An update from President Denise M. Trauth of Texas State University

Spring II
Dear Friends,

As we wind down our academic year, extraordinary developments continue to highlight our university community, giving us cause for great optimism, and momentum, for the year ahead.

Among the most inspiring events this semester was last week’s premiere of Lady Bird: First Lady of the Land, an opera directed by Texas State’s Dr. Samuel Mungo featuring our own exceptionally talented music students. The one-act opera, written by Henry Mollicone and Sheldon Harnick, focused on a train tour through the Deep South by Lady Bird Johnson in 1964, who campaigned on behalf of her husband, President Lyndon Johnson. The 49-city rail trip occurred just three months after the Civil Rights Act was signed, and racial tensions remained high. Lady Bird knew that she would encounter harsh resistance at many stops and, opting against advisors’ recommendations that she reconsider, she chose to go anyway. Her daughters, Lynda and Luci, accompanied her. Lady Bird courageously reached out to those who disagreed, knowing she had a role in helping set a tone of acceptance and tolerance in the country. Luci Johnson, who attended the premiere with husband Ian Turpin, clearly was moved by the production and met with cast members afterward to offer her gracious appreciation. Besides being a magnificent production, it was a fitting tribute to a family who has meant so much to this university, our state, and the country.

At the premiere of Lady Bird: First Lady of the Land; from left: Mr. Ian Turpin, President Denise M. Trauth, Mrs. Luci Johnson and Dr. John Huffman.

I am pleased to report that the university realized extraordinary growth in our endowments for scholarships, endowed faculty positions, and new programs over the current fiscal year. We added almost $3.9 million in gifts for 17 new endowed scholarships, one new endowed chair, and four new endowments for university programs; and we distributed about $2.7 million in scholarships to more than 800 students in this current academic year. Because the amount of endowment funds raised and distributed are high water marks for Texas State, we honored many of our donors who made endowment gifts at a first-of-its-kind appreciation luncheon in early April. In all, the university now has a total of 671 endowed scholarships, chairs, professorships, and programs, up from 649 as of September 1, 2015.

Donors who made endowment gifts were honored at a first-of-its-kind appreciation luncheon.
Over the last two months, there have been numerous examples of how our students and faculty are involved with cutting-edge technology and setting the pace for future research and discovery at Texas State.

This spring, Oleg Komogortsev, associate professor of computer science, who has been leading research and development on ocular biometrics that can be applied in the cyber-security world, received the prestigious Google VR Research Award. The $100,000 grant from the technology giant is the first to be given to a Texas State faculty member and puts him in very select company. The award will be used to research eye tracking in Virtual Reality. In 2014, Google awarded Komogortsev a faculty research grant, also for his work in ocular biometrics.
Oleg Komogortsev, associate professor of computer science, recently received the prestigious Google VR Research Award.

Additionally this spring, SioTeX, a company formed in 2013 by an interdisciplinary team of Texas State graduate students, won the $10,000 top prize in the Association of University Technology Managers business plan competition in San Diego. The company’s signature product, Eco-Sil, is made from rice hulls and is cheaper and greener to use than fumed silica, an additive used to improve the performance of plastics, paint, and tires. In 2014, SioTeX took home the top prize of $125,000 in a similar competition at Rice University. The team continues to work together to launch a business centered on Eco-Sil.

In March, Texas State students led the inaugural Innovation Lab, an event at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin. Attendees of the event got an exclusive look at some of the game-changing technology created by our own student inventors. Student teams from a wide range of disciplines demonstrated their research and explained how their corporate partners are helping to take their new ideas to the marketplace. Close to 300 people attended this showcase, which featured projects ranging from biometric authentication and virtual reality to fashion merchandising and dating apps.

Fashion Merchandising students share their shopping app at the inaugural Innovation Lab at this year's South by Southwest Interactive Festival.

Texas State will be participating at the upcoming Smart Cities Innovation Summit June 13-15 in Austin. Student teams will showcase their research projects and activities that focus on the Internet of Things and smart cities innovation. More than 150 cities from around the world will participate in the event, and all are looking for new technologies to improve transportation, energy, water, security, and emergency infrastructure. Texas State will serve as the anchor university and will be joined by several of its corporate partners who are supporting research in these areas.

Also in March, Texas State was host to the Lonesome Dove Reunion and Trail in Fort Worth, a collection of events and exhibits that celebrates the beloved miniseries. Many of you may recall that Bill Wittliff, the namesake of our Wittliff Collections, was the screenwriter for the miniseries, and a principal in the activities associated with the reunion and trail. We were pleased that the signature event – a sold-out gala and auction featuring the cast and crew – was a huge success. The proceeds of the event, which exceeded $1 million, will be used to help expand the Wittliff Collections.

Speaking at the Lonesome Dove Reunion gala; from left: Robert Duvall, Ricky Schroder, Chris Cooper and Danny Glover.

And finally, we wrapped up our second annual Cats Caravan tour this spring. We were in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Houston to engage with donors, alumni, friends, and prospective students. These events have been a big success for us as they help us spread the word about the university’s initiatives for research excellence and academic success. We expect to have more of them in the future to keep you connected to Texas State.


Denise M. Trauth
Office of University Advancement
601 University ​Dr. • San Marcos, ​TX ​78666
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