Quality Enhancement Plan

51 students to take on Engaged Learning projects in 2013-14

Engaged Learning students for 2013-14SMU’s Office of Engaged Learning has selected 51 undergraduates from throughout the University to take on self-designed projects in research, civic engagement, creative work and internships in 2013-14.

The students will participate through the SMU Engaged Learning initiative and will work with 39 different faculty and staff mentors in 12 countries to complete their projects.

The University community will have the opportunity to meet the 2013-14 Engaged Learners for pizza and discussion of their projects at the 2013 Engaged Learning Meet-Up, scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 30 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom.

Learn more about the meet-up at SMU’s Engaged Learning homepage

The new Engaged Learning cohort represents another significant increase in the total number of participating students. Thirty-seven undergraduates undertook Unbridled Projects during 2012-13; three conducted projects during the program’s first year in 2011-12.

The Office of Engaged Learning provides institutional support for SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), created as part of the University’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). “Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” allows all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation.

A full list of students pursuing 2013-14 Unbridled Projects appears below the link.

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Engaged Learning announces 2012-13 Unbridled student projects

SMU students pursuing 2012-13 Unbridled Projects through the Office of Engaged Learning

Thirty-seven SMU students – some of them pictured here – will pursue 2012-13 Unbridled Projects through the University's Office of Engaged Learning. Photo credit: Hillsman S. Jackson.

In the coming academic year, 37 SMU students from throughout the University will take on special projects of their own design in research, civic engagement, creative work and internships.

They are all part of the 2012-13 Unbridled Project, part of the SMU Engaged Learning initiative. Of the 37 participating students, 32 requested and received grants to complete their projects.

Visit SMU’s Engaged Learning homepage

Three students conducted Unbridled Projects during the program’s first year in 2011-12. The new group represents a more than 1,100 percent increase in participation. As the initiative begins its second year, “we are right where we hoped to be,” says Director of Engaged Learning Susan Kress.

“We’re very excited for the students,” Kress adds. “The University has invested a lot of effort in raising awareness of the opportunities available through this initiative, and those efforts have paid off.”

The students are especially gratified to know that faculty members are interested in their work and support their efforts, Kress adds. “And at the same time, faculty members are excited that this ties in to the ‘engaged teaching and learning’ happening in their classrooms.”

SMU student Kimberly MendozaJunior Kimberly Mendoza (left), a double major in biological sciences and chemistry in SMU’s Dedman College, can attest to the importance and inspiration of engaged faculty. For her Unbridled Project, she will research health-related traditions, beliefs and practices in the indigenous Mayan community in Guatemala and evaluate how these values and beliefs occasionally clash with Western medicine. Nia Parson of the Department of Anthropology will serve as her faculty mentor.

During her first year at SMU, Mendoza took Parson’s course “Health, Healing and Ethics,” which examines cross-cultural perspectives on sickness and society. “It was one of the best classes I have taken at SMU,” she says. “Dr. Parson gave me so much insight into health as viewed from different perspectives. She also was very passionate about her anthropological work and health in a global perspective.”

When Mendoza decided to pursue an Unbridled Project, “I immediately thought of Dr. Parson, and she was so helpful to me throughout the application process.”

Mendoza’s mother is of indigenous Maya origin, but fled her native Guatemala during the civil war in the 1970s. “As a result, she did not grow up learning the traditions, culture, values and language that bind this group of people together,” Mendoza says. When her maternal grandmother, also an indigenous Maya, received medical treatment in the United States for a malignant brain tumor, Mendoza experienced first-hand how strongly those traditions and values are upheld. “I also witnessed the dichotomy between my grandmother’s spiritual and traditional beliefs and the Western medical system,” she says.

Through her Unbridled Project, Mendoza seeks to understand how to better relate to those who hold such traditional values and beliefs, she says. She plans to become a physician with an emphasis in global health and hopes to work with Doctors Without Borders.

“It is an intellectual treat for me to mentor Kimberly,” Parson says. “As a medical anthropologist, specializing in Latin America, I know how important and interesting her project is – not only because it illuminates the different ways people experience and think about health in Guatemala, but also because of the implications of this knowledge for our own health care systems.”

