cause of the gas leaks,” Chief of Police Gary Sargent said. “A lot of it has been hitting abandoned gas lines. They are abandoned, but they tie back into the main line.” The leaks occurred outdoors at construction sites on the south side of Beall Hall and along King Street where the areas underwent in-ground work. Residents received notification about the leaks through text messages. “We ask that students pay attention to the alerts that are sent by campus police,” Associate Dean and Director of Resident Life Donna Plank said, “and follow the instructions they are given in those alerts and follow the instructions given to them by staff members.” Students should update personal information in the university’s system so they can receive messages in case of emergencies. Junior math major and Beall resident assistant Lacy Hill experienced the importance of having updated information in the system firsthand during the gas leak at Beall. Hill returned to the dorm after class and let herself in through the back door. “After I grabbed what I needed for work, I left through the front doors, which are usually unlocked 24/7,” Hill said. “As I was leaving, I noticed they were locked and the scan card machine light was red. I had just switched phone providers, so my number changed, and I didn’t get the text notification that was sent campus wide.” Hill contacted her resident director, Christan Hammonds, who informed her about the gas leak. “I knew that the gas wasn’t poisonous,” Hill said. “It was still scary knowing that if somehow there was a fire, I could have been blown up in the building.” Potential explosion and nausea from gas fumes are the two main reasons why buildings are evacuated in the event of a gas leak. Students should report any cases where they can smell natural gas in the atmosphere. “If a student is asked to ‘shelter in place’ by going into their room or apartment and staying there with the windows closed, or evacuate a space quickly, the most important thing is for students is to follow those instructions quickly,” Plank said. With ongoing construction around campus, fire safety is vital for those living in residence housing. National...

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Stekler uses film to explain politics
Oct02

Stekler uses film to explain politics

A 7-year-old boy stood on the side of the street and asked passers-by if they would vote for Nixon or Kennedy in the presidential election and recorded the results in a notebook. Years later, Dr. Paul Stekler is still sharing his enthusiasm for politics. The university partnered with the Salado Institute for the Humanities. “Reel Elections: Politics on Film,” was the lecture by Stekler, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and political scholar. The presentation took place in the Mayborn Campus Center Sept. 27. “I try to make films which make both sides understandable,” Stekler said. “We don’t listen to the other side. My job as a political documentarian is to try to figure out how to cut through this.” Stekler mixed stories with extended clips from several of his films to help the audience understand not only politics, but what politicians have to go through as well. His films relate the political process to viewers in a non-biased way. “I’m trying to introduce you to the actual process,” Stekler said. “What I’m trying to do as a filmmaker is humanize the process.” Stekler found political filmmaking an outlet for his admitted obsession with politics. He believes that a candidate’s life story plays a crucial part in their election; and films allow him to tell politicians’ stories. “I love making films, and I thought that was much better in terms of telling stories about candidates,” Stekler said, “so that even if I disagree with someone politically, I understand them as a human being.” As a storyteller, Stekler said his job is not to choose sides, but to reach as many people as possible. With his films, he tries to break the political barriers that have grown over time between Democrats and Republicans. “The conundrum of our political system is that sometimes good and bad exist at the same time,” Stekler said. “And I think that we tend to in our politics today demonize the opposition when the opposition and yourself both have a lot of black and white.” Throughout Stekler’s 30 years of filmmaking, his movies have won many awards, including two George Foster Peabody Awards, three Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Journalism awards and three Emmy awards. Stekler is a professor at the University of Texas and is chair of the Radio-Television-Film Department. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University. This latest presentation was the fourth collaboration between the university and the Institute for the Humanities at Salado. “We’ve had a long association a happy association with UMHB,” Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Salado, Sara Mackie Shull, said. “We really care a lot about having...

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Intramurals: friendship, rec, rivalry
Oct02

Intramurals: friendship, rec, rivalry

The university kicked off its intramural and campus recreation season with the start of flag football Sept. 10. Spectators crowded the sidelines as they cheered for their favorite teams such as Super Heroes in Training, The Fighting Pickles and reigning champions Young and Reckless. Fifteen teams are competing in the co-rec division this year, and three make up the men’s division. While some are preparing for playoffs in October, others view game days as a time to enjoy the college community. “Last year I was so involved I didn’t really have a chance to do intramurals,” sophomore international business major Jonathan Kendall said. “This year I want to use intramurals as a way to have community with other people.” Friendships as well as rivalries are forged through flag football. Students often start a team with their friends, or students join a team to create friendships. “It’s definitely a way to meet new people because you see people not only that are freshmen but also people that live in apartments and off campus,” junior nursing major Paige Hill said. “So you get to meet people from senior to freshman class.” Director of Campus Recreation Sue Weaver urges students to become involved in intramurals and campus rec events to stay active. She is also excited about using the new Rec Plex area for different events. “The UMHB administration has been really supportive in providing really nice rec facilities,” Weaver said. “So we all need to make sure we take advantage of them.” This year intramural and rec has gone online, using the imleagues.com interface. Students must create an online account to participate in any intramural or campus rec event. They can also use imleagues.com to find a team to play on or to find players to add to their current team. Spike-Fest took place Sept. 21. The four-on-four beach volleyball tournament was held at the new Rec Plex. The atmosphere was electric with music, snacks, fun and intense competition. “Spike-Fest is the perfect event for friends to come together for a common purpose and just have fun being out there with the UMHB community,” Weaver said. “It’s like a family reunion where everybody participates in the game just to be a part of the fun.” Spike-Fest took advantage of the additional beach volleyball court at the Rec Plex by fielding 26 teams. Campus Activities Board provided watermelon, other snacks and water. A prize also went to team Panda Power for the most creative uniforms. After five hours of fierce competition, Team Falcon Punch took home the championship after winning six matches. Freshman nursing major and member of the winning team Greg...

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BOBN Broadcast 1
Oct02

BOBN Broadcast 1

Watch the first broadcast by BOBN, the Bells Online Broadcasting Network!  https://vimeo.com/50634864 Antonio Hebert-Anchor, writer, editor Elissa Thompson-Anchor, writer, editor Zach Winfield-Editing Tyler Agnew-Editing Jake Stamps-Editing

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