Cal Jillson, Political Science, Campus carry in Texas: At what cost?

The Star Telegram

Originally Posted: September 18, 2016

The predictions last year were ominous.

Allowing concealed handguns on Texas college campuses could create conflict and cost around $50 million over the next few years.

But now, more than a month since campus carry became law, the only real cost — just a fraction of the original projections — has been to put up signs on college campuses statewide letting people know where licensed Texans may not carry concealed guns.

“This has been much ado about nothing,” said state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Tomball, who authored campus carry. “When I laid the bill out, one of my arguments was that there’s no justification that this could cost that much money.”

Officials say there haven’t been any problems with campus carry, which went into effect Aug. 1, although there was one incident recently where a gun accidentally discharged in a Tarleton State University dorm. There were no injuries.

As for the overall cost, statewide totals aren’t available.

But a Star-Telegram survey of colleges in Tarrant County shows that officials spent less than $20,000 putting the new law in place locally.

“With campus carry costs, it was a policy debate,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “Each side gave the furthest edge number that would support their position.

“Those who had reservations about campus carry in general estimated high on the cost,” he said. “It was an attempt to get the Legislature to think seriously about this and back off or give campuses more flexibility.” READ MORE

Fondren library closed Saturday, September 17th

Fondren Library will be closed this Saturday, September 17th for Game Day. Regular hours will resume Sunday September 18th at Noon. READ MORE 

Questions of health and trustworthiness, removing moderators from debates, and the ‘deplorables’

SMU News

Originally Posted: September 13, 2016

Below is an excerpt from an SMU press release. READ MORE

Jeffrey A. Engel



On the history of candidate health as an issue in presidential politics…

  • “It’s really interesting to me as a historian that it doesn’t take much, as we’ve seen from Trump’s campaign, to make an insinuation into a story. We saw that in particular in 1988 when the George H.W. Bush campaign basically floated the idea that Michael Dukakis was mentally unstable, with no evidence – Reagan even said ‘I’m not going to pick on an invalid.’ And all the issues occurred with John McCain in the 2000 primary against George W. Bush, when a whisper campaign asked, ‘Do you really want a man who’s been tortured five years in charge of nukes?’ Health is the perfect embodiment of an issue that can be raised without any evidence and, as long as it’s in people’s minds, you have to defend against it, and there’s no defense against an issue that’s not real.”

On the impact that questions about a candidate’s health can have on an election…

  • “I think it had a tremendous impact in 1988. The (George H.W.) Bush campaign did a remarkable job painting Dukakis as weak, out of touch politically with the mainstream and, over time, as out of touch with reality. Those were things Dukakis was unable to contend with. What’s important to note from 1988 is that was also a race that got way down into the mud, like this one, and it produced remarkably low voter turnout. One lesson you can draw is that you can drive voters away from the polls, but that doesn’t mean you’re driving up enthusiasm for your own presidency.”

Engel is director of the SMU Center for Presidential History. He can discuss:

  • comparisons to past presidential races
  • foreign policy
  • presidential rhetoric



Matthew Wilson



On the impact questions of a candidate’s health can have on an election…

  • “The presidency is a high-stress, demanding job. For that reason, voters put fair scrutiny on whether the candidates are up to the physical and mental stamina requirements. Questions of the health of a candidate also put more focus on the running mate, and whether that person is seen as a capable and palatable person to assume the office if necessary. Both Clinton and Trump are fortunate that they picked solid people for their running mates.”
  • “One thing to keep in mind: Hillary and Trump are two of the oldest candidates to ever seek the presidency. For that reason, there will be more focus on their health.”

On what’s the bigger issue, Clinton’s health, or her breach of trust in being honest about it…

  • “This episode serves to reinforce the notion that Clinton’s natural instincts are not to be open and transparent. Her natural instinct is to conceal, obfuscate, deceive and to only come clean when her hand is forced. If, in fact, it’s true that she has pneumonia, it’s just mind boggling she didn’t come forward and say that. Particularly with this question about her health. Not revealing she has pneumonia until she has to because she collapsed at an event reinforces the idea she’s not forthcoming.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science. He can discuss:

  • religion and politics
  • political psychology
  • voting behavior of religious voters
  • public opinion and politics


SMU climbs to 56 in U.S. News & World Report rankings

SMU News

Originally Posted: September 13, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU rose to its highest ranking among the nation’s universities in the 2017 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges, released online today.

Among 220 institutions classified as national universities, SMU ranks 56, up from 61 a year ago.

The new ranking again places SMU in the first tier of institutions in the guide’s “best national universities” category. In Texas, only Rice University ranks higher. SMU and the University of Texas-Austin were tied.  Among private national universities, SMU ranks 39.

SMU’s increase was one of the five largest among the top 100 universities. Since 2008, SMU’s 11-point increase is one of the four largest among schools in the top 60.

For the rankings, U.S. News considers measures of academic quality, such as peer assessment scores and ratings by high school counselors, faculty resources, student selectivity, graduation rate performance, financial resources and alumni giving. SMU ranks 24 among all national universities in alumni giving at 25 percent.

In other ranking categories, SMU ranks 32 as one of the best national universities for veterans.

“It is gratifying for SMU to be recognized for its positive movement among the best national universities,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The ranking is an example of the momentum of the Second Century Campaign and the University’s Centennial Celebration.