Mendoza’s research could help in providing better care for Guatemalan and other immigrants here in Dallas, Parson adds. “It is very gratifying to see Kimberly bringing together her family’s ties to Guatemala and her educational experience here at SMU.”

The Office of Engaged Learning provides institutional support for SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), created as part of the University’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). “Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” allows all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation.

A full list of students who will pursue 2012-13 Unbridled Projects appears below the link.

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Tune In: SMU celebrates 2012 Engaged Learning Day Feb. 13

SMU celebrates Engaged Learning Day 2012 on Monday, February 13, with a series of events aimed at encouraging students to take their learning experience beyond the classroom by tackling real-world problems.

Activities will include an open house at the Office of Engaged Learning in the lower level of Clements Hall, as well as workshops and presentations by students who are currently completing projects.

“We want students to ask themselves ‘What do you care about?’ and ‘What are you going to do about it?’” says Susan Kress, director of Engaged Learning. “Answering these questions will hopefully inspire them to imagine and make a project happen, a project that links to their SMU education.”

Learn more now with the University’s updated Engaged Learning video for 2012 by Eva Parks of SMU News. Click the YouTube screen to start watching, or click here to open SMU’s Engaged Learning 2012 promotional video in a new windowvideo

> Find a complete schedule at SMU News
> Visit the Office of Engaged Learning online at smu.edu/engagedlearning

SACS reaffirms SMU’s accreditation at 2011 meeting

SMU received full reaffirmation of its accreditation at the annual meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Dec. 5, 2011, in Orlando. Provost Paul Ludden made the announcement to faculty and staff members in an e-mail message dated Dec. 9:


This past Monday at the Annual SACS Meeting in Orlando, SMU received full reaffirmation of its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools SACS.  Many of you were involved, either directly or indirectly, in developing the materials for that review process, and I thank you for your effort as well as your continued support of SMU.

A list of those who served on the SACS Steering Committee and those who served on the Committee to develop SMU’s Quality Enhancement Program (QEP), “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” is attached.  When you see these individuals, please congratulate them and thank them for their efforts.

Best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season.


> Visit SMU’s SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation page
> See a list of SMU’s SACS Committee members (PDF format)

Susan Kress becomes SMU Director of Engaged Learning Oct. 1, 2011

Susan Kress, SMU Director of Engaged LearningSusan Kress of the SMU International Center will become the University’s new Director of Engaged Learning effective Oct. 1, 2011. Her office is in the General Education suite in the lower level of Clements Hall, adjacent to the Scholars’ Den honors community commons. She reports to James Quick, Associate Vice President for Research.

Kress has been with SMU since 2008 in her role as Director of Education Abroad. She received her B.F.A. degree from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, and her M.F.A. degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Prior to accepting her position at SMU, she was assistant director of The International Center and coordinator of study abroad and national student exchange at Winthrop University.

Her new position was created to provide institutional support for the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), created as part of SMU’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” will allow all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation, according to the plan set forth by SMU’s QEP Committee in January 2011.

The oversight infrastructure will include the Engaged Learning Advisory Committee, as well as community partners and mentors, and a new website to keep track of experiential learning opportunities for students.

> Learn more about the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan

Kress will start by working with Quick to assemble an advisory committee of SMU campus community members, she says. By spring 2012, they hope to have an external advisory committee of community and national leaders and friends of SMU, she adds.

The committees’ advice will help establish priorities for the program, Kress says. “We will focus on bringing together different constituencies and talking to students to find out what they want.”

Kress sees the Office of Engaged Learning as serving as “an umbrella that will bring together the people behind the myriad experiential learning activities already happening on campus, making it easy for students to know where to go to practice the knowledge and skills they are learning in the classroom in a real-world context,” she says. “Students, based on their needs and interests, are already asking for it. A big part of my job is to establish the business practices needed for a coordinated and exciting program that underscores the value of active learning as a distinctive component of a SMU education.

“The University is looking at the next 100 years. As we go forward, this engaged learning will be part and parcel of the academic experience, not something separate.”

> Visit SMU’s “Unbridled Learning” homepage

Tune In: Getting connected with ‘Unbridled Learning’

SMU is answering students’ calls for learning opportunities outside the classroom with a new program that will provide both structure and funding for their endeavors.

