administrators

Kenechukwu (K.C.) Mmeje named SMU Vice President for Student Affairs

Kenechukwu K.C. MmejeKenechukwu (K.C.) Mmeje, assistant vice president and dean of students at Loyola University Chicago, has been named Vice President for Student Affairs at SMU effective Monday, July 17, 2017.

“Strength of character and a commitment to students shines through in interactions with Dr. Mmeje,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His experience at urban, private universities in Chicago and Los Angeles also set him apart as a candidate for this important position at SMU. We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Mmeje to the Hilltop in Dallas.”

In his new duties, Mmeje (pronounced MAY-jay) will oversee areas including the Office of the Dean of Student Life; Residence Life; women’s, LGBT, multicultural, volunteer and leadership programs; student activities; student conduct; the Hegi Family Career Development Center; campus ministries; health and wellness programs, including the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center; the Hughes-Trigg Student Center and the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

As assistant vice president and dean of students at Loyola University Chicago since September 2014, Mmeje has been responsible for several functional areas that support Loyola’s academic mission and promote a vibrant campus life, including the Office of the Dean of Students, Off-Campus Student Life, Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution, Student Activities & Greek Affairs, Leadership Development and Second Year Experience, Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, and the Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC). He has almost 15 years of progressively responsible student affairs experience in judicial affairs, crisis management, retention and academic support services, and student advocacy and support.

In addition, he oversees Loyola’s Behavioral Concerns Team and co-chairs the Threat Assessment Team. He also co-chairs the Loyola Experience Implementation Committee, which is responsible for ensuring alignment of the institution’s academic and co-curricular programs through ongoing collaborations that include New Student Convocation, Welcome Week, and Student Support and Retention Initiatives, among others.

“I am excited to join the SMU community,” Mmeje said. “Throughout the search process, I was struck by the passion and enthusiasm with which everyone I met described their love and tremendous pride for SMU. I look forward to partnering with the outstanding professionals in the Division of Student Affairs, faculty and academic leaders to offer a seamlessly integrated curricular and co-curricular experience that supports the holistic development of each student. I am eager to meet the SMU student community and to begin working on their behalf.”

Mmeje began his career in student life and development at the University of Vermont in Burlington, where he served as assistant director of the Office of Judicial Affairs from 2003-04. He served the University of Southern California (USC) as assistant director of student judicial affairs and community standards (2004-05), and as student affairs advisor and special projects coordinator for the vice president of student affairs (2005-06).

From 2006-10, Mmeje was director of the USC Scholars Program, a funded outreach and retention initiative serving local underrepresented, first-generation, and low- to moderate-income transfer students. In this role, he collaborated with faculty to develop, implement and assess programs that facilitated the academic and social success of these students at USC. In addition, he provided regular training for academic advisors on how to better serve the university’s transfer population, as well as admissions and financial aid counseling for students and their parents and guardians.

His eight-year career with Loyola University Chicago included service as associate dean of student life (2010-13) before his promotion to assistant vice president, Student Life, in July 2013. Concurrently with his other duties, he also served as interim director of the Department of Residence Life from 2015-16.

Mmeje received his B.A. degree in sociology and Black studies from the University of California-Santa Barbara. He earned a Master of Education degree in higher education student affairs administration from the University of Vermont and his Ed.D. in educational leadership from USC. In addition, he holds a Certificate in Management and Leadership in Education from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

His wife, Natasha, is a health educator and currently serves as assistant director of Loyola’s Wellness Center for Health Promotion. She also is a trained medical advocate for survivors of sexual assault in the State of Illinois. They have two daughters, Ayana and Savannah.

Mmeje was selected after a nationwide search coordinated by a campus committee chaired by Harold W. Stanley, vice president for executive affairs. He replaces the late Pamela D. Anthony, who died Jan. 17, 2017, after a battle with cancer. Joanne Vogel, SMU associate vice president and dean of student life, currently serves as vice president ad interim.

Updates from the May 5, 2017 meeting of the SMU Board of Trustees

In its quarterly meeting May 5, SMU’s Board of Trustees elected new officers, selected two new committee chairs and welcomed new incoming deans of the Edwin L. Cox School of Business and Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. President R. Gerald Turner also agreed to a five-year extension, ensuring that he will continue to serve as president until at least May 31, 2022.

According to SMU Board of Trustees Chair Michael M. Boone, this action expresses the Board’s continuing confidence in Turner’s leadership. “The Board’s goal is to continue SMU’s momentum and its rising prominence at this historic time.”

The SMU Board reelected Boone as board chair. Robert H. Dedman, Jr. was elected vice-chair and chair-elect. He is expected to serve as board chair beginning in June 2018. David B. Miller was elected secretary. Two new committee chairs were chosen by the Board: Kelly Compton will chair the Academic Affairs Committee and Jeanne Tower Cox will chair the Student Affairs Committee.

