Rick Halperin

Sister Helen Prejean to speak at SMU April 23

Sister Helen PrejeanSister Helen Prejean, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, will speak at SMU April 23 as part of a panel discussion, “Arts, Social Change, and Human Rights,” from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater.

Hosted by SMU, Fort Worth Opera and the Dallas Opera, the panel will be moderated by Rick Halperin, director of the Human Rights Education Program in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The other panelists include Jonathan Pell, artistic director for the Dallas Opera; Darren K. Woods, general director of Fort Worth Opera; and Jake Heggie, composer of the modern opera derived from Dead Man Walking.

Sister Helen Prejean, a former teacher from Louisiana, joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille at a young age and dedicated her life to the poor of New Orleans. She began a prison ministry in 1981 and became a pen pal and spiritual adviser to convicted felons, which led her to share her experiences through Dead Man Walking. The book was made into a major motion picture in 1996.

Sister Prejean received the Robert O. Cooper Peace and Justice Fellowship from SMU in 1998. The fellowship is sponsored by the SMU Office of the Chaplain, in collaboration with the Human Rights Program, the Ethnic Studies Program and the Dallas Peace Center.

The panel discussion will highlight examples of how the arts have impacted communities and will emphasize efforts to integrate the arts into social change. The event also will spotlight Heggie’s operas Dead Man Walking, which will be presented by Fort Worth Opera in May, and Moby Dick, which the Dallas Opera will premiere in 2010.

The panel is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow the discussion.

An inmate’s fight for constitutional rights

Fred CruzIn 1960, at age 21, Fred Cruz was arrested for robbery, convicted and sentenced to 50 years on a Texas prison farm. The San Antonio native denied committing the crimes but couldn’t afford a lawyer to appeal his case. With only an 8th grade education, Cruz read every law book he could find and filed his own appeal.

Fred Cruz’s story is now an independent film by producer/director Susanne Mason and will debut at SMU at 6 p.m. April 15, 2009 in McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall. “Writ Writer: One Man’s Journey for Justice” tells the story of Cruz’s evolution into a jailhouse lawyer, the legal battle he waged against physical and racial violence, and how he used writs of habeas corpus to secure the constitutional rights of Texas prisoners.

Told by wardens, convicts and former prisoners who knew Cruz, “Writ Writer” uses contemporary and archival film footage to show the transformation of a prisoner and a prison system still haunted by their pasts. The film was honored as an official selection of the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival. The SMU screening is sponsored by the University’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies in Dedman College.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on prisons, rights, race and violence featuring the following participants:

  • Rick Halperin, moderator, director of SMU’s Human Rights Education Program
  • Susanne Mason, director and producer of “Writ Writer”
  • Robert Chase, Clements Center Fellow and author of the upcoming book, Civil Rights on the Cell Block: Race, Reform and Punishment in Texas Prisons and the Nation, 1945-1990
  • Ernest McMillan, civil rights veteran and community activist
  • Reginald Gordon, community activist

The program is free and open to the public; advance registration is required. Register online at the Clements Center website or contact Ruth Ann Elmore at 214-768-3684.

Examining the intersections of crime, media and race

race-to-execution-dvd.jpgAs part of SMU’s ongoing celebration of Black History Month, the Division of Cinema-Television in Meadows School of the Arts and the Human Rights Education Program will present two documentary films by new CTV chair and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Rachel Lyon.

Race to Execution,” which aired on PBS’ “Independent Lens” (2007) and blackpublicmedia.org (2008), examines the ways in which race bias affects the United States’ capital punishment system and the factors that influence decisions on who lives and who dies at the hands of the state. The film traces the fates of two death-row inmates through their personal stories and testimony from defense attorneys, prosecutors, criminal justice scholars and experts in law and the media.

Juror Number Six” is a short Internet film focusing on how the media affects public perceptions of race, crime and punishment. The film highlights the role that TV news, shows like “CSI” and “Cops,” the Internet and other new media can have in the racialized crime-media business.

Following the showings will be a panel discussion with Lyon; Rick Halperin, director of the Human Rights Education Program; Dick Hawkins, associate professor of sociology in Dedman College; and Victoria Palacios, associate professor in Dedman School of Law. Refreshments will be served.

The screenings begin at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum, with the panel discussion scheduled to begin at 8:45 p.m. A reception will kick off the events at 7 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call 214-768-1158 or 214-493-8848.

Rick Halperin receives national teaching award

Rick HalperinThe National Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs has named SMU Professor Rick Halperin, director of the Human Rights Program in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, as this year’s recipient of its National Faculty Award.

