R. Gerald Turner

$10 million gift will establish Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement in SMU’s Cox School of Business

Marci Armstrong, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs at SMU Cox - Albert Niemi, Dean of the SMU Cox School of Business - Harold (Hal) Brierley

Hal Brierley (right) with Cox Dean Albert Niemi and Cox Associate Dean Marci Armstrong.

The nation’s first academic institute devoted to the study of customer engagement will be based in SMU’s Cox School of Business thanks to a $10 million gift from Diane and Harold (Hal) Brierley.

A pioneer in database marketing and customer loyalty programs, Hal Brierley is perhaps best known as the only consultant for the launch of American Airlines’ AAdvantage program, the nation’s first frequent traveler program. The Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement will support a critical and growing business need: capturing customer attention in what Brierley has described as “a time-starved, social media-obsessed environment.”

The gift – among the largest in the history of the Cox School – will be formally announced at a ceremony on the SMU campus in the James M. Collins Executive Education Center at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14.

“It is an honor for SMU and the Cox School of Business to serve as home of the Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are grateful for the Brierleys’ foresight and their generous gift to establish endowments and provide operational funding that will support curricular innovation, graduate scholarships and faculty leadership to address the issue of building and maintaining customer relationships.”

Hal Brierley

Hal Brierley

The ceremony will be followed by a 5 p.m. panel discussion, also in the Collins Center, focusing on customer engagement insights for the future. Panelists will include John Deighton, Baker Foundation Professor and Harold M. Brierley Professor Emeritus of Business Administration at Harvard Business School; Karen Katz, CEO & President of Neiman Marcus; Suzanne Rubin, former president of American Airlines AAdvantage program; Hal Brierley; and Marci Armstrong, SMU Cox associate dean of graduate programs. SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Currall will host the panel discussion.

“This gift will greatly enrich our marketing concentration, provide extra funding and create depth,” said Cox Dean Albert Niemi. “The Brierley name is magic in customer engagement. Hal will have an office here and serve as an executive-in-residence. He’ll be engaged in the classroom with our students. Both his gift and his presence will strengthen the program.”

“It’s more than serendipity when the right program comes to the right University,” said Currall. “Our existing course offerings within the Cox School are a strong foundation for the new Brierley Institute, and we look forward to partnerships with other disciplines across campus, which will multiply the Institute’s value to our students and faculty members.”

“I look forward to having Dallas and SMU viewed as a center of excellence in customer relationship management,” said Hal Brierley. “I’m pleased that SMU Cox has stepped up to create effective curricula to teach tomorrow’s marketers the techniques that are essential to design and manage successful customer loyalty programs. The Brierley Institute will take an active role in advancing the techniques employed by consumer brands for their current and future customer engagement efforts.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

SMU honors fallen 9/11 first responders with honor guard, bell ceremony at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 9, 2016

Scene at the SMU flagpole on Sept. 11, 2001

Scene at the SMU flagpole on Sept. 11, 2001.

The SMU Police Department and first responders from the surrounding community will commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11 with a solemn ceremony honoring the police officers and firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty during the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

University police officers, along with members of the Highland Park and University Park Police and Fire Departments, will participate in a combined honor guard and bell ceremony for the fallen. The ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, at the flagpole on the Main Quad. The event is free and open to the public.

To symbolize the first responders’ devotion to duty, the bell ceremony includes a special signal of three rings, three times each, representing the end of duty and a return to quarters. The signals ring out that “those who have selflessly given their lives for the good of their fellow man, their tasks completed, their duties well done … are going home.”

The remembrance will also feature remarks from SMU President R. Gerald Turner and Police Chief Rick Shafer and a benediction by University Chaplain Stephen Rankin, as well as bagpipe performances of “Amazing Grace” and “America the Beautiful.”

“We welcome the community to come and help us remember those who gave their lives while protecting those they served,” said Chief Shafer.

The remembrance ceremony is one of several opportunities for campus community members, both in-person and virtual, to reflect on and remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001:

> Christina Rancke and Osama Bin Laden’s death
> Journal entries written by the SMU community 15 years ago

Willard Spiegelman receives Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award at 2016 Fall General Faculty Meeting

Willard Spiegelman, Hughes Professor of English in Dedman College, was honored as the 2015-16 United Methodist Church University Scholar/Teacher of the Year at SMU’s 2016 Fall General Faculty Meeting Wednesday, Aug. 24.

The first meeting of the entire faculty for the 2016-17 academic year featured the Spring 2016 Faculty Senate report, the presentation of regalia to newly tenured faculty, and President R. Gerald Turner’s updates on initiatives ranging from cultural intelligence to continuing education.

(more…)

Statement from SMU President R. Gerald Turner on SMU Police Officer Mark McCullers

SMU released the following statement from President R. Gerald Turner on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016:


SMU Police Officer Mark McCullersToday it was confirmed that the body of missing SMU Police Officer Mark McCullers was located Wednesday in Dallas. As our community grieves this profound loss, we are deeply grateful to those who searched for Officer McCullers since he was swept away by Turtle Creek floodwaters July 5 while working off-duty as a private security guard at a Highland Park construction site. The search teams’ efforts now have brought comfort and relief to his many loved ones and friends.

We continue to hold in our thoughts and prayers Officer McCullers’ wife, Tiffany, and six children. Officer McCullers was a beloved member of our University community, a skilled and dedicated officer and a proud U.S. Marine veteran. He served as a member of the SMU Police Department Patrol Division since February 2015. As was noted at his July 28 memorial service at McFarlin Auditorium, Mark was passionate about sharing his knowledge of personal security with students and other campus community members.

We thank the many heroic men and women who searched in difficult conditions for Officer McCullers, including members of the Highland Park Department of Public Safety, Dallas Fire-Rescue, the Dallas Police Department, University Park Police Department and Texas Parks & Wildlife.

I also want to extend profound thanks to SMU Police Chief Richard Shafer and all members of the SMU Police Department. As many of you know, SMU Police Department officers and staff served tirelessly and gave selflessly of their time and skills since search efforts began. At the same time, they continued to serve and protect our campus community, demonstrating an extraordinary level of professionalism and dedication.

Chief Shafer asked that I forward the following statement from him: “I am proud of the SMU Police Department for their continued efforts to find Officer McCullers. They never gave up. They supported and aided other agencies throughout the search, and they provided care and support to Mark’s family. It was fitting that Officer McCullers was found by his SMU Patrol Sergeant, Keith McCain. We all are grateful he is coming home.”

If you are not already aware, the McCullers family has established the Officer Mark McCullers Memorial Account. Donations may be made at any Wells Fargo bank to account number 9976436577, or online on PayPal at www.paypal.me/OfficerMarkMcCullers.

For SMU staff, faculty or family members who are in need of confidential support or resources, please contact the SMU Employee Assistance Program, which is offered through the Human Resources Department. Call 1-877-704-5696.

Students in need of confidential support or resources may contact SMU Counseling Services, 214-768-2277. The SMU Chaplain’s Office, 214-768-4502, also is available to provide confidential support to campus community members.

Thank you to those across North Texas and around the country who have sent their prayers to our community. They have supported us through this time and will continue to do so.

R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

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.

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