academic initiatives

Initial deadline for SMU J Term 2013 is Wednesday, Nov. 21

SMU J Term 2013 logoApplication deadlines for SMU’s 2013 J Term are coming up fast. The initial course selection deadline for J Term courses is 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, the day before Thanksgiving.

Late applications will be considered after the initial deadline but are subject to availability of class space. Forty different courses have been scheduled for the 2013 session, which takes place Jan. 7-16 at the SMU-in-Plano campus.

> Visit the SMU J Term course registration page

The courses qualify under the SMU Tuition Benefits Program for eligible University faculty, staff and dependents. Submit a tuition benefits application through Access.SMU’s Benefits > Tuition Benefits link as soon as a successful J Term course enrollment is complete.

Learn more about SMU’s Tuition Benefits Program

A limited number of tuition assistance scholarships are available to full-time SMU undergraduate students attending an SMU J Term course. The J Term Scholars Award can be combined with other J Term financial aid, not to exceed the cost of tuition. Interested students must send applications for the J Term Scholars Award to the SMU Financial Aid Office, 119 Blanton, by Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012.

Download the SMU J Term Scholars Award 2012-13 application (PDF format)

Assistance is awarded at the discretion of the SMU J Term Tuition Scholarship Committee, and the scholarship can only be applied towards the cost of tuition. Those receiving staff or dependent benefits through SMU are not eligible for the J Term Scholars award. The scholarship is not applicable to the Meadows New York Colloquium.

The J Term (short for January Term) allows students to complete one three-credit-hour course at a discounted tuition rate before the start of the spring semester. For J Term 2013, regular undergraduate students will pay a reduced tuition rate of $1,100 per credit hour ($3,300 per course), the same rate offered during the SMU 2012 Summer School program. Parking is free on the SMU-in-Plano campus, and no decal is required.

This year’s offerings include courses from the Cox School of Business, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Lyle School of Engineering, Meadows School of the Arts, and Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Find a complete list of 2013 J Term courses

J Term courses are not available for registration through Access.SMU. To enroll, students should meet with an adviser to select appropriate courses and to apply online or complete a J Term application form (PDF format).

Application forms may be submitted to the University Registrar Service Center on the first floor of the Blanton Student Services Building, or to the Taos/J Term office in 338 Blanton. They may also be faxed to 972-473-3433 or sent by e-mail to jterm@smu.edu.

Visit smu.edu/jterm online

SMU-in-Taos now accepting Summer 2013 course proposals

SMU-in-Taos logoSMU-in-Taos is now accepting course proposals for its 2013 Summer Terms with a deadline of Friday, Oct. 12, 2012.

The course proposal form for Summer 2013 can used for proposals for the May, June and August Summer Terms. Submit the form and all requested materials to the SMU-in-Taos Office  E-mail proposals to Executive Director Mike Adler.

Your paperwork should include:

  • application form
  • syllabus with proposed field trips
  • flyer
  • reading list

Syllabi, reading lists and other supporting documents can be considered as drafts and changed prior to the course being offered. Incomplete applications cannot be considered.

The form PDF includes a FAQ sheet for faculty proposing a course for the first time. Proposals should be signed by your dean and department chair.

More information about SMU-in-Taos is available at smu.edu/taos homepage. For more information contact A.B. Aston, director of operations and finance, 214-768-3771; or Mike Adler, executive director, 575-758-8516 – or stop by the SMU-in-Taos Office in 338 Blanton Student Services Building.

Common Reading 2012: Anatomy of a financial disaster

'The Big Short' book coverBy the time the public learned of the 2008 U.S. stock market crash, it had been happening for more than a year. Author and journalist Michael Lewis sought out a relatively obscure handful of Wall Street hedge-fund managers – minor players even in their own companies – to answer the questions of who knew about the oncoming financial disaster and why they were unable, or unwilling, to stop it.

