Rest in Peace Bro. Romard Barthel, SEU and NSCI Icon

It is with great sadness that I pass along the news that Bro. Romard Barthel (CSC ’47), of the Order of the Holy Cross, passed away on Wed., 7 December at the age of 92.  Bro. Romard taught physics and life at St. Edward’s University for generations of students.

I arrived at St. Edward’s as Dean of Natural Sciences in July 2014.  It did not take long for the stories of Bro. Romard to begin making their way to me.  I quickly began meeting some of the numerous alumni and current faculty members whose lives were forever changed by Bro. Romard’s kindness, dedication, attention, and inspirational model.

Bro. Romard significantly impacted the trajectory of the School of Natural Sciences and St. Edward’s University. In the history of an institution, there are but a precious few who truly earn the distinction of being recognized as a cultural icon, and they usually do so with the greatest modesty imaginable.  I can assure you that in the case of Bro. Romard, that recognition as an icon of the Natural Sciences at St. Edward’s University is richly deserved..

His legacy will live on in the lives of those he touched, both directly and indirectly. (You can find a nice example in the Winter 2015 issue of the St. Edward’s Magazine.)

Of significance to today’s students, who did not have the honor of meeting him in person or being directly inspired by him, the Bro. Romard Barthel Scholarship and Research Fund was established by alumni in his honor to support summer research opportunities and scholarships for today’s Natural Sciences students.  Through these students and the paths they forge on their own journeys in life, his impact will continue to be felt and honored.

Please remember Bro. Romard in your prayers.  May his model and inspiration live on in those of us who benefit today from his years of servant leadership and dedication to the place he cherished, St. Edward’s University.


Please share your stories below.

Shared Studios “Channel” Arrives in JBWS

The Shared Studios Channel arrives in JBWS lobby.  Stop by and "Take On Your World" by talking with someone at a similar Channel in countries around the world.

The Shared Studios Channel arrives in JBWS lobby. Stop by and “Take On Your World” by talking with someone at a similar Channel in countries around the world.

The School of Natural Sciences will proudly host the Shared Studios Channel in the JBWS lobby for the next several months.  The Channel is the follow-on technology to the Portal (the gold shipping container that has been between Andre Hall and the Munday Library since late August) and will connect our lobby space with other such Channels around the world.  We’ve already been linked to Afghanistan, where several students and I met a dental student who was up very late at night to chat with us!

The Channel is a 90″ monitor with a webcam and microphone attached.  We anticipate the Channel to be active for most of the day, but we are uncertain at present to where we will be linked.  If a schedule becomes available, I will post that information here.

Stop by JBWS and “Take On Your World!”

SEU Portal Extended through November 13

Consider finding 20 minutes to spend with someone halfway across the world.  It may change your life, or their’s!  Check out the Shared Studios Portal project website.  Make your reservation today.  Currently facilitating visits with Rwanda, Honduras, Gaza, and Mexico City!

This experience is open to all:  students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members.

Take on your world!

Bob Wilems Receives Honorary Ring at Fall 2016 Ring Ceremony

Bob Wilems ('63) under the Sorin Oak with his honorary class ring.  (Photo courtesy Joe DeMedeiros.)

Bob Wilems (’63) under the Sorin Oak with his honorary class ring. (Photo courtesy Joe DeMedeiros.)

On Monday, 10 October 2016, Bob Wilems (’63, Physics) was surprised at the Fall 2016 Ring Ceremony, receiving an honorary ring as an outstanding alumnus of the University.

Bob has long been a supporter of St. Edward’s University.  You can find his name, along with his wife Nela’s, on the wall of donors in the JBWS atrium.  In fact, as you climb the staircase, take a look at the name on that yellow-green wall:  “The Wilems Atrium.”

Bob and Nela have served on the NSCI Advisory Board for a number of years, with Bob chairing that body until Spring 2015.  He and Nela continue to serve on the Advisory Board, making twice annual visits to join the discussions about what’s happening in the School and ways to enhance the student experience.  You will also often find them on campus to support Kozmetsky Center events and to visit with friends and other alumni.

Please join the Dean’s Office in congratulate Bob on his well deserved recognition!


Steelcase Active Learning Classroom Workshop

Learning to use the Steelcase Eno (smart board) in the Steelcase Active Learning Center (JBWN 206)

Learning to use the Steelcase Eno (smart board) in the Steelcase Active Learning Center (JBWN 206)

Our Chemistry faculty members gathered on a beautiful Friday afternoon (30 Sept.) to spend 2 hours with Steelcase representative, Marisa Sergnese, learning strategies for best leveraging the resources in our Steelcase Active Learning Center classroom in JBWN 206.  From seating configurations to collaborative groupings to using Eno (Steelcase’s smartboard tool), Marisa shared many great ideas.  Get ready students!  The Active Learning Center will become even more active and dynamic in the weeks ahead.  Thanks to Steelcase for the grant that supported the deployment of these resources at St. Edward’s!

