R. Gerald Turner

Al Niemi announces plans to step down as dean of SMU’s Cox School of Business after 2016-17 academic year

Albert W. 'Al' Niemi Jr., dean, SMU Cox School of BusinessAlbert W. Niemi, Jr., the dean of SMU’s Cox School of Business during a time of great growth and increasing national stature for the school, has announced his intention to step down from his administrative post at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

He will continue to serve as dean during the University’s search, which will begin immediately.

Dean Niemi, who currently holds the Cox School’s Tolleson Chair in Business Leadership, will remain on the faculty as the William J. O’Neil Chair in Global Markets and Freedom after he completes his administrative duties.

“We just finished SMU’s first century and the Second Century Campaign, so now is a time to look ahead,” Niemi said. “We need someone with a vision to lead the Cox School to success in its next era. By stepping down as dean, but remaining to teach, I have the opportunity to support the next dean if he or she wants my advice, and I can be with my students, work with my faculty and staff colleagues, and continue to be part of this great campus. It will be a privilege to end my career the way I began it – in the classroom, doing what I love best.”

Since arriving at the Cox School in June 1997, Niemi has increased the school’s national and international visibility. Cox’s B.B.A., full-time M.B.A., Professional M.B.A. and Executive M.B.A. programs are ranked among the best in the world by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, Financial Times, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report. Niemi is the eighth dean – and, as he begins his 20th year at SMU, the longest-serving dean – in the Cox School’s history.

Niemi also has been an effective fund-raiser who has dramatically increased the school’s endowment from $78 million to more than $200 million. The new endowment funds have created 10 new endowed faculty positions, eight new endowed centers and institutes, and 60 new endowed scholarships. In addition, he helped raise $19 million to support the construction of the James M. Collins Executive Education Center.

During his tenure, donors have honored his service by establishing the Albert W. Niemi Center for American Capitalism at SMU Cox and the Maria and Albert Niemi Endowed Centennial B.B.A. Scholars Fund. The Niemi Center is a partnership with the George W. Bush Institute that puts the tenets of Niemi’s teaching and research into action through research fellowships, academic programs and community outreach. The Niemi Endowed Centennial B.B.A. Scholars Fund provides scholarships to support B.B.A. students in the Cox School.

“My professional relationship with Al Niemi pre-dates my own arrival at SMU as president,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He had already earned a reputation as an outstanding educator and business school administrator at the University of Georgia, so when the opportunity arose to recruit him to serve as the dean of the Cox School, it was an easy choice and one that has greatly benefited both Cox and the University. Under his leadership, the Cox School has strengthened its connection to the Dallas and North Texas community of which SMU is a part and has also become a globally prominent business school.”

Before coming to SMU, Niemi served as dean of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia from 1982-1996. An expert in economic growth, economic forecasting, and the history of capitalism in America, he has taught more than 15,000 students and consistently has been recognized for distinguished teaching. He also has written six books and more than 200 articles for leading academic journals and business periodicals.

“As an academician, administrator, and university citizen, Al Niemi is second to none,” SMU Provost Steven Currall said. “The business school faculty he leads enjoys a stellar global reputation. Both the undergraduate and graduate programs rank highly. The Cox BBA Scholars program, which allows first-year students with outstanding academic qualifications to be admitted directly into the Cox School, continues to attract the nation’s best and brightest undergraduates. In turn, the BBA Scholars program has helped enhance SMU’s student academic profile campus-wide.”

Niemi has served on and led search committees that have brought new leaders, including the current provost, to SMU. He has worked extensively in business school and university accreditation. In addition, he has chaired or served as a member on accreditation review teams to more than 20 universities, including Emory, Washington University, DePaul, Vanderbilt, Claremont, William and Mary, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Syracuse, Monterrey Tech (Mexico), INCAE (Costa Rica), University of Monterrey (Mexico), the Autonomous Technological University of Mexico, and IESA (Venezuela).

The dean also served three-year terms on the Board of Governors of the American Association of University Administrators and Beta Gamma Sigma, and he served a six-year term on the Board of Trustees of Stonehill College, his alma mater, in Easton, Massachusetts.

Active in the business community, Niemi speaks to numerous civic and business groups across the nation. He is currently a member of the advisory board of the Bank of Texas and the Advisory Council of The Catholic Foundation.

Originally from Massachusetts, Niemi is the grandson of Finnish and Irish immigrants. He earned a scholarship to Stonehill College, from which he graduated cum laude with an A.B. degree in economics, and went on to earn his M.A and Ph.D. degrees in economics from the University of Connecticut.

The dean and his wife, Maria, have two grown children, Albert III and Edward Charles, and three grandchildren.

August 25, 2016|For the Record, News|

Save the date: 2016 Fall General Faculty Meeting takes place Wednesday, Aug. 24

SMU President R. Gerald Turner will address the University faculty at the Fall General Faculty Meeting Wednesday, Aug. 24 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The meeting will begin at 3:45 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Theater, following a reception beginning at 3 p.m. in Centennial Hall and the Theater foyer.

