SMU Tower Center, Latino Center For Leadership Development Create Strategic Policy Institute

September 15, 2015

SMU-LCLD Sept152015_HJ
SMU’s John G. Tower Center for Political Studies and the Dallas-based Latino Center for Leadership Development (Latino CLD) announced a strategic new academic policy institute at SMU Sept. 15, the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Speakers at the kickoff event were, from left, Thomas DiPiero, dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; Jorge Baldor, Latino CLD founder and SMU alumnus (’93); Joshua Rovner, acting director of SMU’s Tower Center; and Miguel Solis, Latino CLD. [PHOTO CREDIT] Hillsman S. Jackson / SMU
DALLAS (SMU) – On the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month, SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies announced it has formed a strategic academic partnership with the Latino Center for Leadership Development (Latino CLD). The new Latino CLD-SMU Tower Center Policy Institute will identify and implement policy-focused solutions to the Latino community’s most pressing concerns, from educational and economic opportunities, to voting rights and immigration reform, to the under-representation of Latinos in elected and appointed roles at the federal, state and local levels, as well as corporate boards.

As part of this unique partnership, the Latino CLD will provide SMU’s Tower Center with $900,000 over five years. The funding will allow the new policy institute to attract and engage scholars and thought leaders in an interdisciplinary think-tank, creating a framework to analyze and develop policy priorities, provide public forums and outreach, and support greater understanding and influence for the Latino community.

“America is in the midst of a fundamental, Latino-driven demographic shift,” said Latino CLD founder and SMU alumnus Jorge Baldor ’93, citing Pew Research Center reports that Latinos will represent about 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2060. “With the growing number of Latinos comes a reciprocal responsibility to lead,” he said, adding, “Latino CLD is focused on developing the next generation of those leaders.” (For additional relevant data, see accompanying “Key Research Findings Underscore Need for Forward-Thinking Policy Planning Work.”)

“I’m pleased the Latino Center for Leadership Development and SMU are joining forces for a premier Latino policy institute. The research it produces will be an asset for policy makers, allowing for in-depth analysis and creation of policies that will improve the lives of people across Texas and throughout the nation.”

– Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

The Latino CLD-SMU Tower Center Policy Institute will work in three major areas:

  • Provide influential voices and data to support research on policy issues
  • Offer two-year appointments for postdoctoral scholars who will research and publish their findings on public policy issues
  • Provide research grants and public seminars to promote stronger community understanding and dialogue about key societal issues

The relationship between the new SMU policy institute and Latino CLD also will allow promising leaders, such as those within the Latino CLD’s new Leadership Academy, “to develop as individuals and hone network skills necessary to assume positions of influence” while focused on policy and politics to help people from all spectrums of society, Baldor said.

“The Latino CLD-SMU Tower Center Policy Institute will provide an excellent opportunity to combine our expertise to focus on contemporary policy matters of major interest to this country’s diverse, growing Latino community,” said Joshua Rovner, director of studies at the Tower Center in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities
and Sciences

“As a hub for social-scientific issues, we will play a major role in cutting through the cacophony of numbers related to the Latino community, letting us take big issues and quickly drill down to ideas for thoughtful solutions and policy implementation,”
Rovner said.

The announcement of the new policy institute follows on the heels of the Tower Center’s Sept. 8 launch of its new Texas-Mexico Program during Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s historic visit to Mexico.

“SMU is becoming a major presence in Latino-focused research and education,” said Thomas DiPiero, dean of Dedman College. “It’s also a propitious moment to bring new expertise and scholarship to bear both nationally and locally,” he said, noting that the Dallas-Fort Worth region, with 7 million people, is the nation’s fourth-largest population center, and growing rapidly.

“Looking ahead, the success of this institute will allow SMU and the Latino CLD to contribute vital public policy research while based in DFW — a U.S. political and economic center of gravity with strong global connections,” DiPiero said.

# # #

Click here for the full press release and key research findings.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

In the spirit of John Tower’s commitment to educate and inspire a new generation of thoughtful leaders, the Tower Center seeks to bridge the gap between the world of ideas, scholarship and teaching, as well as the practice of politics. The primary mission of the Tower Center is to promote the study of politics and international affairs and to stimulate an interest in ethical public service among undergraduates. The Tower Center is an academic center where all parties and views are heard in a marketplace of ideas, and the Center pursues its mission in a non-partisan manner.

Latino CLD is a privately funded foundation with a vision of developing future leaders with an understanding of Latino-focused policies and actionable items for solutions resulting from such partnerships as the Latino CLD–SMU Tower Center Policy Institute.

The three pillars of Latino CLD involve the annual Leadership Academy, which brings together national future leaders; a policy institute; and ongoing strategic initiatives to address critical current topics, including, which led bi-partisan efforts to preserve in-state tuition at Texas universities for all of the state’s residents.



Dedman College alum and Dallas’ newest billionaire, early failure set stage for success

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 13, 2015

Not that long ago, just out of SMU, Tom Dundon just wanted to run a good burger joint. In a 1994 review of his Fort Worth restaurant, Izzy’s, a food critic raved about the cheddar fries.