SACNAS Chapter Coming to St. Edward’s

Attention SEU Students:

Are you focused on a career in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? Let SACNAS help in developing your potential!

SACNAS is an inclusive national organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM.

Connect with opportunities, resources, mentors, and friends that will help you thrive in your education and future career. SACNAS has a strong network of student and professional chapters, professional development opportunities, and a prestigious annual conference which affords members an opportunity to present their research and network with leaders in various STEM fields.

We are bringing SACNAS to the Hilltop and are holding an information session on Monday, October 3rd at 5:00PM in JBWS 268. Bring your friends or anyone interested in this type of opportunity.

Hope to see you there!

Dr. Burks
Dr. Toledo

SACNAS organization link:

Steelcase Active Learning Classroom Workshop – 30 Sept. @ 3 pm

Steelcase Active Learning Classroom in JBWN 206

Steelcase Active Learning Classroom in JBWN 206

All interested faculty and SI instructional staff are welcome to participate in a workshop on use of the new Steelcase Active Learning Classroom in JBWN 206 from 3 – 5 pm on Friday, 30 September.  Marisa Sergnese from Steelcase will be present to run the workshop.

Stargazing at Wild Basin on Sept. 30, 7 – 9 pm

Austin Astronomical Society members conduct special astronomy tours at Wild Basin, weather permitting. Telescopes for viewing are set up in the parking lot. It is recommended that you bring drinking water, a small flashlight, and good walking shoes. There will be 1/4 mile walk in the dark.  A presentation will begin on the deck of the Wild Basin Visitor Center promptly at 7pm. 

Suggested donation of $5 per adult and $3 for seniors, students and children.

RSVP required:  sign up by email with the total number of people in your group at:

Kozmetsky Center: Climate Change and National Security

The next Kozmetsky Center event of the semester features a lecture on The Climate Change Challenge and Implications for National Security with Dr. David Titley, Rear Admiral (ret.), U.S. Navy, and Professor of Practice in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences at Pennsylvania State University. The event is cosponsored by the World Affairs Council of Austin and will take place on Tuesday, October 4th in Carter Auditorium from 7:00-8:30pm.

Dr. Titley is an internationally recognized expert in the field of climate, the Arctic, and National Security, and he is founding Director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk.  Dr. Titley’s career includes duties as Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy, and Deputy Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance.  While serving in the Pentagon, Dr. Titley initiated and led the U.S. Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change.  After retiring from the Navy, Dr. Titley served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Operations, the Chief Operating Officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  He completed his advanced graduate studies in the fields of meteorology and physical oceanography.

Exhibition Piloted in JBWS Building Last Spring to Appear at Bulloch

Butterfly Project Installation in JBWS last Spring.

Butterfly Project Installation in JBWS last Spring.

Those of you who wandered through JBWS last Spring might have noted the multiple iterations of paper “butterflies” suspended from our staircase in the lobby.  That project, led by SEU Assoc. Prof. of Art Alex Robinson, was a pilot for the “Butterfly Project” art installation at the Bullock Museum as part of the exhibit, “State of Deception:  The Power of Nazi Propaganda.”  I encourage you to visit the exhibition if you are able — you may even recognize some of the butterflies in the exhibit from last spring.

Here’s more info:

The Butterfly Project
Between 1942-1944, more than 15,000 children passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp. The vast majority of these children did not survive the Holocaust. Brave teachers in the camp taught art lessons to the children as a form of therapy. Some of their poetry and art, saved in suitcases and later discovered, have been published in a book titled I Never Saw Another Butterfly. The poems and pictures drawn by the young inmates of Terezin illustrate the intense emotions of these displaced children, ranging from fear, sorrow, hope, and courage.

The “Butterfly Project” at the Bob Bullock Museum consists of large fabric panels covered with thousands of uniquely colored butterflies, which will be suspended over the museum’s Grand Lobby. The butterflies were created and sent from every corner of Texas by children who were inspired by the poem The Butterfly written in 1942 by a young man imprisoned at Terezin. The butterflies represent endurance, change, hope, and life. By contributing a butterfly these youngest Texans committed to take a stand against intolerance.

Additional information about the exhibit is available at:
The exhibit is on loan from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.