United #RooNations

Monday, August 1st will be a solemn day in Austin, TX, and for good reason. 50 years ago on this date, Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the UT Tower and began firing at students with deadly accuracy. 48 people would be killed or wounded over 90 minutes, before his deadly rampage was ended by local police. August 1, 1966 is a day Texas would prefer to forget. Not all of us have that luxury.

Former Austin College professor Shelton Williams was a student at UT in 1966, and unfortunately happened to be on campus that day. You can read about and listen to his experience here:


Shelly soon found himself pinned down amidst the chaos. While he was able to emerge from the ordeal physically uninjured, he was not unscathed. The mind does not so easily move on. Shelly has spoken about the effects such a trauma can have on survivors. Yet he’ll easily offer that he was one of the lucky ones.

So was Austin College.

Little Austin College is today well known nationally for academic excellence in the field of International Studies. This reputation is part of Shelly’s life work and legacy.

Roos arriving as freshmen quickly learn that this discipline is one of AC’s strengths, and they are encouraged to at least dip their toes into the study abroad waters during their time in Sherman.

Dip your toes? Hell, not me. I jumped into the deep end with reckless abandon.

After one of Shelly’s classes in 1989, it became clear to me that International Studies was “my thing”. What followed was a glorious, never ending stream of international experiences that transformed me in a few short years from a young Texas kid into a bilingual global citizen.

National Model U.N. Internship in D.C. Summer Symposium on Foreign Policy in Washington. A year abroad in Madrid. Jan Term in Mexico. Fulbright applications. Coursework at Johns Hopkins S.A.I.S. And application and admission to the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in Boston, with much appreciated assistance and guidance from Shelly.

Facebook is full of Roos who I know or believe experienced what international study had to offer at AC. Below is a partial list; I’m sure I’ve let others out. If so, leave a comment and please tell your story!

Meredith Clayton Allen Stephen Sides Phil Novicki Shannon Harpold Hutcheson Alessandra Hernandez Allen Brittany Fowler Norman Jennifer Leonard Reggie Smith Liesl Thompson Jones Richard Gudmundsen Erika Keough Susan Raine Anna Slaughter Pruitt Whitney Smith Tina Cook David Rogers Jennifer Jacoby Ramberg

Shelly’s work continues today through endeavors such as the Osgood Center for International Studies.


My professional interests eventually took a turn away from the international towards the technical. I’ve built a career over the past 16 years working at the University of Texas in the shadow of the very UT Tower Whitman made infamous. For me personally, the Tower is a wonderful sight. In addition to my life’s work, it is also the exact place where I met my future wife and asked her out on our first date. For us, the Tower simply makes us smile and reminds us of simpler times.

The events 50 years ago are worth remembering. But at the same time, the mind wants to move on to more pleasant topics. That’s why I’m writing today. If I recall correctly, Shelly was a lineman on the Odessa Permian football team before his days at UT & AC. That fact, combined with his tenure in Sherman, is surely deserving of an Austin College sports story dedication. And boy do I have just the Roo Tale to tell.

This week’s Roo Tale is dedicated to Dr. Shelton Williams. Thank you, Shelly, for opening up the world to this Roo and so many other AC graduates. Go Roos!

Chapter 1: Miles and Miles of Texas
Chapter 2: The Rhode Less Traveled
Chapter 3: A League of His Own
Chapter 4: United #RooNations

David Rogers, Jennifer Leonard, Reggie Smith, your humble author, and Tina Cook representing AC during NMUN in 1990…

The 1990 AC NMUN delegation. Apparently my awesome camera that year was actually a toaster…

Chapter 1: Miles and Miles of Texas

At the turn of the century, collegiate athletics was an unorganized free-for-all associated with less than savory elements. And college administrators finally decided to do something about it.

In 1909, the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA) was created to organize and administer collegiate athletics at Texas colleges. It was the first athletic conference in Texas, and the oldest west of the Mississippi. Older than the SWC, older than the SEC, older than the PAC-8.

