Statement from SMU President R. Gerald Turner on SMU Police Officer Mark McCullers

SMU released the following statement from President R. Gerald Turner on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016:


SMU Police Officer Mark McCullersToday it was confirmed that the body of missing SMU Police Officer Mark McCullers was located Wednesday in Dallas. As our community grieves this profound loss, we are deeply grateful to those who searched for Officer McCullers since he was swept away by Turtle Creek floodwaters July 5 while working off-duty as a private security guard at a Highland Park construction site. The search teams’ efforts now have brought comfort and relief to his many loved ones and friends.

We continue to hold in our thoughts and prayers Officer McCullers’ wife, Tiffany, and six children. Officer McCullers was a beloved member of our University community, a skilled and dedicated officer and a proud U.S. Marine veteran. He served as a member of the SMU Police Department Patrol Division since February 2015. As was noted at his July 28 memorial service at McFarlin Auditorium, Mark was passionate about sharing his knowledge of personal security with students and other campus community members.

We thank the many heroic men and women who searched in difficult conditions for Officer McCullers, including members of the Highland Park Department of Public Safety, Dallas Fire-Rescue, the Dallas Police Department, University Park Police Department and Texas Parks & Wildlife.

I also want to extend profound thanks to SMU Police Chief Richard Shafer and all members of the SMU Police Department. As many of you know, SMU Police Department officers and staff served tirelessly and gave selflessly of their time and skills since search efforts began. At the same time, they continued to serve and protect our campus community, demonstrating an extraordinary level of professionalism and dedication.

Chief Shafer asked that I forward the following statement from him: “I am proud of the SMU Police Department for their continued efforts to find Officer McCullers. They never gave up. They supported and aided other agencies throughout the search, and they provided care and support to Mark’s family. It was fitting that Officer McCullers was found by his SMU Patrol Sergeant, Keith McCain. We all are grateful he is coming home.”

If you are not already aware, the McCullers family has established the Officer Mark McCullers Memorial Account. Donations may be made at any Wells Fargo bank to account number 9976436577, or online on PayPal at www.paypal.me/OfficerMarkMcCullers.

For SMU staff, faculty or family members who are in need of confidential support or resources, please contact the SMU Employee Assistance Program, which is offered through the Human Resources Department. Call 1-877-704-5696.

Students in need of confidential support or resources may contact SMU Counseling Services, 214-768-2277. The SMU Chaplain’s Office, 214-768-4502, also is available to provide confidential support to campus community members.

Thank you to those across North Texas and around the country who have sent their prayers to our community. They have supported us through this time and will continue to do so.

R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

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Al Niemi announces plans to step down as dean of SMU’s Cox School of Business after 2016-17 academic year

Albert W. 'Al' Niemi Jr., dean, SMU Cox School of BusinessAlbert W. Niemi, Jr., the dean of SMU’s Cox School of Business during a time of great growth and increasing national stature for the school, has announced his intention to step down from his administrative post at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

He will continue to serve as dean during the University’s search, which will begin immediately.

Dean Niemi, who currently holds the Cox School’s Tolleson Chair in Business Leadership, will remain on the faculty as the William J. O’Neil Chair in Global Markets and Freedom after he completes his administrative duties.

“We just finished SMU’s first century and the Second Century Campaign, so now is a time to look ahead,” Niemi said. “We need someone with a vision to lead the Cox School to success in its next era. By stepping down as dean, but remaining to teach, I have the opportunity to support the next dean if he or she wants my advice, and I can be with my students, work with my faculty and staff colleagues, and continue to be part of this great campus. It will be a privilege to end my career the way I began it – in the classroom, doing what I love best.”

Since arriving at the Cox School in June 1997, Niemi has increased the school’s national and international visibility. Cox’s B.B.A., full-time M.B.A., Professional M.B.A. and Executive M.B.A. programs are ranked among the best in the world by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, Financial Times, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report. Niemi is the eighth dean – and, as he begins his 20th year at SMU, the longest-serving dean – in the Cox School’s history.

Niemi also has been an effective fund-raiser who has dramatically increased the school’s endowment from $78 million to more than $200 million. The new endowment funds have created 10 new endowed faculty positions, eight new endowed centers and institutes, and 60 new endowed scholarships. In addition, he helped raise $19 million to support the construction of the James M. Collins Executive Education Center.

