SMU’s Tower Center hosts prominent experts to discuss ‘The Rise of ISIS’ at a public event Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015

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SMU’s Tower Center hosts prominent experts to discuss ‘The Rise of ISIS’ at a public event Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015

'Black Flags, The Rise of ISIS' book coverISIS conquered vast stretches of territory in Iraq and Syria during the past year. The Iraqi Army dissolved in its path, despite years of training and billions of dollars of U.S. aid, raising a series of questions:

  • Why did ISIS succeed where other terrorist groups have failed?
  • Why was Iraq unable to stop it?
  • What are the consequences for U.S. national security and strategy in the Middle East?

The authors of two compelling new books will discuss “The Rise of ISIS” at a public discussion at SMU Thursday, Nov. 5. The free event, sponsored by the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, takes place 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall. To RSVP, e-mail the Tower Center.

> Follow the Tower Center on Twitter: @SMUTowerCenter

Joshua RovnerTower Center Distinguished Chair of International Politics and National Security Joshua Rovner, author of the award-winning book Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence (Cornell University Press 2011), will serve as event moderator. Rovner calls the guest speakers “superstars from journalism and academia”:

Joby WarrickJoby Warrick, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and investigative reporter for The Washington Post, who is an expert on intelligence, diplomacy and security in the Middle East and South Asia. His new book, Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS (Doubleday 2015), chronicles the rapid rise of a strain of militant Islam, born in a remote Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents.

Warrick also is author of The Triple Agent (Doubleday 2011), the true story of an al-Qaeda spy who led the CIA into a deadly trap at Khost, Afghanistan, in 2009.

> Listen to Joby Warrick talk about Black Flags on NPR’s “Fresh Air” audio or podcast

Caitlin TalmadgeCaitlin Talmadge, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she is an expert on national security and military operations. Talmadge also has been a Council of Foreign Relations fellow and a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense.

'The Dictator's Army' book coverHer ground-breaking new book, The Dictator’s Army: Battlefield Effectiveness in Authoritarian Regimes (Cornell University Press 2015), offers an important new argument about why authoritarian militaries sometimes fight very well — or very poorly. Talmadge also is co-author of U.S. Defense Politics: The Origins of Security Policy (Routledge 2008).

For more information, visit the Tower Center website or call 214-768-3954.

Visit the Tower Center on Facebook:

– Denise Gee

November 5, 2015|Calendar Highlights, For the Record, News|

NPR’s Shankar Vedantam to give Tate Distinguished Lecture Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015

Shankar Vedantam, NPR science correspondent reporting on human behavior and social sciences, author of The Hidden Brain and former reporter and columnist for The Washington Post, will be the featured speaker at The Jones Day Lecture of the 2015-16 Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

The lecture program begins at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.

Vedantam is a science correspondent for National Public Radio, focusing on human behavior and the social sciences. He is the author of The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives, published in 2010.

> Visit Shankar Vendantam’s page at the NPR website

Vedantam earned an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering in his native India and a master’s degree in journalism at Stanford University. Before joining NPR in 2011, he spent 10 years as a reporter at The Washington Post. From 2007–09 he wrote a column on human behavior for the Post.

Vedantam has served as a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and as a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. He has been recognized with numerous journalism honors, including awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, the South Asian Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association and the American Public Health Association. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

> Follow Shankar Vendantam on Twitter: @HiddenBrain

All SMU community members are invited to the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. Doors open at 4 p.m. Please tweet your questions for the forum to #SMUtate.

Tickets for the evening are sold out. However, students can go to the basement of McFarlin Auditorium at 7 p.m. with their SMU IDs for possible seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

Follow along with everything Tate on Twitter: @SMUtate and Instagram: @smutate.

> Catch up with Shankar Vendantam’s “Hidden Brain” podcast via NPR audio or podcast

The Tate Series’ 34th season also features the following events and speakers:

    • Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 – Renowned director and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, creator of Baseball, The War and The Roosevelts; will give the Oncor Lecture. Currently, he is producing Vietnam, scheduled for release in 2017.
    • Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 – Spoken-word poet Sarah Kay, who began performing in New York at age 14, will lecture. The founder and co-director of Project VOICE, which uses spoken-word poetry to entertain, educate and inspire young students, Kay is also the author of two books of poems, B and No Matter the Wreckage.
    • Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 – Actor Rob Lowe, best-selling author of two books and activist for breast cancer awareness, will give the Tolleson Lecture.
    • Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2016 – Keith Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency, former commander, U.S. Cyber Command, and CEO and President of IronNet Cybersecurity; and Kevin Mandia, former computer security officer with the U.S. Air Force and president of FireEye Security with nearly 20 years in the cybersecurity private sector; will give the Omni Hotels Lecture.
    • Monday, May 2, 2016 – James Carville, Democratic political strategist who led Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, political commentator, author and professor; and Karl Rove, Republican political consultant for George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff; will give the Ebby Halliday Companies Lecture.

Visit SMU’s Tate Distinguished Lecture Series website:

November 3, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

Center for Presidential History hosts Nixon biographer Evan Thomas Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 at SMU

'Being Nixon' book cover, Evan ThomasOne of the chief architects of the “Southern strategy,” whose name became synonymous with political dirty tricks, was also the man who worked to desegregate schools, create the Environmental Protection Agency and end the draft.

