The Center for Presidential History has become a hub for current, in depth and innovative research.


Originally Posted: April 19, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – When SMU’s Center for Presidential History (CPH) arrived on campus in 2012, Founding Director Jeffrey Engel had great expectations for bringing to life – and to Dallas – the detailed history of America’s chief executives.

In less than four years, CPH has become a hub for current, in depth and innovative research in presidential history. Through postdoctoral fellowships, on-campus writing fellowships, community engagement, a unique Collective Memory Project and publishing volumes based on its own work, the center provides a unique understanding of both history and public affairs. READ MORE

SMU recognizes outstanding achievement at 2015-16 Hilltop Excellence Awards, Honors Convocation

Congratulations to the Dedman College faculty and students who were recognized at the 2016 Awards Extravaganza on Monday, April 18.

Recipients of the Outstanding Professor Awards presented by the Rotunda yearbook include:

B. Sunday Eiselt, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies, Department of Anthropology
Laurence Winnie, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies, William P. Clements Department of History

Receiving the Extra Mile Awards, presented by Students for New Learning for graciousness and sensitivity to students with learning differences:

Sheri Kunovich, associate professor, Department of Sociology
• Laurie Nuchereno, adjunct lecturer, Department of Economics

For the full list of faculty, staff and student award recipients click here.



George Holden, Psychology, corporal punishment legal but “damaging”

Daily News

Originally Posted: April 15, 2016

Horrified viewers watched video of a Georgia principal paddling a 5-year-old boy as punishment — a legal but controversial action that has sparked a conversation about the effects of corporal punishment on children.

It is still legal to strike kids as a form of punishment in public schools in 19 states, primarily in the south and the west, despite research and experts’ views that it amounts to child abuse.

“I suspect this thing happens a lot. A lot of paddling goes on in small towns in Texas, and particularly in southern states,” George Holden, the chair of the psychology department at Southern Methodist University and the president of the U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children, told the Daily News.

The practice persists primarily in the south because of the heavy influence of religion, Holden added.

Students in states where it is legal received swats, spanks and slaps 166,807 times in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the most recent federal data. READ MORE

Professor Kunovich, Sociology, Recognized at Hilltop Excellence Awards Ceremony

Professor Sheri Kunovich received the Extra Mile Award from the Students for New Learning. Students for New Learning is an SMU-chartered student organization for students with ADHD or learning differences. The group meets monthly to provide support, learn tips and strategies, plan fun events, and works to increase campus understanding on the topic of learning differences.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, talks to KPMG Early Edition about Obama’s “biggest mistake”

Newstalk ZB

Originally Posted: April 13, 2016

Barack Obama believes he and British Prime Minister David Cameron allowed Libya to descend into chaos after the fall of Gaddafi.

The United States President has announced the United States’ lack of planning for the aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi’s ousting in Libya, is the ‘worse mistake’ of his presidency.

Texas Southern Methodist University Professor Cal Jillson agrees told Rachel Smalley the planning before and after, wasn’t executed very well between the two countries. LISTEN

James Hollifield, Political Science, Making Sense of the European Migration Crisis

SMU Political Science Professor James Hollifield, director of the Tower Center for Political Studies and a public policy fellow at the Wilson Center, talks about the migration crisis affecting Europe in the wake of the war in Syria and turmoil in the Middle East.

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Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center Announced

SMU News

Originally Posted: April 12 , 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU will expand its study of the important relationship between Texas and its cross-border neighbor by establishing the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center. The center will be part of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College and will work in collaboration with the Cox School of Business.

The center is made possible by a total commitment of $4 million from GRUMA-Mission Foods, a Mexican corporation based in Dallas. The corporation made a commitment of $1 million in September 2015 toward the establishment of the unique initiative, first called “The Texas-Mexico Program,” to begin researching and promoting policy-based discussion on the economic, political and social ties between Mexico and Texas.

An additional $3 million from GRUMA-Mission Foods will support the expanded reach of the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center, whose research programs will focus on such issues as trade, investment, dynamic economic sectors, government and political relations, human capital and security.

