Dedman School of Law honors five as 2015 Distinguished Alumni

Five successful legal, business and public service professionals were honored with the highest awards given by SMU’s Dedman School of Law at its 28th annual Distinguished Law Alumni Awards Thursday, March 19, 2015.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the most prestigious award Dedman Law can bestow upon its alumni. An alumni committee selects recipients who are standouts in their respective fields, and an honorary award given at the invitation-only ceremony also acknowledges exceptional service to the law school.

This year’s awards and recipients were:

Mary Elizabeth Cedillo-PereiraMary Elizabeth Cedillo-Pereira ’99, 2015 Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award – “Liz” Cedillo-Pereira is the managing attorney with Cedillo-Pereira and Associates PLLC, an immigration and nationality law practice that represents individuals, families, businesses and government entities. She is board certified in immigration and nationality law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and lectures on immigration law as a faculty member with the UT School of Law Immigration Law conference and the State Bar of Texas Immigration law course. In 2007 she co-founded the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Dallas’ “Know Your Rights” project for detained individuals. She also is a member of AILA’s Military Assistance Program as well as Dream Defenders.

Siriporn ChaiyasutaSiriporn Chaiyasuta ’85, 2015 Distinguished Global Alumni Award – Based in London, Chaiyasuta is general counsel for Chevron Europe, Eurasia and Middle East Exploration & Production Limited. She leads a team of more than 50 lawyers and manages Chevron’s legal portfolio for all exploration and production business in the region, harboring the world’s most productive oil and gas basins in 14 countries of the North Sea and Caspian Region of the Middle East, including the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Her many awards and honors include the “Royal Decoration Knight Grand Cross” (First Class) of Direkgunabhon and Thailand’s “In-House Counsel of the Year” Award.

G. Michael GruberG. Michael Gruber ’81, 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award for Private Practice – “Mike” Gruber is a founding partner of Gruber Hurst Johansen Hail Shank LLP. Primarily a defense attorney, his successes include a $125 million dollar judgment involving Blockbuster in favor of its first major investors, a $30 million dollar verdict against Shell Oil in a fraud case, and a more than $18 million dollar verdict against pharmaceutical company Hoffman-Laroche in one of the largest sexual harassment verdicts in the country. This year, he took the soon-to-be decided Wellness v. Sharif case, on bankruptcy court and federal magistrate jurisdiction, to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has received the Sager Award from The Minority Corporate Counsel Association, which recognizes the Southwest’s most diverse law firms. He has also been named a “Texas Super Lawyer” for more than 10 years and, since 2008, D Magazine has recognized him as a “Best Lawyer in Dallas” for business litigation.

William O. Holston Jr.William O. Holston, Jr., ’81, 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service – “Bill” Holston is executive director of Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas. Before joining HRI in 2012 he volunteered his services for the organization, founded in 2000 to provide legal and support services to refugees and immigrants who have suffered human rights abuses, as well as to advocate for justice and promote international human rights. In 1997, he received the “Outstanding Political Asylum Lawyer Award” from the Dallas Bar Association; in 2002, the “Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award” from the Dallas Bar Association’s Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program; in 2005, the “Angel of Freedom Award” from HRI; and in 2014, the “President’s Award” from the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association.

Joseph W. McKnightJoseph W. McKnight, 2015 Honorary Alumnus Award – “Joe” McKnight, Professor Emeritus of Law and Larry and Jane Harlan Faculty Fellow Emeritus at SMU Dedman School of Law, has made historic contributions to legal scholarship and law reform in Texas. Before joining the law faculty at SMU in 1955, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas before serving as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he received a B.A. degree, a B.C.L. degree, and an M.A. degree. Professor McKnight would later receive his LL.M. degree from Columbia University. McKnight is a nationally recognized authority on legal history and family and marital property law. He and co-author, W.A. Reppy, Jr., have produced ten editions of their 1983 casebook, Texas Matrimonial Property Law, and McKnight was general editor and author of Creditor’s Rights in Texas.

Additionally, McKnight directed the Texas Family Code project, helping achieve significant reform, and was the principal drafter of the Texas Matrimonial Property Act, recognizing property rights of married women. He also has been a major drafter of other important Texas statutes.

