Auld lang syne: In memory of campus memorials

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A memorial bench dedicated to the late Raul Murguia sits outside Gonzales where he taught. Monica Lamadrid

A memorial bench dedicated to the late Raul Murguia sits outside Gonzales where he taught. Monica Lamadrid

Correction: Dr. Johnnie Rosenauer’s description of late English Professor Raul S. Murguia should read, “He was a very educated and very genteel scholar.”

By Emily Rodriguez

erodriguez734@alamo.edu

Throughout campus, students can find memorials to important people throughout college history, although not all of them withstood the test of time.

Bailey’s Cyber Café was created in September 2001 to honor English Professor Roger Bailey who died that year. He was a former English chair and later became a webmaster. The café, a Mac lab for leisure use, was set up inside the student learning assistance center on the seventh floor of Moody Learning Center, but later moved to the second floor of Loftin Student Center.

Richard Farias, director of student life, said the café in Loftin was removed as part of a move to centralize technology on campus. Farias said he considered keeping the café open, but it would cost $25,000 to replace the 5-year-old computers.

A new mega lab on the fifth floor of Moody Learning Center has a Mac computer room for student use so Farias decided against updating the space in Loftin.

Students have noticed the absence of the café.

“A few students say that they’ve missed it. We haven’t had any complaints. We’ve just had a few students say ‘yeah, it was nice when it was there,’ but when they find out there’s a mega lab they’re OK with that,” Farias said.

He met with Bailey’s widow, English Professor Irma Ned Bailey, President Robert Zeigler and Vice President Robert Vela to discuss moving the cyber café to the second floor of Moody.

“The biggest concern that we had about the cyber café was that it was named after Professor Roger Bailey and that he, especially for me coming from an English background, it was really important to me. We want to continue honoring that relationship and that memorial,” Farias said.

Irma Ned Bailey said she is glad that her husband is memorialized on this campus. “I think it is a great idea because Roger was a very important person for the school and he did so much for it,” she said. “He was a wonderful teacher, the smartest man that I ever met and a magnificent human being.”

The Balditt Counseling Complex on the first floor of Moody was dedicated to Dr. Juan Balditt, who died in 1997. He was a counselor at St. Philip’s and this college. He was active in the community and served as president of the San Antonio chapter of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education.

Counselor Rosa Maria Gonzales said, “It’s important to remember people who came before us and were dedicated to helping students. He always gave his heart and had a lot of passion. He inspired a lot of us as counselors and reminded us why we’re here — to help students.”

Counselor David Rodriguez said that before the first floor renovation to Moody, Balditt’s portrait and a sign that stated the complex was named after him was on display. “All of that got taken down because of the renovation and as of right now there is nothing with his name or image in the counseling center. It is not something that has been discussed as far as if the center is going to be rededicated with a different name or if it is still the Juan Balditt Counseling Center.”

Other memorials throughout the campus include the Murguia Learning Institute, named after English Professor Raul S. Murguia, who died in 1999.

Dr. Johnnie Rosenauer, previous director of the institute, said the institute was created in 2005 as part of the college’s Quality Enhancement Plan. “He was a very educated and very gentile scholar. He could have gone anywhere, but he wanted to work with a community college,” Rosenauer said.

Inside the institute, there is no physical memorial to Murguia, but a marble bench between Gonzales and McCreless halls is dedicated to Murguia.

The Strain and Skinner Communication Center in McAllister Fine Arts Center was named to honor speech communication Professors Barbara Strain and John Skinner.

The center was named for Strain in August 2007 for creating Video Voice Lab to assist international students with English pronunciation.

Fine arts Chair Jeff Hunt said, “She was very student-focused and built a program within the department that focused on international students that worked with them on pronunciation.”

Hunt said Skinner was first here to teach speech online and was incredibly dedicated to teaching. “He would record every speech on camera and personally mail each student a copy of their video along with his critique.”

The center was rededicated to memorialize him as well as Strain Sept. 6. Inside, a picture of both Stain and Skinner hangs as well as a plaque listing the names of students who have received a scholarship named in Strain’s honor.

Room 100 of Gonzales Hall was dedicated July 1994 as the John Igo Lounge, honoring a “rock star” of the college. He taught here 41 years. Professor Emeritus John Igo published 12 books of poetry and several books on prose and, in 1985, was awarded an Emmy for his script “Our Children: the Next Generation.”

“He was an outstanding professor, a local boy who grew up on the north part of town,” Jane Focht-Hansen, English professor and Igo’s former student, said. “Those of us who had him as a professor or a colleague learned a great deal from his knowledge and also his whimsy.”

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