$4 million in gifts will fund SMU Tower Scholars Program

Kimberly Cobb

$4 million in gifts will fund SMU Tower Scholars Program

SMU Tower Center logoGifts totaling more than $4 million will endow and provide operational support for the new Tower Scholars Program – a unique immersion experience for undergraduates in public policymaking through SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies.

A gift of $2 million, made possible by Highland Capital Management L.P., will endow the Highland Capital Management Endowed Tower Scholars Program Fund. The participating students will be recognized as Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars.

A gift of $1 million from the Hamon Charitable Foundation will endow the Jake L. Hamon Endowed Internship Program in the Tower Scholars Program Fund. A $1 million gift from The Berry R. Cox Family Foundation will support endowment and provide operational support.

The University has received additional donations totaling over $400,000 toward operation of the Tower Scholars Program fund – important to the implementation of the program until the endowments mature.

> The Dallas Morning NewsBob Miller: SMU’s Tower Scholars Program receives over $4 million in gifts

Ten sophomore students will be selected as Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars every year. Students may apply to the program during the fall term of their sophomore year; the first applications are being accepted in fall 2014. The first scholars will begin their studies in spring 2015 leading to a minor in Public Policy and International Affairs.

The scholars will be steeped in domestic and foreign affairs, national security and defense, and international political economy. Access to global and national leaders and policy makers, study abroad opportunities and meaningful senior-year internships are hallmarks of the program. The specialized curriculum includes instruction by professors-of-the-practice and visiting diplomats.

“Few American universities offer a program designed for undergraduates with as much real-world policy education and experience as does the Tower Scholars Program,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The gifts that make this program possible allow students to begin gaining professional perspectives while working toward their undergraduate degrees, bridging the usual gap between graduation and career development.”

“The Tower Center is a signature program within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and I’m delighted with the opportunity this presents for all of our SMU students,” said Dedman College Dean Thomas DiPiero. “The students who will graduate as Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars are destined for great things,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Paul Ludden.

The invitation-only Tower Scholars Program and associated minor is open for application from all majors across SMU’s schools, with admission based on a competitive process. The minor in Public Policy and International Affairs requires 15 hours of political science courses, beginning with Introduction to Global Policy Making in the spring of the sophomore year. The scholars will develop mentor relationships with public policy practitioners, work with clients on actual cases, and have access to local businesses, decision makers and Tower Center Board members.

The gifts to fund the Tower Scholars Program count toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised $874 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

September 9, 2014|News|

Noted brain researcher Santosh D’Mello joins SMU as Biological Sciences chair

Santosh D’Mello

Santosh D’Mello, a respected scientist whose research is centered on understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating neurodegeneration, has joined SMU as professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, effective Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

D’Mello comes to SMU from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he was a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. He is a longtime partner in research with SMU Professor of Chemistry Edward Biehl.

In December 2010, D’Mello and Biehl published in The Journal of Neuroscience Research their discovery of a family of small molecules that shows promise in protecting brain cells against nerve-degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.

“Professor D’Mello brings broad experience and an excellent record as a researcher and teacher to SMU,” said Dedman College Dean Bill Tsutsui.  “His focus on building meaningful collaborations and his ambitious vision for the future of the Department of Biological Sciences impressed all of us on campus.”

D’Mello received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1989 and joined the faculty at UTD in 1998. Funding for his research has included support from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and the Whitehall Foundation.

“Neurodegenerative diseases, which include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and Huntington’s disease, are characterized by the slow but relentless loss of brain cells,” D’Mello said.  “There are no effective drugs or other therapeutic approaches to treat or prevent these progressive and fatal diseases. The goal of my lab is to understand neurodegeneration at the molecular level so that effective therapies can be developed.”

D’Mello said he was drawn to SMU because of the University’s strengths in several areas of the arts, humanities, and sciences. “I was particularly attracted by the collegial and talented faculty in the biology department, their keen interest in solving important biological problems, and their strong commitment to the teaching and training of students,” D’Mello said.