The result was The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, originally published in 2010. SMU has chosen Lewis’ work as the class of 2016’s first-year Common Reading Experience – the book every member of the Fall 2012 incoming class will read and discuss.

In an e-mail announcing the selection, Associate Provost Harold Stanley cited Lewis’ ability to “[weave] the stories of some lesser-known players in the financial crisis to illustrate … specific examples of corporate greed run amok as well as certain intrinsic ills of Wall Street in general.”

SMU News: Tate Distinguished Lecture Series presents Michael Lewis

Lewis is perhaps best known for his sports writing; his best-sellers include The Blind Side and Moneyball. Yet his knowledge of Wall Street culture comes from an insider’s perspective. His first book, Liar’s Poker, was an autobiographical account of his disillusioning experiences at the investment bank Salomon Brothers during the “greed is good” era of the 1980s. The Big Short describes the Wall Street players who created the arcane credit default swap market that bet against the subprime mortgage bubble and made millions as families lost their homes.

“[Lewis] has accessibly and expertly described a broken financial system that rewards bad decisions and fraudulent alchemy … then shifts the inevitable losses to the strapped U.S. taxpayer,” wrote Chuck Leddy in his Boston Globe review.

NPR: Michael Lewis on “How a Few Made Millions Betting Against the Markets”

Since its beginning in 2004, the Common Reading Experience has brought SMU faculty, staff and new students together for an introduction to the intellectual experiences of college life. Incoming first-year students receive the Common Reading book during summer AARO sessions and discuss it at informal gatherings led by SMU faculty and staff members and student leaders at the beginning of the fall term.

Past SMU Common Reading books include Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman, How to Be Good by Nick Hornby, The Devil’s Highway by Luís Alberto Urrea, Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

The selection committee is now seeking faculty and staff leaders for the discussion event that has become one of the first shared experiences for new students during their first week on the Hilltop. Each discussion leader will receive a free copy of the book.

To volunteer, contact Diana Grumbles, senior lecturer in English and director of first-year writing.

Join SMU’s Common Reading group at Facebook

$5 million gift will establish Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute

Dallas Hall and Dedman College gateway monument at SMUA new $5 million gift from the Dedman family and The Dedman Foundation will create the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The new institute will bring together faculty and students from the humanities, sciences and social sciences for collaborative research and other programs. The Institute’s projects will also reach beyond Dedman College to the broader University and the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Unlike interdisciplinary centers at other universities, the Institute will engage undergraduates as well as graduate students and faculty.

“SMU has benefited from the Dedman family’s extraordinary vision and support for more than five decades,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Few other families have had such a wide-ranging impact on the University’s development. Their major gifts have supported areas from humanities and sciences to law and lifetime sports. As we celebrate the University’s Centennial, this latest gift will help SMU continue to move forward among the nation’s leading universities.”

The institute will host annual seminars bringing together faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and members of the community to discuss global issues. Informal research clusters will create collaborative groups of faculty and students from across the University to expand and enrich the interdisciplinary culture on campus. Interdisciplinary faculty appointments will develop new programming and curricular offerings, and a digital humanities lab will provide state-of-the-art computing technologies and interactive space for scholars to pursue interdisciplinary research.

Institute seminars and research clusters will generate capstone courses, a vital component of the new University Curriculum. In addition to deepening and broadening course selection, the Institute will allow Dedman College to offer students more opportunities for engaged learning beyond the classroom.

“Addressing the complex challenges of our interconnected world requires the knowledge and perspectives of more than one discipline,” said Dedman College Dean William Tsutsui. “The Institute is a perfect fit for a college that spans departments from philosophy to physics. By creating opportunities for substantive collaboration across the disciplines, the Institute will open new vistas for research and help prepare students for real-world challenges requiring multiple perspectives.”

Caroline BrettellDedman College will appoint Caroline Brettell, University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, as the first director of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute. Brettell has conducted research on international migration in Portugal, France and the United States, and for the last decade has studied new immigration in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, she also is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 14 books.