The additional gift was announced at an April 7 SMU conference featuring an address by Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. She noted that the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center will be pivotal to strengthening the links between industry and the academy, and called the effort a “public-private success story.”

“We share more in common than what divides us,” Ruiz Massieu said. “That’s why this program is so important. America is a beacon of liberty that represents a bridge of understanding, one not built by divisive rhetoric.”

“I’m sure the late Sen. John Tower would be pleased to know that the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center will be rooted in the academic center at SMU that carries his name,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Being able to partner with the Cox School, particularly through its Texas Economic Freedom Project, creates a strategic opportunity for improving relations between Texas and Mexico whose benefits can’t be overstated.”

GRUMA Chairman of the Board and CEO Juan Antonio González Moreno drew sustained applause from conference attendees when, in announcing the financial commitment, he said, “Today we are building bridges, not walls. Working together is the best way to find solutions to common challenges.”

The center will make public policy recommendations based on discussion and research on Mexico-U.S. economic, historic, political, social, and border issues through:

Production of original research, reports, and white papers
Binational, bilingual annual conferences
Academic seminars and public forums
Research conducted through the center will help to shape the growing economic relationship between North Texas and Mexico, between Texas and Mexico, and between the United States and Mexico. The research is expected to stimulate economic dialogue and integration among regions and states in Mexico and the U.S.

The expanded funding will enable SMU to recruit a recognized leader to direct the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center. The executive director will report to the dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, home of the Tower Center, and will travel regularly to Mexico to collaborate with partnering institutions and to present findings from center research projects.

Mexico’s Consul General Octavio Tripp noted the appropriate timing of the announcement, occurring during a presidential election season that includes debate on issues of immigration and border security. “This event is like a dream come true … especially at such a relevant time,” Tripp said. “The Center will allow for understanding in a systematic, holistic way.”

SMU and Dallas are at the geographic crossroads of the increasingly integrated market amplified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada. The city also is home to the greatest concentration of Fortune 100 companies in the United States outside of New York City. Texas exported to Mexico goods valued at more than $102 billion in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and imported from Mexico goods valued at over $90 billion for the same period.

“Clearly, the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center has the potential to significantly improve relations between neighbors who depend on each other,” said

Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. “We are grateful for the opportunity to make a real difference in international relations.” READ MORE

Joshua Rovner, Tower Center, Warring Tribes Studying War and Peace

War on the Rocks

Originally Posted: April 12, 2016

Forty years ago an intense controversy gripped the intelligence community over estimates of the Soviet strategic threat. Hardliners outside the community had complained that intelligence analysts were routinely underestimating Soviet capabilities and intentions because they relied on social science models that assumed rationality and reduced threat assessment to a bean counting exercise. What they should be doing, said critics, was looking harder at the intangible factors that provided a more comprehensive view of Moscow’s designs. The hardliners demanded that the intelligence community open its doors to outsiders who could form an alternative judgment based on the same classified information. READ MORE

Gender Gap in Political Knowledge Persists in Poland, New Research by Sheri L. Kunovich


After controlling for political interest, previous voting behavior, and socio-economic controls, women in Poland are found to be less knowledgeable than men about political leaders. However, religious attendance is found to increase women’s political knowledge but not men’s.

READ MORE about Sheri Kunovich

Neil Foley, History, How Mexican immigration helped make America great

The Australian Broadcasting Network

Originally Posted: March 28, 2016

The following is from the March 29, 2016, edition of The Australian Broadcasting Network. SMU History Professor Neil Foley provided expertise for this story.

Donald Trump has some seemingly simple strategies to stop many Mexicans migrating to the US, but the relationship between the two North American neighbours is a complex one. As Annabelle Quince explains, much of south-west America was once part of Mexico, and without Mexican labour the US agricultural industry would be in trouble.

It’s obvious from the names of some of America’s biggest cities that they have a Spanish-speaking heritage. Settlements like Santa Fe, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and San Diego fall within the swathes of south-west America that were colonised by Spain and were then, for centuries, part of Mexico. READ MORE