News

$3.78 million Department of Defense grant supports SMU STEM program for minority students

ECNmag.com

Originally Posted: July 20, 2015

The U.S. Department of Defense recently awarded the STEMPREP Project at Southern Methodist University a $3.78 million grant to support its goal of increasing the number of minorities in STEM fields. The grant follows a $2.6 million grant in 2014. According to a report just released from the Executive Office of the President, 21 percent of Hispanic men and 28 percent of black men have a college degree by their late twenties compared to nearly half of white men. The 2013 U.S. Census Bureau reports that African Americans make up 11 percent of the U.S. workforce but only 6 percent of STEM workers. Hispanics make up 15 percent of the U.S. workforce, but just 7 percent of the STEM workforce. READ MORE

Dedman College Alumna and Bumble Founder Whitney Wolfe on Shifting the Dating World and Never Quitting

LEVO

Originally Posted: July 16, 2015

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Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe has always called the shots. An entrepreneur since she was quite young (she had three companies before she graduated from Southern Methodist University), she was always “eager to start, to create, to do” and definitely be her own boss.

And that she has certainly done. One of the original founders of Tinder, Wolfe ventured out on her own last year to create a more intuitive dating app that put women’s needs (and steamy wants) first. And, no, for all the skeptics out there, she didn’t simply try to recreate Tinder for the ladies. In fact, the 26-year-old originally wanted to create a positive social platform for adolescent girls, but the idea of a women-centric dating app kept nagging at her. READ MORE

Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ analyzed by Dean DiPiero

WGNtv.com

Originally Posted: July 14, 2015

Dr. Tom DiPiero, Dean of Dedman College at Southern Methodist University answered some of the WGN Morning News Crew’s questions about the sequel to the American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.” WATCH

Fred Wendorf, Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory Emeritus, archaeology career spanned six decades

Midland Reporter Telegram

Originally Posted: July 15, 2015

Excavator of “Midland Man” site dies at age 90

DALLAS — Noted archaeologist Fred Wendorf — who excavated the so-called “Midland Man” site and who is credited with discoveries in Africa and the American Southwest — died in Dallas Wednesday following a long illness. He was 90.

Wendorf’s career as a field archaeologist spanned six decades and he spent four decades on the faculty of Southern Methodist University. He retired in 2003 as the Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory Emeritus, according to a press release from SMU.

Wendorf was born July 31, 1924, in Terrell, and as a teenager developed an interest in archaeology while roaming the fields of Kaufman County in search of Native American artifacts. He earned a bachelor of arts in anthropology in 1948 from the University of Arizona and a doctorate from Harvard University in 1953. READ MORE

DNA From Kennewick Man Shows He Was Native American, Says Study With SMU Ties

KERA NEWS

Originally Posted: July 14, 2015

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Nearly two decades after an ancient skeleton was discovered in Kennewick, Washington, scientists finally have a better idea about its hotly-debated origins. SMU anthropologist David Meltzer co-authored a recent study into what’s been dubbed the Kennewick Man. LISTEN HERE

Thomas DiPiero, Dedman College Dean, reviews author Harper Lee’s new book Go Set a Watchman ahead of its release this week

New York Post

Originally Posted: July 12, 2015

Forget the controversies – ‘Go Set a Watchman’ is worth reading
By Thomas DiPiero

It’s strange to think of Scout, eternally a 10-year-old desperado, as an adult. Strange to think that Jem is dead. Strange to think that “Go Set a Watchman,” the original draft of the book that became the classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” exists at all.

And most of all, it’s strange to read that Atticus Finch, the moral compass and hero of “Mockingbird,” is a racist.

“Boycott the book!” some commentators cry. Should have never been published, other critics say.

But to me, Atticus’ complexity makes “Go Set a Watchman” worth reading. “Mockingbird” was written through the eyes of a child. “Watchman” is the voice of a clear-eyed adult. READ MORE

Edward Countryman, History, How Textbooks Can Teach Different Versions Of History

NPR

Originally Posted: July 13, 2015

This summer there’s been an intense debate surrounding the Confederate flag and the legacy of slavery in this country.

