SMU, Dedman School of Law announce Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center

endowed deans

SMU, Dedman School of Law announce Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center

Umphrey Lee Cenotaph, Dedman School of Law quad, SMUSMU’s Dedman School of Law is poised to become a hub of research and education on issues related to criminal justice reform.

The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center will be a place for scholars to undertake independent research and develop educational opportunities on topics such as the causes of wrongful convictions and over-incarceration, and ensuring the fair and ethical treatment of individuals at all stages of the criminal justice process.

The new center is supported by combined gifts totaling $7 million from the Deason Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation. The gifts will provide $3.5 million each over a period of five years.

“The support from the Deason Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation for this center goes right to the heart of what a great university like SMU is positioned to do in finding solutions to societal problems,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prison population, so there’s work to be done. Dedman Law is eager to engage in the important national debate surrounding issues of fairness, accuracy and compassion in the criminal justice system.”

> The Dallas Morning NewsDeason and Koch give $7 million to SMU Dedman Law for criminal justice reform

Jennifer Collins, the Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law at Dedman School of Law, served as assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia from 1994 to 2002 and is well positioned to anticipate the impact of the Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center.

“Policy makers across the ideological spectrum are talking about the need for criminal justice reform,” Collins said. “From the adequacy of defense counsel, to police uses of force, to wrongful convictions and the racial disparities in the criminal justice system – these are the huge issues of our time. This new center will work well with our existing criminal clinic and innocence clinic, and build on our existing faculty strength in criminal law.”

The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center will provide a platform for important interdisciplinary collaboration among many different groups, including scholars, students, the judiciary, law enforcement, prosecutors, and defense counsel. By bringing together experts from across the country to participate in symposia and conferences, the center will engage in national conversations surrounding criminal justice.

“Our passion for criminal justice reform is based on our desire to create and support programs that help lift the poor from poverty, to help them become self-dependent and, consequently, support their families and live their lives with dignity,” said Doug Deason. “Because the problems with our criminal justice system are so complex and deeply rooted, a collaborative, thoughtful approach is essential. This new Criminal Justice Reform Center will offer the research required to find innovative solutions, and we are very proud to support it.”

“Finding solutions to the problems with our criminal justice system will require the sort of leading-edge scholarship that the faculty at SMU produce. This is an issue that separates families, divides communities, and gets to the heart of how our society treats people in their most difficult hour. The Deason Center scholars can make a major difference and we’re proud to partner with the Deason family and SMU on this initiative,” said Charles Koch Foundation President Brian Hooks.

The gifts to fund the Deason Family Criminal Justice Center in Dedman School of Law count toward SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which concluded on Dec. 31, 2015 and raised more than $1 billion to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

“The overarching goal of our Second Century Campaign has been to build an extraordinary platform for research and learning at SMU,” said Brad Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs. “The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center will support important learning experiences for our students, and, we believe, equally important societal changes. We are grateful for the opportunity this provides us.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

April 27, 2016|News|

SMU breaks ground on Harold Clark Simmons Hall

Harold Clark Simmons Hall at SMU, artist's rendering

An artist’s rendering of Harold Clark Simmons Hall, the second building in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development quad. The University broke ground for the new facility on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014.

SMU broke ground on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014 for the second building in the University’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development complex.

Harold Clark Simmons Hall was funded by a gift of $25 million from Annette Caldwell Simmons and Harold C. Simmons in February 2013. The gift will also support three new endowed academic positions. The new facility will be named in honor of the late Mr. Simmons, at Mrs. Simmons’ request.

“This new building will support the growing impact and leadership of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. The Simmons School excels in research productivity and innovative programs that have direct application to the critical education needs in our community and beyond,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The generosity of Harold and Annette Simmons reflects their wisdom and foresight in supporting programs that expand human potential and achievement. We are grateful to them for enabling us to increase student and faculty achievement in the school.”

> Visit the Simmons School online at

Situated along Airline Drive, Harold Clark Simmons Hall will be a three-story, 40,000-square-foot academic building and home to the Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education, the Teacher Development Studio and the Department of Teaching and Learning. The facility also will include classrooms, labs, faculty and administrative offices and conference rooms to meet the expanding program needs of the school. Completion is scheduled for late 2015.

