Sociology alumna awarded Dedman Law Distinguished Alumni

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In early February, A. Shonn Evans Brown was honored as one of five Dedman Law Distinguished Alumni of 2016. She gives back regularly to SMU by meeting with current sociology undergraduate students as well as serving as a mentor to Dedman law school students. We are honored to have her in our community of active alumni.

Congratulations to the Dedman College Research Day Winners

SMU graduate and undergraduate students presented results of ongoing and completed SMU-based research on February 10. Dedman College students received an impressive 20 awards.

Research Day aims to foster communication between students in different disciplines, give students the opportunity to present their work in a professional setting, and share the outstanding research being conducted at SMU with their peers and industry professionals from the greater Dallas community.

CLICK HERE for a full list of Research Day winners


Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

SMU News

Originally Posted: December 11, 2015

As tribute to 30 years of teaching at SMU and five-plus decades of social activism, the Dallas Peace & Justice Center has awarded Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin with a Lifetime Achievement Award.


During his acceptance speech at a celebration dinner Dec. 3, Halperin turned the spotlight from himself to others, asking 10 SMU students in attendance to stand. “I want to show you the face of the future,” Halperin said of the human rights majors and minors. “This is what hope looks like.”

Since joining SMU in 1985, the popular teacher has taught an estimated 5,000 students in history courses, as well as human rights classes that began in 1990.

Philanthropist sisters and SMU alumnae Lauren and Gayle Embrey were inspired to fund the Embrey Human Rights Program in 2006, with Halperin at the helm, after Lauren took one of Halperin’s master’s-level human rights classes and a Holocaust study trip he led to Poland. (Halperin has been offering the immersive trip to the SMU community since 1996.)

Over the last nine years the Embrey Human Rights Program has hosted numerous eye-opening public events devoted to issues of social justice. It also has sponsored travel opportunities that regularly introduce students to struggling countries ranging from Rwanda to Cambodia — and this summer led a 10-day American West trip to address past and present struggles faced by our own nation’s “too often-forgotten indigenous people.”

The program also has continually developed a compelling mix of human rights courses. An expansion of interdisciplinary classes allowed SMU to begin offering a human rights minor in 2007, followed by a Master of Liberal Studies degree in Human Rights and Social Justice two years later.

In the year ahead (2016), the Embrey Human Rights Program will celebrate its tenth year and 20th anniversary for Halperin-guided trips to Poland.

But for Halperin, here’s the biggest accomplishment: SMU is the only university in the South – and one of just seven in the U.S. – to offer an undergraduate degree in human rights.

Since SMU first began offering a bachelor of arts in human rights in 2012, about 50 students have earned the degree, one allowing them to recognize and resolve vital human rights issues in fields ranging from international law to medicine. Increasingly, more SMU students are eager to follow suit: Nearly two dozen are expected to earn the degree in May 2016.

Beyond his work at SMU, Halperin has held numerous leadership positions in human rights and social justice organizations. During his more than 40-year affiliation with Amnesty International USA, he has served as chair of its board of directors three times. He also has served on the boards of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the Center for Survivors of Torture, the International Rescue Committee and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He has participated in a U.N. human rights delegation that inspected Irish prison conditions in Dublin and Belfast as well as in delegations monitoring human rights in El Salvador and Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza.

Halperin holds a Ph.D. in Southern U.S. history from Auburn University; a M.A. in Southern U.S. history from Southern Methodist University; and a B.A. in U.S. history from George Washington University. READ MORE

Avery Acker named the Academic All-American of the Year


Congratulations to senior setter Avery Acker. She was named the Academic All-American of the Year, College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced Thursday. Acker earned the academic equivalent of a National Player of the Year award with a 3.95 GPA in accounting with minors in chemistry and biology, and has been accepted into medical school. READ MORE

Congratulations Harold Stanley, a distinguished member of the Political Science faculty, recently named Vice President for Executive Affairs


Originally Posted: December 8, 2015

Academic leader and political science scholar Harold W. Stanley has been named SMU’s vice president for executive affairs, effective Feb. 1, 2016. Stanley has been serving as vice president for academic affairs and provost ad interim since June. He previously served as an SMU associate provost.

In his new role he will work with SMU President R. Gerald Turner on strategic planning, campus master planning and a variety of other University matters. He replaces Thomas E. Barry, who has served in the position since 1995. Barry has announced his retirement from that position, effective Dec. 31.

“Harold Stanley’s service in the Office of the Provost has provided him with deep knowledge of the University and its operations,” Turner said. “He has served on committees focusing on the curriculum, honors program and the Second Century Campaign. As a distinguished member of the Political Science faculty, he brings a strong understanding of the University’s mission of teaching, research and service. I am delighted that an accomplished academic administrator from within the SMU community is ready to step into this important role.”