During his tenure, donors have honored his service by establishing the Albert W. Niemi Center for American Capitalism at SMU Cox and the Maria and Albert Niemi Endowed Centennial B.B.A. Scholars Fund. The Niemi Center is a partnership with the George W. Bush Institute that puts the tenets of Niemi’s teaching and research into action through research fellowships, academic programs and community outreach. The Niemi Endowed Centennial B.B.A. Scholars Fund provides scholarships to support B.B.A. students in the Cox School.

“My professional relationship with Al Niemi pre-dates my own arrival at SMU as president,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He had already earned a reputation as an outstanding educator and business school administrator at the University of Georgia, so when the opportunity arose to recruit him to serve as the dean of the Cox School, it was an easy choice and one that has greatly benefited both Cox and the University. Under his leadership, the Cox School has strengthened its connection to the Dallas and North Texas community of which SMU is a part and has also become a globally prominent business school.”

Before coming to SMU, Niemi served as dean of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia from 1982-1996. An expert in economic growth, economic forecasting, and the history of capitalism in America, he has taught more than 15,000 students and consistently has been recognized for distinguished teaching. He also has written six books and more than 200 articles for leading academic journals and business periodicals.

“As an academician, administrator, and university citizen, Al Niemi is second to none,” SMU Provost Steven Currall said. “The business school faculty he leads enjoys a stellar global reputation. Both the undergraduate and graduate programs rank highly. The Cox BBA Scholars program, which allows first-year students with outstanding academic qualifications to be admitted directly into the Cox School, continues to attract the nation’s best and brightest undergraduates. In turn, the BBA Scholars program has helped enhance SMU’s student academic profile campus-wide.”

Niemi has served on and led search committees that have brought new leaders, including the current provost, to SMU. He has worked extensively in business school and university accreditation. In addition, he has chaired or served as a member on accreditation review teams to more than 20 universities, including Emory, Washington University, DePaul, Vanderbilt, Claremont, William and Mary, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Syracuse, Monterrey Tech (Mexico), INCAE (Costa Rica), University of Monterrey (Mexico), the Autonomous Technological University of Mexico, and IESA (Venezuela).

The dean also served three-year terms on the Board of Governors of the American Association of University Administrators and Beta Gamma Sigma, and he served a six-year term on the Board of Trustees of Stonehill College, his alma mater, in Easton, Massachusetts.

Active in the business community, Niemi speaks to numerous civic and business groups across the nation. He is currently a member of the advisory board of the Bank of Texas and the Advisory Council of The Catholic Foundation.

Originally from Massachusetts, Niemi is the grandson of Finnish and Irish immigrants. He earned a scholarship to Stonehill College, from which he graduated cum laude with an A.B. degree in economics, and went on to earn his M.A and Ph.D. degrees in economics from the University of Connecticut.

The dean and his wife, Maria, have two grown children, Albert III and Edward Charles, and three grandchildren.

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Sports: Rescheduled SMU Football Fan Day includes scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

SMU Football red chrome helmetAfter a postponement for inclement weather, the rescheduled SMU Football Fan Day will take place Saturday, Aug. 27 in Ford Stadium. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m., and all activities are free and open to the public.

Posters, schedule cards and #GetHereForGameday yard signs will be available at the event. In addition, fans will be able to come onto the field after the intersquad scrimmage for autographs and photos with the Mustangs.

SMU will play Liberty University in the 2016 home opener Saturday, Sept. 17. Other home games include five opponents who were ranked in 2015, including Houston, USF, Navy, Memphis and TCU, who come to Dallas xxx for the 2016 Battle For the Iron Skillet.

The team’s 2016 season begins Saturday, Sept. 3 at the University of North Texas. The Mustangs take on the Mean Green at 6 p.m. in Apogee Stadium, Denton.

Season tickets are still available. For information on faculty-staff discounts, call the Athletics Department Ticket Office at 214-768-4263 (214-SMU-GAME) or visit GetHereForGameday.com.

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Luisa del Rosal named executive director of SMU’s Tower Center for Political Studies, Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center

Luisa Del Rosal, executive director, Tower Center for Political Studies and Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center, SMULuisa del Rosal, former director of strategy and international affairs with the Cox School of BusinessLatino Leadership Initiative, has been named executive director of SMU’s Tower Center for Political Studies and its Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center. She began her duties on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.

