Escher String Quartet showcases work of student Michael van der Sloot

Escher

Members of the Escher String Quarter, left to right: Aaron Boyd, violin; Pierre Lapointe, viola; Adam Barnett-Hart, violin; and Brook Speltz, cello.

The internationally acclaimed Escher String Quartet is set to perform two free concerts, open to the public, at SMU. This will be the second program of their 2015-2016 Meadows residency. This group has previously performed at New York’s Lincoln Center, London’s Wigmore Hall and Berlin’s Piano Salon Christophori. Now, they’ll perform at  Caruth Auditorium on March 17 and at O’Donnell Hall on March 18, both at 7:30 p.m.

The concert on March 17 will showcase three pieces, most notably the world premiere of Night Music, composed by Meadows Master of Music degree candidate Michael van der Sloot. Van der Sloot, who studies composition and is also a talented cellist, he has written works for the Calgary Youth Orchestra and Grammy-winning violinist and SMU Meadows Artist-in-Residence Matt Albert, among others.

Michael

Michael van der Sloot (M.M. Composition ’17)

Van der Sloot describes the piece as “pretty creepy and restless.”

“It’s like when you’re lying completely still in bed, wide awake because you know there is a monster in the closet. There’s a little bit of anxiety and anticipation,” he says.

His piece was chosen among submissions from multiple other music composition students. “The atmosphere and the title of the work were a compelling fit for our program, which deals with death, either through direct personal experience as in Benjamin Britten’s Quartet No. 3, or indirectly as in Franz Shubert’s Death and the Maiden,” says Aaron Boyd, one of two violinists in the Escher String Quartet. “We were struck by the quality of all of the composers’ submissions, but van der Sloot’s work was an impressive combination of  aleatoric freedom with real textural and timbral beauty.”

The quartet will also hold workshops and classes as part of their residency. One workshop will be a particularly immersive experience for the students and will culminate in the formation of the March 18 concert. This side-by-side concert with the quartet and music students of the Meadows school will include works by Brahms, Dvorak, Shostakovich, and Haydn.

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SMU Guildhall rises to #2 in The Princeton Review’s 2016 graduate game-design program rankings

The Guildhall at SMU exterior, February 2015The SMU Guildhall has risen to the second spot among the world’s top graduate game-design programs in The Princeton Review’s seventh annual report, published Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy ranked #1 on the graduate school list in the Review’s 2016 report. At #2, the Guildhall ranks above the University of Utah (#3), USC (#4), New York University (#6), Rochester Institute of Technology (#7), Drexel (#8), Michigan State (#10), Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland (#12), DePaul (#15), MIT (#18), the University of Pennsylvania (#19), Ohio State (#20), and higher than three other top-25 graduate programs in Texas: UT-Dallas (#9), Texas A&M (#14) and St. Mary’s University (#25).

> Read The Princeton Review‘s full 2016 game design program rankings

The Review selected the schools based on its 2015-16 survey of 150 institutions in the United States, Canada and abroad that offer game design coursework and/or degrees. The 40-question survey asked schools to report on a range of topics, from academic offerings and faculty credentials to graduates’ employment and professional achievements. In addition, the Review weighted more than 40 data points to make its assessments, with criteria focusing on academics, faculty, technology and career services.

The Princeton Review’s reporting partner, PC Gamer magazine, will include a section on the top schools in its May 2016 issue. The issue will feature information on degree programs, class offerings, events, prominent professors, and alumni. The print edition will be delivered to subscribers this week and will be available on newsstands Tuesday, March 29.

> Visit the SMU Guildhall online

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Spring forward Sunday, March 13 as 2016 Daylight Saving Time begins

ClockLonger days ahead: U.S. Daylight Saving Time for 2016 begins this Sunday, March 13, at 2 a.m. Don’t forget to set your clocks forward one hour, and check your computer to be sure it’s displaying the correct time.

