A conversation with author Fiston Mwanza Mujila. 2 p.m. today

The Department of World Languages and Literatures, Dedman College Dean Thomas DiPiero and the Cultural Service at the French Embassy host: A conversation with author Fiston Mwanza Mujila.

2 p.m. today (Friday, Oct. 2) in room 100 of Hyer Hall, 6424 Robert S. Hyer Lane, on the SMU campus.


Dean Dipiero discusses new Harper Lee novel

SMU Daily Campus

Originally Posted: September 10, 2015

On Wednesday, Sept. 2, dean Thomas DiPiero of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences hosted a lecture discussing Harper Lee’s newest novel “To Go Set A Watchmen.”

To celebrate the 55th anniversary of her Pulitzer Prize winning novel “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Lee released the story’s ‘prequel’ in July. The 1960’s classic is one of the most influential American novels of its time; it has sold over 40 million copies and has been translated into 40 different languages.

The cultural and social issues that create Lee’s first novel lead experts like DiPiero to believe that it is important to read “To Kill A Mockingbird” again as an adult. Although it is a required reading in nearly 70 percent of our country’s junior high and high schools, he says that, “the simplicity in how Scout explains such complex issues such as racism and murder is what makes Lee’s novel so brilliant, but also much more complicated than we may first understand.”

In “To Go Set A Watchmen,” Scout returns as the narrator, but is 20 years older and has moved from the small southern town to New York City. Although it was one of the most highly anticipated book releases of all time, many readers have criticized “Watchmen” for destroying so many aspects that made Lee’s first novel so brilliant.

DiPiero argues that “Watchman” is not a failed attempt to recapture the essence of “Mockingbird,” but rather a depiction of how times have changed in the characters’ lives and in the society in which we live.

DiPiero adds that “To Kill A Mockingbird” was written in first person, from the ironic perspective of a child who knows more than she should, leaving us as readers to fill in the gaps.”

Contrastingly, “To Go Set A Watchman” is written from the third person perspective, which DiPiero believes “is a voice that tells us, rather than shows us how characters think and act.”

So, even though “Watchman” may not become the groundbreaking book that “Mockingbird” is, DiPiero acknowledges Harper Lee’s ability to challenge her readers to question what we know and who we think we are, as every good author should. READ MORE

Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ analyzed by Dean DiPiero


Originally Posted: July 14, 2015

Dr. Tom DiPiero, Dean of Dedman College at Southern Methodist University answered some of the WGN Morning News Crew’s questions about the sequel to the American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.” WATCH

Thomas DiPiero, Dedman College Dean, reviews author Harper Lee’s new book Go Set a Watchman ahead of its release this week

New York Post

Originally Posted: July 12, 2015

Forget the controversies – ‘Go Set a Watchman’ is worth reading
By Thomas DiPiero

It’s strange to think of Scout, eternally a 10-year-old desperado, as an adult. Strange to think that Jem is dead. Strange to think that “Go Set a Watchman,” the original draft of the book that became the classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” exists at all.

And most of all, it’s strange to read that Atticus Finch, the moral compass and hero of “Mockingbird,” is a racist.

“Boycott the book!” some commentators cry. Should have never been published, other critics say.

But to me, Atticus’ complexity makes “Go Set a Watchman” worth reading. “Mockingbird” was written through the eyes of a child. “Watchman” is the voice of a clear-eyed adult. READ MORE

Professors receive tenure, promotions effective in 2015-16



Congratulations to the Dedman College faculty members who are newly tenured as associate professors or have been promoted to full professorships to begin the 2015-16 academic year.

The following individuals received tenure or promotion effective Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015.

Recommended for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor:

Angela Ards, English
Greg Brownderville, English
Justin Fisher, Philosophy
Matthew Keller, Sociology
Matthew Lockard, Philosophy
Daniel Moss, English
Nia Parson, Anthropology
Christopher Roos, Anthropology
Stephen Sekula, Physics
Alicia Zuese, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)

Recommended for promotion to Full Professor:

Thomas Coan, Physics
Darryl Dickson-Carr, English
Robert Kehoe, Physics
Francisco Morán, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
Tony Ng, Statistical Science
Sherry Wang, Statistical Science

New courses help students shape ethical dialogue in variety of fields

DALLAS (SMU) – Nine new courses to be taught at SMU beginning this fall aim to address real-world ethical challenges from the political science realm to the video game industry.