“Luisa del Rosal is a leader in higher education with the ideal background and combination of skills to build the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center,” says Jim Hollifield, director of the Tower Center. “An SMU graduate and dual national, Luisa has a deep and intuitive understanding of the vital relationship between Texas and Mexico in all of its dimensions and complexities. We are delighted that she has returned to the Tower Center and Dedman College to assume this critical leadership role.”

Del Rosal was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and lived there until she moved to Dallas to attend SMU. She holds dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and sociology, with a minor in Italian, as well as a master’s in higher education policy and leadership. She is bilingual in her native Spanish and English, and proficient in Italian.

“I am honored to return to the Tower Center for Political Studies as its executive director and to serve as the founding executive director of the newly established Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center,” Del Rosal says. “Leading these centers enables me to contribute to the regional, national and global reach of SMU.”

“The centers will help shape important regional and national conversations on topics such as education, trade and energy – topics that impact our communities every day,” she added. “As research policy centers, they’ll be places not of rhetoric, but of facts and idea sharing. The unique missions of each will influence policy questions and carry out the critical goals of engaging and mentoring the students who will become our next generation of leaders.”

In her new position, Del Rosal will have strategic and operational responsibility for both centers, including staff oversight, programming strategy and execution, board coordination and ensuring all activities are aligned with the centers’ missions.

“Luisa will add a great deal to the knowledge base of those two centers,” says Thomas DiPiero, dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. “She has tremendous international experience, she’s worked a great deal with people in public policy and in Mexico, and she has the diplomatic skill set that will allow the two centers to thrive under her leadership.”

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. Announced earlier this year, the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center seeks to understand and explore the political, cultural, economic and business relationship between Texas and Mexico. The center focuses on the key areas of research and policy that include border issues, energy, human capital and education, immigration and trade.

Prior to working for the Cox School, Del Rosal was director of programs and external relations for the Tower Center.

— Kenny Ryan

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Save the date: 2016 Fall General Faculty Meeting takes place Wednesday, Aug. 24

SMU President R. Gerald Turner will address the University faculty at the Fall General Faculty Meeting Wednesday, Aug. 24 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The meeting will begin at 3:45 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Theater, following a reception beginning at 3 p.m. in Centennial Hall and the Theater foyer.

Newly tenured faculty will receive their regalia during the meeting. In addition, 2016-17 Faculty Senate President Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner will give the Senate’s report. Provost Steven Currall will make his first address to the General Faculty Meeting and announce the winner of the 2015-16 Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church.

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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)

Visit the SMU calendar to keep an eye on upcoming events. Learn how to submit your own events at this link.

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Your invitation to Opening Convocation: Take part Sunday, Aug. 21

Guarding the University seal in the Dallas Hall Rotunda, SMU Opening Convocation 2010, photo by Jake Dean

SMU alumni guard the University seal in Dallas Hall during the Rotunda Passage at SMU Opening Convocation. | Photo credit: Jake Dean

Take part in one of SMU’s oldest traditions at the University’s 102nd Opening Convocation at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21 in McFarlin Auditorium. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Currall will give the address.

Participating faculty members must assemble in academic regalia no later than 5 p.m. in the Perkins Administration Building. Faculty marshals will greet you and lead the faculty procession.

The ceremony will be preceded by the Rotunda Passage, a processional march through Dallas Hall for the incoming Class of 2020.

The festivities will be broadcast live by streaming video at smu.edu/live. Streaming is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.

For more information, visit the Registrar’s site at smu.edu/convocation.

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Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is topic of SMU’s 2016 Common Reading discussion Sunday, Aug. 21

Bryan Stevenson'Just Mercy' book cover was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of the criminal justice system.

One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Stevenson into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations, and legal brinksmanship — and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice.

“Presumptions of guilt, poverty, racial bias, and a host of other social, structural, and political dynamics have created a system that is defined by error, a system in which thousands of innocent people now suffer in prison,” Stevenson writes. His telling of the McMillian case is captured in Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, and his book will be discussed by faculty, staff members and new SMU students as the 2016 Common Reading on Sunday, Aug. 21, before Opening Convocation.

The story is “[e]very bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so … a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields,” wrote David Cole of The New York Review of Books in his review.

And Stevenson is “doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope,” wrote legal writer and novelist John Grisham, author of A Time to KillThe Client and The Innocent Man.

Stevenson will visit the Hilltop on Thursday, Oct. 13, for a free and open Common Reading Public Lecture at 4:30 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium. On the same night, at 8 p.m., he will deliver the Jones Day Lecture in SMU’s 2016-17 Tate Distinguished Lecture Series. Watch for more information in a future SMU Forum post and at the Common Reading website.

