Dedman School of Law honors five as 2015 Distinguished Alumni

Joseph W. McKnight

Dedman School of Law honors five as 2015 Distinguished Alumni

Five successful legal, business and public service professionals were honored with the highest awards given by SMU’s Dedman School of Law at its 28th annual Distinguished Law Alumni Awards Thursday, March 19, 2015.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the most prestigious award Dedman Law can bestow upon its alumni. An alumni committee selects recipients who are standouts in their respective fields, and an honorary award given at the invitation-only ceremony also acknowledges exceptional service to the law school.

This year’s awards and recipients were:

Mary Elizabeth Cedillo-PereiraMary Elizabeth Cedillo-Pereira ’99, 2015 Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award – “Liz” Cedillo-Pereira is the managing attorney with Cedillo-Pereira and Associates PLLC, an immigration and nationality law practice that represents individuals, families, businesses and government entities. She is board certified in immigration and nationality law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and lectures on immigration law as a faculty member with the UT School of Law Immigration Law conference and the State Bar of Texas Immigration law course. In 2007 she co-founded the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Dallas’ “Know Your Rights” project for detained individuals. She also is a member of AILA’s Military Assistance Program as well as Dream Defenders.

Siriporn ChaiyasutaSiriporn Chaiyasuta ’85, 2015 Distinguished Global Alumni Award – Based in London, Chaiyasuta is general counsel for Chevron Europe, Eurasia and Middle East Exploration & Production Limited. She leads a team of more than 50 lawyers and manages Chevron’s legal portfolio for all exploration and production business in the region, harboring the world’s most productive oil and gas basins in 14 countries of the North Sea and Caspian Region of the Middle East, including the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Her many awards and honors include the “Royal Decoration Knight Grand Cross” (First Class) of Direkgunabhon and Thailand’s “In-House Counsel of the Year” Award.

G. Michael GruberG. Michael Gruber ’81, 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award for Private Practice – “Mike” Gruber is a founding partner of Gruber Hurst Johansen Hail Shank LLP. Primarily a defense attorney, his successes include a $125 million dollar judgment involving Blockbuster in favor of its first major investors, a $30 million dollar verdict against Shell Oil in a fraud case, and a more than $18 million dollar verdict against pharmaceutical company Hoffman-Laroche in one of the largest sexual harassment verdicts in the country. This year, he took the soon-to-be decided Wellness v. Sharif case, on bankruptcy court and federal magistrate jurisdiction, to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has received the Sager Award from The Minority Corporate Counsel Association, which recognizes the Southwest’s most diverse law firms. He has also been named a “Texas Super Lawyer” for more than 10 years and, since 2008, D Magazine has recognized him as a “Best Lawyer in Dallas” for business litigation.

William O. Holston Jr.William O. Holston, Jr., ’81, 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service – “Bill” Holston is executive director of Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas. Before joining HRI in 2012 he volunteered his services for the organization, founded in 2000 to provide legal and support services to refugees and immigrants who have suffered human rights abuses, as well as to advocate for justice and promote international human rights. In 1997, he received the “Outstanding Political Asylum Lawyer Award” from the Dallas Bar Association; in 2002, the “Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award” from the Dallas Bar Association’s Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program; in 2005, the “Angel of Freedom Award” from HRI; and in 2014, the “President’s Award” from the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association.

Joseph W. McKnightJoseph W. McKnight, 2015 Honorary Alumnus Award – “Joe” McKnight, Professor Emeritus of Law and Larry and Jane Harlan Faculty Fellow Emeritus at SMU Dedman School of Law, has made historic contributions to legal scholarship and law reform in Texas. Before joining the law faculty at SMU in 1955, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas before serving as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he received a B.A. degree, a B.C.L. degree, and an M.A. degree. Professor McKnight would later receive his LL.M. degree from Columbia University. McKnight is a nationally recognized authority on legal history and family and marital property law. He and co-author, W.A. Reppy, Jr., have produced ten editions of their 1983 casebook, Texas Matrimonial Property Law, and McKnight was general editor and author of Creditor’s Rights in Texas.