During the past six decades, McKnight established and contributed to an invaluable collection of rare legal books at SMU Dedman Law. The collection is one of the largest of its kind in the nation, with the collection’s oldest book published in 1481.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

Posted in For the Record, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

New and notable authors to visit SMU LitFest 2015, March 19-21

SMU’s LitFest 2015 will feature an array of readings, receptions and book signings celebrating the creative work of poets, novelists and students from Thursday, March 19, through Sunday, March 21.

Pen in HandSponsored by SMU’s Department of English, most festival events will be free and open to the public.

> Find a complete SMU LitFest schedule

The annual festival “has an excellent record of bringing in rising literary stars,” says Dallas Morning News books editor Michael Merschel in a March 5 story about the popular event, which since the 1980s has featured such notable writers as John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Walker, Norman Mailer and Jill McCorkle.

“I’m particularly excited this year that, first, we’re expanding our offerings to include writers of creative nonfiction and also that this year our guests include so many writers who are working on multiple genres,” SMU Creative Writing Director David Haynes told Merschel. “It’s a genuinely versatile group of writers. And a quite diverse one, too.”

Visiting authors include:

Jeffrey Renard Allen: Author of two collections of poetry and two works of fiction including the celebrated novel,Rails Under My Back, winner of The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction.

Jericho Brown: His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The New Republic and The Best American Poetry. He is an assistant professor of poetry at Emory University.

Liam Callanan: Author of two critically acclaimed novels, All Saints and The Cloud Atlas, his new book, Listen & Other Stories, will be released in April. Callanan teaches in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Elizabeth T. Gray Jr.: Her poetry has appeared in such publications as Harvard Review, Poetry International andBest New Poets of 2012. Gray also translates classical and contemporary Persian poetry.

Joe Milazzo: Author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie and a forthcoming volume of poetry, The Habiliments, his writings have appeared in Black Clock, Black Warrior Review and The Collagist. He is editor of the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing].

R. Flowers Rivera: Her work has been published in such journals as African American Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Columbia and Feminist Studies. Her short story “The Iron Bars” has received numerous accolades.

Alan Shapiro: Author of 12 books of poetry (including the National Book Award finalist Night of the Republic), four books of prose, and two translations with Oxford University Press. His many awards include The Kingsley Tufts Award, LA Times Book Prize and a Guggenheim.

Peter Turchi: Author of five books of fiction and nonfiction and co-editor of three writing anthologies, Turchi has been called by The Houston Chronicle, “one of the foremost thinkers on the art of writing.”

Written by Ariel Monticure and Denise Gee

Posted in Calendar Highlights, News | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Research: Whale fossil provides key to unlock date of East Africa’s mysterious uplift

A 17 million-year-old Turkana ziphiid beaked whale fossil from the Great Rift Valley, East AfricaPaleontologists have used a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world to pinpoint for the first time a date when East Africa’s mysterious elevation began.

The 17 million-year-old fossil is from the Ziphiidae family. It was discovered 740 kilometers inland at a elevation of 620 meters in modern Kenya’s harsh desert region and is the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent, said SMU vertebrate paleontologist Louis Jacobs.

Uplift associated with the Great Rift Valley of East Africa and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly constrained. Determining ancient land elevation is very difficult, but the whale provides one near sea level.

“It’s rare to get a paleo-elevation,” Jacobs said, noting only one other in East Africa, determined from a lava flow.

At the time the whale was alive, it would have been swimming far inland up a river with a low gradient ranging from 24 to 37 meters over more than 600 to 900 kilometers, said Jacobs. He is co-author of a study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that provides the first constraint on the start of uplift of East African terrain from near sea level.

“The whale was stranded up river at a time when east Africa was at sea level and was covered with forest and jungle,” Jacobs said. “As that part of the continent rose up, that caused the climate to become drier and drier. So over millions of years, forest gave way to grasslands. Primates evolved to adapt to grasslands and dry country. And that’s when – in human evolution – the primates started to walk upright.”

Identified as a Turkana ziphiid, the whale would have lived in the open ocean, like its modern beaked cousins. Ziphiids, still one of the ocean’s top predators, are the deepest diving air-breathing mammals alive, plunging to nearly 10,000 feet to feed, primarily on squid.

In contrast to most whale fossils, which have been discovered in marine rocks, Kenya’s beached whale was found in river deposits, known as fluvial sediments, said Jacobs, a professor in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The whale, probably disoriented, swam into the river and could not change its course, continuing well inland.

