Category Archives: News

Graduate student recognized as #BigShotOnCampus

Ana Hinojosa, a second-year graduate student in Counseling, has been recognized as a #BigShotOnCampus through the American Health Association CoVac Initiative for her efforts in increasing vaccine confidence and combating misinformation. 

Hinojosa took the lead with her fellow peer educators and coordinated a 13-week, weekly myth-busting question-and-answer survey and corresponding table events. She also coordinated and ran mobile vaccination sites. 

As a five-year member of the Health Education Resource Office, she plays a critical role in the day-to-day success of continued education efforts in regard to COVID-19 and vaccination efforts. 

Hinojosa is a work-study in the Health Education Resource Office, which is now part of the Wellness Center.

New campus recreation opportunities

As a follow-up to the June step challenge, Campus Recreation is excited to announce new recreation offerings starting this week for staff and faculty. Yoga will be offered for just one class, but volleyball and pickleball will be offered through July 29.

“Drop-in” volleyball will be held in the UWAC gym on Wednesdays from 5-6 p.m. “Drop-in” pickleball will be held on the OLLU tennis courts on Thursdays from 5-6 p.m. Yoga will be held on Tuesday in UWAC 112 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. 

“Drop-in” simply means those interested show up and play. All skill levels are welcome, even if one has never played. Teams will be formed as people show up.

For more information, contact Kyle Belback at kbelback@ollusa.edu or call 210-434-6711, ext. 6710.

In the News

Recent media coverage that brought attention to OLLU:

On June 26, a story in The Columbian about combating homelessness written by OLLU MSW student Cecilia Engleman:

https://www.columbian.com/news/2022/jun/26/local-view-is-2m-enough-to-combat-homelessness-crisis/

On June 23, a story in the San Antonio Business Journal about alumnus and former OLLU Vice President Dan Yoxall:

https://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/inno/stories/news/2022/06/22/sama-president-takes-helm-amid-pandemic-recovery.html

On June 21, a story in the San Antonio Business Journal about OLLU professor Jared Montoya and alumnus David Hill and the launch of their new app:

https://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/inno/stories/news/2022/06/21/wegood-app-apple-employee-retention.html

On June 20, a story in USEducation about alumna Asia Ciaravino becoming CEO of The Children’s Shelter: 

Harrison Watts named Faculty Athletics Representative

The Athletics Department has announced that Professor J. Harrison Watts, PhD, will be the new Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR). Dr. Watts takes over the position from Stefanie Becerril, who had been the FAR since August 2019.

Athletic Director Shane Hurley commented, “We have always taken academics seriously, and that is evident in being recognized with the conference’s Top GPA award. I am confident that Harris will continue to ensure our student-athletes are accomplishing their academic goals. He will ensure everyone is compliant with the NAIA in all aspects. We thank Stefanie for her service over the last four years, and we are excited to add Harrison to our team.”

As a member of the NAIA, OLLU is bound by eligibility standards. These rules exist for the common good of all participants, and Dr. Watts will ensure OLLU’s student-athletes abide by these standards. Athletes failing to comply with expected standards will face institutional sanctions, which may affect their eligibility to participate in the athletic program.

Student-athletes are responsible for upholding and maintaining personal eligibility status. However, coaches, the athletic director, assistant athletic director, and Dr. Watts will be available to assist students in better understanding and complying with NAIA requirements.

For a student to be eligible for any NAIA-recognized intercollegiate competition at OLLU, Dr. Watts will ensure that the student conforms to the following regulations:

An entering freshman student must graduate from an accredited high school or be accepted as a regular student in good standing as defined by the enrolling institution.

An entering freshman student must meet two of the three entry-level requirements:

  1. A minimum score of 18 on the Enhanced ACT or 860 on the SAT (for tests taken on or after April 1, 1995); 
  2. An overall high school grade point average of 2.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale;
  3. Graduate in the upper half of the student’s high school graduating class.

