Meet anthropologist and coffee master Ryan Fisher, Dedman College alumnus ’05, ’11

5280 Denver Magazine

Q&A: Commonwealth Coffee’s Ryan Fisher

Ryan Fisher, coffee expert and co-founder of the Park Hill roastery, chats about his love for the bean and taking second place at the inaugural NYC Coffee Masters Tournament.

The launch of the semiannual Coffee Masters Tournament in London and New York this year was certainly buzz-worthy. The worldwide competition (think: Iron Chef for java) invited 20 talented baristas from around the globe to compete onstage—foaming, swirling, and tasting their way to the top. Denver’s own Ryan Fisher, co-founder and co-owner of Commonwealth, took home second place in New York two weeks ago. Here, his thoughts on the competition and his love of everything coffee.

5280: What sparked your interest in the coffee world?

Ryan Fisher: I got into coffee when I was in graduate school at SMU. I was finishing up my PhD and needed a job, so a few friends and I messed around with coffee and realized we could do a lot with it. I ended up going to London to study coffee more in depth, and then came back to Dallas with that knowledge and made a pretty reputable cafe with those friends. In the end, I wanted a new adventure, so I sold my share back to them and moved to Denver to start Commonwealth. READ MORE

Greg Downs’ book challenges Appomatox ending to Civil War

Event At a Glance

What: Greg Downs, a leading Civil War and Reconstruction historian, will deliver a lecture inspired by his new book, After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War (Harvard University Press, 2015), followed by a Q&A and a book signing.

When: 6–8:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 14

Where: Dallas Hall, McCord Auditorium, 3225 University Boulevard

Sponsor: The SMU William P. Clements Depart of History


Dedman College Alumni Connection Series Kicks off October 15

SMU Alumnus Matt Alexander discusses the college lessons that launched his entrepreneurial career
Lecture will kick start Dedman College Alumni Connection Series

Originally Posted: October 6, 2015

DALLAS (SMU) – The SMU Dedman College Alumni Connection Series of lectures will launch its 2015-16 series in mid-October when alumnus and entrepreneur Matt Alexander ’10 takes the stage at Vester Hughes Auditorium in SMU’s Caruth Hall.

Alexander will discuss how the lessons he learned at SMU about innovation, English, computer science and fashion prepared him for his entrepreneurial career.

In 2013, Alexander founded his first online company, Need, as a “curated shopping” site aimed at young men with disposable incomes. In February, Alexander launched his second site, Foremost, which sells informal, Dallas-made clothing for men and women in their 20s.

The lecture will begin at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 15. The event is free and open to the public. READ MORE

‘Workers’ or slaves? Textbook maker backtracks after SMU alumna’s online complaint

Washington Post

Originally Posted: October 5, 2015

Mothers of teenagers are used to getting frustrating text messages, but the one that Roni Dean-Burren received from her 15-year-old son last week wasn’t about alcohol, dating or money for the movies.

It was about history.

Her son, Coby, had sent her a photo of a colorful page in his ninth-grade McGraw-Hill World Geography textbook. In a section titled “Patterns of Immigration,” a speech bubble pointing to a U.S. map read: “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”

“We was real hard workers wasn’t we,” Coby retorted in a subsequent text.

The image alarmed Dean-Burren, who was an English teacher for 11 years at the Pearland, Tex., public high school that her son attends. Now a doctoral candidate in the University of Houston’s Language Arts program, she has spent much of her life thinking about the power and dangers of nuanced language. The motive behind the textbook’s choice of words seemed clear.

“This is erasure,” Dean-Burren said in an interview with The Washington Post. “This is revisionist history — retelling the story however the winners would like it told.” READ MORE

Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences, New fossils intensify mystery of short-lived, toothy mammal found in ancient North Pacific

Originally Posted: October 6, 2015

The identification of a new species belonging to the marine mammal group Desmostylia has intensified the rare animal’s brief mysterious journey through prehistoric time, finds a new study.

A big, hippo-sized animal with a long snout and tusks — the new species, 23 million years old, has a unique tooth and jaw structure that indicates it was not only a vegetarian, but literally sucked vegetation from shorelines like a vacuum cleaner, said vertebrate paleontologist and study co-author Louis L. Jacobs, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. READ MORE

Spring Enrollment Event, Wednesday, October 21st

Sociology Department: Spring Enrollment Event

Wednesday, October 21st
11:00am- Noon and 3:00 pm- 4:00 pm in the Department Lobby, 3rd Floor Hyer Hall

Drop into a causal spring enrollment event to meet Faculty members (including three new faculty members), learn about course offerings for Spring 2016 and pick up a snack! Have questions about the major or classes? Our Undergraduate Advisor Professor DeArman will be there to answer your questions. Interested in Sociology, but not sure if adding a second major or a minor is feasible? Come talk to our Advisor and learn how many students have loved their second major.

RSVP to this Event by emailing Brita Andercheck at

Internship Development Seminar, Wednesday, October 14th

Department of Sociology: Internship Development Seminar

Wednesday, October 14th

4:30-5:30pm in Hyer Hall 104

Internships are key toward gaining relevant experience to land a job after graduation. Come to this seminar to learn about the Department’s plan to launch a semester long and summer version of a for credit internship class. Learn about previous internship placements and how to get started targeting a successful internship placement.

RSVP to this Event by emailing Brita Andercheck at


An event with Laura Fair: Transnational Media, Local Meanings: Kung Fu and Urban Youth in Post-colonial Tanzania

Event date: October 20, 2015

Event time: 3:00 PM

Talk Image

The 1971 release of Bruce Lee’s film, The Big Boss, inaugurated a frenzy of martial arts appreciation across the globe. What was it about Lee’s films and others in the genre that spoke to Tanzanians? And who exactly responded to the call? As Tanzanians appropriated these films how did they transform them?

Contact for more information:



Annika Rieger, a senior majoring in Sociology, receives an engaged learning research grant.

Annika Rieger receives a 2015 engaged learning research grant for her research project, “Students, Sustainability, and Schooling: Undergraduate Perspectives on Campus Initiatives.” In this project Annika will be exploring how participating in coursework on the Taos campus leads to changes in environmental attitudes and behaviors among undergraduate students. Debra Branch, senior lecturer in Sociology, is her faculty mentor.