As an associate provost, Stanley oversaw SMU’s international study, research and internship programs in its International Center; teaching, research and other activities at the University’s New Mexico campus, SMU-in-Taos; student academic services in the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center and the Loyd Center for the Academic Development of Student Athletes; and the University’s most prestigious scholarship for exceptional students, the President’s Scholars program.

Stanley came to SMU in 2003 as the Geurin-Pettus Distinguished Chair in American Politics and Political Economy in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. READ MORE

SMU teams win second place and honorable mention in SAS Analytics Shootout Competition


Originally Posted: December 4, 2015

National data mining competition features analytical and problem-solving skills


A team of eight SMU students has been awarded second place and another team of five students received honorable mention in the annual SAS Analytics Shootout competition. The data mining competition winners were announced at the annual SAS Analytics Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

For the ninth straight year, SAS and the Institute for Health and Business Insight partnered to provide student and faculty teams with an opportunity to apply analytical skills and solve a real-world problem during the Analytics Shootout. This year’s problem dealt with predicting both electrical energy production from renewable sources and energy consumption of buildings in a city.

The problem statement for the 2015 SAS Data Mining competition was posted online for all competing teams in January and solutions were due by June 3, 2015.

“This is a brutal competition. For SMU to have two teams that finished this high is a very noteworthy accomplishment,” said Thomas Fomby, economics professor and faculty sponsor to one of the competing SMU teams.

The second place SMU team consisted of eight PhD and Master’s level students from the Department of Statistical Science in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, including Dateng Li, Ryan McShane, Andrew Mitzel, Qian Wang, Lu Wang, team captain Li Xue (Lily), Rui Yang, and Zhengyang Zhou. Faculty members Tony Ng, Alan Elliott, and Jim Hess coached the team.

The honorable mention team consisted of five students, including Igor Zhadan, Hao Li, Kuangli Xie, Taghreed Alghamdi, and Ali Almadan. Economics professor Thomas Fomby coached the team. READ MORE

Embrey Human Rights Program Director honored for human rights work

SMU Daily Campus

Originally Posted: December 2, 2015

Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights program, is being recognized by the Dallas Peace and Justice Center on Thursday, Dec. 3 at the Annual Peace and Justice Maker Awards Dinner. He will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work defending people’s rights to dignity and life by opposing torture and the death penalty.

Halperin is “a recognized international authority on the death penalty, genocide, slavery, human trafficking, torture and human rights,” according to the SMU website. He has also been involved with the boards of directors for organizations such as the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Center for Survivors of Torture and the International Rescue Committee.

The Annual Peace and Justice Maker Awards Dinner will be at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel on Central Expressway. Tickets to the dinner are $75 each and a sponsored table sells for $1,000. The event begins at 7 p.m. and will include dinner, live music, and auctions. READ MORE

Whitney Wolfe, Dedman College alumna, one of Esquire’s 2015 breakouts

Esquire Magazine

Originally Posted: November 28, 2015

Whitney Wolfe Will Get You a Date
The brains behind Bumble is one of Esquire’s 2015 breakouts

We threw a dinner party for the men and women behind the biggest blockbusters, breakthroughs, and debuts of the year. Read the rest of the interviews here. ​

Before Tinder was Tinder, it was an idea developed by a handful of founders who thought there was a better way for people to connect. One of those founders was Wolfe, who moved on from Tinder in 2014 to start her own dating app, Bumble, which offers the unique proposition that women have to make first contact with potential male mates. Live for about a year, Bumble has a million users (and counting) and it’s growing about 15 percent every week. READ MORE

Rick Halperin, Embrey Human Rights Program, receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Originally Posted: December 1, 2015

Congratulations to Rick Halperin, Director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program

Dr. Halperin will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for his Human Rights work at the Annual Peace & Justice Maker Awards Dinner on Thursday, December 3.

CVKCFY9UkAEv2t8Dr. Rick Halperin has spent his entire life defending and advocating the idea that there is no such thing as a lesser person, and that all persons, regardless of whatever they have done, still have and remain worthy of their inherent dignity and must not, for any reason, be tortured or be put to death. Rick began teaching human rights courses in 1990, and serves as the Director of the Southern Methodist University Embrey Human Rights Program. During his more than 40-year affiliation with Amnesty International USA, Rick served as chair of its board of directors three times. He has also served on the boards of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the Center for Survivors of Torture, the International Rescue Committee and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

More on the Embrey Human Rights Program

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More on the Peace & Justice Maker Awards Dinner