Noteworthy- Achievements, Awards & New Additions

John Kaulfus has assumed the position of Assistant Vice President and Dean of Campus Life and Student Development. He has 24 years of higher education experience and holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and counseling and a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently working on his doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Dr. Marila D. Palmer joined the university as Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Planning. She previously served as Assistant Provost at East Texas Baptist University. She has also served as an evaluator and presenter at over 20 institutions for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC).

The Campus Recreation Department won two awards at the 2013 NIRSA National Conference held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Art directed by Jonathan Albarado, Graduate Assistant for Marketing, the department won first place in the Comprehensive Brochure category for their Campus Recreation Program Guide and second place in the Student Publication category for their Special Events Incentive Card.

Four students from the A&M-Commerce Honors College were accepted into post-baccalaureate medical programs. Jessica Meyer has been accepted into medical school at the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Mary Mason will attend the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in fall 2013. William Liam has been accepted to the University of Texas Medical School. Alexander Kimp will enter the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

The A&M-Commerce Children’s Learning Center was awarded national accreditation by the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs. Between 5-7% of centers in the nation achieve this level of accreditation. The CLC is licensed by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services and earned the additional distinction of “Texas Rising Star” facility in 2010 for exceeding state licensing requirements.

Gwen Young and Cat Polivoda received awards at the Southwest Assocation of College and University Housing Officers (SWACUHO) Conference in February. Gwen Young, Assistant Director for Business Operations in the Residential Living and Learning Department, won an award for one of the top five programs presented at the conference. Also, Cat Polivoda, Graduate Hall Director of West Hall, Family Hall, and New Pride, won the Bob Huss Outstanding Graduate Student Award for the tri-state SWACUHO region.

Orientation Staff wins “Spirit of NODA” Award at Region IV Orientation Conference for the third year in a row. Two teams of students and one professional staff had proposals accepted and presented sessions at this conference.

A Spirit of Sam Rayburn celebration took place on February 26 in honor of a new university tradition. On campus spirit days, and in celebration of noteworthy events, the Sam Rayburn statue outside the Rayburn Student Center will don blue and gold spirit items. The first of these was a blue and gold striped scarf knitted by Dr. Donna Dunbar-Odom of the Department of Literature and Languages.

A&M-Commerce was named a University Partner by ¡Adelante! U. S. Education Leadership Fund. This designation enables students to apply for exclusive partner scholarships.

KETR received four first-place honors in the 2012 Texas Associated Press Broadcasters awards. Matt Meinke won first and second place in actuality-production. First place in the website category went to, which is managed by Jerrod Knight and staff. First place in the serious feature category was awarded to Knight for his “Bob Aikin: In Memory.” First place in the light feature category was awarded to Knight and former KETR news director Scott Harvey for “The Lions Take New York.” In sports, KETR’s John Mark Dempsey, Kevin Jefferies and Harvey received honorable mention in the best sports play-by-play category.

Deborah Smith, administrative assistant, retired after 19 incredible years with the station.

Cristy Boucher comes to KETR from a university in New Hampshire and will take the reigns as administrative assistant.

Rex Giddens, Associate Vice President for Business Services and Director of Employment Services, has worked at A&M-Commerce for the last 41 years in a number of increasingly responsible jobs, from inventory clerk to interim vice president for business and administration. He has helped the university grow and change through property acquisitions including agreements that allowed the school district to build its new high school on property leased from the university. Giddens was also the university representative on agreements that helped secure the future of the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum and that brought Wal-Mart into Commerce. In addition to his service to the university, Rex Giddens is a combat veteran of Vietnam. He was a Staff Sergeant who led his men into combat in 1969. Prior to joining the university, he held jobs in a steel mill, worked as a construction worker on I-30, and helped build bridges over Lake Palestine and Lake Cypress Springs. The university is humbled by and thankful for Mr. Giddens’ unflagging service and dedication to his fellow man over these many years. We wish him all the best in retirement.

Luis Franco, Director of Hispanic Outreach and Student Programs, was elected to the State Board of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE) as Secretary.

Brenda Morris took on the role of Director of Advancement Services when Alicia Wittkopf was offered a wonderful opportunity to become Executive Director for Hunt Regional Healthcare in February.

Dr. William R. “Railroad Bill” Ogden retired his Sunday night bluegrass program, which had been on the air for over 20 years.