The class rank must appear on the student’s transcript, leaving certificate or another academic document. If the student’s class rank does not appear on the documents mentioned above, a letter from the student’s principal or headmaster, written on the school’s letterhead and with the school’s official seal, stating that the student meets the class rank requirement can be accepted.

Watts commented, “I’m excited to be a part of the athletics team as the Faculty Athletics Representative. I plan to mentor our student-athletes to see the big picture academically and find their career calling. This requires that I get to know each of our student-athletes and direct them along the right path.”

Dr. Watts began his formal education at a community college, earning an Associate of Applied Sciences in Agriculture from Vernon College. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Applied Sciences and a Master of Arts in Political Science from MSU-Texas. He also earned a Master of Arts in History and Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University. Dr. Wats received a Master of Business Administration from the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, N.M., and a Master of Science in Human Resources Management from Golden Gate University. He attended law school at Regent University, earning a Master of Arts in Law, specializing in Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Texas A&M University School of Law, earning the Master of Jurisprudence with a specialization in Business Law and Compliance. Finally, he earned the Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration with a specialization in Criminal Justice from Northcentral University.

Dr. Watts has been a full-time faculty member since 1998, working at Vernon College, Cameron University, Washburn University and Our Lady of the Lake University, where he has been since 2014. Dr. Watts is a tenured full professor who teaches out of the Department of Applied Social and Cultural Sciences (Criminology and Criminal Justice) and the Department of Business (Business Law and Management).

Dr. Watts is a veteran of the United States Army and currently serves in the Texas State Guard. He played varsity football and ran track at Arlington Martin High School in Texas. His oldest daughter, Whitney, is an assistant cheer and dance coach at OLLU. His youngest daughter, Mariah, is a two-sport student-athlete at OLLU running track and cheerleading. Additionally, he has an up-and-coming son, Jase, who is competing in Pony League baseball and hopes to become a future Saint. 

Isaac Martinez selected to the Academic All-America Team

OLLU’s Isaac Martinez has been selected to the 2022 Academic All-America® men’s track and field/cross-country team as a second-team selectee by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). CoSIDA members, such as OLLU’s 15-year member Patricia Constantin, submit nominees for consideration. The organization boasts more than 3,000 members, and all are eligible to vote for all sports teams each year.

Martinez led the cross-country team to its seventh Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) title and a seventh trip to the NAIA National Championships in Vancouver, Wash. He earned All-Conference honors after finishing fifth in a slate of 37 runners in the 8000m with a time of 26:13. OLLU hosted the meet at the Windcrest Golf Club in nearby Windcrest, Texas.

Martinez is a senior from Weslaco, Texas, and a graduate of Weslaco High School. At the RRAC Track and Field Championships in April, Martinez won the 5000m with a time of 16:45.00 and the 10,000m with a time of 34:52.52. Martinez earned a 4.0 GPA this past academic year and has a 3.92 cumulative GPA.

Martinez is slated to complete his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance in August.

The NAIA Academic All-America® program is financially supported by the NAIA national governance structure to assist CoSIDA with handling the awards fulfillment aspects for the 2021-2022 NAIA Academic All-America® program. For more information regarding the Academic All-America® program, visit https://academicallamerica.com/.

Chris Burks is new assistant coach for women’s basketball

OLLU announced the hiring of new women’s basketball Assistant Coach Chris Burks. He comes to OLLU after a two-year stint as a graduate assistant for the University of Jamestown women’s basketball team.

Head Coach Tanya Ray commented, “I am thrilled to have Chris join us here at OLLU. Those who have worked with Chris in the past all talked about his passion for coaching, his strong work ethic and the energy he brought on a daily basis. Those qualities will be a welcomed addition as we try to continue to build on the foundation of success that has been laid here. His experience at both the NCAA and NAIA levels will be a huge benefit for our program, and I am excited to have him on board to start this journey. “

Burks became a graduate assistant at Jamestown, an NAIA school in North Dakota, in July 2020. While there, the team posted a 15-11 overall record and 12-10 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) in 2020-2021, finishing as quarterfinalists in the postseason. The team posted an overall 18-13 record in 2021-2022 and 11-11 in the conference. They closed out their season as quarterfinalists in the conference tournament.