“I am honored to be named Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and am very excited about the opportunity,” D’Mello said.  “I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and students to build a strong multidisciplinary and collaborative research department with cutting-edge research performed by bright, talented, and motivated undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.”

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

April 8, 2014|News, Year of the Faculty|

SMU Lyle to offer first-of-its-kind graduate degree in datacenter systems engineering

Stock photo of an engineer in a datacenter's server farmSMU’s Lyle School of Engineering has created a new Master of Science in datacenter systems engineering, the first of its kind in the United States. The first students in this multidisciplinary program will be admitted for the Fall 2014 term.

The program is open to full-time and part-time graduate students, and is available on the Dallas campus as well as through the Lyle School’s distance education program. Enrollment is expected from current professionals in industry and government, as well as undergraduates in engineering, science, mathematics and business preparing to enter the field for the first time.

At least four million workers currently are associated with datacenter operations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and the number is expected to increase by 800,000 in 2016, and by an additional 2 million by 2018.  Approximately 70 percent of these workers will have Bachelor’s degrees or higher.

“Our society has become intimately linked to a variety of digital networks including social media, search engines, e-commerce, gaming and big data,” said Lyle Dean Marc Christensen. “Data center design is a fascinating challenge due to the millions of dollars lost per second of outage. The proper management and design of these datacenters require a diverse combination of highly specialized skills, and SMU Lyle is uniquely positioned to offer a degree that will connect all the needed technical disciplines.”

The new degree is built around five core courses that address the industry broadly, while offering elective specializations in three technical areas:

  • Facilities, infrastructure and subsystems
  • Datasystems engineering and analytics
  • Computer networks, virtualization, security and cloud computing

The program is directed toward preparing professionals for a leadership role in the field, whether specifically as a technical contributor or more broadly in management. The degree is designed to build a solid foundation for continued professional growth consistent with modern datacenter engineering practices and the changes that lie ahead for the industry.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

March 7, 2014|News|

National expert to lead broad cybersecurity initiative at SMU

Fred ChangFrederick R. Chang, a recognized national expert in cyber security, has joined SMU to develop a multidisciplinary program aimed at tackling the most pressing cyber challenges facing individuals, business and government today.

Chang, whose career includes leadership positions in academia, business, and in government at the National Security Agency, is the new Bobby B. Lyle Endowed Centennial Distinguished Chair in Cyber Security. The position is made possible by a financial commitment from SMU trustee and longtime benefactor Bobby B. Lyle, for whom SMU’s engineering school is named.

> More about Fred Chang from SMU News

SMU’s first Centennial Distinguished Chair provides a faculty position endowed at $2.5 million, plus start-up funding of $1 million for the first five years to provide immediate support for the position and related research. The establishment of a Centennial endowment is available only to donors during the SMU Centennial commemoration, March 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2015.

In addition to holding the Lyle Chair, Chang also will be a professor of computer science in the Lyle School of Engineering and a senior fellow in the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. His appointments to positions in both the Lyle School and Dedman College reflect the interdisciplinary approach he believes is key to effective cyber research.

“Economic and national security are bedrock issues for our country,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Dr. Chang is prepared to take advantage of the University’s commitment to education, research and dialogue to deal with these critical issues, and will bring to the table students and faculty in all disciplines to find solutions. We are delighted to welcome him to SMU, where our students fully expect to be world changers.”

Network World: Cybercrime service automates creation of fake IDs, other verification documents

Chang has aggressive objectives to:

  • Conduct broad programs of research aimed both at creating a science of cyber security and addressing national cyber security priorities.
  • Apply an interdisciplinary approach to challenging problems, incorporating elements from disciplines not traditionally associated with cyber security such as law, business and the social sciences.
  • Help close the skills gap in cyber security by educating and tapping the innovation capabilities of SMU students to meet the demand for trained cyber professionals.

“Professor Chang arrives at SMU Lyle at an important moment,” said Lyle School Dean Marc Christensen. “The impact of cyber crime and cyber terrorism cannot be overstated. As Professor Chang joins SMU Lyle to lead our already strong cyber security researchers, he is poised to make a notable difference in this arena. We will be educating a generation of SMU graduates who understand the complexities of cyber-related issues whether their degree is in computer science or philosophy.  These students will be better suited to live, work, and play in the modern interconnected world.”