Computer behind the times? Get help from SMU’s Office of Information Technology website: smu.edu/help

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Sports: SMU seniors being honored for their years on the Hilltop

bball seniorsSMU Men’s Basketball Senior Night: On Thursday, March 3, the SMU Men’s Basketball team honored its seniors with a pregame ceremony. For their final home game of the season, the Mustangs defeated the University of Connecticut Huskies 80-54. Following the victory, Coach Larry Brown and seniors Nic Moore, Markus Kennedy and Jordan Tolbert gave heart warming speeches to finish off an outstanding season of SMU basketball. The evening ended in true SMU fashion with confetti pouring onto fans and the SMU Basketball team. Their season will officially come to a close this Sunday after their final game at Cincinnati.

avery

Avery Acker

Acker Named the American Female-Scholar of the Year: Avery Acker, a standout senior volleyball player, has been named the 2015-2016 American Athletic Conference Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She is attending medical school next year and will receive $4,000 towards her professional education. She finished with a 3.941 grade-point average as an accounting major, with minors in chemistry and biological sciences. Acker graduated in December summa cum laude. Acker was a three-time starter and a three-year captain, leading the Mustangs to a program-best 27 wins and the school’s first conference championship in 2015.

Lammons

Nate Lammons

Lammons Tabbed Conference Player of the Week: SMU senior, Nate Lammons, was named the American Athletic Conference Men’s Tennis Player of the week. He posted a perfect combined record of 6-0 as the Mustangs went 2-1 last week. Lammons is currently on a six-match win streak in singles play and eight-match win streak in doubles action with teammate Slobodkins.

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Another generation of SMU Civil Rights Pilgrims set out on March 4, 2016

This years travelers with the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage will experience a different kind of spring break. They’ll join 50 others on an eight-day bus journey (March 4-12) to experience the history of the civil rights movement firsthand. I will be one of those lucky travelers.

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This program, started in 2004, continues to grow each year. In 2008, the pilgrimage joined forces with Dr. Dennis Simon‘s Political Science course. Now the trip is also a requirement for undergraduate human rights majors and is offered to students in the Master of Liberal Studies Program.

Ray Jordan, trip leader, pastor and professor, came to our first class to discuss the pilgrimage. I wasn’t too excited about having a night class during my last semester in college, but Jordan made me excited about what was to come this semester. I was amazed by how far back the history of the pilgrimage went. This spring break, I’ll not only be experiencing years of American history but also years of SMU history. I’ll take part in an experience that is an integral part of what being an SMU student is all about.

Our journey will take us through the history of the civil rights movement. We’ll begin in Little Rock and visit Central High School and then move to Selma and walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We’ll be around for the anniversary of Bloody Sunday and then continue on through Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. We’ll meet former marchers, journalists, and activists. We’ll be meeting, as Dr. Simon describes, “the ordinary who accomplished extraordinary things.” Even with the itinerary in hand, I still am not sure what all I’ll be experiencing, but I’m sure it will all be worthwile. In just two weeks, I’ll be able to attach a face and a story to the names Dr. Simon has repeatedly mentioned in our Thursday night class.

As a book worm myself, I’m most excited to meet those whose memoirs we’ve read throughout the semester. Their stories of struggle and triumph are invigorating and well-written. They’re able to recount painful memories with eloquence and charge. For example, on March 8, we’ll be visiting with Rev. Robert Graetz, the author of A White Preacher’s Memoir. Graetz was assigned as pastor to Trinity Lutheran Church in the black community in Montgomery, Alabama. His memoir honestly retells the “brutal and dehumanizing treatment” of blacks and has already left an impact on my classmates and I. I can’t even imagine what it will be like to hear his experiences in person.

I’ve wanted to take part in this trip since I was a freshman, but it wasn’t until I declared my human rights major last spring that I knew for a fact that this is how I would spend my last spring break in college. I don’t think there could be a better way to round off my experience as a political science and human rights student at SMU.

Students on this year’s pilgrimage have every intent of recording events as they take place, so keep an eye out to hear about their emotional, educational and impactful experiences throughout the week.

Click here to learn more about SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage and stay tuned to hear about this year’s pilgrims.

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Carol Moseley Braun, first woman African-American U.S. senator, speaks at SMU’s 51st Women’s Symposium March 2, 2016

Carol Moseley Braun

Carol Moseley Braun

Carol Moseley Braun, the first female African-American U.S. Senator, will give the Emmie V. Baine Lecture during the noon luncheon at SMU’s 51st annual Women’s Symposium Wednesday, March 2, 2016.

This year’s theme, “Breaking Through,” focuses on women smashing stereotypes, conquering industry or economic limitations, and celebrating strides toward inclusion and equality.