New ex-officio members of the Board are SMU Faculty Senate President Paul Krueger, a professor of mechanical engineering in the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, SMU Alumni Board Chair Doug Smellage, 1977 SMU alumnus and Dallas businessman, and SMU Student Trustee Andrew Udofa, a 2014 SMU alumnus (degrees in biology and chemistry) and current Simmons School of Education and Human Development doctoral student.

SMU’s new deans, who will start at the University on Aug. 1, are Matthew B. Myers, Cox School of Business, and Stephanie L. Knight, Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

The Board also enthusiastically supported the Pony Power: Strengthening the Stampede initiative to strengthen annual support for scholarships and programs. The goal of this three-year effort is to increase current-use giving from its $43 million per year total to $50 million per year.

Elena D. Hicks begins role as SMU’s new dean of admission Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017

This story was originally published Jan. 30, 2017.

Elena Hicks

After an extensive national search, SMU has appointed Elena D. Hicks, dean of admission at Loyola University Maryland, as the University’s new dean of undergraduate admission. She began her SMU service on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.

In her new role, Hicks oversees all activities in the SMU Office of Admission, including admission for first-year, transfer and international applicants. She also will work closely with SMU Public Affairs to develop the University’s marketing messages, and with faculty, staff and alumni to recruit high achieving undergraduate students from across the United States and around the world.

“We are pleased to welcome Dean Hicks to the SMU admission team, and back to her home state of Texas,” said Wes Waggoner, associate vice president for enrollment management in the Office of the Provost. “Her experience and knowledge in admission is extensive, and she understands the profession in a way that will complement our current staff and guide SMU through the enrollment opportunities and complexities before us. She is firmly committed to increasing [the University’s] academic stature and ensuring that its student body is talented, diverse and eager to engage with our faculty in the classroom.”

With 27 years of education experience, Hicks has considerable knowledge about student recruitment, selective admission and family involvement. At Loyola, she successfully developed and implemented recruitment strategies that resulted in a significant increase in first-year applications and an increase in the enrollment size of the entering class during her nine-year tenure.

Hicks’ ties to SMU are deeply rooted. Her great-grandfather Robert L. Peace (a Dallas native), began working at SMU as it opened its doors, and he proudly served the institution for 37 years. Other family members, inspired by Robert’s passion for the University, worked at SMU in various capacities over the years.

“I have a passion for education and strongly believe in SMU’s commitment to shape world changers, thus I am extremely honored to be selected as the University’s new dean of undergraduate admission,” said Hicks. “I feel confident that my myriad of experiences will help move the office of admission’s goals and strategies forward, while establishing collaborative partnerships and strengthening relationships with the overall community.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

SMU names Rakesh Dahiya treasurer and chief investment officer

Updated Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016


Rakesh Dahiya, SMU Treasurer and Chief Investment OfficerRakesh Dahiya
, CFA, an experienced investment manager with a strong background in higher education, has been named SMU treasurer and chief investment officer, effective Sept. 12, 2016.

The University will welcome Dahiya with a reception on Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 4-5 p.m. in the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center. Faculty and staff members may RSVP online.

Dahiya will be responsible for oversight of the University’s $1.5 billion endowment, mineral interests and planned giving assets. He will work with the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees, setting agendas, developing policies, formulating investment strategies, as well as recommending specific investment managers and vehicles for carrying out the investment program.

“Rakesh Dahiya’s experience in higher education investment management, particularly with sophisticated institutional portfolios much like SMU’s, as well as his achievements in corporate finance, makes him an excellent fit as SMU’s chief investment officer,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “As we move forward in the University’s second century, Rakesh’s leadership and understanding of changing markets will ensure that SMU invests wisely with a close eye on the goals established by our Board of Trustees.”

“Current markets are complex and fast-moving. It was important that we find the best individual to monitor national and global markets and identify strategic opportunities that position the University for growth,” said Fred Hegi, chair of the Investment Committee of the SMU Board of Trustees. “I am pleased to say that we found that individual in Rakesh Dahiya.”

Since 2011, Dahiya served as Director of Marketable Strategies at the University of Florida Investment Corporation (UFICO), an independent investment management company with total assets over $2.7 billion. Prior to UFICO, he spent nine years at Washington University in St. Louis and six years at Ralston Purina.

Dahiya’s experience over the last 20 years includes working with investments of more than $3 billion in global equities and fixed-income markets. As Director of Marketable Strategies at the University of Florida, he was responsible for all hedge fund, traditional equity and fixed income strategies. At Washington University in St. Louis, a university with endowment assets over $5 billion, Dahiya oversaw the investment of $2.6 billion in global equities, fixed income and public real assets.

As a senior officer of SMU, Dahiya will serve on the President’s Executive Council and work with leadership on matters related to endowment spending and the communication of endowment strategy and performance. He will oversee investment research and analysis, implementation, risk management, accounting, performance measurement and reporting associated with the investment process, and with the management of real estate and mineral interests.

Dahiya graduated from Iowa State University with a B.B.A. degree in finance in 1994. He earned his M.B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1996.

> Read the full story from SMU News

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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