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Message from the President

Dear Friends:

Louis J. Agnese, Jr., Ph.D.This issue of The Word features a cover story on our synchronized swimming team, which had a remarkable season in 2005.

Just four years ago, the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) didn’t have a swimming pool, much less a synchronized swimming team. As some of you may recall, the University was left without pool facilities in the late 1990s due to extensive flood damage to our outdoor pool.

Sam Barshop, a former member of the UIW Board of Trustees, and his wife, Ann, learned of our loss and took action. They contributed financially to the construction of an aquatic complex unlike anything in this part of San Antonio - an enclosed, climate-controlled, two-story, above ground facility capable of hosting national and international competitions.

The Barshops’ generosity allowed us to open the Ann Barshop Natatorium in late 2001. And in a nice bit of synergy, our synchronized swimming team began competing shortly thereafter. From that time on, the team has become not only one of the University’s premiere athletic programs, but one of the best programs of its kind in the country.

In its first year of competition in 2002, the team came in 17th at the U.S. Collegiate Championships. Under the steady guidance of coach Kim LoPorto, who is a former Olympian, the team has improved every year since.

This past season, the team beat squads from larger and more-established programs on its way to capturing third place at the U.S. Collegiate Championships. In addition, three team members received All-American honors. Quite an accomplishment for an athletic program that is still in its infancy.

In this issue you can also read about two of our professors, Dr. Roger Barnes and Dr. Francis Boakari. In April, Dr. Barnes, who teaches sociology, became the first-ever recipient of the Presidential Teaching Award. The purpose of this new award is to recognize excellence in teaching, and it will be awarded on an annual basis to a faculty member who best exemplifies this ideal.

Dr. Boakari, who teaches in the Dreeben School of Education, had an eventful journey to South Texas, and one that illustrates the global nature of Incarnate Word. Dr. Boakari lived on three continents, studied several languages and learned to cope with extremes in weather before joining our faculty in 2002.

I encourage you to read the rest of The Word for an update on some of our other recent activities. In the meantime, let me thank you for your steadfast support. It's that support that allows us to continue fulfilling Incarnate Word's goal of offering students the best possible education within a context of faith. Special blessings on you and your loved ones in 2005.

Best Wishes,

Louis J. Agnese, Jr., Ph.D.