> Read the full story from SMU News

Engaged Learning announces 2012-13 Unbridled student projects

SMU students pursuing 2012-13 Unbridled Projects through the Office of Engaged Learning

Thirty-seven SMU students – some of them pictured here – will pursue 2012-13 Unbridled Projects through the University's Office of Engaged Learning. Photo credit: Hillsman S. Jackson.

In the coming academic year, 37 SMU students from throughout the University will take on special projects of their own design in research, civic engagement, creative work and internships.

They are all part of the 2012-13 Unbridled Project, part of the SMU Engaged Learning initiative. Of the 37 participating students, 32 requested and received grants to complete their projects.

Visit SMU’s Engaged Learning homepage

Three students conducted Unbridled Projects during the program’s first year in 2011-12. The new group represents a more than 1,100 percent increase in participation. As the initiative begins its second year, “we are right where we hoped to be,” says Director of Engaged Learning Susan Kress.

“We’re very excited for the students,” Kress adds. “The University has invested a lot of effort in raising awareness of the opportunities available through this initiative, and those efforts have paid off.”

The students are especially gratified to know that faculty members are interested in their work and support their efforts, Kress adds. “And at the same time, faculty members are excited that this ties in to the ‘engaged teaching and learning’ happening in their classrooms.”

SMU student Kimberly MendozaJunior Kimberly Mendoza (left), a double major in biological sciences and chemistry in SMU’s Dedman College, can attest to the importance and inspiration of engaged faculty. For her Unbridled Project, she will research health-related traditions, beliefs and practices in the indigenous Mayan community in Guatemala and evaluate how these values and beliefs occasionally clash with Western medicine. Nia Parson of the Department of Anthropology will serve as her faculty mentor.

During her first year at SMU, Mendoza took Parson’s course “Health, Healing and Ethics,” which examines cross-cultural perspectives on sickness and society. “It was one of the best classes I have taken at SMU,” she says. “Dr. Parson gave me so much insight into health as viewed from different perspectives. She also was very passionate about her anthropological work and health in a global perspective.”

When Mendoza decided to pursue an Unbridled Project, “I immediately thought of Dr. Parson, and she was so helpful to me throughout the application process.”

Mendoza’s mother is of indigenous Maya origin, but fled her native Guatemala during the civil war in the 1970s. “As a result, she did not grow up learning the traditions, culture, values and language that bind this group of people together,” Mendoza says. When her maternal grandmother, also an indigenous Maya, received medical treatment in the United States for a malignant brain tumor, Mendoza experienced first-hand how strongly those traditions and values are upheld. “I also witnessed the dichotomy between my grandmother’s spiritual and traditional beliefs and the Western medical system,” she says.

Through her Unbridled Project, Mendoza seeks to understand how to better relate to those who hold such traditional values and beliefs, she says. She plans to become a physician with an emphasis in global health and hopes to work with Doctors Without Borders.

“It is an intellectual treat for me to mentor Kimberly,” Parson says. “As a medical anthropologist, specializing in Latin America, I know how important and interesting her project is – not only because it illuminates the different ways people experience and think about health in Guatemala, but also because of the implications of this knowledge for our own health care systems.”

Mendoza’s research could help in providing better care for Guatemalan and other immigrants here in Dallas, Parson adds. “It is very gratifying to see Kimberly bringing together her family’s ties to Guatemala and her educational experience here at SMU.”

The Office of Engaged Learning provides institutional support for SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), created as part of the University’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). “Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” allows all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation.

A full list of students who will pursue 2012-13 Unbridled Projects appears below the link.

(more…)

CTE recognizes 2010-11 Peer Feedback faculty participants

SMU’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) recognizes 18 faculty members for serving in its Peer Feedback Program during 2010-11.

