Common Reading

Pulitzer Prize-winner Matthew Desmond to give public lecture at SMU Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017

Matthew DesmondThe SMU and Dallas communities are invited to a lecture by Matthew Desmond, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. The SMU Reads event takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, in McFarlin Auditorium.

Desmond, a Harvard sociologist and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, went into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to learn the stories of families struggling to keep even a substandard roof over their heads. The incoming Class of 2021 will discuss the book with faculty and staff members as their Common Reading on Sunday, Aug. 20, before Opening Convocation.

> More on Evicted from the SMU Forum

Desmond is principal investigator of the Milwaukee Area Renters Study, an original survey of tenants in Milwaukee’s low-income private housing sector, as well as Harvard University’s John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences and co-director of the Justice and Poverty Project. His work has been supported by the Ford, Russell Sage, and National Science Foundations, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times and Chicago Tribune.

He has written on educational inequality, dangerous work, political ideology, race and social theory, and the inner-city housing market. Recently, he has published on the prevalence and consequences of eviction and the low-income rental market, network-based survival strategies among the urban poor, and the consequences of new crime control policies on inner-city women; his writings have appeared in the American Journal of SociologyAmerican Sociological Review, Social Forces, and Demography.

Desmond is the author of three other books: On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters (2007), Race in America (with Mustafa Emirbayer, 2015), and The Racial Order (with Mustafa Emirbayer, 2015). He also is editor of the inaugural issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, Volumes 1 & 2: Severe Deprivation in America (2015).

After receiving his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Desmond joined the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow. His primary teaching and research interests include urban sociology, poverty, race and ethnicity, organizations and work, social theory, and ethnography.

> Follow Matthew Desmond on Twitter @Just_Shelter

SMU Reads was created to encourage reading and support literacy in the Dallas community. Under the program, members of the community join in the University’s annual Common Reading, as chosen by the SMU selection committee. Campus and community participants are invited to take part in gatherings and events focused on the book, including a presentation by the author.

Evicted is available at a number online retailers, including Barnes & Noble. It is also available at a 10-percent discount at the SMU Barnes & Noble Bookstore, 3000 Mockingbird Lane. Call 214-768-2435 for more information.

The presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the SMU Reads homepage: smu.edu/smureads.

SMU welcomes the Class of 2021 with Mustang Corral 2017, Aug. 16-20

Camp Corral candlelight ceremony, 2016SMU welcomes new students to campus Aug. 16-20, 2017 with Mustang Corral, a five-day University orientation for first-year and transfer students. The Corral experience begins on Move-in Day, Wednesday, Aug. 16, and ends with the close of Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 20.

The schedule includes the following:

Wednesday, Aug. 16: Move-in Day for First-Year Students, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
As new students arrive for their prescheduled check-in time, volunteers help unload cars and roll students’ belongings to their rooms. After move-in, families are invited to enjoy barbecues at Arnold Dining Commons, Umphrey Lee Dining Commons and the Mack Ballroom in Umphrey Lee.

Old Red Courthouse visit, Discover Dallas 2016Thursday, Aug. 17: Discover Dallas
Students board buses and take off to #DiscoverDallas through SMU’s popular morning field trips. Students choose one of 22 different tours to learn about their new hometown, with destinations ranging from the Dallas Zoo to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science to kayaking on White Rock Lake and touring AT&T Stadium. Students also can select community service sites, including the North Texas Food Bank, SPARK and Dan D. Rogers Elementary School.

> Check out the Discover Dallas 2017 interactive map

•  Thursday-Friday, Aug. 17-18: Camp Corral
On Thursday afternoon, students head to Camp Corral for a two-day, one-night retreat just outside of Dallas. Incoming and upper-class students will have the opportunity to interact while learning about the SMU community. Highlights include the Club Corral dance and closing candlelight ceremony.

Saturday, Aug. 19: Class photo, Night at the Club
The Class of 2021 gathers on the main quad Saturday morning for a class photo in the shape of a giant 2021. The day wraps up with Night at the Club at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports, an introduction to the hundreds of clubs, community service groups and campus activities for students.

SMU Opening Convocation choir, 2016Sunday, Aug. 20: University Worship, SMU Reads, Rotunda Passage and Opening Convocation
Sunday begins with University worship in the morning, and the SMU Reads discussions of SMU’s 2017 Common ReadingEvicted by Matthew Desmond, in the afternoon. Mustang Corral ends and the academic year begins Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m. with Rotunda Passage, a processional march through Dallas Hall’s Rotunda to Opening Convocation, the ceremonial gathering in McFarlin Auditorium where new first-year and transfer students are formally welcomed to SMU by faculty and administrators. SMU President R. Gerald Turner will present remarks.