Born and raised in Chicago, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun’s career in public service began in the Illinois state legislature and extended to the United States Senate when she was elected as the nation’s first African-American woman member. The first permanent female member of the Senate Finance Committee, she proposed the first modern federal school construction legislation, and the first women’s pension equity laws, and advocated for health care reform and support of family farms. She sponsored historic preservation of the Underground Railroad and the first federal support of lupus research.

As Ambassador to New Zealand, she became an advocate for sustainable American agriculture in trade discussions and negotiations. A former candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, she has also served as Ambassador to Samoa, Cook County Executive Officer and United States Attorney.

Follow Carol Moseley Braun on Twitter @CarolForChicago

Moseley Braun received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois and earned her J.D. degree from the University of Chicago. She is founder and president of Good Food Organics®.

Symposium interest sessions begin at 2 p.m. and are led by SMU students, professors, staff members and distinguished members of the community. This year’s topics include:

  • Breaking Through Cis Privilege: Rising Trans Empowerment
  • Feminism 101
  • Women, Power and Politics: What Women Are Doing Worldwide to Achieve Success
  • Breaking Through Stereotypes
  • I Am Woman! Am I…?: Intersectionality
  • Breaking Through Professions

> Find a full schedule of Women’s Symposium events

The Symposium is the longest continuously running program of its nature in the country and one of SMU’s oldest traditions. The event brings together women and men of all ages and multicultural backgrounds to examine and discuss topics of national interest.

> Learn more about the SMU Women’s Symposium: smu.edu/womsym

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Guildhall administrator Steven Cole celebrates Navy Reserve retirement ceremony on main campus

Capt. Steven Cole, USNRSMU administrator Steven Cole will retire from U.S. Navy Reserve service in an on-campus ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 29, 2016 in Crum Auditorium, Collins Executive Education Center. The entire SMU community is invited to the ceremony.

A deputy director with the SMU Guildhall, Capt. Cole returned to the University in August 2016 after serving as director of the NATO-led Multinational Fusion Center, Regional Command North (RC-North) – a United Nations-mandated NATO mission in Mazar-i-Sharif with personnel from 17 different countries.

This term, Capt. Cole became a master’s degree candidate in SMU’s Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management, which shares the SMU-in-Plano campus with the Guildhall. He hopes to complete his postgraduate journey with doctoral studies in behavior sciences.

Capt. Cole’s Navy intelligence service focused on counterinsurgency, human terrain and strategic analysis. A certified fraud examiner and private investigator with special expertise in forensic accounting, he made good use of his experience in an assignment with the Afghanistan Minister of Interior Affairs and Inspector General, helping to revamp the agency’s training and infrastructure.

Capt. Cole began his “dream job” at the Guildhall in April 2014. During his deployment, he carried stacks of Guildhall stickers and business cards and shared them often with fellow service members – most of whom were fellow gamers as well.

Steven Cole joined the U.S. Naval Reserve in February 1986 and earned his B.B.A. degree in accounting from Abilene Christian University in 1978. His first Navy Reserve assignment was in North Texas: as assistant training officer to Fleet Intelligence Rapid Support Team, Pacific 0470 (FIRSTPAC 0470) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Dallas in Grand Prairie. During his Navy Reserve career he has served as an analyst, intelligence officer and intelligence training instructor with commands throughout California and Texas. His current command is stationed at Carrier Strike Group FOUR, Norfolk, Virginia.

A veteran of Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Capt. Cole served with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) mission of counterintelligence, human intelligence, force protection and counterterrorism assigned to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Capt. Cole was awarded the Information Dominance Warfare Officer (IDWO) pin in October 2010. His personal decorations include the Distinguished Meritorious Service (2), Joint Service Commendation and Navy Commendation medals, as well as two Combat Action ribbons.

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SMU Russian Club celebrates 20th anniversary of Russian Winter Festival Feb. 29-March 13, 2016

russian-festival-20th-anniversary-400The SMU Russian Club and Russian Studies Program present two weeks of lectures, film screenings, art exhibits, concerts and music master classes during its 20th annual Russian Winter cultural festival Feb. 29-March 13, 2016.

The festival, which will conclude with the traditional celebration of Maslenitsa, also includes a talent show featuring SMU students.