The award recognizes an outstanding faculty member who exemplifies the qualities of interdisciplinary, liberal learning, and who has participated significantly in teaching, mentoring, and advising students, as well as actively participated in other faculty service in a graduate liberal studies program.

A longtime human rights advocate and member of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA, Halperin regularly leads groups on human rights educational journeys to places such as Cambodia, Rwanda, South Africa, El Salvador, Bosnia, and numerous Holocaust sites across Europe. Every December he takes a group to death camps and other Holocaust sites in Poland for two weeks.

Halperin was chair of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA from 1992-1993 and again from 2005-2007. He is a member of the National Death Penalty Advisory Committee, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (serving as President from 2000-2006 and again in 2007-present)

Read more from SMU News.

Cyprus ambassador Andreas Kakouris visits SMU

His Excellency Andreas Kakouris, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States, will visit SMU March 26 to discuss “Human Conflict and Cultural Violence: The Case of Cyprus.” Panelists include Annemarie Weyl Carr, University Distinguished Professor of Art History; P. Gregory Warden, University Distinguished Teaching Professor of Art History; and Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Human Rights Education Program.

The lecture begins at 4 p.m. in Smith Auditorium, Meadows Museum, and will be followed by a reception from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the museum’s Jones Hall. The event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, Division of Art History and Perkins School of Theology. For more information, contact Terri Gwinn, 8-2162.

Faculty in the News: Jan. 18, 2008

SMU faculty stayed busy over the holidays as they shared their expertise with the press and the public. Here’s a short summary of faculty media appearances during Winter Break:

Caroling on the SMU quadPeter Raad, Hart eCenter, was named one of the gaming industry’s “Top 25 People of 2007” by Next Generation Dec. 19, 2007.

Michael Hawn, Sacred Music, spoke on the declining tradition of Christmas caroling in USA Today Dec. 17, 2007.

Mark Chancey, Religious Studies, discussed interfaith understanding and his role as featured speaker in Temple Emanu-El’s annual adult education course with The Dallas Morning News Jan. 5, 2008.

Daniel Howard, Marketing, talked about how 2007 recalls have boosted demand for U.S.-made toys in The Oregonian Dec. 25, 2007.

Mike Davis, Finance, discussed Texas’ pursuit of energy diversity in The Killeen Daily Herald Dec. 31, 2007. He also spoke about the impact of the housing slump on real estate agents with the Dallas Business Journal Oct. 16, 2007

Debate tracking on CNNRita Kirk and Dan Schill, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, tracked Iowa debate viewers’ real-time responses during a Democratic presidential debate in a project undertaken with CNN. Kirk and Schill tracked viewer responses during a debate that took place Dec. 13, 2007.

Matthew Wilson and Cal Jillson, Political Science, talked about differences in state and national political polling with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Dec. 29, 2007. Jillson also discussed New Jersey’s vote to abolish the death penalty with Reuters Dec. 14, 2007.

Al Armendariz, Environmental and Civil Engineering, discussed what the U.S. Congress’ energy bill compromise means for North Texas pollution control with The Dallas Morning News Dec. 14, 2007.

Rick Halperin, History, discussed the phenomenon of European women befriending Texas death-row inmates with The Seattle Times Oct. 16, 2007. In addition, he coauthored an op-ed urging repeal of the death penalty that appeared in The Houston Chronicle Dec. 22, 2007.

Darfur symposium asks: “Does Dallas Care?”

The ongoing war and refugee crisis in Darfur, Sudan, provide the focus for “Does Dallas Care?,” cosponsored by SMU’s Human Rights Education Program and Perkins School of Theology. The symposium is part of three days of events Oct. 9-11 that conclude with Dining For Darfur, in which area restaurants will contribute a percentage of their Oct. 11 sales for humanitarian aid. SMU organizers are hoping to double the amount raised by the original Dining For Darfur event in New York City. Read more.

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Calendar Highlights: Sept. 13, 2007

Iron Constitution: SMU will observe Constitution Day Sept. 17. A copy of the preamble to the Constitution will be on display in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Commons throughout the day. Read more.

Magic time: The Gartner Lecture Series presents “Why Are We Here If We’re Not Magic? Residential Colleges and the Renewal of University Life” at 4 p.m. Sept. 18 in the Faculty Club. For more information, contact Julian Guevara at 8-2250.

Keeping up with human rights: The SMU Faculty Club presents Rick Halperin on “Global Status of Human Rights” in its Clubhouse Lunch series at noon Sept. 19 in the Faculty Club. RSVP to Dee Powell, 8-3012.