With $128,000 in grants from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility, many of the 25 faculty members who developed the courses or have sponsored ethics-focused research grants gathered March 19-22 in Taos for a ethics course development and writing workshop.

“We have long felt that professors are among the most influential people in a student’s college life. If their professors write about, talk about and teach ethics, students will see ethics as important and worthy of attention,” says Maguire Center Director Rita Kirk.

The grants are part of a half-million dollar, five-year incentive award offered by the Maguire Center to professors for course development and research publishing. (For recipients, see below.)

SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson says his course “Ethics of Revolution and Civil Disobedience” will reflect current political issues students see in everyday life.

“Ethical-issues discussions surrounding resistance to the state are especially timely, given the current debates over conscientious objections to vaccination, the Obamacare contraception funding mandate and same-sex marriage,” he says.

“As our society continues to become more and more diverse in its mix of religious and philosophical beliefs, a growing number of Americans will find that they have significant moral objections to some aspect of government policy,” Wilson says. “When are they duty-bound to subordinate their own consciences and obey, and when are they ethically permitted, or even obligated, to resist? That’s the core question this class will explore.”

SMU Religious Studies Professor G. William Barnard will guide students through the complexities of world religions “to more consciously articulate and address difficult moral issues within the matrix of their own lives,” he says. READ MORE

Students honor Dedman College professors’ excellence with 2015 HOPE Awards

SMU’s Department of Residence Life and Student Housing honored 45 exceptional University educators, 26 Dedman College professors, at the 2015 HOPE Awards Banquet.

HOPE (Honoring Our Professors’ Excellence) Award recipients are named through student staff member nominations as professors who “have made a significant impact to our academic education both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Congratulations to all of the Dedman College 2015 HOPE Award honorees:

Adriana Aceves, Mathematics
Paul Avey, Tower Center for Political Studies
Greg Brownderville, English
David Michael Crow, Psychology
LeeAnn Derdeyn, English/Discernment and Discourse
Melissa Dowling, History/Classical Studies
John Duca, Economics
James K. Hopkins, History
Vanessa Hopper, English
Matthew Keller, Sociology
Michael Lattman, Chemistry
David Lee, Anthropology
Judy Newell, Mathematics
Rachel Ney, World Languages and Literatures/French
Jennifer O’Brien, Chemistry
Wei Qu, World Languages and Literatures/Chinese
Stephen Robertson, Statistical Science
Bivin Sadler, Statistical Science
Martha Satz, English
Sam Ross Sloan, English
Tom Stone, English
Thierry Tirado, World Languages and Literatures/French
Nick Tsarevsky, Chemistry
John Wise, Biological Sciences
Patty Wisian-Neilson, Chemistry
Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry


Dedman College student launches ESL class for custodial workers

Dallas Morning News

Originally posted: December 7, 2014

Ran Subba spends his days cleaning the facilities at Southern Methodist University. But on Friday nights, he can be found in the classroom.


He’s one of 13 campus custodians taking English lessons through a program launched by SMU student Jaime Sisson, a senior studying Spanish and education. Sisson said she started the course expecting most of her students were Spanish speakers. But, like Subba, many speak Nepalese.

“We cannot do anything without education,” Subba said. “I wanted to study ESL, but I didn’t know a place to go.”

Sisson’s class fills that need.

Subba moved to Dallas four years ago after spending 18 years as a refugee in Nepal. He’s originally from Bhutan. The 52-year-old Aramark employee first started practicing English with a friend on the job because he couldn’t understand his supervisor, Subba said.

“If I can understand more English, and if I can read more English, I can do anything,” he said.

Subba said he hopes learning English can help him land a job as a supervisor or even a translator. Sisson, 23, says she wants to help custodial workers like Subba achieve their goals.

“I just saw a need, and I wanted to help my community,” Sisson said. “They basically want to improve their life and their job.”

Sisson teaches the class through the Engaged Learning and Caswell Leadership programs, two SMU programs that fund independent student projects. She said she had to alter her initial teaching plans after she realized that many of her students weren’t Spanish speakers. READ MORE

Graduate student reception scheduled for September 25

Welcome Back Graduate Student Reception flyer[1]

SMU names new dean of Dedman College, its largest school

Thomas-DiPiero-10june2014Dallas Morning News: Thomas DiPiero is Southern Methodist University’s new dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, university officials announced Tuesday. READ MORE HERE