honorary degree symposia

SMU’s 2017 Commencement: Events at a glance

Commencement graduate shot

SMU celebrates its 102nd May Commencement Convocation May 19-20, 2017, with events for the entire SMU community. Mark this post for major Commencement Week event links at a glance:

Reminder: Moody Coliseum clear-bag policy in effect

Watch the Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies live at smu.edu/live

Four honorary degree recipients to participate in public symposia during SMU Commencement Week 2017

SMU will award honorary degrees to four prestigious leaders in science, theology and the arts at the All-University Commencement Ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 20, in Moody Coliseum.

Francis S. Collins, Francis Halzen, Nancy Nasher and E.P. Sanders each will be celebrated in the days leading to the ceremony with symposia and speaking engagements, summarized below:

Francis S. CollinsFrancis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., has been director of the National Institutes of Health since 2009, overseeing the work of the largest institutional supporter of biomedical research in the world. But he may be best known for leading the Human Genome Project, a 13-year international effort to map and sequence the 3 billion letters in human DNA.

As NIH director, he has helped launch major research initiatives to advance the use of precision medicine for more tailored healthcare, to increase our understanding of the neural networks of the brain to improve treatments for brain diseases, and to identify areas of cancer research that are most ripe for acceleration to improve cancer prevention and treatment. His personal research efforts led to the isolation of the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.

As an innovative evolutionary geneticist and a devout Christian, Collins also has gained fame for his writings on the integration of logic and belief.

Collins received his Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry from Yale University, and his M.D. degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007 from President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Science in 2009.

For his dramatic successes as a gene hunter, his support for biomedical research on a vast scale, and his leadership of one of the most significant scientific undertaking in modern history – the Human Genome Project – Collins will receive the Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa, from SMU.

Collins also will deliver the commencement address.

A symposium focused on Collins’ life and work is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, May 19, in Crum Auditorium, Collins Executive Education Center. Collins will join these panel members in discussing:

  • Emerging advances in biomedical research, with Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, president, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Pia Vogel, professor of biological sciences, SMU
  • Innovation and translational science, with Steven C. Currall, provost and vice president for academic affairs, SMU

Francis HalzenFrancis Halzen’s contributions to the study of particle astrophysics might be compared to the influence of astronomer Galileo Galilei’s 17th-century perfection of the telescope: Both enabled unprecedented closer observation of the Universe. Halzen’s vision, initiative and leadership have led to the development and construction of the IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory, where he is principle investigator, and where the first ultra-high-energy neutrinos were detected in 2013.

Halzen’s work in particle physics detection has taken the study of neutrinos beyond the Milky Way galaxy and into deep space, leading to new understanding of astronomical phenomena including black holes, supernovas and galaxy formation.

Halzen is the Hilldale and Gregory Breit Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the director of the Institute for Particle Physics Research. He received the 2015 Giuseppe and Vanna Cocconi Prize from the European Physical Society, the 2015 Balzan Prize and the 2014 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award. Halzen received Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, as well as an agrégé de l’enseignement supérieur (a qualification for teaching in higher education) from the University of Louvain in Belgium.

For his pioneering efforts toward construction of the IceCube observatory and his extraordinary role in opening a new observational window on the universe, Southern Methodist University is honored to confer the degree Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Halzen will give a public lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 18, in Dallas Hall’s McCord Auditorium. A reception will precede the lecture at 5 p.m. in Dallas Hall rotunda. Organizers are offering a special welcome to students from Adamson High School’s “Living Physicist Program” and area high school teachers and students who participate in the QuarkNet program.

Nancy A. NasherNancy A. Nasher, a business leader, lawyer and philanthropist, has dedicated her professional and personal life to the betterment of Dallas. She holds degrees from Princeton University and Duke University School of Law. As president and co-owner of NorthPark Center, a premier shopping destination noted for excellence in retail and architectural design, Ms. Nasher has seamlessly integrated art into public spaces. Her vision of public engagement with the arts as embodied in NorthPark Center, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and her contributions to local arts organizations has been transformative for Dallas, and continues through her deep support and advocacy for all facets of the Dallas arts community. She serves on the executive boards of The Dallas Opera, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Nasher Sculpture Center, and is the founder’s chair of the Business Council for the Arts.