The University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) – “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” – will allow all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation. The program will allow undergraduates to build on their formal education through participation in structured experiential learning beyond the classroom.

Click the YouTube screen to learn more, or watch the Unbridled Learning video in a new window. video

> Visit SMU’s Unbridled Learning homepage

SMU unveils new plan for ‘Unbridled Learning’

Outdoor class at Dallas HallSMU is answering students’ calls for learning opportunities outside the classroom with a new program that will provide both structure and funding for their endeavors.

The University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) – “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” – will allow all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation, according to the plan released by SMU’s QEP Committee. It also meets requirements for the University’s upcoming reaccreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

The program will allow undergraduates to “build on their formal classroom education through participation in structured experiential learning beyond the classroom, which will help them to develop a significant and sophisticated understanding of the ways in which the context of the world community intersects with disciplinary knowledge,” according to the QEP Committee’s executive summary.

The committee’s discussions have centered on experiential learning since its formation in summer 2009, says chair Maggie Dunham, professor of computer science and engineering in the Lyle School of Engineering.

“The QEP part of our reaccreditation process is pretty much wide open for schools to determine. The committee’s main job was to come up with an implementation plan,” Dunham says. “Experiential learning is the area where we think students will gain the most from their University experience. They value this kind of activity and have told us as much.”

Indeed, a survey of SMU students conducted by the Temerlin Advertising Institute, led by Professor Brice Campbell, in Meadows School of the Arts found that more than 80 percent of them “find that it is important to experience life outside the classroom.”

The QEP will provide opportunities – and University support, including funding – for undergraduate students to choose an out-of-classroom experiential learning activity in the community focus area of their choice:

  • Research
  • Creative
  • Civic
  • Professional

QEP experiences will also have specific requirements that may not be satisfied by existing SMU experiential learning activities, according to the committee. A key feature is that each student will be in charge of identifying, defining, completing and reporting on his or her work.

All experiences will be approved by an advisory committee and overseen by SMU faculty with other qualified internal and external mentors. A QEP experience can be undertaken anywhere, but must include extensive involvement with a learning community.

All QEP participants will be required to write a reflective article about their experiences, to be published in a new SMU online journal. In addition, new Undergraduate Engaged Learning Conferences will be held annually to showcase student QEP experiences.

The committee found that many SMU students already pursue experiential activities beyond the classroom, but many more are confused about how to go about doing it, Dunham says. The recommendations for the QEP grant program and other support mechanisms should address that problem, she adds.

SMU institutional support for the QEP will include:

  • Monetary support
  • A new position for a Director of Engaged Learning
  • A new Director of Undergraduate Research

The oversight infrastructure will include the Engaged Learning Advisory Committee, as well as community partners and mentors, and a new website to keep track of experiential learning opportunities for students.

In addition, QEP projects will build on and augment important elements of the new University Curriculum (UC), to be offered beginning in 2012. The program will allow students to pursue the community and global requirements of the UC in more depth.

Finally, the QEP will increase faculty awareness of the importance of and participation in undergraduate experiential learning outside the classroom.

“It’s important that these experiences become part of our University culture,” Dunham says. “Our plan will help facilitate that.”

> Read more about the University Curriculum
> Learn more from SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan information site
> Visit the SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation for SMU homepage

Four professors honored at Spring 2011 General Faculty Meeting

SMU Provost Paul Ludden opened the 2011 Spring Faculty Meeting by presenting awards to four outstanding faculty members.

Assistant Professor of Art History Amy Buono and Assistant Professor of Sociology Sheri Kunovich received 2009-10 Golden Mustang Faculty Awards. The Golden Mustang honors junior faculty members who sustain high achievement as both teachers and scholars.

The 2009-10 President’s Associates Outstanding Faculty Awards were presented to Associate Professor of Philosophy Robert Howell and Associate Professor of Art History Pamela Patton. The awards honor tenured faculty who have sustained high achievement as both teachers and scholars in their professions.

Ludden announced SMU’s latest Carnegie Foundation research classification and unveiled the University’s new Quality Enhancement Plan at the Jan. 19 meeting. He also provided updates on the 10-year accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), next year’s budget standings and a proposed new structure for undergraduate admissions.

Read more under the link below.

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