> Learn more at SMU’s Common Reading website: smu.edu/commonreading

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Save the date: Engaged Learning Symposium, Big iDeas Pitch Contest scheduled for SMU Family Weekend, Sept. 23, 2016

SMU Big iDeas and Engaged Learning students in front of Dallas HallSave the date for SMU’s 2016 Family Weekend, and make an appointment to see outstanding students show their work and stump for their innovations during the Fall 2016 Engaged Learning Symposium and Big iDeas Pitch Contest.

The events take place 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum. SMU Engaged Learning will post a complete schedule in the coming weeks.

Find more information at the SMU Engaged Learning homepage

During the Engaged Learning Symposium, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., students in research, service, creative and internship programs from across campus will present their work and take questions from the audience. They will include SMU’s Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellows, Summer Research FellowsUniversity Honors Richter Research Fellows and McNair Scholars, as well as Engaged Learning Fellows.

From 2-5 p.m., find out what some of SMU’s most innovative students are up to during the Big iDeas Pitch Contest. After developing their ideas, undergraduate teams pitch their ideas to a panel of judges with backgrounds in innovation and entrepreneurship. Next, judges determine which ideas are most realistic and can be developed in the following three months. The winning teams are eligible to win up to $1,000 in seed money to prepare prototypes and pilot programs for the Demo Day Fair in early February 2017.

> Share the Big iDeas Pitch Contest rules and guidelines

Watch for more about the Symposium and Pitch Contest in a future SMU Forum post.

> Visit SMU’s Office of Engaged Learning online

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SMU’s 2016-17 Tate Lecture Series opens Tuesday, Sept. 20 with Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tom Brokaw and David Gergen

Tom Brokaw, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Gergen Tate Lecture Series 2016-17

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and veteran journalist Tom Brokaw return to SMU Tuesday, Sept. 20 to kick off the 35th season of SMU’s Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series.

Goodwin and Brokaw will offer their insights on the historic 2016 U.S. election, moderated by political analyst and Tate Series veteran David Gergen. The trio will deliver The Linda and Mitch Hart Lecture program at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.

Doris Kearns Goodwin by Eric Levin

Doris Kearns Goodwin | Photo credit: Eric Levin

After earning a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University, Doris Kearns Goodwin began her career as an assistant to President Lyndon Johnson in his last year in the White House. She later assisted President Johnson in preparation of his memoirs.

As a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of historical biographies, Goodwin has won praise for her meticulous, in-depth research and ability to chronicle both the public and private lives of her subjects. She has written six New York Times best-selling books.

Goodwin also worked with Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Studio to create the film Lincoln, based in part on her award-winning Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. The film grossed $275 million at the box office and earned 12 Academy Award nominations.

> Follow Doris Kearns Goodwin on Twitter @DorisKGoodwin

Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw is best known as the anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” from 1982 to 2004. He has covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Challenger space-shuttle disaster, the 1989 Lorna Prieta earthquake, Hurricane Andrew and the 9/11 terror attacks. He now serves as a special correspondent for NBC News and can be heard every weekday on his radio segment, An American Story, on iHeartRadio.

In addition, Brokaw is the best-selling author of The Greatest GenerationThe Time of Our Lives: A Conversation About America, and A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope. His many awards and honors include several Emmys and Peabody Awards, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcast journalism, the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media, and the Four Freedoms Award.

Brokaw was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014. He received his B.A. degree in political science from the University of South Dakota.

> Follow Tom Brokaw on Twitter @TomBrokaw

David Gergen

David Gergen

David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN, as well as professor of public service and co-director of the Center for Public Leadership in Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

In 1971, Gergen joined the Nixon White House as a staff assistant to a speech writing team and went on to presidential advisor for four former presidents. In addition to his political work, he was an officer in the U.S. Navy, worked at U.S. News & World Report and appeared on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Gergen graduated with honors from both Yale University and Harvard Law School.

> Follow David Gergen on Twitter @David_Gergen

All SMU students, faculty and staff are invited to the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. Doors open at 4 p.m., and seats may be reserved online.

The evening lecture is sold out. However, SMU students can go to the basement of McFarlin Auditorium at 7 p.m. with their SMU IDs for possible seating on a first-come, first-serve basis.

> Learn more about the 35th Tate Distinguished Lecture Series
> For additional information, e-mail the Tate Series

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