“We appreciate external recognition of our progress and believe it’s valid, but we also know that rankings do not portray the whole picture of an institution and its strengths. We encourage parents and students to visit the institutions they are considering for a firsthand look at the academic offerings, the campus environment and the surrounding community to best gauge a university.”

The rankings of 1,374 institutions, including national universities, liberal arts colleges, regional colleges and regional universities, are available now online and on newsstands Sept. 23. Find the “Best Colleges 2017” guidebook in stores Oct. 4. READ MORE


Local Veterans Service Group Praises Former Governor Rick Perry’s Newest Role

CBS News

Originally Posted: August 30, 2016

DALLAS (CBS11) – After serving as Texas’ longest-serving Governor and running for President twice, Rick Perry is now stepping out in a new direction: reality TV.

Starting next month, he’ll be a contestant on Dancing With The Stars.

It’s another example of politics and entertainment crossing paths – this time on the dance floor.

As the former Governor knows, the Texas two-step is both a dancemove, and the old method for the Democratic primary in the Lone Star State.

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson joked, “He (Perry) never did the Texas 2-step. Not politically. He may have done the dance move. Anita (Perry) would know better than I.”

Perry announced his new role in a tweet saying, “I’m dedicated to helping veterans, however possible, and I’m going to use Dancing with the Stars as a stage to do that.”

In a statement Perry said, “I’m excited to have some fun, dance, and probably get into the best shape I’ve been since I served in the Air Force.”

Donna Cranston of Coppell is praising Perry for highlighting veterans.

“The government is not taking care of them adequately and if he’s going to do it, then I welcome it,” said Cranston.

Cranston founded the Defenders of Freedom, an organization that has helped post 9-11 injured veterans and those transitioning back home for 12 years.

She says veterans are not victims and that all she wants is that they receive what they deserve and have earned.

In her small office, there are dozens of photos of the veterans she and her organization have helped.

Cranston knows the story behind every picture.

“We’ve kept many alive. I’ve got a handful of guys I can tell you right now that are alive today because of the help we gave them,” said Cranston.  “We’ve kept them in their homes. We’ve not let them become homeless.”

She says one problem is that it takes a long time for veterans to receive their benefits once they leave the military. “They’re waiting months for their benefits. Months. Seven, eight, nine months for some of these guys and gals.”

As for Perry, Jillson says he is embracing his new role.

“Putting veterans front and center is a bonus for him. He’ll also be in the public view and if he decides to do something later, that will help him,” said Jillson.

Perry has said if Donald Trump wins, he’s willing to serve in his administration — perhaps as Secretary of VA. READ MORE

Oh, the places Dedman College students will go… (after graduation)!

Dedman College graduate employer list

Welcome to the Class of 2020

SMU News

Originally Posted: August 22, 2016

Following you will find Class of 2020 PhotoMaking the Class of 2020 PhotoOpening Convocation scenesOpening Convocation speechCamp Corral scenes“Discover Dallas” scenes“Discover Dallas” StorifyCorral Kick-OffMove-In video and scenes, and AARO.

SMU Class of 2020 Photo

SMU Class of 2020

Calendar Highlights: Back to school in brief, Fall 2016

Dallas Hall at SMU

Welcome to the 2016-17 academic year! Here are a few Fall 2016 dates to remember:

  • Opening Convocation and Common Reading discussion: Sunday, Aug. 21
  • First day of classes: Monday, Aug. 22
  • General Faculty Meeting: Wednesday, Aug. 24
  • Labor Day: Monday, Sept. 5 (University offices closed)
  • First Faculty Senate Meeting of 2016-17: Wednesday, Sept. 7
  • Family Weekend: Friday-Saturday, Sept. 23-24
  • Fall Break: Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 10-11
  • Homecoming Weekend: Friday-Saturday, Nov. 4-5
  • Thanksgiving: Thursday-Friday, Nov. 24-25 (University offices closed, no classes on Wednesday, Nov. 23)
  • Last day of classes: Monday, Dec. 5
  • Reading days: Tuesday-Wednesday, Dec. 6-7
  • Final exams: Thursday-Wednesday, Dec. 8-14 (no exams scheduled for Sunday)
  • December Commencement Convocation: Saturday, Dec. 17 (official close of term and date for conferral of degrees)
  • Christmas/Winter Break: Friday, Dec. 23, 2016-Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 (University offices closed)


Trump smartly ditches Manafort. Is this the pivot?


The following is an excerpt from an SMU news release.



Friday’s announcement that Trump had accepted the resignation of former campaign chair Paul Manafort was a wise move, says Wilson, but more action than that will be needed to turn the election around.

“Bringing Manafort on board has not seemed to fix any of the Trump campaign’s problems. It’s bad optics for a campaign that emphasizes themes of patriotism, nationalism and American pride to have a guy so deeply involved in Russian and Russian-allied dictators in such a prominent role,” Wilson says “Cutting ties now, from Trump’s standpoint, should make the story go away, but Trump has many other things to worry about.”

Wilson points out that Trump made a smart follow-up move by travelling to the flooded regions of Louisiana, which could indicate his new advisors are getting their unruly candidate pointed in the right direction.

“The fact that Trump perceives this is a major disaster and that people down there could use some support and attention – that speaks well for him and that’s a real contrast from Obama vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard,” Wilson say. “If his new team advised him to do that … It shows him being thoughtful, empathetic, presidential.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science. He can discuss:

  • religion and politics
  • political psychology
  • voting behavior of religious voters
  • public opinion and politics