Additional board leadership positions include the Dallas Museum of Art, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the Meadows School of the Arts, the National Center for Arts Research, the Dallas Mayor’s Business/Arts Initiative, the University of North Texas School of Visual Arts, the Princeton University Art Museum Board of Advisors, the Duke University Board of Trustees, and Ms. Nasher is the Chair of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University Board of Visitors.

Her numerous honors include the 2017 TACA Silver Cup Award for her dedication to arts support. In 2015, Socrates Sculpture Park in New York honored Ms. Nasher for advancing the practice of sculpture. For her dedication to public engagement with the arts, Southern Methodist University is honored to confer the degree Doctor of Arts, honoris causa.

“A Conversation with Nancy Nasher,” is scheduled for 1-2:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, in Taubman Atrium, Owen Arts Center.

Ed E.P. SandersE.P. Sanders, a 1962 alumnus of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, is an internationally respected New Testament scholar responsible for major contributions to studies of Jesus and the Apostle Paul and their relationships to the Judaism of their day. He is credited with prompting the re-evaluation of prejudicial views of Judaism that often characterized earlier biblical scholarship, resulting in improved Jewish-Christian relations.

Sanders is the author of 14 books and numerous monographs that have been translated into 11 languages. His monograph, Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977), received a National Religious Book Award, and his Jesus and Judaism (1985) won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas Wesleyan University, a Bachelor of Divinity from SMU Perkins School of Theology, and a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary.

Sanders held an endowed chair in religion at Duke University until he retired in 2005. He also held faculty positions at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and at the University of Oxford. He is a fellow of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Sanders has received honorary doctorates from the University of Oxford and the University of Helsinki.

For his contributions to biblical scholarship, the understanding of Jewish and Christian origins, and Jewish-Christian relations, SMU is honored to confer the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Sanders will be honored with a symposium focused on his work from 10-11:30 a.m. Friday, May 19, in Perkins Chapel. Moderator for “Comparing Early Judaism and Early Christianity: The Scholarship of E. P. Sanders,” will be Mark Chancey, professor of religious studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Panelists will include:

  • Craig C. Hill, dean and professor of New Testament, Perkins School of Theology, SMU
  • David P. Moessner, Bradford Chair of Religion, Department of Religion, TCU
  • Beverly Gaventa Roberts, Distinguished Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Department of Religion, Baylor University and Helen H.P. Manson Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis Emerita, Princeton Theological Seminary
  • Sze-kar Wan, Professor of New Testament, Perkins School of Theology, SMU

Cancer prevention pioneer Groesbeck Parham to receive honorary doctorate during SMU’s 2016 Commencement

Groesbeck ParhamA simple procedure developed by Groesbeck Parham has saved the lives of thousands of women in Africa. Cervical cancer, easily screened with a Pap test and treated in developed countries, is fatal to 81 percent of Zambian women who have limited access to health care. Dr. Parham has developed a simple, affordable screening procedure using household vinegar as an indicator of abnormal cells.

Parham will receive a Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from SMU during its 101st Commencement Saturday, May 14, 2016. In addition, he present a free, public symposium on his work from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 11. The event, co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, begins with a 2 p.m. reception in Harold Clark Simmons Hall.

For Zambian women, cervical cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and particularly dangerous to HIV-infected women. Parham helped develop a simple and inexpensive screening procedure that has been used by 350,000 Zambian women and has been adopted by health providers in countries from South Africa to China.

Four SMU students traveled in 2013 with former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush and SMU Global Health Professor Eric Bing to volunteer with Parham in Zambia. Other SMU students also have worked with Parham to develop cervical cancer research applications.

Parham is a gynecologic oncologist and professor of gynecology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He has spent much of the past 30 years in Africa, however, where he is helping lead and implement Zambia’s first national cervical cancer control program.

Parham’s work to combat cervical and breast cancer in Africa and Latin America is supported by Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a partnership founded by the George W. Bush Institute, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, UNAIDS and the Zambian government.

Parham will receive an honorary degree at SMU’s May 14 Commencement Convocation.