The festival kicks off with the lecture “100 Years of Russian Art, 1917 to Now” by Vladimir Zimakov, director of the Wedeman Gallery and an associate professor of art and design at Lasell College in Boston. As an artist, designer, and illustrator, Zimakov has worked with leading publishing houses such as Penguin, Random House, Farber and Farber, and the Folio Society. He has illustrated books and book covers for the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Alexandre Dumas, Gustav Meyrink, Nikolai Gogol, Herman Melville and A.T.A. Hoffman, among others. His work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in America, Europe, and Russia.

The event begins with refreshments starting at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 29 in the Huitt-Zollars Conference Room, J. Lindsay Embrey Engineering Building. The presentation and Q&A begin at 12 p.m.

On Wednesday, March 2, the award-winning journalist and photographer Sergei Loiko, who has written about events in Russia and the former Soviet states for The Los Angeles Times since 1991, will speak on “Putin’s War in Ukraine.” Loiko has covered wars in countries including Afghanistan and Iraq and will talk about why the war in Ukraine is different from others.

Loiko will also present his new documentary novel, Airport, which is about the defense of Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine. The book has already been translated into several languages and has become a bestseller on Amazon. Book signing will begin at 11:30 am with presentation and Q&A beginning at 12 p.m. in the Huitt-Zollars Conference Room, J. Lindsay Embrey Engineering Building. This event is co-sponsored by the Embrey Human Rights Program.

Diana Cates, a student of intermediate Russian and political science emphasizes the importance of the Festival for the SMU and Dallas community. “Russia is the world’s largest country and still remains one of the most misunderstood. The festival offers a unique and challenging opportunity to enrich a better understanding of Russian culture, art, history, current politics and Russian-American relations through lectures, discussions, art exhibits, and concerts.”

Students of SMU Russian Studies are helping the Dallas-based Russian American Center, the Russian School of Dallas, Art with Perspective, and Dallas and Saratov Sister City, Inc. to organize several community cultural events which are part of the Russian Festival.  Students work as coordinators, advisers, volunteers, and interpreters at the International Children’s Festival “Planet of Talents” and at art exhibitions and concerts in the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. They will also participate in the International Women’s Day party, which is very popular in Russia, and is organized by SMU graduate Kostya Chernikov.

At the culmination of the Russian Festival, students participate in the traditional Russian celebration of long winter’s end and the greeting of spring called Maslenitsa. SMU students will serve as volunteers at this event, doing fun activities such as cooking pancakes, dancing, organizing children’s games, helping with the arts and crafts exhibit, and conducting costume and drawing contests.

“Participation in our festival and meeting with native speakers also helps students who are studying Russian to improve their language skills,” says Dasha Flowers, vice president of the SMU Russian Club and a student of advanced Russian. “This festival has rich traditions at SMU. The first festival was presented in 1967 and since 1997 it has become an annual tradition. Each year the Mayor of the City of Dallas signs a proclamation recognizing this festival as an important city cultural event.”

For more information, contact Russian Club president and graduate engineering student Vanessa Qixuan.

sergei-loiko

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Calendar Highlights: Mustang Must-do’s for Feb. 26, 2016

Changing the Video Game Industry: Founder of Unity Technologies, David Helgason, will discuss how Unity Technologies and the Unity Development Platform transformed the video game industry. This presentation, on Friday, Feb. 26 at 3:30 p.m. in the Vester Hughes Auditorium (Caruth Hall), is part of the Game Changers Speaker Series, presented by SMU Guildhall. The series offers insights from today’s top talent in the video game industry as an extension of SMU Guildhall’s mission to educate and inspire the next generation of video game developers.

RSVP for David Helgason here

TEDxSMU Live Auditions: The first of three rounds of live TEDxSMU auditions, focusing on global issues, humanities and education, will be held Monday, Feb. 29 at the Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Avenue. Doors open at 6 p.m. and talks start promptly at 7 p.m. Audience members and a panel of celebrity judges will vote for their favorite during the auditions, and the winner will be announced at the end of the evening. Finalists include Lauren Bagwell, Candice Bledsoe, Sally Le, Kevin Lee, Diana Miller, Jonathan Swiatocha, Linda Swindling, and Rashmi Varma. Tickets are $23 and can be purchased here.

The audition application remains a two-step process: online application and live audition. Live Audition 2 is March 31 and is themed “Science, Technology and Health.” Submissions will close March 2 at 11:59 p.m. and finalists will be announced March 7. Live Audition 3 is May 26 and is themed “Arts, Entertainment, and Design.” Submissions will close April 17 at 11:59 p.m. and finalists will be announced March 25.