In Texas that debate revolves around new textbooks that 5 million students will use when the school year begins next month.

The question is, are students getting a full and accurate picture of the past?

Eleventh-grade U.S. history teacher Samantha Manchac is concerned about the new materials and is already drawing up her lesson plans for the coming year. She teaches at The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a public school in Houston.

The first lesson she says she’ll give her kids is how textbooks can tell different versions of history. “We are going to utilize these textbooks to some extent, but I also want you to be critical of the textbooks and not take this as the be-all and end-all of American history,” she imagines telling her new students.

She doesn’t want to rely solely on the brand-new texts because she says the guidelines for the books downplay some issues — like slavery — and skirt others — like Jim Crow laws.

She says it’s “definitely an attempt in many instances to whitewash our history, as opposed to exposing students to the reality of things and letting them make decisions for themselves.”

You might be wondering how Texas got these books in the first place, so here’s a quick history lesson:

In 2010 the Texas State Board of Education adopted new, more conservative learning standards.

Among the changes — how to teach the cause of the Civil War.

One side of the debate: Republican board member Patricia Hardy said, “States’ rights were the real issues behind the Civil War. Slavery was an after issue.”

On the other side: Lawrence Allen, a Democrat on the board: “Slavery and states’ rights.”

Ultimately the state voted to soften slavery’s role, among other controversial decisions, and these standards became the outline for publishers to sell books to the Texas market — the second-largest in the country.

The final materials were approved last fall after the state board did some examination and said the books get the job done.

Brian Belardi from McGraw-Hill Education, the publisher of some of the new material, agrees. “The history of the Civil War is complex and our textbook accurately presents the causes and events,” he said, adding that the Texas books will not be used for the company’s clients in other states.

History professor Edward Countryman isn’t so sure the materials do a good job.

“What bothered me is the huge disconnect between all that we’ve learned and what tends to go into the standard story as textbooks tell it,” says Countryman, who teaches at Southern Methodist University near Dallas and reviewed some of the new books.

He thinks the books should include more about slavery and race throughout U.S. history.

“It’s kind of like teaching physics and stopping at Newton without bringing in Einstein, and that sort of thing,” he says.

“The history of the United States is full of the good, the bad and the ugly, and often at the same time,” says Donna Bahorich, the current chairwoman of the Texas Board of Education.

While she admits the state standards didn’t specifically mention important things like Jim Crow laws, she says she’s confident students will still get the full picture of history if teachers, and the new books, fill in the blanks. LISTEN

Harper Lee Expert/Dedman College Dean Thomas DiPiero on “To Kill a Mockingbird” from Adult Perspective

26668D_002_DiPierokn1020Literary expert Thomas DiPiero, dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, offers his nationally respected insight into Harper Lee’s iconic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird” during a University Park Public Library-SMU Community Outreach event June 18, 2015, in Dallas. July 11, 2015, marks the 55th anniversary of the publication of Lee’s great American novel, which has sold more than 40 million copies and been translated into 40 languages. During the talk DiPiero discusses the need to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” as an adult to fully grasp the complex racial and cultural issues woven throughout the literary masterpiece, which he says “ain’t kids’ stuff. He also addresses the controversy surrounding Lee’s highly anticipated “new” novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” actually written before “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The “prequel,” available July 14, 2015, already has broken pre-order sales records for HarperCollins, which has ordered 2 million copies for the first printing. WATCH HERE.

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Tower Center’s Robert Jordan reveals his experiences as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

DALLAS (SMU) – Before he became diplomat-in-residence and adjunct professor of political science with SMU’s John G. Tower Center for Political Studies, Robert Jordan served from 2001-03 as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. When Jordan was first nominated to the posting, it was a time of peace. By the time he assumed the job, terrorists had struck the twin towers on 9/11 and the world had changed. READ MORE