Additionally, McKnight directed the Texas Family Code project, helping achieve significant reform, and was the principal drafter of the Texas Matrimonial Property Act, recognizing property rights of married women. He also has been a major drafter of other important Texas statutes.

During the past six decades, McKnight established and contributed to an invaluable collection of rare legal books at SMU Dedman Law. The collection is one of the largest of its kind in the nation, with the collection’s oldest book published in 1481.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

March 20, 2015|For the Record, News|

Five SMU faculty members retire with emeritus status in 2013-14

Five distinguished faculty members, with nearly 200 years of combined service to SMU, retired with emeritus status during the 2013-14 academic year. Congratulations to the following professors:

• Richard V. Helgason, Professor Emeritus of Engineering Management, Information and Systems, Lyle School of Engineering (1979 to 2014)

• Joseph W. McKnight, Professor Emeritus of Law, Dedman School of Law (1955 to 2014)

• William Pulte, Professor Emeritus of Teaching and Learning, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development (1973 to 2014)

• Lawrence S. Ruben, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences (1986 to 2014)

Simon Sargon, Professor Emeritus of Composition, Meadows School of the Arts (1983 to 2014)

June 18, 2014|For the Record, News|

SMU celebrates 99th Commencement May 17, 2014

commencement-procession-faculty-mace-howard-lantern

SMU will celebrate the academic accomplishments of more than 2,100 students at its 99th annual Commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 17, in Moody Coliseum.

This year’s Commencement speaker, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, is noted for his work to improve the quality of life in the city. He has created new strategies for growing the arts through the Mayor’s Business Arts Initiative, has used his visibility as mayor to organize a campaign against domestic violence and has put Dallas in the spotlight by taking a leading role with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Read more on Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

Guests are urged to arrive early as seating in the coliseum is limited to four guests per student. Additional seating will be available for a simulcast of the event at Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports. The ceremony also will be broadcast outside Moody Coliseum on Mustang Plaza, and there will be a webcast of the ceremony online at smu.edu/live.

The University’s 2014 honorary degree recipients are Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson, Methodist historian Richard P. Heitzenrater and SMU law professor Joseph W. McKnight. Each will be included in a symposium in his or her honor, all of which are free and open to the public.

> Learn more about the honorary degree recipients and symposia

The Baccalaureate Service will be at 8 p.m. Friday, May 16, in McFarlin Auditorium. Like the Commencement ceremony, it will be webcast live.

The traditional Faculty Breakfast begins at 7:45 a.m. in the Miller Event Center’s Champions Club, Moody Coliseum. If you are serving as a faculty marshal, you are encouraged to report to your assigned location by 7:50 a.m.

> RSVP for the Faculty Breakfast and Commencement procession

Retired and current faculty will assemble in academic dress no later than 8:40 a.m. in the Miller Champions Club. The procession begins moving at 8:50 a.m.

Compiled by Gary Shultz, SMU News

Visit the SMU Registrar’s May Commencement homepage: smu.edu/commencement

May 7, 2014|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

SMU names three honorary degree recipients for 2014

Three outstanding individuals, including a current and a former SMU professor, will receive honorary degrees at the University’s 99th Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 17, in Moody Coliseum.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson and Methodist historian Richard P. Heitzenrater will receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees. SMU law professor Joseph W. McKnight will receive the honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Each of the honorary degree recipients will be featured in symposia scheduled for Thursday, May 15 and Friday, May 16. All are free and open to the public.

SMU expects to award more than 2,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees to students at May Commencement.

“Conferring honorary degrees is an important and time-honored Commencement tradition,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “This year’s recipients’ achievements are outstanding examples of what we hope our students will strive to accomplish when pursuing their professional endeavors.”