“You don’t usually find whales so far inland,” Jacobs said. “Many of the known beaked whale fossils are dredged by fishermen from the bottom of the sea.”

The beaked whale fossil was discovered in 1964 by J.G. Mead in what is now the Turkana region of northwest Kenya. Mead, an undergraduate student at Yale University at the time, made a career at the Smithsonian Institution, from which he recently retired. Over the years, the Kenya whale fossil went missing in storage.

Jacobs, who was at one time head of the Division of Paleontology for the National Museums of Kenya, spent 30 years trying to locate the fossil. His effort paid off in 2011, when he rediscovered it at Harvard University and returned it to the National Museums of Kenya.

The fossil is only a small portion of the whale, which Mead originally estimated was 7 meters long during its life. Mead unearthed the beak portion of the skull, 2.6 feet long and 1.8 feet wide, specifically the maxillae and premaxillae, the bones that form the upper jaw and palate.

The researchers reported their findings in “A 17-My-old whale constrains onset of uplift and climate change in east Africa” online at the PNAS web site. Besides Jacobs, other authors from SMU are Andrew Lin, Michael Polcyn, Dale Winkler and Matthew Clemens.

From other institutions, authors are Henry Wichura and Manfred R. Strecker, University of Potsdam, and Fredrick K. Manthi, National Museums of Kenya.

Funding for the research came from SMU’s Institute for the Study of Earth and Man and the SMU Engaged Learning program.

Written by Margaret Allen

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

Posted in For the Record, News, Research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Calendar Highlights: March 18, 2015

Who-We-Be-coverExamining Race: Presented by SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, American Book Award winner Jeff Chang will give a lecture on his latest work, Who We Be: The Colorization of America, on  Wednesday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The lecture is free and open to the public.

NCAA Tournament: Seeded sixth, the SMU Men’s Basketball team will face UCLA on Thursday, March 19 in Louisville in their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1993. Tip-off time is set for 2:10 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised on truTV. On campus in the Arnold Dining Commons, SMU Dining Services invites members of the University community to a watch party at 2 p.m.; hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and popcorn will be served. Admission is free for students with meal plans, $5 for all others. For complete NCAA Tournament coverage, visit the Mustang NCAA Tournament Central 2015 webpage. 

Armenian Genocide Centennial Remembrance: SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Programs hosts Peter Balakian as he discusses cultural destruction and the Armenian Genocide on Thursday, March 19, at 8:30 p.m., in McCord Auditorium. Sponsored by the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of DFW, the lecture is free and open to the public.

litfest-1

SMU LitFest: Featuring an array of readings, receptions and book signings celebrating the creative work of poets, novelists and students, SMU’s LitFest 2015 begins Thursday, March 19 and will continue through Sunday, March 21. Sponsored by SMU’s Department of English, most events will be free and open to the public. For a complete schedule, visit the SMU LitFest 2015 webpage.

Tate-Willson Lecture: J. Cheryl Exum, professor emerita of biblical studies at the University of Sheffield and a director of Sheffield Phoenix Press, will visit SMU’s Perkins School of Theology as a guest speaker for the 2015-16 Tate-Willson Lectures. Exploring this year’s theme “The Bible and the Arts,” Exum will present a lecture on “Why Bible Readers Should Visit the Art Gallery.” The lecture will take place on Monday, March 23, at 7 p.m., in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall. For additional information about the 2015 Tate-Willson Lectures, contact the GPRS via email.

Dr. Michio Kaku

Dr. Michio Kaku visits SMU as a guest speaker for the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series on Tuesday, March 24.

Tate Lecture Series: SMU’s Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series presents Michio Kaku on Tuesday, March 24. Currently working to complete Einstein’s unified field theory, Dr. Kaku is a theoretical physicist, best selling author, acclaimed public speaker, renowned futurist and popularizer of science. The Tate Lecture will begin at 4:30 p.m., in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom, with the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum, followed by The Oncor Lecture at 8 p.m., in McFarlin Auditorium. For more information, visit the Tate Series webpage. 

Visiting Artist Lecture Series: SMU Meadows School of the Arts hosts Emily Jacir as part of the Visiting Artist Lecture Series on Wednesday, March 25, at 6:30 p.m., in O’Donnell Hall. Including a range of diverse media and strategies, Jacir creates works about transformation, questions of translation, resistance and the logic of the archive. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Posted in Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Provost search committee named; open forums for faculty and staff scheduled for March 25, 2015

SMU President R. Gerald Turner has announced the formation of the search committee for the next University provost. Provost Paul Ludden has announced that he will be leaving the Office of the Provost on May 31, 2015.