The CTE established the program in Fall 2010 “as part of our mission to enhance teaching effectiveness across campus,” says CTE Director Ron Wetherington.

The program matches a faculty member asking for an outside teaching assessment with a member of the Altshuler Academy of Distinguished Teachers – all of whom are recipients of the CTE’s Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award. Working together, the two faculty members develop a comprehensive review of all aspects of the requesting faculty member’s teaching. The result is a confidential assessment for the requesting faculty member only.

Since its inception, the CTE has received more than 20 requests from new and experienced teachers alike, Wetherington says.

The following Academy members provided Peer Feedback reviews during the past year:

  • Bill Beauchamp, World Languages
  • Marc Christensen, Electrical Engineering
  • Olga Colbert, World Languages
  • Melissa Dowling, History
  • Randall Griffin, Art History
  • Milt Gosney, Electrical Engineering
  • Ian Harris, Statistical Science
  • Robert Howell, Philosophy
  • Jeff Kennington, Engineering Management, Information and Systems
  • Alyce McKenzie, Preaching and Worship
  • Thomas Osang, Economics
  • Ellen Pryor, Law
  • Dennis Simon, Political Science
  • David Son, Chemistry
  • John Ubelaker, Biology
  • Don VandeWalle, Management and Organizations
  • Mary Vernon, Art
  • Wayne Woodward, Statistical Science

> More about the Peer Feedback Program from SMU’s Center for Teaching Excellence
> Request peer feedback from the CTE

SACS reaffirms SMU’s accreditation at 2011 meeting

SMU received full reaffirmation of its accreditation at the annual meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Dec. 5, 2011, in Orlando. Provost Paul Ludden made the announcement to faculty and staff members in an e-mail message dated Dec. 9:


This past Monday at the Annual SACS Meeting in Orlando, SMU received full reaffirmation of its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools SACS.  Many of you were involved, either directly or indirectly, in developing the materials for that review process, and I thank you for your effort as well as your continued support of SMU.

A list of those who served on the SACS Steering Committee and those who served on the Committee to develop SMU’s Quality Enhancement Program (QEP), “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” is attached.  When you see these individuals, please congratulate them and thank them for their efforts.

Best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season.


> Visit SMU’s SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation page
> See a list of SMU’s SACS Committee members (PDF format)

Lyle School to offer Master’s in Sustainability & Development

The Pallet House prototype by I-Beam Design
The Pallet House prototype created by I-Beam Design was featured in HRH Prince Charles’ Royal Gardens as part of an exhibition on sustainable design. The inspiration for the Pallet House Project came from the fact that 84% of the world’s refugees could be housed with a year’s supply of recycled American pallets. (Photo courtesy of I-Beam Design)

It’s going to take more than engineering to build a world of sustainable cities. That’s the challenge behind a new Master’s degree from SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering that is already drawing multi-industry leaders to the intersection of engineering design, urban planning and environmental policy.

The Master of Arts in Sustainability and Development will be offered beginning in January 2012 through the Lyle School, with support from the Hunter & Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity.

The Lyle School and the Hunt Institute will kick off the new degree program Friday, Dec. 9, with a special mid-day program featuring renowned London urban sustainability strategist Peter Bishop and the unveiling of an innovative, low-cost “pallet house” previously featured at a sustainability expo hosted by the Prince of Wales.

“The world’s population just hit 7 billion,” said Lyle School Dean Geoffrey Orsak. “The need to build livable, sustainable cities has moved beyond the critical stage. This new degree program creates a framework for partnerships between engineers and the architects, city planners and environmental policy experts needed to ensure the cities can thrive in the face of so many challenges.”

“With this population growth comes a tremendous strain on non-renewable resources, infrastructure, and energy sources,” said Betsy del Monte, SMU Lyle adjunct professor, and principal and director of sustainability at the Beck Group. “Providing access to clean water, clean air, housing, and transportation will shape public policy, redefine business, and engage a generation.”