Newly tenured faculty will receive their regalia during the meeting. In addition, 2016-17 Faculty Senate President Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner will give the Senate’s report. Provost Steven Currall will make his first address to the General Faculty Meeting and announce the winner of the 2015-16 Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church.

August 22, 2016|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

SMU CUL Dean Gillian McCombs announces her retirement, effective summer 2017

Gillian M. McCombs, Dean and Director, SMU Central University LibrariesGillian McCombs, dean and director of SMU’s Central University Libraries, has announced her retirement from that position effective in summer 2017.

SMU Provost Steven Currall will announce the timeframe for the search for a new permanent dean and director this fall.

McCombs joined SMU in 1998 and guided the University’s central library system through a transformation of resources, facilities and services in response to changing student and faculty needs. One of the most visible examples of her leadership is the Fondren Library Center renovation. The Fondren Foundation Centennial Reading Room and new Hillcrest Foundation Exhibit Hall opened April 15, marking the completion of the first phase. The final phase includes a Starbucks Café and Collaborative Commons, which will open with a student-centered celebration in September 2016.

> SMU News: SMU celebrates Fondren Library transformation

“Great libraries are the heart of the University, and at the heart of Dean McCombs’ leadership of SMU Central University Libraries has been an unwavering focus on our library users’ evolving needs, particularly those of our students,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “A prime example is the CUL Student Advisory Council she created to provide the student perspective as library staff shapes programs, services and spaces that enhance the user experience and support academic achievement. Gillian has been a passionate advocate for CUL, and we are grateful for her many contributions to the University.”

McCombs oversees three libraries on the main campus – Fondren Library Center, including the Norwick Center for Digital Services; DeGolyer Library, SMU’s principal repository for special collections in the humanities, the history of business, and the history of science and technology; and the Hamon Arts Library in Meadows School of the Arts – as well as the Fort Burgwin Library at SMU-in-Taos and the SMU-in-Plano Library Resource Room.

“Dean McCombs has had a longstanding and distinguished career leading Central University Libraries at SMU. In addition to being an insightful voice about advancing libraries at SMU, Gillian is a globally recognized intellectual leader about the future of libraries, digitization of documents, and the creative use of library buildings to foster innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration,” said SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Currall. “One of the crowning achievements of her career was the recent renovation of SMU’s Fondren Library to ensure that it meets the current and future needs of SMU faculty and students. Gillian has been an inspiring leader of the CUL staff, a true academic partner with SMU’s other deans, and an invaluable colleague in advancing SMU.”

Among her SMU career highlights:

  • McCombs led CUL’s observance of the University’s Year of the Library in 2013, joining SMU President R. Gerald Turner in welcoming the acquisition of American explorer John Maley’s travel journal (1808-1812) that represented the libraries’ four-millionth volume. The gift was made by the SMU Board of Trustees in honor of former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush and the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
  • She launched a digital collections initiative, which now numbers 51 collections comprising 50,000 images, documents, videos and other materials from SMU’s special collections, all available to the public online. CUL also scaled up its delivery of e-resources and now provides access to over one million e-books and 75,000 e-journals.
  • As dean and director, she guided CUL’s participation in several major collaborative ventures including the Greater Western Library Alliance’s Occam’s Reader Project, a groundbreaking e-book pilot program; the Association of College and Research Libraries’ three-year research initiative studying the impact of academic libraries on student achievement; and a partnership with the George W. Bush Presidential Library and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association to bring George Washington’s personal copy of The Acts of Congress to campus.

Throughout her service to SMU, McCombs has published extensively in the areas of organizational culture, technology and digital services, leadership and management, fundraising and historical children’s literature. She has won numerous awards in the library profession and serves on the editorial board of portal: Libraries and the Academy, a research journal focused on the evolving role of academic libraries and librarians.

Her professional affiliations include membership on the Greater Western Library Alliance Board of Directors. She has represented the United States on the International Federation of Libraries Association, Academic Libraries standing committee and has served on numerous committees and advisory boards of the American Library Association. In North Texas she has served on the Dallas Museum of Art’s Libraries, Archives and Imaging Services Committee, the University of North Texas School of Library and Information Sciences Board of Advisors and the Texas Woman’s University School of Library and Information Studies External Constituent Board.

McCombs began her professional career in England as the music librarian at Huddersfield Public Library in her native Yorkshire. Her career in the United States started in Washington, D.C., where she worked at the Landscape Architecture and Garden Library at Dumbarton Oaks, as well as such federal libraries as the National Library of Medicine, the Federal Reserve, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Prior to joining SMU, she served as assistant director of technical services and systems for 16 years at the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY), where she earned a master’s degree in public administration.

McCombs received a bachelor’s degree in French and European literature (honors) from the University of Warwick and a master’s degree from the Leeds School of Librarianship in England.