The Provost Search Committee will be chaired by Al Niemi, dean of SMU’s Cox School of Business. The committee members include:

  • Cindy Boeke, Central University Libraries
  • Jennifer Collins, Dean, Dedman School of Law
  • Jodi Cooley, Physics, Dedman College
  • Robert H. Dedman Jr., SMU Trustee
  • Maria Dixon, Communication Studies, Meadows School of the Arts
  • Rahfin Faruk, SMU Student Trustee
  • Andrew Graybill, History, Dedman College
  • Rod Jackson, Enrollment Services
  • Rebekah Miles, Perkins School of Theology
  • Marc Peterson, Enrollment Services
  • Caren Prothro, SMU Trustee
  • Dinesh Rajan, Electrical Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering
  • Santanu Roy, Economics, Dedman College
  • Paige Ware, Teaching and Learning, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development
  • Lori White, Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Stanley Wojewodski, Theatre, Meadows School of the Arts

Dr. Ann Die Hasselmo will serve as consultant to the Search Committee.She has worked with SMU on five previous academic searches, including the most recent dean searches for Dedman College and Meadows School of the Arts. The committee’s first organizational meeting took place March 17, with a goal of completing its search during the fall semester, wrote President Turner in an e-mail to the campus community dated Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

Dean Niemi has invited faculty and staff members to meet with several members of the Search Committee and Dr. Hasselmo. Two open forums have been scheduled for Wednesday, March 25:

  • 10 a.m., Karcher Auditorium, Storey Hall, Law Quad
  • 2 p.m., Crum Auditorium, Collins Executive Education Center. Business Quad
Posted in For the Record, News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

SMU to face UCLA in NCAA Tournament on March 19, 2015

SMU Men's Basketball takes home the American Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles. #DeclareSMU

SMU Men’s Basketball takes home the American Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles. #DeclareSMU

The XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, hosted a heavyweight title fight between the SMU Mustangs and the Connecticut Huskies on Sunday, March 15. Jumping in front of UConn early, SMU dominated the defending NCAA champions 62-54 to win the American Athletic Conference tournament and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Seeded sixth, the Mustangs (27-6) face UCLA (20-13) on Thursday, March 19 in Louisville in their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1993. A year ago, SMU was left out of the field after losing to Houston in the AAC quarterfinals.

In his third season with SMU, Head Coach Larry Brown will make his first appearance in the NCAA tournament since he coached Kansas to a national title in 1988. As the only coach to win an NCAA trophy and an NBA title, Brown previously took UCLA to the NCAA tournament twice and Kansas five times before heading to the NBA and later SMU.

> Find ticket information at smumustangs.com/gameday

Tip-off time is set for 2:10 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised on truTV. With a victory on Thursday, SMU will face the winner of the No. 3/14 match-up between Iowa State and UAB on Saturday.

> For complete NCAA Tournament coverage, visit the Mustangs NCAA Tournament Central 2015 webpage

> For merchandise celebrating the 2015 American Conference Championship, visit the Mustang Locker Room webpage

Posted in Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date, Sports, Tune In, Year of the Student | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Mitch Thornton appointed Cecil H. Green Chair in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering

Mitch Thornton, Lyle School of Engineering, SMUSMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering has appointed Mitch Thornton as its Cecil H. Green Chair of Engineering in recognition of his achievements as a researcher, educator, author and leader.

Thornton is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering, and serves as the technical director in the Lyle School’s Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security.

“Mitch is unquestionably one of this country’s leaders in modern computer architecture design including forward looking research in cyber security and quantum computing. He is a very highly productive and prized educator, an outstanding academic citizen, and a leader who contributes greatly to the Lyle School,” said Dean Marc Christensen.

Thornton’s honors for his teaching and research include SMU’s Ford Research Fellowship, the HOPE (Honoring Our Professors’ Excellence) Award, the Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award for Computer Science, and Outstanding Professor of the Year Award from the Student Engineering Joint Council. He has also received the Inventor Recognition Award from the Semiconductor Research Consortium and a Citation of Honor from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Thornton joined SMU in 2002 with experience in both academia and industry, previously holding positions at Mississippi State University, the University of Arkansas, Cyrix Corporation and E-Systems, Inc. He has published four books and more than 200 articles, has secured more than $4.1 million in research and grant funding since 1996, holds three U.S. patents, and has two patents pending.