For more information about Mustang Corral, visit SMU’s New Student Orientation blog.

— Written by Nancy George

See slide shows from Discover Dallas 2016

> Find a complete schedule at SMU News

Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winner Evicted will be SMU’s 2017 Common Reading

'Evicted' cover, Matthew DesmondIn 2017, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing. Eviction, once a rare, last-resort scenario, has become an ordinary occurrence, especially for single mothers.

Harvard sociologist and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Matthew Desmond went into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to learn the stories of families struggling to keep even meager shelter. The Pulitzer Prize-winning book that resulted – Evicted: Poverty and Profit In the American City – is SMU’s 2017 Common Reading.

Significantly, one of the families Desmond profiles includes a landlord and her husband, writes Peter K. Moore, SMU associate provost for curricular innovation and policy. “Discussing the great difficulties the poor face just to keep a roof over their heads, it would have been easy to demonize the landlords, but Desmond shows their struggles as well — providing real nuance and a window into the issue’s complexities.

“Ideally, this work will reveal to our students how much some people struggle to stay afloat financially — introducing them to the fact that those living near the poverty line typically spend up to 50 percent and in some cases 90 percent of their income on a decent and safe place to live,” Moore added.

> Follow Matthew Desmond on Twitter: @just_shelter

In a Washington Post review, Carlos Lozada wrote, “In this astonishing feat of ethnography, Desmond immerses himself in the lives of Milwaukee families caught in the cycle of chronic eviction. In spare and penetrating prose, [he] chronicles the economic and psychological toll of living in substandard housing, and the eviscerating impact of constantly moving between homes and shelters. With Evicted, Desmond has made it impossible to consider poverty without grappling with the role of housing.”

“Written with the vividness of a novel, [Evicted] offers a dark mirror of middle-class America’s obsession with real estate, laying bare the workings of the low end of the market, where evictions have become just another part of an often lucrative business model,” wrote Jennifer Schuessler in The New York Times.

The annual book discussion with faculty, staff members and new SMU students will take place on Sunday, Aug. 20, before Opening Convocation.

In addition, Desmond will visit the University Thursday, August 24, for a 6 p.m. lecture in McFarlin Auditorium, with a Q&A session and book-signing afterward.

> Learn more at the SMU Reads website: smu.edu/smureads

Just Mercy author Bryan Stevenson gives two lectures at SMU Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016

This story is updated from a version that was published Aug. 17, 2016.

Attorney and author Bryan Stevenson'Just Mercy' book cover, whose intimate account of politics and error in the U.S. criminal justice system became SMU’s 2016 Common Reading, visits the Hilltop on Thursday, Oct. 13. The Common Reading Public Lecture begins at 4:30 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Also on Thursday, at 8 p.m., Stevenson will deliver the Jones Day Lecture in SMU’s 2016-17 Tate Distinguished Lecture Series.

Students who wish to attend the Tate Lecture can go to the basement of McFarlin Auditorium at 7 p.m. with their SMU IDs for possible free seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

> Visit the SMU Reads website: smu.edu/smureads

Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of the criminal justice system.

> Follow Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative on Twitter: @eji_org

Bryan Stevenson

Author and attorney Bryan Stevenson will give a free lecture at SMU Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016.

One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Stevenson into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations, and legal brinksmanship — and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice. His telling of the McMillian case is captured in Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

The story is “[e]very bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so … a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields,” wrote David Cole of The New York Review of Books in his review.

And Stevenson is “doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope,” wrote legal writer and novelist John Grisham, author of A Time to KillThe Client and The Innocent Man.

> Learn more at SMU’s Common Reading website: smu.edu/commonreading

Tune In: SMU welcomes the Class of 2020

SMU welcomed new students to the Hilltop in August with five days of learning, bonding and exploring their new home. Throughout the week, University reporters and photographers captured the Class of 2020 at Mustang Corral and in the Discover Dallas program.

Opening Convocation

Now their photos, social media posts, and a new video by SMU News’ Myles Taylor are gathered at one link. Visit SMU News for many more dispatches from Move-in Day, Camp Corral, the 2016 Opening Convocation, the making of the class photo and more.

> Relive the SMU Class of 2020’s week of welcome here

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