Sage advice for 2015 graduates

Advocate

Originally Posted: May 24, 2015

Danny Heitman’s “At Random”: Sage advice for 2015 graduates

We’re coming to the end of commencement season, that time of year when sage advice blooms from graduation podiums across America. Nothing I’ve heard this month, though, sounds any wiser than a speech by Willard Spiegelman to students at his home campus, Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Spiegelman has taught English at SMU for many years, and he also edits The Southwest Review — a small journal, published four times a year, that’s full of good ideas. Spiegelman’s teaching and editing seem like enough to fill a life, but he’s also written about art and culture for The Wall Street Journal.

In 2011, the newspaper sent Spiegelman to Louisiana to write about the Audubon collection at LSU’s Hill Memorial Library. I took him to dinner, not quite knowing what to expect. I’d followed Spiegelman’s work in The Journal and liked it a lot, but writers aren’t always as charming in person as they are in print. The French have a warning about this. As their proverb goes, the difference between reading a writer and meeting a writer can be like eating duck pâté, then meeting the duck.

Spiegelman is, luckily, as warm and engaging in person as he is on the page. Which is why, when I recently stumbled on a video of Spiegelman’s 2014 speech at SMU, I knew I had to watch.

“I can’t tell you how to make the world a better place, and I’m not going to give you any inspirational lessons, and I hope you all hug one another,” he tells students, “but I’m here today to speak on behalf of selfishness, and I’ll tell you why.”

Selfishness? That’s an odd virtue to be promoting among young minds freshly trained with a university education — and now ready, presumably, to give back. But Spiegelman is talking about selfishness of a special sort: the capacity to close out the rest of the world, if only briefly, so that you can truly know yourself.

That kind of reflection requires quiet, a commodity in scarce supply these days. “Always carry earplugs,” Spiegelman tells his young audience. “We live in a world which is so inundated with noise. Do we need CNN in airports? Can you find a restaurant without music? Can you find a restaurant without people screaming? Difficult to do. Always, always carry earplugs.”

Spiegelman offers one other rule for living: “Never go anywhere without a book. Not an iPod, not a Kindle — a book. Because if the power fails, or, if you are trapped by the side of the road waiting for Triple A to come get you, you can read a book.”

Why read? For Spiegelman, the answer is simple: “Books can change a life. They will not change the world, but they might change you.”

There you have it. Always carry earplugs in case the world gets too noisy. And try to keep a book handy to continue your education. If there’s better advice for this year’s graduates, I haven’t found it. READ MORE

Danny Heitman is on Twitter, @Danny_Heitman.

Joseph F. Kobylka, Political Science, “The Law, the Constitution, and Obergefell v. Hodges.”

7 p.m.
June 4, 2015
Dedman Life Sciences Building
Harold Jeskey Lecture Hall, Room 131
SMU

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Joseph F. Kobylka, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Undergraduate Studies will discuss the impact of the pending case and imminent decision being made by the Supreme Court for same sex couples in Texas and around the nation. Following his presentation, he will take questions from the audience and lead discussion. Professor Kobylka teaches a course on the Supreme Court titled “Law, Politics, and the Supreme Court.” Over spring break earlier this year he took his students to Washington DC to visit the Supreme Court.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Deadline Looms for Texas Senate

KTRK News Radio

Originally Posted: May 18, 2015

The Texas Senate faces a Friday deadline much like the House did last week which killed many top-priority bills for both parties, such as raising the criminal age of responsibility, direct sales for Tesla and expanding gay rights.

No measure is completely dead, they can still be tacked onto other legislation. Those that failed include a bill prohibiting same-sex marriage licenses in Texas.

“Its up to the leadership of both the House and Senate to be sure the critical bills, like the budget and like tax cuts or border security, are considered even at the expense of lots of other important legislation,” says SMU political science professor Cal Jillson.

House Republicans were able to push through tighter restrictions for minors seeking an abortion along with other controversial bills.

“Graduating seniors in Texas high schools no longer have to pass 15 exams, no longer have to pass even five,” says Dr. Jillson. “The fracking ban has already been passed, but the bills that have not yet passed but must, the most important is the budget.”

If not in June, lawmakers know they’ll likely be back for special session.

“The Texas Supreme Court will likely order the Texas Legislature to provide more money to public schools, so the legislature will have to come into special session to consider how to comply,” says Jillson.

