News

Perot Museum, SMU host ‘Past, Present and Future’ fossil lecture downtown on Thursday Feb. 23, 2017

SMU Scott-Hawkins Lecture and Perot Founders Circle Lecture invitationThe Perot Museum of Nature and Science and SMU invite the entire University community to a special event on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Scott Wing, curator of fossil plants at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, will speak on “Past, Present & Future – The Truth Is In the Fossils.” A catered reception will precede the lecture at 6 p.m., with remarks at 6:30 p.m. Complimentary valet service is available.

Dr. Wing’s lecture is co-hosted by Dedman College’s Scott-Hawkins Lecture Series and the Perot Museum’s Founders Circle Lectures, and presented by Charles Schwab.

The event is free and requires an RSVP (two guests per response maximum). To RSVP or request additional guests, contact the Perot Museum, 214-756-5729.

February 17, 2017|Calendar Highlights, News|

SMU mourns the death of Prof. Dennis Simon, founding member of the Tower Center for Political Studies and leader of SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage

Dennis SimonSMU Associate Professor of Political Science Dennis Simon died Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017 in Dallas after a long illness. An SMU faculty member since 1986, he was a recognized expert on the American presidency, national elections, women and the political glass ceiling, and the politics of change in the United States.

Passionate about his students and his work, he continued to teach and present lectures on the presidential elections to the SMU community through fall of 2016.

“Dennis Simon’s legacy at SMU will not be forgotten,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He was both a brilliant scholar and devoted teacher, talents he bridged with a sense of humor that never wavered. Dr. Simon invested his time, commitment and his passion for political science with his students, fellow scholars and the community. His influence will live on in the many lives he touched.”

The Texas House of Representatives “gaveled out” its regular session Tuesday, Feb. 14, in Simon’s memory on a motion by State Rep. Morgan Meyer. Services for Simon are pending.

Simon was quick to say that his proudest and most impactful work came in guiding since 2008 both undergraduate and graduate students on SMU’s annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage to historical sites across the south.  The 7-8 day bus trip occurs during Spring Break every year, creating an immersive learning experience that “pilgrims” describe as life changing.

During Simon’s 31 years as an SMU faculty member, he received nearly every teaching award offered by the University, including the “M” Award, the Willis Tate Award and President’s Associate Award. In 2005 he received the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award, given to just four professors each year for their commitment to student learning. Known for his mentorship and dedication to teaching, he used U.S. elections as a living laboratory, teaching his popular course, “Presidential Elections,” every four years.

Simon’s other teaching and research interests included presidential-congressional relations, public opinion, electoral behavior and research methodology.  His research appeared in leading journals such as the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics.  He was the recipient of the Pi Sigma Alpha award given by the Southern Political Science Association for his study of national forces in state legislative elections, and twice the Miriam Irish award given by the Southern Political Science Association for his study (with Assoc. Prof. Barbara Palmer) of the emergence of women in U.S. electoral politics.  His most recent book, with co-author Palmer, Women and Congressional Elections: A Century of Change (Lynne Reinner Publishers) was published in May of 2012. The book’s first edition was published in 2006.

Simon’s recent research projects included “The Perilous Experiment,” a historical and quantitative study tracing the evolution of popular and legislative leadership in the American presidency and “Southerners in the United States House of Representatives,” a history of electoral and ideological change in the South since 1930, supported by a grant awarded by the Dirksen Congressional Center. He earned his B.A. from Wittenberry University in Springfield, Ohio, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the department of political science at Michigan State University. Before joining SMU, Simon was an assistant professor of political science at the University of Minnesota.

Simon was a founding member of SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, where he served as a member of the Tower Center Faculty Advisory Board and as a senior fellow. The Tower Center was created in 1992 to promote the study of politics and international affairs and stimulate an interest in ethical public service.

“He was a dedicated supporter of our center, serving us in a variety of ways,” said the Hon. Dan Branch, chair of the Tower Center Board of Directors and former member of the Texas House of Representatives. “Most of all, he was a devoted mentor to our students.”

Simon also joined the faculty of SMU’s Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program when he arrived in in 1986, teaching courses such as “Politics and Film,” and “The American Presidency” to hundreds of graduate students in the predominantly evening program. He began teaching “The Politics and Legacies of the Civil Rights Movement,” to both MLS students and undergraduates in 2008, combining it with an existing trip organized through the SMU Chaplain’s Office to historic sites in civil rights history. Simon never tired of sharing with an audience the “power of place” he said came with combining a semester-long course with personal experiences shared at the sites of civil rights violence and struggle.

> Watch Dennis Simon’s 2012 Maguire Public Scholar lecture at YouTube video

Dennis Simon, Civil Rights PilgrimageWith his Chaplain’s Office partner, Ray Jordan, and student leaders chosen each year, the trip featured stops at sites Simon described as “ground-zero,” in the civil rights movement, such as Little Rock High School, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s home in Montgomery. History came alive at each spot, thanks to Simon’s friendships with original participants he called “foot soldiers” in the civil rights movement, who shared their recollections with students, sometimes hopping aboard the bus to lead tours.