August 2, 2016|For the Record, News|

Provost names Maria Dixon Hall to lead new campus-wide initiative on cultural intelligence

Maria Dixon HallSMU Provost Steve Currall has named Associate Professor of Organizational Communication and Director of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs Maria Dixon Hall as Provost’s Senior Advisor for Campus Cultural Intelligence Initiatives effective Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.

Professor Dixon Hall will have strategic oversight of an emerging initiative “designed to ensure that we are cultivating a campus culture involving faculty, staff and students that ensures our students are ready to effectively engage the complex world into which they will graduate,” said Currall, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“The question that guides me in this unique appointment is: Whether in Detroit or Dubai, South Wales or South Dallas, do our classrooms equip our students to effectively communicate and negotiate human difference?” Currall added. “I believe the faculty has an especially vital role in fostering contexts that teach our students how to successfully and respectfully work, collaborate and create solutions regardless of who their partners may be. Professor Dixon Hall is uniquely qualified to lead this exciting initiative.”

“Last year, I promised the SMU community that we would be bold in our efforts to ensure that our campus was welcoming, inclusive and thoughtful about matters of difference. Maria’s appointment allows us to tap into her internationally recognized expertise in cultural intelligence,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “In addition to being an outstanding faculty member in the classroom, she has earned a reputation, through her research and consulting, for moving organizations and institutions beyond the old frameworks of diversity training to intelligent, thoughtful ways of communicating effectively across cultural boundaries. Her work as an organizational scholar and theologian will help us formulate sustainable actions to position SMU as a strategic leader in inclusion and cultural intelligence in higher education by 2025.”

Recognized throughout her SMU career for her teaching and research, Dixon Hall has been honored with the 2005-06 Willis M. Tate award for service to the student body; the 2009 Golden Mustang Award for outstanding teaching and research by junior faculty; the 2010 Rotunda Award for Outstanding Teaching; and the 2011 “M” Award, SMU’s highest award for service to the University. In 2016, she was named an Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor by SMU’s Center for Teaching Excellence.

“I am deeply honored by this appointment,” Dixon Hall said. “The conversations I’ve had with my colleagues during the past year have demonstrated the commitment our faculty has to ensuring that we are shaping world changers in every sense of the term. The opportunity to lead those conversations in service of a University I love is deeply gratifying. Provost Currall’s innovative structuring of this appointment can only encourage others like myself, who love the classroom, to occasionally step out of it and engage in these types of transformative opportunities on behalf of the University.”

Dixon Hall will return to research and teaching once the initiative is complete, at which time the University leadership will unveil a long-term plan to sustain the cultural intelligence programs she will develop.

Professor Dixon Hall joined the SMU faculty in 2004. As Director of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs in the Meadows School of the Arts’ Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs, she oversees curriculum and assessment for the Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communication program.

She also serves as the director of Mustang Consulting, an in-house firm staffed by top communication students, whose global client list includes Southwest Airlines (Dallas), The Dance Theatre of Harlem (New York), the Ugandan American Partnership Organization (Kampala/Dallas), The Lydia Patterson Institute (El Paso), and Lifeworks (Austin). The firm’s research has been featured in The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, The Franchise Times, and Restaurant Nation.

Dixon Hall’s research and professional consulting is focused on the implications of identity, power and organizational culture on the strategic communication of religious and non-profit organizations. Dixon Hall serves on the editorial boards and as a reviewer for both her field’s national and international publication outlets, as well as their academic conferences. Her work appears in the discipline’s top journals, including Management Communication Quarterly, The Journal of Communication and Religion, Business Communication Quarterly and Southern Journal of Communication.

Dixon Hall maintains an active speaking schedule and is a frequent contributor to national media outlets such as TIME Magazine and CNN on issues of race and education. Her examination of the University of Oklahoma’s failures in dealing with race, “Transformation 101,” became one of 2015’s most viral blog posts. A probationary deacon in the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, she is also a frequent contributor to the United Methodist Reporter and The Religious News Service.

A graduate of the Culverhouse School of Business at the University of Alabama, Dixon Hall earned a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from the Candler School of Theology of Emory University. She received her Ph.D. in organizational communication and religion from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2004.

July 22, 2016|For the Record, News|

SMU’s 2016 President’s Picnic is Wednesday, May 18

Originally published April 5, 2016.
presidents-picnic-2016The SMU Staff Association and President R. Gerald Turner invite all University staff members to the 2016 Staff Appreciation Day and President’s Picnic. The post-Commencement celebration takes place 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 on the Clements Hall south lawn.

This year’s event will include the announcement of the 2015 President’s Staff Recognition Award winners, who were originally scheduled to be named at the postponed Staff Association Assembly and Recognition Ceremony in March.

For more information, contact Staff Association President Tim Norris, 214-768-4959.

> Visit the SMU Staff Association online: smu.edu/staffassociation

 

May 17, 2016|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|
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