Faculty and staff at St. Edward’s University are making headlines through sharing their professional expertise with local and national media outlets — from taking a stance on social issues to creating a more sustainable environment. These are just a few of our many Hilltoppers using their wealth of knowledge to enrich communities beyond campus.
The Criminal Justice Expert: Carsten Andresen
W. Carsten Andresen, associate professor of Criminal Justice, is sharing his expertise and research with journalists covering social justice issues plaguing the United States. In a recent Insider interview about murders connected to transphobia, Andresen touched on the “gay/trans panic defense” — a controversial legal strategy that blames victims’ sexual orientation or gender identity for attacks made against them.
Andresen has shared his research on gay/trans panic defense cases — spanning more than 20 years — with various lawmakers and LGBTQ+ organization leaders, who are fighting to outlaw this legal strategy. Andresen says the use of the gay/trans panic defense to justify horrendous crimes only normalizes attacks against the LGBTQ+ community.
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The Language Expert: Georgia Seminet
When it comes to breaking language barriers for Spanish-speaking students, Georgia Seminet is leading the way! Seminet, associate professor of Spanish, spoke with Texas Public Radio about the new Advanced Spanish for Health and Helping Professions certificate program at St. Edward’s University — a program she helped create. Students can expect to receive the necessary training for health-related professions that require specific vocabulary and cultural knowledge.
“We’re hoping the certificate can take students who are already bilingual and offer them training in Spanish that will fill in the gaps for them,” Seminet said. “We really try to promote the benefits of continued language learning among our student population. It’s important in health care, it’s important in business and education.”
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The Political Science Expert: Brian Smith
Throughout the 2022 November election season, Brian Smith, professor of Political Science and associate dean for the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences, contributed his expertise on local, state and federal politics to various media outlets. Smith is no stranger to being on camera — he frequently serves as a political commentator for the ABC, NBC and FOX affiliates in Austin, Texas.
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Explore Political Science at St. Edward’s.
The Religion Expert: Kelley Coblentz Bautch
As a professor of Religious and Theological Studies, Kelley Coblentz Bautch was thrilled to make a contribution toward Moment Magazine’s article, “Who Edited Hanukkah Out of the Bible?” Coblentz Bautch is engaged in a multi-year research project on the First Book of Maccabees, so she was excited to be interviewed by Bob Davis — former senior editor for The Wall Street Journal — on why Hanukkah isn’t included in the Hebrew Bible.
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The Landscape Expert: Roy Johnson
In his on-camera debut, university arborist and grounds supervisor Roy Johnson shared the history of our beloved Sorin Oak tree with KXAN News, Austin’s NBC affiliate. The 250-year-old Texas Live Oak — winner of the 2022 Austin Tree of the Year Award in the “Large Tree” category — is expected to have many more years of life, thanks to the care of Johnson and the Office of Sustainability team.
Our Sorin Oak tree is named in honor of Father Edward Sorin, founder of St. Edward’s University. Sitting atop a dormant volcano with breathtaking views of downtown Austin, the Sorin Oak is rich in history — withstanding severe weather over the years, as well as a nearby fire at the university’s Main Building back in 1903.
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The Journalism Expert: Jena Heath
As a former journalist, Jena Heath, associate dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and professor of Journalism and Digital Media, knows all too well the importance of effective communication. In a recent Inside Austin podcast episode, Heath discussed how communication skills are beneficial toward everyday life, as well as the Arts and Humanities programs at St. Edward’s University.
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Explore Communication at St. Edward’s.
The Doctorate of Education Expert: Tom Sechrest
History has been made at St. Edward’s University with the first students to receive their degree from the new doctoral program. Tom Sechrest, director of the Online Doctorate of Education in Leadership and Higher Education program, recently spoke with the Austin American-Statesman about the structure of the program.
Sechrest says there’s a demand for a more holistic approach when it comes to leadership roles in higher education. The program is designed to teach students how to maintain ethical standards while leading a team at the postsecondary education level. “We wanted to be part of helping to educate the next generations of leaders at St. Edward’s, because of our mission and the perspective that we bring to the higher education space,” Sechrest said.
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Explore the EdD program at St. Edward’s.
The CAMP Expert: Sonia Briseno
Sonia Briseno is paving the way for children of farmworkers who want to turn their dreams of a college education into a reality. Briseno, director for the College Assistance Migrant Program at St. Edward’s University, spoke with the Dallas Morning News about her team’s efforts to help CAMP students excel in higher education, regardless of their background. Growing up with an upbringing similar to her students, Briseno knows the value of an education and strives to make sure CAMP provides students with the tools needed to succeed academically, professionally and personally. CAMP at St. Edward’s celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022 and is the longest continuous CAMP initiative in the nation.
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