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2014: ASU Year in Review

January 20, 2015

New athletic facilities, changes in leadership positions, and a host of honors and awards for the institution, various academic programs and numerous individuals highlighted an exciting 2014 for Angelo State University.

Perhaps the most momentous occasion of the year came in September when the ASU Rams football team played its first on-campus home game at the newly renovated LeGrand Stadium at 1st Community Credit Union Field. Enjoying sellout crowds and true “home turf advantage” for the first time ever, the Rams recorded their best season since 1997 by going 9-3, winning the inaugural Lone Star Conference Playoff Championship, winning an NCAA Division II playoff game and finishing the season ranked No. 20 in the nation. 

Not as well publicized but no less important, however, were changes to several other athletic facilities. The Rambelles softball team played its first season at the renovated Mayer Field, named for Richard and B.J. Mayer, whose donation funded the installation of new artificial turf.

Unveiling Ben Kelley Center for Human Performance 1May14Photographer Danny MeyerThe ASU Center for Human Performance was renamed in honor of former Rams football player Ben Kelly, who broke the color barrier in Texas college football in 1953. ASU alum Mike Millegan also donated money to have the Junell Center weight room renovated and named for Kelly and his wife, Alvetta. Varsity Drive, which runs through the heart of ASU’s athletic facilities, was renamed Phil George Drive in honor of the former ASU basketball coach and athletic director, and ASU’s 235,000-square-foot intramurals complex underwent a $1.8 million artificial turf renovation. 

A new academic facility was also opened in 2014 as a host of donors and other dignitaries attended the ribbon cutting for the Mayer-Rousselot Agriculture Education Training Center at the ASU Ranch in March. 

Dr. Donald TopliffDr. Donald TopliffNew faces in several top academic positions also highlighted 2014. Dr. Donald Topliff, formerly dean of the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering at West Texas A&M University, was named ASU’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs. Dr. Clifton Jones will join ASU in April from the University of South Carolina-Aiken after being named the new dean of the ASU College of Business. Former ASU nursing faculty Dr. Wrennah Gabbert returned as chair of the Nursing Department and was also named the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Chair in Nursing Excellence in ASU’s College of Health and Human Services. 

As an institution, ASU has been enjoying national honors since 2009 when it was first named a “Best College” by The Princeton Review and a “Military Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs magazine. Both of those designations were earned for a sixth time in 2014, along with a second straight “Best for Vets” ranking by the Military Times. 

But what really set 2014 apart for ASU was the national recognition for individual academic programs. Throughout the year, the animal science, teacher education, criminal justice, homeland security, nursing, business and overall graduate studies programs were ranked nationally by various publications and educational resource organizations, ranging from U.S. News and World Report and the Affordable Colleges Foundation to TheBestSchools.org, Edudemic.com and BestOnlineColleges.org, among others. 

Another top academic moment came when ASU announced it has begun the process of adding a proposed new civil engineering program. Already, the program has received a $4.5 million anonymous donation to fund construction of a new facility, as well as a five-year, $2.87 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support implementation. The program now awaits final approval from ASU’s accrediting agencies. 

Duncan KnoxDuncan KnoxASU students also garnered awards and honors too numerous to name them all. Some of the highlights were Duncan Knox of Ozona being named a presidential fellow by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington, D.C., and Dylan Meador of Wall being named the Air Force Association’s Outstanding ROTC Cadet of the Year. 

Also, ASU’s chapter of the Beta Beta Beta national biology honor society won the Lloyd M. Bertholf Award as the top chapter in the nation for a record eighth time. Intramural flag football team IM Legends won its second straight national championship in January, and the ASU Meat Judging Team won the Cargill High Plains Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest in November. 

IM Legends - National ChampionsIM Legends - National ChampionsFaculty and staff members were also tabbed for numerous honors, including research and travel grants, writing and publication awards, and teaching and service recognition. Again, there were just too many to list them all here. 

So as the start of the 2015 spring semester quickly approaches, the bar has been set fairly high by the events and activities of 2014. Also, ASU has once again proven that it has blossomed from a small hometown college into a nationally recognized university that provides high-quality education at an affordable cost. We encourage all prospective college students to check out everything ASU has to offer because exceptional opportunities are available right here at home.