Chang served as the director of research at the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2005-06, where he was awarded the NSA Director’s Distinguished Service Medal. In addition, he has held several senior executive positions at SBC Communications, prestigious positions at both the University Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at San Antonio, and was most recently president and chief operating officer of 21CT Inc., an advanced intelligence analytics solutions company in Austin.

Learn more about Dr. Chang’s CV

“Dr. Chang’s experience at the highest levels of government, industry, and academia has given him a unique perspective on the cyber security landscape,” said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “He has influenced the national dialogue and policies on cyber security through his work at the NSA, his testimony before congressional committees, and his presence on academic and industrial advisory boards as well as his peer journal editorial board work. He will continue that influence at SMU.”

“It is an honor and a privilege for me to have the opportunity to join SMU at this crucial time in the evolution of cyber security,” Chang said. “From the Lyle School of Engineering, to the Tower Center for Political Studies and across campus, I feel a tremendous sense of chemistry and collegiality here. There is also a sense of urgency, purpose and mission that is especially appealing. To be part of this is tremendously exciting to me.”

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read more of this story from SMU News

September 6, 2013|News|

SMU hosts series of sustainability events throughout April 2013

Poster art for YERT: Your Environmental Road TripFree campus screenings of two popular environmental documentaries April 4-5 and the return of SMU’s Engineering and Humanity Week April 6-12 are highlights of a month of sustainability-themed events that will underscore the celebration of Earth Day 2013 on Monday, April 22.

Living With the Trinity, showing at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum, focuses on the political history surrounding management of the Trinity River. The screening will feature an introduction by writer, producer and director Rob Tranchin.

YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip shows at 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. The film takes a humorous cross-country look at environmental issues through the eyes of three friends travelling together. Both screenings are sponsored by SMU’s Sustainability Committee and Friends of the SMU Libraries.

The “Barefoot on the Boulevard” sustainability and music festival runs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 6 on the Bishop Boulevard lawn. Also free and open to the public, “Barefoot” will feature a short talk and concert at 4:30 p.m. by former Sudanese child soldier and hip-hop humanitarian Emmanuel Jal, whose appearance is being made possible by the organizers of Engineering & Humanity Week.

> TIME Magazine: 10 Questions: Emmanuel Jal

Sponsored by Students For a Better Society and the SMU Sustainability Committee, “Barefoot on the Boulevard” will include economically priced food, booths featuring environmental organizations and vendors, and student music acts including the Southern Gentlemen, JSpear, Sean Hadeler, Adam the Bard, Chris Escarfullery, Sudie and Dan Howard.

David de Rothschild

Adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild brings the Plastiki, an experimental sailing vessel made of reclaimed bottles, to Dallas for SMU’s 2013 Engineering and Humanity Week.

Engineering & Humanity Week will bring global solution seekers to Dallas and SMU around the theme of “Water: Ripple Effects.” Among the highlights is a visit from the Plastiki – a unique sailing vessel made of reclaimed plastic drink bottles. Engineering & Humanity Week honors its captain, David de Rothschild, with the 2013 Visionary Award at a dinner and reception in Fair Park’s Centennial Hall on Saturday, April 6.

Emmanuel Jal will also be honored at the dinner with the E&H Week Humanitarian Award and will perform his international hit, “We Want Peace,” accompanied by student musicians from SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. The 6 p.m. dinner is open to the public, and tickets may be purchased at eandhweek2013.eventbrite.com.

> National Geographic Explorers: David de Rothschild, Environmental Storyteller

Most of the program is scheduled for the SMU campus and is free and open to the public – such as the outdoor, interactive water distribution camp that mimics sites in refugee camps. “The Water Tap” (pictured below) on April 9-10 will allow both the SMU community and visitors to learn about and try solutions for problems of water scarcity and sanitation in the developing world. E&H Week is sponsored by Hunter and Stephanie Hunt, SMU’s Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity and the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Center.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Learn more from SMU News

April 4, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News|
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