His duties at Jamestown included signing 28 student-athletes and contributing to the development of the teams’ academic success. He spearheaded the team fundraising program, which garnered more than $60,000. He raised funds through the E-Team sponsor, AAU tournaments, and high school basketball season games. Burks was also the team’s Adidas rep and was responsible for creating and marketing all Jamestown social media accounts. His other contributions at Jamestown include: developing and organizing the junior varsity game schedule, team travel plans for away games, creating and leading multiple community service projects, leading the team’s summer camps, managing and executing game film breakdowns using Synergy and successfully leading the junior varsity team as head coach.

Before Jamestown, Burks was the assistant coach at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., for three years. Duties and highlights at Southwestern, also an NAIA university, included recruiting, growing the win percentage by 25 percent, developing and leading analytic meetings using PER and Lineup Efficiency to provide evidence to game management decisions and player evaluations, leading skill workouts, directing all aspects of scouting, creating team bonding exercises, organizing and conducting strength and conditioning program, organizing class and campus work schedules.

Burks spent one year as an assistant coach at NCAA D3 Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. During his time there, he helped guide the Mountaineers to winning seven of their last 11 games to qualify for the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championship tournament. After eliminating Southwestern University (Georgetown, Texas) in the first round, the team fell to Trinity University (San Antonio) to end their season. Burks managed all aspects of recruiting at Schreiner, directed defensive team strategies, led warmups before practices and games, demonstrated bench management during games to provide feedback to players and keep players mentally engaged and mentored and led post players during practices to increase skill development.

Burks collegiate playing career included seasons with NCAA Division I Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Ala., and NAIA Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, before finishing at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. While at UMHB in Belton, Burks was part of the team’s national championship run and helped the team to a 27-6 record and a No. 2 ranking in the final NCAA Division II national poll.

“Most of all, I am ecstatic to join the OLLU family,” Burks said. “This is a great opportunity to continue my coaching journey with an amazing historic women’s basketball program. I am looking forward to joining Tanya Ray in leading the women’s basketball program. San Antonio is a special place to be, and this program is already running with success. It is a great time to jump right in with this current roster, build relationships and maintain this program’s success.”

A native of Dallas, Burks earned a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management with a minor in marketing at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. He received a Master of Science in Leadership at Jamestown.

OLLU honors President Melby with retirement celebration

Our Lady of the Lake University honored President Diane Melby, EdD, with a festive retirement celebration on Thursday at the Whitley Theological Center. The event drew more than 100 guests for an evening of food, toasts, laughter, tears and memories.

Since Dr. Melby arrived in 2015, OLLU has flourished, advancing the Mission of the Sisters of Divine Providence and expanding its impact and reach across the U.S. and beyond.

New facilities for campuses in Houston and the Rio Grande Valley have opened. The Slater Apartments stand as the newest residence hall on the San Antonio campus. And a $55 million comprehensive campaign – the largest in OLLU history – is nearly complete.

“It has been an honor to serve OLLU for the past seven years,” said Dr. Melby, who will retire next month. “I look forward to watching the university’s continued growth and emergence as a national leader in higher education. We are moving into a new era, and Dr. Abél Chavez is the right person to lead OLLU forward.”  

Abél Chavez, PhD, will succeed Dr. Melby as OLLU’s 10th president on July 18. He attended the celebration, along with such distinguished guests as philanthropists Rubén Escobedo and Verónica Salazar-Escobedo (BA 1965). 

Led by Mistress of Ceremonies and OLLU Trustee Lorena G. Gonzalez, PhD, an alumna (BA 1989, PhD 2005), the celebration featured music from Mariachis and a poignant tribute video.  