“The fresh potato fries peeking out from beneath the cheese blanket were greasy and delicious, two words I’d never expect to say in the same breath,” she wrote.

Still, the critic gave the place a rating of only 21/2 stars out of five and it closed within a year.

Lucky for Dundon.

In the two decades that followed, he helped build a pioneering company that provides auto loans to buyers with marginal credit, a business concept that became a spectacular success.

Called “brilliant” and “unique” by some who know him, Dundon mastered the intricacies of lending better than he did making burgers and quesadillas. Perhaps more important, he also understood the vital importance of cars to people trying to improve their lives. To them, a car means independence and more opportunity for work. READ MORE

Dedman College Alumni Celebrated at Homecoming

Congratulations to Dedman College alumni Bess Enloe ’60, finance educator and the Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters ’02, ’06, ’12. Mrs. Enloe will receive a Distinguished Alumni award while Rev. Waters will receive the University’s Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of an alumnus or alumna who has graduated in the past 15 years. READ MORE

Student draws inspiration from role in organizing national black fiction writer’s literary retreat

SMU News


DALLAS (SMU) — When SMU creative writing director David Haynes started planning this summer’s Kimbilio Literary Retreat, a weeklong excursion to SMU-in-Taos for African American fiction writers, he knew he’d need a helping hand.

Where to look? He quickly made up his mind to recruit help from his spring intermediate fiction writing class.

“Haynes offered me a work-study position because he needed help with the Kimbilio website and their social media platforms,” says 20-year-old interdisciplinary studies junior River Ribas. “I said, ‘I’m young. I can help you with that.’”

Ribas didn’t realize it then, but the job description would include a lot more than social media duty by the summer’s end. READ MORE

Dedman College Alumnus Junchang Lü ’04 Identifies Velociraptor Cousin, Maybe Weirder And Scarier Than Movies Imagine


LuFeatheredDinoSMU alumnus Junchang Lü ’04, one of China’s leading dinosaur experts, has helped identify a new dinosaur species – Zhenyuanlong suni – a cousin to the Velociraptor of Jurassic World fame and the newest clue as to how birds descended from dinosaurs.

The well-preserved fossil of a dinosaur with bird-like wings was unearthed by a farmer in northeastern China and eventually found its way to Lü, a top dinosaur researcher with the Institute of Geology at the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing. Lü called in Stephen Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh to aid in the identification process. The two scientists had teamed up previously in the discovery of Qianzhousaurus sinensis, a cousin of Tyrannosaur rex whose whose long snout earned it the nickname “Pinocchio rex.” READ MORE

Follow Christopher Kiahtipes, Ph.D. candidate in anthropology, on SMU Adventures blog

SMU Adventures

Updated: July 6, 2015

Christopher Kiahtipes is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. His work includes reconstructing past environments in tropical Central Africa to better understand the links between culture, ecology and climate. He is spending part of the summer in Europe to present his research at the 8th International Workshop on African Archaeobotany (IWAA) in Italy and to visit libraries and botanical collections at the University of Montpellier in France. READ MORE


SMU Adventures: Katherine, Maguire Fellow and Medical Anthropology grad student in San Francisco

Originally posted: June 25, 2015

Katherine is a graduate student in the medical anthropology program. She was awarded a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship for summer 2015 from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU for her research on struggles for LGBTQ immigrants in the San Francisco Bay area. READ MORE

Department of English Alumnus, Matt Alexander, featured in D Magazine


JUNE 2015

Made in Dallas
Fifty years ago, we were the nation’s third-largest garment center. Today, a new generation of entrepreneurs is putting those old sewing machines back to work.


Stubble-bearded, self-confident Matt Alexander, a 27-year-old Brit born of a Galveston mother, is on his way to becoming a titan of industry—or else he’s gathering material for a novel about failures in the start-up economy. After graduating with an English degree from SMU in 2010, he for a while held a communications job at Southwest Airlines. Then he founded a business consultancy before he took up daydreaming in the WELD co-op work space. Today he operates a company whose material assets consist of a few Apple laptops. The firm does, however, operate two websites that claim more than 250,000 registered users, and in May it attracted a $300,000 investment from several founders of CIC Partners, the private equity firm co-founded by Mayor Mike Rawlings. READ MORE

2015 Eugene and Millicent Goldschmidt Graduate Student Award

PhD graduate student, Tetiana Hutchison, has been selected to receive a 2015 Eugene and Millicent Goldschmidt Graduate Student Award  from the Texas Regional Branch of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).

Congratulations to her on winning this highly competitive award!

Dedman College students receive prestigious national fellowships and awards

Congratulations to the Dedman College students awarded prestigious national fellowships and awards during the 2014-15 academic year, including Fulbright Grants and a fellowship to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. These students include:

Fulbright Scholar:

Whitney Goodwin
Michaela Wallerstedt
Kandi Doming

Institute for Responsible Citizenship Scholar:

Garrett Fisher

Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress Presidential Fellow:

Tracy Nelson

National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Nicole Hartman