Journalist and author Isabel WilkersonWhile writing for The New York Times, Wilkerson became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism and the first African-American, male or female, to win the Pulitzer for individual reporting. Her award-winning book, The Warmth of Other Suns, is a definitive history of the Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural South to urban centers in the North and West. For her achievements as a journalist and contributions to understanding of the African-American experience, SMU will confer upon Wilkerson the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Methodist historian and theologian Richard P. HeitzenraterHeitzenrater is recognized as the world’s leading authority on John Wesley and early Methodism. His book,Wesley and the People Called Methodists, has been translated into seven languages. He served on the faculty of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology for 16 years and in 2010 retired from the faculty of Duke University Divinity School. He is best known for breaking the secret code of Wesley’s personal diaries, making them available to the world. For his scholarly achievements and his service to SMU, the University will confer upon Heitzenrater the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

SMU Law Professor Joseph W. McKnightMcKnight has made historic contributions to scholarship in legal history and to law reform in Texas. He retires this year from SMU’s law faculty after serving for six decades. The author of six books, he directed the Texas Family Code project, which achieved important reforms, and was principal drafter of the Texas Matrimonial Property Act, recognizing property rights of married women. For his dedicated service to SMU, his distinguished scholarship and his leadership in the legal community, the University will confer upon McKnight the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

The honorary degree symposia

• McKnight will be featured in a symposium from 3-5 p.m. Thursday, May 15, in the Underwood Law Library. “A Celebration of Joseph Webb McKnight, his Contributions to Texas Law, to Legal History, and to the SMU Dedman School of Law” will include speakers Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht; Chief Justice for the Fifth District Court of Appeals Linda B. ThomasJosiah M. Daniel, III, Esq., of the law firm of Vinson & Elkins; Professor Joshua C. Tate of the SMU Dedman School of Law; and Peter Winship, the James Cleo Thompson, Sr. Professor of Law in the Dedman School of Law. Dedman Law Interim Dean Julie Forrester will serve as emcee for the event.

• Wilkerson will participate in a symposium from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Friday, May 16, in the Pavilion of Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall. The symposium, “Literature for Real: Journalism, the American Canon, and the Evolving American South,” will include keynote speaker Farah Jasmine Griffin, professor of English/Comparative Literature/African American Studies, Columbia University, and author of Who Set You Flowin’? and Harlem Nocturne. A discussion will include remarks from Wilkerson and feature panelists Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor of The Atlantic Monthly and author of The Beautiful StruggleBrittney Cooper, assistant professor of women’s and gender and Africana studies, Rutgers University, and columnist for Salon.com; Daina Ramey Berry, associate professor of history, University of Texas at Austin, and author of Swing the Sickle for the Harvest is RipeWalton Muyumba, associate professor of English at the University of North Texas and author of The Shadow and the Act: Black Intellectual Practice, Jazz Improvisation, and Philosophical Pragmatism; and moderator Karen Thomas, SMU professor of practice in journalism and Dallas Morning News writer.

• Heitzenrater will be featured in a symposium at 3 p.m., Friday, May 16, in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall. The symposium, “Grace Works: Reflections on Divine Grace, Human Works, and John Wesley – Celebrating the Scholarly Contributions of Richard P. Heitzenrater,” will include remarks by SMU Perkins School of Theology Dean William B. Lawrence and will feature panelists Ted A. Campbell, associate professor of Church History, Perkins School of Theology, and an ordained United Methodist minister and clergy member of the Texas Annual Conference; Sharon Grant, adjunct faculty in the Religion and Philosophy Department at University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, and an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Tamara Lewis, instructor in Church History, Perkins School of Theology, and an ordained United Methodist minister and clergy member of the Tennessee Annual Conference; and Andrew C. Thompson, assistant professor of Historical Theology & Wesleyan Studies at Memphis Theological Seminary and an ordained United Methodist minister and clergy member of the Arkansas Annual Conference. Heitzenrater will bring a response to the panel. In addition, an exhibition honoring Heitzenrater will be featured in the Entry Hall of Bridwell Library.

> Read the full story from SMU News

April 28, 2014|Calendar Highlights, News|
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