“One dean should not have this much fun,” said David Chard, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean of the Simmons School, noting that in the space of a very short time, he has been privileged to break ground on two buildings made possible by Harold and Annette Simmons.

“Harold C. Simmons Hall represents a generous commitment to the teachers and children of our region,” Chard added. “It will enable the Simmons School to help teachers optimize their impact on children’s education. It will also serve as the hub of our community-based programs, allowing us to expand our understanding of the relationship between schools and the communities they serve.”

In 2007 Harold and Annette Simmons made a historic $20 million gift to SMU, which established endowments for the school and provided funding for the school’s first new building, Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall. The gift created an endowed graduate fellowship fund and an endowed deanship and faculty recruitment fund, both of which honored Mr. Simmons’ parents, who were educators in Golden, Texas. In recognition of their commitment, SMU named the school the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Their combined gifts of $45 million to the school make Harold and Annette Simmons’ commitment among the largest to SMU’s Second Century Campaign, also making them among the most generous donors in SMU’s 100-year history. Previous gifts include the endowment of four President’s Scholars and the creation of the Simmons Distinguished Professorship in Marketing in the Cox School of Business.

“The innovative programs of the Simmons School, including those to be housed in the new Harold Clark Simmons Hall, have the potential to influence the direction of American education,” said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “They are also examples of the kind of intellectual capital that SMU is increasingly able to provide for the region and the nation.”

“We were a collection of unrelated programs,” Dean Chard said to Mrs. Simmons. “The seeds you and Harold planted have (allowed the Simmons School to become) a force for change.”

Harold Clark Simmons Hall will serve as home for these Simmons School programs:

  • The Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education focuses on a strategic and holistic approach to fighting poverty by transforming education. It equips school districts and nonprofits as they work together to assess and meet the extraordinary needs of children in poverty. The center builds data-sharing infrastructure, makes previously inaccessible data available, teaches partners to translate data and uses data to develop collaborative and highly targeted plans to accelerate students’ academic success. Its work centers on West Dallas as a model that eventually can be adopted by other urban areas. Endowed in 2014 by Russell and Dorothy Budd ’06, the center is the backbone organization for The School Zone, a West Dallas collaboration of 26 social service agencies and 23 public and private schools.
  • The Teacher Development Studio will occupy three laboratories that are technologically equipped to train students in teaching, instructional design and assessment. These labs offer teachers a place to practice being teachers in low-stakes environments:
  • The Teaching Performance Lab will simulate pre-K–12 classroom environments with computer avatars standing in for students. The avatars play the roles of students in classroom situations, and the teacher interacts through the same technology used in video games.
  • The Assessment Lab offers software programs that allow teachers to create assessments and evaluate student performance. Assessment outcomes will be relayed to the Instructional Design Lab, where teachers can construct the resources they need to connect with their students.
  • The Instructional Design Lab will provide teachers access to state-of-the-art technology as well as conventional materials to develop unit and lesson plans and technology applications to support student learning.

> Read the full story from SMU News

September 16, 2014|News|

Simmons Dean David Chard elected chair of National Board for Education Sciences

David Chard, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean of SMU's Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human DevelopmentDavid Chard, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, has been elected by fellow board members as chairman of the National Board for Education Sciences, effective immediately.

The U.S. Senate approved President Obama’s nomination of Chard to the board in 2012. The 15-member board oversees and directs the work of the Institute of Education Sciences.

“Schools throughout the nation will benefit from David Chard’s leadership of this important board,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His support of evidence-based education practices will help ensure that proven teaching strategies make their way to the classroom.”

One of the board’s functions is to advise the research priorities for the Institute of Education Sciences, the primary research and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The institute collects and analyzes education research data and funds researchers nationwide who are working to improve education outcomes for all students, particularly those at risk. In addition, the institute produces the Nation’s Report Card. As chair, Chard succeeds Bridget Terry Long from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she is academic dean and the Xander Professor of Education.

Supporting education must be more than rhetoric, Chard says. “We can’t talk about how important education is to the future of our country when we invest so little in knowing what works and for whom it works in the classroom,” he says. “Taxpayer dollars have to be wisely invested in education research and the results of research must be incorporated into our classrooms and schools.”

Written by Nancy George

> Read the full story from SMU News


February 18, 2014|Faculty in the News, For the Record, News|
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