The complicated and often contradictory character and legacy of 37th President Richard Nixon will be the subject of a lecture by his newest biographer, sponsored by SMU’s Center for Presidential History (CPH).

Visit SMU’s Center for Presidential History online at

Best-selling author, professor of journalism and former Newsweek reporter Evan Thomas will discuss his latest book, Being Nixon: A Man Divided, tonight at 6 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. The event is part of the CPH’s Presidential Forum series and is free and open to the public.

> Save your place at “Being Nixon” for free on Eventbrite

The son of devout Quakers, Nixon – not unlike his rival John F. Kennedy – grew up in the shadow of an older, favored brother and thrived on conflict and opposition. As a result, he devoted much of his life and career to fighting off enemies real and imagined. Thomas’ new biography “reveals the contradictions of a leader whose vision and foresight led him to achieve détente with the Soviet Union and reestablish relations with communist China, but whose underhanded political tactics tainted his reputation long before the Watergate scandal,” as summarized in a CPH release.

Thomas’ book will be available for purchase and signing before and after the event. A light reception will precede the lecture beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Parking will be available on the SMU campus. FREE passes will be emailed to registered guests before the event.

October 15, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News|

2015 SMU Stanton Sharp Lecture explores Texas’ hidden Civil War history, Wednesday, Oct. 14

2015 SMU Sharp Lecture, 'A War That Could Not End at Appomattox,' Gregory P. DownsWhen Texans study the history of the Civil War in grade school, they learn it ended when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox on April 8, 1865, and that Texas played a relatively small role in the conflict.

Historian Greg Downs argues these lessons are wrong on both counts in his new book, After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War. He will challenge the traditional teachings during a lecture, Q&A and book signing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

“Greg Downs wants to challenge the idea the Civil War reached a neat and tidy end in April of 1865,” says History Chair Andrew Graybill. “What Greg does well is extend the geographical scope to the West. A big focus of his book is Texas, which was one of the last Confederate states to surrender.”

> More on the Stanton Sharp Lectures and Symposium

During Reconstruction, 50,000 Union Army troops were deployed to Texas, which proved the most difficult of the former Confederate states to subdue. At any given time between 1866 and 1870, 40 to 50 percent of the Union troops stationed in the south were garrisoned in Texas.

“People in Texas were still being bought and sold after Appomattox,” Downs says. “Texans still thought slavery would stay. Army officers were imprisoned and murdered in Texas. In some ways, the Civil War was just beginning in Texas as it was ending elsewhere in the South.”

Written by Kenny Ryan

> Visit SMU’s William P. Clements Department of History online:

October 8, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News|

Calendar Highlights: Mustang Must-do’s for Oct. 2, 2015

cyrstal-city-199x300The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program: Jan Jarboe Russell will recount the dramatic and never-before-told story of a secret FDR-approved American internment camp in Texas during World War II, where thousands of families — many of them U.S. citizens — were incarcerated. The event will take place from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. A light reception will precede the event beginning at 5:30 pm, with the lecture starting at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information and event registration click here.

Dine and Dance with SMU’s Brown Bag Series: Throughout the week of Oct. 5, 2015, the Meadows School of the Arts Division of Dance will present lunchtime performances of 10-15 original, student-choreographed ballet, modern and jazz works. The performances will be held in the Bob Hope Theatre Lobby in SMU’s Owen Arts Center and are free and oBrownBagLive.ashxpen to the public. Click here for a list of daily performance times.

Set your Watch for Go Set a Watchman Discussion: Dedman College Dean Thomas DiPiero, a renowned To Kill a Mockingbird scholar, will discuss author Harper Lee’s controversial Go Set a Watchman on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 in Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom, SMU Campus. The 6 p.m. lecture will be preceded by a reception at 5:30 p.m. The event is presented by the SMUSA Book Club and Friends of the SMU Libraries. RSVP by Oct. 5, 2015 here.

Read more about Dean DiPiero and Go Set a Watchman


Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer to give Sammons Media Ethics Lecture: Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist and FOX News commentator Charles Krauthammer will give SMU’s 16th annual Rosine Smith Sammons Lecture in Media Ethics at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 in Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center. Admission is free, but tickets are required. RSVP here.

Read more about Charles Krauthammer

Learn how to negotiate anything: Join Kelly Trager, an adjunct professor and lawyer, in a three-part workshop that will change the way you negotiate in your daily liGetFileAttachmentfe. Workshops will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m Thursday Oct. 8, Thursday Oct. 15 and Thursday Oct. 22, 2015. The workshops will be located in the Embrey Engineering Building room 129, SMU and are free and open to the public. Reserve a seat here.

Demanding or Deferring? The Economic Value of Communication with Attitude: Daniel Houser, George Mason University, will present his recent research on the effects of natural language communication versus fixed-structure communication on individual behavior on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 at 2 p.m in Umphrey Lee Center Room 303. This event is apart of the Economics Seminar Series and is presented by Dedman College.

Read more about Daniel Houser

October 2, 2015|Calendar Highlights|
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