The founding members were the Texas heavyweights:

University of Texas
Texas A&M
Austin College

Track and field in the early 20th century was the third most popular support behind football and baseball, and the TIAA schools began to compete in an annual meet. The 1910 TIAA meet was held in Sherman, TX.

It should come as no surprise that the larger state and private schools dominated team track and field during this era, and Texas A&M won the 1910 meet going away. The Aggies placed first in almost every event that day.


Clyde Eagleton was born to run. The Sherman native and Austin College track star participated in multiple races for the Roo track team. But his strongest race by far was the mile. On that pleasant spring day in May, nobody would catch him. Eagleton finished the TIAA Mile Run with a winning time of 4:59.6, beating out two Aggies for gold. Yes, over a half century before Roger Bannister would become the first human to break the 4 minute barrier, AC’s Eagleton was one of a very few number of elite runners able to run a mile in a time starting with “4”.

In 1911, Eagleton would be back for the Roos. And the big boys in Austin and College Station were gunning for him. That year’s TIAA meet was held at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field, and state interest was high. Would the Aggies beat out the Horns for the TIAA championship? And, could anyone catch Eagleton?

Texas A&M would just barely edge the Horns to win the 1911 meet. But nobody could chase down the Roo.

Eagleton broke it open in the third lap at Kyle Field and never looked back, leaving a group of Aggies, Horns, Baylor Bears, and Southwestern Pirates in his wake. He crossed the finish line at Kyle Field with a new Texas collegiate record time of 4:55.6. The big schools would once again settle for second. See article from the Bryan Daily Eagle.

Clyde Eagleton. Fastest collegian in the state of Texas.

Eagleton graduated from AC that same year, and like many a Roo student-athlete he turned his sites to academic pursuits. And how.

The 1911 TIAA Track Meet at Kyle Field. A&M would edge out UT overall, but nobody would track down the Roo.

I’ve been told the stadium has grown a bit…

The 1910 TIAA Track Meet in Sherman. Just as in 1911, Eagleton wins the mile going away….

Clyde Eagleton…fastest collegian in the state.

Chapter 2: The Rhode Less Traveled

A century’s worth of work was all coming unraveled.

After Napoleon’s defeat, European statesmen had gathered at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 in an attempt to ensure that the anarchy of the French revolution and conquest would not occur again. The Concert of Europe which followed for the next half century did just that. The balance of power diplomatic politics played by the European monarchs until the 1860s kept the continent stable and at peace for two generations.

Forces at work in the late 19th century, however, would slowly bring this era to an end. Industrialization, European colonization of the globe, and the rise of a dangerous and chaotic nationalism were to blame. Industrial prosperity in some parts of Europe but not others weakened balance. The scramble for colonies increased military tension. Nationalist movements that led to the reunification of Germany and Italy increased support for military adventurism. And war itself was becoming more destructive.

The “European civil wars” in the early 20th began in 1914. But their roots can be traced to the decades leading up to World War I, including Eagleton’s formative years. After Sherman, Eagleton was accepted to Princeton and soon found himself intensely interested in the study of international law.

His M.A. at Princeton eventually led to his application for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship, which he won in January 1914 (see article). Eagleton was off to Oxford. As an American in Europe, he would experience firsthand the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the mobilization of England into war, and the horrific mess that would follow. The anarchy of WWI changed him forever, and his studies received a vigorous boost of purpose.

Eagleton returned to the U.S. in 1917, just as his own country was heading east into the conflict. After earning a Ph.D. at Columbia in the 1920s, Eagleton was asked to become a part of the faculty at New York University. He would remain a professor of international law at NYU for three decades.

After securing an armistice in 1918, Woodrow Wilson’s proposals for a new post war international order were rejected by most Americans and U.S. governments that followed. Eagleton was not pleased.

