Jeffrey Talley (at right in photo), just selected for his second star (Major General) in the U.S. Army Reserve and lauded for his recent work in the “engineering battle for Baghdad,” is joining SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering as chair of the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering and Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Leadership and Global Entrepreneurship.
Talley recently completed a year of service as Baghdad Provincial Engineer under Gen. David Petraeus, where he commanded more than 4,000 engineers and soldiers in the 926th Engineer Brigade. Talley is credited with developing a military and policy strategy widely referred to as “engineering the peace” that aims to reduce violence in destabilized communities by rapidly rebuilding infrastructure, schools and hospitals. His work is credited with reducing violence and terrorism in the militia stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, and he was awarded two Bronze Stars – one for his efforts in rebuilding Baghdad, and the other for meritorious achievement in combat during the January planning and execution of security operations for the Baghdad provincial elections.
Solving the community’s most basic problems delivered an important message that supporting the official government of Iraq would result in a better life for Sadr City families, Talley said in December, near the end of his tour of duty. “You are showing them there is another option besides the militia,” Talley said.
Lyle School Dean Geoffrey Orsak said Talley will put flesh and bones on the philosophy Orsak drums into his SMU students – that engineers have both the power and responsibility to change lives.
“My work has really been about service to others,” Talley said. “In the case of Iraq, specifically, it was in recognizing that engineers and scientists play a unique role in providing peace and hope. Within the Lyle School of Engineering we can link scholarship, leadership and service to others locally, nationally and globally. I think that fits really well, not only with the Dean’s vision for the school, but also with the vision of other great leaders in Dallas and the nation.”
“Jeff Talley is simply one of the best and most influential engineers in the country,” Orsak said. “He is a true engineering leader, a great scholar and educator, and a real national hero. We are so pleased that he will be heading the Lyle School of Engineering’s Environmental and Civil Engineering Department. I fully expect that he will accomplish absolutely remarkable things here in Texas and at SMU.”
Talley joins the Lyle School from the University of Notre Dame, where he is associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and geological sciences. He is also visiting scholar and professor at Ireland’s National Centre for Sensor Research at Dublin City University. Talley’s research focuses on the environmental processes and treatment of contaminated surface water, groundwater, soil and sediment. Talley has graduate degrees in religious studies, history and philosophy in addition to engineering. He received his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
Talley attended Louisiana State University on an ROTC scholarship and was commissioned into the Army Corps of Engineers when he graduated in 1981. He has been a member of the U.S. Army Reserve since 1992 and was awarded his first Bronze Star in 2003 for engineering work in Kuwait and Iraq.
(Above, Jeffrey Talley (at right in photo) talks with Gen. David Petraeus as they walk through Baghdad’s Sadr City in June 2008, when Petraeus was commanding general of the multi-national force in Iraq.)