The class and trip, sponsored by the Embrey Human Rights Program and SMU’s Office of the Chaplain and Religious Life, are now a core requirement of SMU’s human rights undergraduate major and the human rights emphasis in SMU’s Master of Liberal Studies program. Each year students share their thoughts and memories of the trip on an online blog.

> Read blog postings from the 2015 Civil Rights Pilgrimage on the 50th anniversary of the 1965 voting rights march

“I will always be thankful to Dr. Simon for showing us all what it looks like to not only celebrate the light, but to be the light in situations where it seems like the darkness might swallow us up,” said Michelle Anderson ’15, who served as student leader of the pilgrimage in 2015. “I’m missing our fearless leader already. Keep marching, pilgrims.” Anderson is pursuing a Ph.D. in media studies with a focus in transitional justice at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Simon also generously shared his expertise with the news media, serving as an expert on the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama, the impact of the John F. Kennedy assassination, the changing role of women in politics, and trends in presidential and mid-term elections. He regularly presented lectures to the community and served as a panel member at lecture series throughout the Dallas area.

See Dennis Simon’s last lecture, shared with the community Nov. 12 as a wrap-up of the 2016 presidential election

“The qualities that made Dennis a fine person – intelligence, enthusiasm, and honesty – made him an extraordinary teacher and mentor to his students,” said Joe Kobylka, SMU associate professor of political science and Simon’s longtime friend. “His passion for studying American politics and change electrified his lectures and infused his students with his enthusiasm. When that happens, education ensues, and Dennis was a master educator. I learned from him, as a student and then a colleague. I will draw on those lessons daily.”

> Find more of Dennis Simon’s work at SMU News

February 16, 2017|For the Record, News|

23 outstanding SMU professors honored at 2017 HOPE Awards banquet

 

SMU’s Department of Residence Life and Student Housing honored 23 outstanding professors at the 2017 HOPE Awards Banquet Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Mark Chancey, professor of religious studies Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, was honored as 2017 Professor of the Year.

HOPE (Honoring Our Professors’ Excellence) Award recipients are named through student staff member nominations as professors who “have made a significant impact to our academic education both inside and outside of the classroom.”

The complete list of 2017 HOPE Award honorees:

Cox School of Business

  • Jay Carson, Management and Organizations
  • Liliana Hickman-Riggs, Accounting
  • Sal Mistry, Management and Organizations
  • Mukunthan Santhanakrishnan, Finance
  • Greg Sommers, Accounting
  • Tilan Tang, Finance

Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

  • Stephanie Amsel, English
  • Mark Chancey, Religious Studies (HOPE Professor of the Year)
  • Rita Economos, Earth Sciences
  • Liljana Elverskog, World Languages and Literatures (Arabic)
  • Serge Frolov, Religious Studies
  • Luigi Manzetti, Political Science
  • Alberto Pastor, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
  • Elizabeth Wheaton, Economics
  • Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry

Lyle School of Engineering

  • Elena Borzova, Mechanical Engineering,
  • Joseph Camp, Electrical Engineering
  • Rachel Goodman, Engineering Management, Information and Systems

Meadows School of the Arts

  • Brandi Coleman, Dance
  • Lee Gleiser, Meadows Marketing and Communications
  • Will Power, Theatre
  • Jared Schroeder, Journalism

Dedman School of Law

  • Martin Camp, Graduate and International Programs

> Read more from The Daily Campus

February 14, 2017|For the Record, News|

Black History Month at SMU: February 2017

Black History Month collageSMU is celebrating Black History Month 2017 with a variety of programs and presentations.

Events include film screenings, panel discussions, professional networking and many other activities, including the traditional Black Excellence Ball on Saturday, Feb. 25, sponsored by the Black Alumni of SMU and the Association of Black Students.

The observance is coordinated by the Association of Black Students and SMU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Visit SMU News for a complete calendar of events

> Contact SMU Multicultural Student Affairs for more information

February 10, 2017|Calendar Highlights, News|

Research: New SMU study connects running motion to ground force

SMU researchers have developed a concise new explanation for the basic mechanics involved in human running. Their research has immediate application for running performance, injury prevention, rehab and the individualized design of running shoes, orthotics and prostheses.

The work integrates classic physics and human anatomy to link the motion of individual runners to their patterns of force application on the ground – during jogging, sprinting and at all speeds in between.

The approach could enable the use of individualized gait patterns to optimize the design of shoes, orthoses and prostheses according to biomechanics experts Kenneth Clark, Laurence Ryan and Peter Weyand, who authored the new study.

The ground force-time patterns determine the body’s motion coming out of each step and therefore directly determine running performance. The impact portion of the pattern is also believed to be a critical factor for running injuries.

“The human body is mechanically complex, but our new study indicates that the pattern of force on the ground can be accurately understood from the motion of just two body parts,” said Clark, first author on the study and currently an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

“The foot and the lower leg stop abruptly upon impact, and the rest of the body above the knee moves in a characteristic way,” Clark said. “This new simplified approach makes it possible to predict the entire pattern of force on the ground — from impact to toe-off — with very basic motion data.”

> Read the full story at the SMU Research blog

February 10, 2017|Faculty in the News, For the Record, News, Research|
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