SMU celebrates historic 100th Commencement May 15-16, 2015

December Commencement 2013, blue mortarboards in Moody Coliseum, SMU

SMU will celebrate its 100th Commencement May 15-16, 2015 with an address by former President George W. Bush and a weekend of events for faculty, alumni, community members and more than 2,000 graduating students.

The 43rd president of the United States will speak at the all-University ceremony, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 16, in Moody Coliseum. Guests are urged to arrive early. Security screening will be in place, and seating in the coliseum is limited to four guests per student. Doors will open at 7 a.m.

The ceremony will be simulcast live at the following locations; no entry ticket is required:

  • Bolin Plaza, at the west entrance of Moody Coliseum (outdoor screen)
  • Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports
  • Crum Auditorium, Collins Executive Education Building
  • McFarlin Auditorium

The ceremony will also be webcast live at smu.edu/livevideo

Follow SMU’s 100th Commencement weekend on Twitter at #SMU2015

SMU will confer three honorary degrees during the 2015 Commencement ceremonies:

  • Meave Leakey will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for her achievements as one of the world’s most distinguished paleoanthropologists. She is a research associate at the National Museums of Kenya, director of Plio-Pleistocene research at the Turkana Basin Institute, Nairobi, and research professor in anthropology at Stony Brook University, New York. In 2002 she was named a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Leakey is a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and an honorary fellow of the Geological Society of London.
  • Irene Hirano Inouye will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for her leadership in international relations. While still in her 20s, she began tailoring her career toward service as director of a Los Angeles medical clinic providing affordable care for poor and uninsured women. She helped build the Japanese American National Museum, which opened in 1992, and became the founding president of the U.S.-Japan Council in 2008. Inouye currently serves as chair of the board of the Ford Foundation. She also serves on the executive boards of Independent Sector, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Association of Museums, and the President’s Committee.
  • Helen LaKelly Hunt will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, both for her work for healthy marriages and family and her efforts in helping to build the global women’s funding movement. The SMU alumna is the founder of The Sister Fund, a private foundation that supports women’s social, political, economic and spiritual empowerment. She has helped establish several other organizations, including Dallas Women’s FoundationNew York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Funding Network and Women Moving Millions. Her books include Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance, as well as seven books on intimate relationships and parenting co-authored with her husband, Harville Hendrix.

Make plans to attend the 2015 Honorary Degree Symposia Friday, May 15

The weekend’s activities include the Baccalaureate Service Friday, May 15, in McFarlin Auditorium. The service will be followed by Rotunda Recessional, a tradition in which seniors march through the Rotunda of Dallas Hall, marking the end of their undergraduate years and the beginning of their lifelong association with SMU as alumni.

More information at the SMU Registrar’s Commencement homepage: smu.edu/commencement

Some major events at a glance:

  • May 15 – Free public symposium honoring Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa recipient Helen LaKelly Hunt, 10:30 a.m.-noon, Smith Auditorium, Meadows Museum
  • May 15 – Free public symposium honoring Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa recipient Meave Leakey, 2-4 p.m., McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall
  • May 15 – Free public symposium honoring Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa recipient Irene Hirano Inouye, 3:30-5 p.m., Hillcrest Appellate Courtroom and Classroom, Underwood Law Library
  • May 15-16 – Class of 1965 Golden Reunion, various times and locations
  • May 15 – Baccalaureate Service for undergraduates with SMU Associate Professor of Communication Studies, founding partner of Mustang Consulting and ordained minister Maria Dixon Hall delivering the featured speech, followed by Rotunda Recessional, 8 p.m., McFarlin Auditorium
  • May 16 – Faculty Breakfast and Distinguished University Citizen Awards presentation, 7:45 a.m., Champions Club, Miller Events Center, Moody Coliseum (for RSVPed faculty members only – walk-ups cannot be accommodated)
  • May 16 – All-University Commencement, 9 a.m., Moody Coliseum
  • May 16 – Commencement Buffet Luncheon, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Arnold Dining Commons
  • May 16 – School and departmental diploma presentations, various times and locations

> Find a full schedule of events at the SMU News homepage

SMU hosts 2015 Honorary Degree Symposia Friday, May 15

Three international leaders who will receive honorary degrees at SMU’s 100th May Commencement will participate in symposia on the main campus Friday, May 15. All symposia are free and open to the public.