READ MORE

Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia: Why the Saudi King Snubbed President Obama

Time

Originally Posted: MAy 15, 2015

By Robert W. Jordan

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has declined an invitation to participate in President Barack Obama’s Gulf summit meeting in Camp David this week. Both the United States and Saudi Arabia are working to minimize the fallout from this decision, but from the Saudi standpoint, this summit does not hold much attraction. Only two other heads of the Gulf states are attending. Two are in poor health, but the other non-attendees may be following Riyadh’s lead. Some of this reticence may derive from a festering series of policy disagreements that contribute to seriously frayed relations with the Gulf monarchies.

In their view, Obama was surprisingly willing to promote the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, declaring that it was time for him to go and insisting on being on the “right side of history.” Arab monarchs began to wonder whether, if this could happen to Mubarak, would this administration decide that they, too, were on the wrong side of history? They then witnessed the president’s about-face on Syria, backing away from even minimal military action against Bashar Al Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Most worrisome is the impending agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, which portends a closer American relationship with the perceived archenemy of the Gulf Arabs. Removing sanctions against Iran and freeing up billions in funds raises the threat level perceived by the Saudis and their neighbors, who fear a growing encirclement by Iran and its proxies, to say nothing of the prospect of a nuclear capable Iran that would dramatically change the balance of power in the Middle East. READ MORE

Professors receive tenure, promotions effective in 2015-16

DedmanCollegeRB

 

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

Seven Dedman College professors receive emeritus status in 2014-15

Congratulations to the following professors who received emeritus status in 2014-2015. The professors, and their dates of service:

buchanan

 

Christine Buchanan, Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1977-2015

 

CARTER

 

Bradley Kent Carter, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1970-2015

 

Cortese

 

Anthony Cortese, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1989-2015

 

habermanRichard Haberman, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1978-2015

 

 

Hopkins D11

 

James K. Hopkins, Professor Emeritus of History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1974-2015

 

ubelaker

 

John Ubelaker, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1968-2015

 

ben_wallace

 

Ben Wallace, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1969-2015

 

Steve Sekula, Physics, high-tech cancer treatment comes to North Texas

ABC DFW

Originally Posted: May 14, 2015

It’s one of the most high-tech advancements in the fight against cancer, but if you want to get the treatment in Texas, your only option is driving to Houston.

That’s all about to change.

Inside a new three-story facility in Irving, a team of physicists, engineers and medical doctors is working on a new tool to fight cancer, all directed by one of the leading radiation oncologists in the country.

“I found the proton therapy to be not only very effective, but our published reports on the toxicity profile, and patient satisfaction rates have been quite good,” medical director Dr. Andrew Lee explained.

Dr. Lee is leading the Texas Center for Proton Therapy — the first of its kind in North Texas. READ MORE

Geothermal energy conference May 18-20, 2015

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The SMU Geothermal Laboratory will host its seventh international energy conference and workshop on the main campus May 19-20, 2015. The conference is designed to promote transition of oil and gas fields to electricity-producing geothermal systems by harnessing waste heat and fluids from both active and abandoned fields.

More than 200 professionals – ranging from members of the oil and gas service industry, to reservoir engineers, to geothermal energy entrepreneurs, to lawyers – are expected to attend “Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields.”

Topics of discussion will include:

  • Power generation from flare gas
  • Power generation from waste-heat and geothermal fluids
  • Research updates on induced seismicity, as well as onshore and offshore thermal maturation
  • Play Fairway Analysis – a subsurface mapping technique used to identify prospective geothermal resources
  • Technology updates

Researchers from the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences will present results from their Fall 2014 Eastern North American Margin Community Seismic Experiment (ENAM CSE) research. In addition, equipment such as one-well systems, desalination and other new technologies will be explored. READ MORE

Why is oil and gas activity causing earthquakes? And can we reduce the risk?

The Conversation

Originally Posted: May 11, 2015

If you’ve been following the news lately, chances are you’ve heard
image-20150507-1212-1qgtj56about – or even felt – earthquakes in the central United States. During the past five years, there has been an unprecedented increase in earthquakes in the North American mid-continent, a region previously considered one of the most stable on Earth.

According to a recent report by the Oklahoma Geological Survey, Oklahoma alone has seen seismicity rates increase 600 times compared to historic levels.

The state has gone from experiencing fewer than two magnitude-three earthquakes per year to greater than two per day, the report found. Similarly, my home state of Texas has experienced a near 10-fold increase in magnitude-three earthquakes or greater in the past five years.

The recent uptick in earthquakes in Texas, Oklahoma and several other central US states raises an obvious question: What is causing all of this seismicity? READ MORE