Students pursuing the Master of Arts in Sustainability and Development will complete a 30-hour interdisciplinary program that will cover sustainability-related topics from policy to design in both developed and developing worlds.  The program will advance the wise use of environmental resources in urban development, with a goal of creating and re-building economically and environmentally healthy cities, both here and abroad.

The program offered through the Lyle School’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department will incorporate studies in:

  • Re-use and redevelopment
  • Urban transportation systems
  • Modernization of existing structures
  • Waste and sanitation

Classes begin in January 2012. Applications are now being accepted at smu.edu/lyle.

– Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Get the full story from SMU News
> Visit the Lyle School of Engineering homepage
> Learn more about the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity

Tuition benefit applications due Nov. 21 for J Term 2012

SMU J Term 2012 logoSMU’s 2012 J Term is scheduled for Jan. 3-12 at the SMU-in-Plano campus. J Term course selection forms are due Wednesday, Nov. 23.

The courses qualify under the SMU Tuition Benefit Program for eligible University faculty, staff and dependents. Tuition benefit applications are due to Human Resources by Monday, Nov. 21.

The J Term (short for January Term) allows students to complete one three-credit-hour course at a discounted tuition rate before the start of the spring semester. The 2012 J Term features 34 course offerings from the Cox School of Business, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Lyle School of Engineering and Meadows School of the Arts.

J Term courses are not available for registration through Access.SMU. To enroll, students should meet with an adviser to select appropriate courses and to complete the J Term application form.

Application forms may be submitted to the University Registrar Service Center on the first floor of the Blanton Student Services Building, or to the Taos/J Term office in 338 Blanton. They may also be faxed to 972-473-3433 or sent by e-mail to jterm@smu.edu.

> Visit smu.edu/jterm online
> Find a complete list of 2012 J Term courses
> Learn more about SMU’s Tuition Benefit Program

By | 2011-11-17T16:16:36+00:00 November 10, 2011|Categories: News, Save the Date|Tags: , , , , |

Susan Kress becomes SMU Director of Engaged Learning Oct. 1, 2011

Susan Kress, SMU Director of Engaged LearningSusan Kress of the SMU International Center will become the University’s new Director of Engaged Learning effective Oct. 1, 2011. Her office is in the General Education suite in the lower level of Clements Hall, adjacent to the Scholars’ Den honors community commons. She reports to James Quick, Associate Vice President for Research.

Kress has been with SMU since 2008 in her role as Director of Education Abroad. She received her B.F.A. degree from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, and her M.F.A. degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Prior to accepting her position at SMU, she was assistant director of The International Center and coordinator of study abroad and national student exchange at Winthrop University.

Her new position was created to provide institutional support for the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), created as part of SMU’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” will allow all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation, according to the plan set forth by SMU’s QEP Committee in January 2011.

The oversight infrastructure will include the Engaged Learning Advisory Committee, as well as community partners and mentors, and a new website to keep track of experiential learning opportunities for students.

> Learn more about the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan

Kress will start by working with Quick to assemble an advisory committee of SMU campus community members, she says. By spring 2012, they hope to have an external advisory committee of community and national leaders and friends of SMU, she adds.

The committees’ advice will help establish priorities for the program, Kress says. “We will focus on bringing together different constituencies and talking to students to find out what they want.”

Kress sees the Office of Engaged Learning as serving as “an umbrella that will bring together the people behind the myriad experiential learning activities already happening on campus, making it easy for students to know where to go to practice the knowledge and skills they are learning in the classroom in a real-world context,” she says. “Students, based on their needs and interests, are already asking for it. A big part of my job is to establish the business practices needed for a coordinated and exciting program that underscores the value of active learning as a distinctive component of a SMU education.

“The University is looking at the next 100 years. As we go forward, this engaged learning will be part and parcel of the academic experience, not something separate.”

> Visit SMU’s “Unbridled Learning” homepage

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