Graduate Eagleton from the AC Chromascope

Track and Field at Trinity College, Cambridge at the time Eagleton was on scholarship at Oxford. From Chariots of Fire… 

Chapter 3: A League of His Own

Clyde Eagleton watched in dismay as United States participation in the new League of Nations was rejected by an inward looking Congress and a public which longed to put the rest of the world out of mind. As a Ph.D. candidate and then faculty member, Eagleton wrote prolifically on the need for the U.S. to play an active role in world affairs during the interwar period and rejoin the League. He was also a harsh critique of the League of Nations itself, which he claimed was being legally restrained from its mandate by member states themselves.

Eagleton was a strong proponent of international institutions promoting collective security backed by international law. While wary of national militarism, he was no dove. His writings almost always included a desire for a more muscular military response from member states acting through the League.

America’s allegiance to the principal of neutrality throughout the 1930s as Europe stumbled towards yet another war received a scathing response from Eagleton; he often referred to neutrality advocates in Congress as “morally bankrupt”. In Eagleton’s view, the greatest threat to international peace and security came from powerful rogue states. Such states could only be restrained through the military might of the international community acting legally, jointly, and forcefully.

If he wanted a rogue state example, he’d soon have it.

As early as 1933, Eagleton and other scholars were already writing about Germany and their concerns about its direction (see article). By 1939 before the outbreak of war, he was also publicly stating that only vigorous and immediate “international police action” had any hope of preventing conflict in Europe.

For the second time in his life, Clyde Eagleton had watched the world consumed by war. The international legal institutions for which he had advocated after the first war were too weak to effectively deal with the second. The second time around though, this Roo would no longer advocate. Instead, this Roo would build.

Eagleton slams American neutrality in the early 1930s…

…and reluctance to confront global agression in the late 1930s…

Chapter 4: United #RooNations

With the war still raging, Eagleton left the cozy confines of NYU academia for the first time in two decades. He knew the importance of the post war order still to be built, and joined the State Department in 1943 as an international legal expert. From there, he became a member of the U.S. delegation to the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in 1944 and the San Francisco Conference in 1945 which founded the League’s successor organization, the United Nations. Eagleton served as a technical expert and legal advisor.

The U.N. was successful where the League failed, in part thanks to the efforts of internationalists at State and in Congress. Eagleton was pleased, but only partially. In his opinion, the effectiveness of the U.N. was compromised as well. Its legal arm was too weak, and its military resources were too small. Above all, Eagleton was a critic of the Security Council veto provided to the five permanent members (US, UK, France, USSR, China). In Eagleton’s mind, the veto was a carte blanche for a future rogue state to avoid strong international collective action. He would spend much of the post war period fighting for a stronger U.N. and persuading a reluctant U.S. public to embrace its role in this new institution.

Clyde Eagleton passed away in 1958. He was inducted posthumously into the Austin College Athletic Hall of Honor in 1967 for his success on the track against the best competition Texas had to offer.

Before his passing, Clyde Eagleton was a visiting professor at a number of college campuses around the country. One of those campuses was the University of Texas. Roughly a decade before Shelly’s arrival and that tragic day on August 1, 1966, an Austin College Kangaroo was already there…….…discussing and debating the virtues of the very topic that would set Shelly on his course and influence all of us Roos who got a taste of this globe and wanted much, much more.

That’s how I choose to remember UT and the Tower on this anniversary. A place of AC-inspired international relations scholarship. A place where I first met the talented Dianne Parrish. And the home of some old UT Longhorn track stars who attempted…..and failed…..to chase down Clyde Eagleton on that warm spring day in 1911 at Kyle Field.

Go Roos!

Austin College & the UN, present at the creation…

Ever the internationalist, Eagleton says the new international order is “better but not nearly good enough”…

Clyde Eagleton (on right) with colleagues in the 1930s…

The Parrishes head to the top of the UT Tower, summer 2015. You can only do so by reservation and appointment…