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 1.55.49 PM Blue Like Me: Siona Benjamin, a painter originally from Bombay now living in the U.S., will discuss her work and how it reflects her background of being raised as a Jew in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. Her paintings combine the imagery of her past with the role she plays in America today, making a mosaic inspired by Indian miniature painting and Judeo-Spanish icons. The event will be held on Tuesday, March 1 in Dedman Life Sciences Building, Room 110 at 5:30 p.m.

> Click here for more information

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y VELÁZQUEZ (1599–1660), Female Figure (Sibyl with Tabula Rasa) (Sibila con tábula rasa), c. 1648Art in Focus: The second offering in the Meadows Museum’s new series of short, public Art in Focus gallery talks centers on Female Figure (Sibyl with Tabula Rasa) by Diego Velazquez, c. 1648. From February through May 2016, on the first Wednesday of each month at 12:15 p.m., the Museum is offering a 15-minute gallery talk on a single work of art. The series focuses on works in the permanent collection, and the talks are delivered by museum staff. The goal of this series is to encourage a range of approaches to exploring the visual arts, providing a unique perspective and inviting visitors to look more closely at individual objects on display in the museum. Admission is free for SMU students, faculty and staff.

Women’s Symposium: Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, will be the keynote speaker at SMU’s 51st annual Women’s Symposium at a noon luncheon Wednesday, March 2, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center ballroom. Hosted by the Women and LGBT Center at SMU, the symposium is the longest continuously running program of its nature in the country. The primary goals of the program are to encourage women to assume roles of social and political leadership within their communities, to provide a forum in which women and men may examine the societal impact of the changing roles of women, and to provide an opportunity for female and male students to develop leadership skills within a multigenerational, multiethnic model.

> Learn more about the Women’s Symposium here

Jenks-Large

Christopher Jenks

Killer Robots: Lethal autonomous weapons systems or “killer robots” have the ability to select and fire upon targets without human intervention. The idea of autonomous weapons has inspired science fiction writers for decades, but recent technological advancements have created very real dilemmas for policymakers and military leaders.

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Michael Horowitz

Michael Horowitz, associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, and Christopher Jenks, director of SMU’s Criminal Justice Clinic and assistant professor of law, discuss these dilemmas Thursday, March 3 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public; reservations are required. Please RSVP to tower@smu.edu.

Click here for more information

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Sports: Rhonda Rompola announces retirement after 35 years with SMU women’s basketball

rompolaRompola Announces Retirement: On Monday, Feb. 22, 2016, Mustang women’s basketball head coach Rhonda Rompola announced that she will be retiring at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season. She has been a part of the Hilltop for the past 35 years, first as a student-athlete and then as a coach. Rompola has either played or coached in 35 of the 40 seasons in which SMU has sponsored women’s basketball as a varsity sport. As Rick Hart, SMU Director of Athletics, put it, “Rhonda is synonymous with SMU women’s basketball.” SMU will honor Rompola after the team’s final home game on Saturday, Feb. 27, when the Mustangs host Houston at 2 p.m.

Day four of the 2015 American Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championships at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium in Houston, TX on Saturday February 20, 2016. (Ben Solomon/American Athletic Conference)

Day four of the 2015 American Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championships at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium in Houston, TX on Saturday February 20, 2016.
(Ben Solomon/American Athletic Conference)

Mustangs Repeat As AAC Swimming and Diving Champions: The SMU women’s swimming and diving team defended their title as American Athletic Conference champions this past weekend at the University of Houston. They once again came out on top, winning 10 of 18 swimming events, including a sweep of all five relays. This Championship is the Mustangs’ second in the three-year history of the American, and 17th in the last 20 seasons. The Mustangs finished with 681 points, while runner-up Tulane finished with 637.5. Head coach Steve Collins and assistant coach Ashley Dell were also honored as the 2016 AAC Women’s Coaching Staff of the Year, an award the staff was also honored with in 2015.

SMU Men’s Basketball Takes the Win Against East Carolina (add in Memphis away game on Thursday): On a Sunday afternoon of Moody Magic, No. 21 SMU defeated East Carolina 74-63. Nic Moore held down 22 points, including four 3-pointers after half-time. SMU is still in contention to win the league’s regular season-title for the second-year in a row. This win also allowed SMU to stay in the AP Top 25 for the 14th consecutive week, currently standing at No. 24.

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