Sister Pearl Ceasar, CDP, Superior General of the Congregation of Divine Providence, Gloria Urrabazo, Vice President of Mission and Ministry, and trustee George Person, shared warm reflections. 

In the News

On June 20, a story in USEducation about alumna Asia Ciaravino becoming CEO of The Children’s Shelter: 

On June 14, a story in the San Antonio Report about alumna Asia Ciaravino assuming the role of CEO of The Children’s Shelter: 

On June 13, a story on KMA Land radio about Iowa Western hiring Tommy Turgeon, former OLLU women’s basketball assistant coach: 

https://www.kmaland.com/sports/iowa-western-hires-turgeon-as-womens-assistant/article_e92e0b02-eb4c-11ec-be40-1b2259de9296.html

Hurley named Red River Athletic Conference Athletic Director of Year

As the leader of the most active and the most successful athletic department in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC), Shane Hurley has plenty on his plate. That was never more true than this year when OLLU athletics grew to 17 intercollegiate sports, seven Saints teams made national tournament appearances, and the school won its eighth RRAC All-Sports Award. 

Hurley’s efforts were recognized by his peers, who selected him as the 2021-2022 RRAC Athletic Director of the Year. 

The RRAC Athletic Director of the Year award recognizes the leader who had the best year in overall program performance, facility development, game administration, NAIA Champions of Character commitment, ability to hire and keep quality coaches, program growth in sports and revenue opportunities, contributions at the conference and national levels and student-athlete development. The award is decided through a vote by all RRAC athletic directors. 

In addition to the normal day-to-day challenges of managing the athletic program, Hurley and his staff hosted RRAC championships in men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball, men’s and women’s track and field and softball during the last year. They also were faced with the loss of a close friend and longtime Saints broadcaster, Michael Thompson, near the end of the basketball season.  

Through it all, Hurley was the capable leader of all things OLLU.

“Shane has done a great job keeping OLLU at the top of the conference,” says LSU Shreveport Athletic Director Lucas Morgan. “They are competitive in every sport while also doing things the right way. He is a committed leader and very deserving of this recognition.” 

Hurley is a true blue Saint. He has been at OLLU since the school joined the NAIA in 2007, first serving as the men’s soccer coach and then doubling up as the women’s soccer coach from 2008-to 2012. In 2018, he was called on to serve as the interim athletic director, stepping into the official role in 2019 and shedding his soccer duties to focus solely on the athletic director role in 2020. 

“I’m proud to extend congratulations to Shane Hurley,” says RRAC Commissioner Tony Stigliano. “This award recognizes his hard work and commitment to OLLU, the RRAC, and our other athletic directors. We’re fortunate to have leaders like Shane in our conference.”

Taking over a program that was already a perennial conference power, Hurley has added to that excellence. In addition to the All-Sports Awards, OLLU also was recognized as last year’s RRAC GPA Award winner with the best academic results in the conference. He also spearheaded four new sports, thoroughly researching the feasibility of adding women’s golf, women’s tennis, competitive cheer and competitive dance by consulting with local, state and national universities with similar programs. He put together a comprehensive report to include demographics, geographical competition, interest from recruiting areas, plus a practicable budget that would allow the university to approve the plan.

After much deliberation, the university’s Board of Trustees approved Hurley’s plan to increase the intercollegiate program from 13 to 17 teams, adding competitive cheer, competitive dance, women’s golf and women’s tennis.

With the establishment of the four teams, Hurley aggressively pursued hiring head and assistant coaches for all four teams. The new coaches were able to search for viable student-athletes – academically and athletically qualified – to recruit for their programs. All coaches have been able to put together teams that would be competitive immediately.

His projections rang true. After just one season, the women’s golf team excelled beyond expectations, winning two tournaments and successfully competing throughout the year. The dance team also excelled and made history with a second-place finish at nationals, and the women’s tennis team qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2014. OLLU now boasts more than 400 student-athletes. 

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