Thornton’s research interests include EDA/CAD methods and algorithms for quantum, classical digital systems; large systems design including synthesis, verification, asynchronous, security, and disaster and fault tolerant circuit techniques; modeling and method development for physical security design/verification; and the mathematical basis of conventional, asynchronous, reversible and quantum logic.

As an interdisciplinary researcher, Thornton collaborates regularly with colleagues across the school, in industry and at other institutions. He has consulted with and performed sponsored research for the National Security Agency, Office of Naval Research, Army Research Laboratory, National Science Foundation, Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems, Lockheed-Martin Aeronautics, Lockheed-Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Acxiom Corporation, Silicon Space Technology, Revere Security, PayGo, and Eclipse Electronics.

Thornton earned his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Oklahoma State University, an M.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Texas-Arlington, and an M.S in computer science and a Ph.D. in computer engineering from SMU.

Cecil and Ida Green provided endowments for two faculty chairs in what is now the Lyle School of Engineering, both of which multiplied over time to provide funds for an additional professorship. Their gift of approximately $1.5 million in 1979 established the Cecil and Ida Green Chair, currently held by W. Milton Gosney, and grew over time to provide funding for the Cecil and Ida Green Endowed Professor of Engineering, held by Dinesh Rajan. Their gift of $891,558 in 1969 endowed the Cecil H. Green Chair of Engineering, previously held by Stephen Szygenda, and also supports Sila Cetinkaya as the Cecil H. Green Professor of Engineering. The couple’s gift of approximately $500,000 in 1979 also endowed the Cecil and Ida Green Fund for Excellence in Engineering and Applied Science Education to strengthen and enrich programs in the school.

Ida Green ’46 was a member of the SMU Board of Trustees and was honored by the University in 1977 as a distinguished alumna. She died in 1986. Cecil Green, a British-born, naturalized American geophysicist and alumnus of MIT, was one of the four co-founders of Texas Instruments. He was made an honorary alumnus of SMU in 1962 and received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University in 1967. Cecil Green died in 2003 at the age of 102.

Posted in For the Record, News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Some SMU outlets open for business during Spring Break 2015

Stock photo of an Open sign in a shop windowSpring Break 2015 is here, and many campus food stops will take a brief vacation, too. But some will remain open for limited hours to serve those who are still on campus.

SMU Dining Services reports Spring Break hours for the following food and retail outlets:

  • eS MUcho, The Market, Hughes-Trigg Student Center – open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday, March 9-13
  • The Market, Hughes-Trigg Student Center – open 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday, March 9-13
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels, ground floor, Fincher Building – open 9:30 a.m.-8:15 p.m. Monday-Thursday, March 9-12

Find all March 2015 dining hours at smudining.com

Posted in Calendar Highlights, News | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Calendar Highlights: March 6, 2015

Welcome back from the snow day! What’s going on this weekend at SMU:

Emanuel BorokBeethoven Sonatas for Piano & Violin: SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts presents Beethoven Sonatas for Piano & Violin on Saturday, March 7, 8 p.m., in Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center. The performance will feature Cilburn gold medalist Alexander Kobrin on the piano and Meadows Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Emanuel Borok (pictured right) on the violin. Kobrin and Borok will perform the second of three concerts devoted to the complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas. The final concert will be May 11, 2015. For more information, call 214-768-2787.

Don’t forget: Daylight Saving Time 2015 begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 8. Spring forward!

Posted in Calendar Highlights, For the Record, News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Weather: SMU, SMU-in-Plano closed Thursday, March 5, 2015

SMU and SMU-in-Plano are closed Thursday, March 5, 2015, due to inclement weather.

The University continues to monitor the weather and will post updates at smu.edu and on Twitter and Facebook.

Dining services will be available even when the University closes because of inclement weather. Arnold Dining Commons and RFoC at Lee are open for breakfast. For information about hours of operation for SMU Dining Services, please visit smudining.com or facebook.com/smudining.

Central University Libraries – including DeGolyer, Fondren and Hamon Arts – will be closed. Please check for any schedule changes on the CUL homepage at smu.edu/cul.

> Learn more about SMU’s Inclement Weather Policy at smu.edu/weather

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off