SMU students in Paris report they are safe; SMU monitoring situation

SMU News

Originally Posted: November 14, 2015

SMU has heard from all 11 of its students studying in Paris that they are safe. The SMU Travel Oversight Committee is closely monitoring the situation and is receiving updates from the U.S. State Department and International SOS.

SMU community members abroad are asked to be aware that France has declared a national state of emergency and has tightened its borders. On Saturday, November 14, the U.S. Embassy in France issued a security message regarding the terrorist attacks: “Further incidents are possible. We strongly urge U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security, including limiting their movements to essential activity. U.S. citizens are encouraged to monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.” While airports and train stations remain open, travelers may expect delays due to heightened security measures.
All SMU Abroad students are covered by emergency travel assistance through I-SOS and may use the services of I-SOS worldwide during their term of study abroad. During SMU Abroad orientation, students received laminated cards with emergency phone numbers for I-SOS. I-SOS contact information also is available online at In addition, every SMU-approved study abroad program has its own emergency preparedness plan and protocols.

Students with concerns or questions are asked to contact the SMU Abroad Director, Dr. Cathy Winnie, at (214-768-4904) or SMU Assistant Chief of Police Jim Walters at (214-768-1586). Student safety is the highest priority of SMU and our partner study abroad programs. READ MORE

Anthropology Ph.D. candidate Kerri Brown receives prestigious Fulbright-Hays grant


Originally Posted: Nov. 12, 2015

SMU anthropology Ph.D. candidate Kerri Brown recently received a Fulbright-Hays international education fellowship to support 18 months of research in Brazil. Brown leaves for Rio de Janeiro in January to continue work on her dissertation about public policy related to traditional medicinal plants in Brazil.

In Brazil, home to nearly one-fourth of the world’s plant species, many groups within the country have long relied on medicinal plants for basic health care. Pharmaceutical companies also use South American plants to create medications such as quinine for malaria and beta blockers for cardiovascular disease. But local groups’ knowledge of the natural world and pharmaceutical companies’ desire to better understand and export untapped resources has created a conflict resulting in international regulation, Brown says.

“I am interested in how international policy affects various communities’ uses of medicinal plants,” Brown says. “The regulation of medicinal plants is often a point of conversation for larger issues in Latin America, such as deforestation, biopiracy and the rights of marginalized people.”

Brown first became interested in Brazil as an undergraduate at the University of Texas in Austin. A psychology and anthropology major, she studied abroad in Rio de Janeiro and volunteered at Criola, an organization that seeks to empower Afro-Brazilian girls and women to become agents of change. At Criola she became interested in women’s access to health care and use of traditional medicine.

As part of her fellowship, Brown will spend nine months in Rio de Janeiro and then travel to Oriximiná, a small town in the Amazon, to continue her research.

“The Fulbright-Hays fellowship will give me so much flexibility,” Brown says. “It will enable me to travel, attend regional conferences and meet with other researchers in Brazil.”

The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded $4.4 million in Fulbright-Hays grants aimed at increasing understanding between the United States and the rest of the world. Brown is one of 86 scholars nationwide to receive funding through the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad project.

Substance Over Buzz? A working paper by a group of DCII graduate fellows on interdisciplinary job ad analysis suggests some jobs aren’t truly interdisciplinary.

Inside Higher Ed

Originally Posted: October 27, 2015

Is true interdisciplinary work becoming more common, or is it simply a buzzword — or, perhaps worse, a trumped-up name for flexible academic labor? That’s what a group of graduate students at Southern Methodist University wanted to know, so they took what data were available to them — job ads — and analyzed them for possible answers.
They determined that ads for interdisciplinary academic jobs privilege teaching over interdisciplinary expertise, and that the jobs that appear truly interdisciplinary tend to be at institutions that have dedicated centers for such work. READ MORE

Nov. 10, Lunch and Lecture by Yehuda Leby-Aldema, “Not By Words Alone”

Event Date: November 10, 2015

Event time: Noon-1:30p.m.

Israeli artist Yehuda Levy-Aldema’s presentation visually explores biblical texts beyond the traditional written word. A native of Jerusalem, Levy-Aldema has been working in a variety of media since 1982, when he graduated from Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Fine Arts. His most recent work in the Ukraine, at the Odessa Jewish Community Center, produced a community art project focused on community identity. RSVP to by Nov. 5.

Presented by: Jewish Studies and Perkins School of Theology’s Global Theological Education

Paul Abraham, DFW Schweitzer Fellow, Regaining control, one faithful step at a time

October 15, 2015 


Paul Abraham, Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Schweitzer Fellow and second-year medical student at UT Southwestern, is deeply passionate about serving others. In his decision to develop a smoking cessation program for the men of Calvert Place Men’s Shelter on the west side of Dallas, Abraham hopes to help stave off not just the physical effects of smoking, but also help the men cope with the significant stress of their daily lives and take a more preventative approach to their health.

Abraham’s choice to serve a population experiencing homelessness is one close to his heart. Previously, he volunteered with MissionYear near downtown Chicago, where he spent 24 hours living as though he was homeless. Abraham elaborated, “Reflecting back on that experience, I still remember how devalued I felt. I would call out asking for change to individuals who wouldn’t acknowledge my existence or would suddenly become so absorbed in their smartphones that I realized that my presence was burdensome to them—it made them feel insecure and unsure of how to respond…No person deserves to feel like they are less than human.” READ MORE

The Dallas-Fort Worth Schweitzer Fellowship Program, housed in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, carries forward the legacy of Nobel Peace Prize recipient and humanitarian-physician Albert Schweitzer.

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