The symposia will feature 2015 honorees Meave Leakey, a renowned anthropologist whose research in Africa has revealed important clues to humans’ earliest ancestors; Irene Hirano Inouye, who helped build the Japanese American National Museum and is founding president of the U.S.-Japan Council; and Helen LaKelly Hunt, a donor-activist, author and SMU alumna whose life focus has been to empower women and educate people about the value of healthy, intimate relationships. All three will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, during the Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16.

> The history of honorary degrees at SMU, including honorees by name, year and degree

Meave Leakey

“Human Evolution in the East African Rift Valley:
A Symposium Honoring Meave Leakey”
Friday, May 15, 2-4 p.m.
McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall

Leakey, one of the world’s most distinguished paleoanthropologists, is a research associate at the National Museums of Kenya, director of Plio-Pleistocene research at the Turkana Basin Institute, Nairobi, and research professor in anthropology at Stony Brook University, New York. In 2002 she was named a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Leakey is a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and an honorary fellow of the Geological Society of London.

David Pilbeam, curator of paleontology at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, will moderate the symposium.

Leakey will speak on “Human Evolution in the East African Rift Valley.” Also presenting will be Frank Brown, dean and distinguished professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, who will speak on “Time and the Physical Framework in the Turkana Basin, Kenya;” and Kay Behrensmeyer, curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, who will speak on “Faunal Context of Human Evolution in the East African Rift Valley.” Thure Cerling, Distinguished Professor of Geology and Geophysics and Biology at the University of Utah, will speak on “Floral Context of Human Evolution – as Represented by Geochemical Signatures;” and Bonnie Jacobs, professor of earth sciences in SMU’s Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, will speak on “Floral Context of Human Evolution – as Represented by Plant Fossils.”

Irene Hirano Inouye

“Celebrating the American Experience and U.S.-Japan Relations:
Irene Hirano Inouye, Her Life, Works and Achievements”
Friday, May 15
Reception, 3-3:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion and Remarks, 3:30-5 p.m.
Hillcrest Appellate Courtroom and Classroom, Underwood Law Library 

Inouye is a leader in international relations who, while still in her 20s, began tailoring her career toward service as director of a Los Angeles medical clinic providing affordable care for poor and uninsured women. She helped build the Japanese American National Museum, which opened in 1992, and became the founding president of the U.S.-Japan Council in 2008.

Panel participants are Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, U.S. Navy (ret.), Tower Center senior fellow and former commander of the Pacific Fleet; Anny Wong, research fellow in the Tower Center and a member of the board of the Japan-America Society of Dallas-Fort Worth; and moderator Hiroki Takeuchi, associate professor and director of the Tower Center’s Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia. Inouye will deliver closing remarks and will be available for questions.

The symposium is free, but registration is required; email the Tower Center to RSVP. More information is available at the Tower Center website.

Helen LaKelly Hunt

“A Revolutionary Approach to Conflict Resolution:
A Symposium Honoring Helen LaKelly Hunt”
Friday, May 15
Panel presentation 10:30 a.m.-noon, Smith Auditorium, Meadows Museum
Lunch and remarks, noon-1:30 p.m., Jones Room, Meadows Museum 

Hunt is a donor-activist, author and SMU alumna who has been recognized for both her work for healthy marriages and family and her efforts in helping to build the global women’s funding movement. She is the founder of The Sister Fund, a private foundation that supports women’s social, political, economic and spiritual empowerment. Hunt has helped establish several other organizations, including Dallas Women’s Foundation, New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Funding Network and Women Moving Millions. Her books include Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance, as well as seven books on intimate relationships and parenting co-authored with her husband, Harville Hendrix.

Hunt and Hendrix will discuss the new science of relationships with panelists David Chard, dean of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human DevelopmentRita Kirk, director of SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public ResponsibilityLorelei Simpson Rowe, associate professor and graduate program co-director in SMU’s Department of Psychology and an expert in couples relationships; and Michelle Kinder, executive director of the Momentous Institute.

Please RSVP for the lunch to Family Wellness Dallas.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Learn more about SMU’s Commencement ceremonies, events and traditions at smu.edu/commencement