Scene from 'I Love Miami'Welcome to Florida: SMU and Dallas’ Vistas Film Festival celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a free showing of the Warner Bros. picture I Love Miami, featuring a post-screening Q&A with director Alejandro Gonzalez Padilla, at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 in the O’Donnell Recital Hall, Owen Arts Center. For more information, contact Fernando Salazar, 8-4586. (Left, actor Juan Luis Galiardo Comes as Fidel Castro.)

Planning for Iraq: Jon Alterman, director and senior fellow of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, discusses “Thinking Small: The Way Forward in Iraq” Sept. 24 at the Park City Club, 5956 Sherry Lane, Suite 1700. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., with a luncheon from noon-1:30 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by SMU’s Tower Center for Political Studies and The World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth. For more information, call 8-3665.

For the Record (Summer Edition): Aug. 17, 2007

Michael Adler, Anthropology, discussed the SMU-in-Taos program as a featured guest on KTAO 101.9 FM Radio July 24, 2007.

Al Armendariz, Environmental and Civil Engineering, wrote an op-ed, “We Can’t Wish Our Smog Away,” published in The Dallas Morning News July 25, 2007.

simpsons-cover-125.jpgAlan Brown and Chris Logan, Psychology, have edited The Psychology of the Simpsons: D’oh!, a collection of essays by professional psychologists exploring “the functions and dysfunctions of the show’s characters.” The book was published in July 2007 by Independent Publishers Group.

Steve DePaul, International Center, was featured in a Robert Miller article on SMU’s Education Abroad program in The Dallas Morning News Aug. 5, 2007.

Shubha Ghosh, Law, spoke with CBS-11 TV about the impact on consumers of a June 2007 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a nearly 100-year-old Texas ban on price fixing.

Rick Halperin, History, guided SMU students, faculty and local community members on a tour of the landmarks of apartheid in South Africa Aug. 2-12. Halperin, director of the SMU Human Rights Education Program and chair of the Amnesty International USA Board, took the group to Soweto, scene of widespread rioting in 1976; Cape Town’s District Six neighborhood, where residents were forced out of their homes to create a “whites only” zone in 1965; and the Robben Island Prison, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner for 27 years.

Kathy Hargrove, Education and Human Development, discussed how children can be taught to think like geniuses with WFAA-TV Channel 8 Aug. 14, 2007.

James Hollifield, Political Science, was a featured guest along with former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich on the KERA-TV talk show “McCuistion” in a July 29, 2007 episode on “Ideology, Politics and Partisanship.”

Daniel Howard, Marketing, discussed the origins and usefulness of the “personal branding” trend with The Dallas Morning News July 15, 2007.

evan-almighty-160.jpgRobert Hunt, Theology, discussed the film “Evan Almighty” and the enduring appeal of the Noah story in the June 16, 2007 edition of The Dallas Morning News.

Jeffrey Kahn, Law, discussed with KERA 90.1 and National Public Radio the Dallas-based federal trial involving the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim charity accused of ties to terrorism, for which jury selection began July 16, 2007.

Glenn Linden, History, has cowritten Disunion, War, Defeat and Recovery in Alabama: The Journal of Augustus Benners, 1850-1885 with his wife, Virginia Linden. The book, a chronicle of more than three decades in the life of a plantation owner in ante- and postbellum Alabama, was published in July 2007 by Mercer University Press.

Bridge supportsGeoffrey Orsak, School of Engineering, talked with CBS-11 TV and CBS News’ “The Early Show” Aug. 3, 2007, about the United States’ crisis-level backlog of structurally deficient bridges.

Tony Pederson, Journalism, discussed the ramifications of media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s recent purchase of The Wall Street Journal with SMU News Aug. 5, 2007.

Anne Peterson, DeGolyer Library, spoke with U.S. News & World Report about controversies surrounding the work of Civil War photographer Mathew Brady for the magazine’s July 2, 2007 cover story, “Secrets of the Civil War.” In addition, she gave a presentation on “Alexander Gardner and the Photographically Illustrated Book” to the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) at its annual conference in Minneapolis July 11-14, 2007.

Kamal Saggi, Economics, has been named Dedman Distinguished Collegiate Professor of Economics.

SMU Panhellenic has been awarded the National Panhellenic Conference Progress award for campuses with 6-10 chapters for the 2005-2007 biennium. The honor is presented to one college Panhellenic that “has shown significant strides related to member education, new member programming, recruitment, and scholarship.”

Dallas immigration rallyHarold Stanley, Political Science, spoke with Mercedes Olivera of The Dallas Morning News about immigration issues and Latino voters for the July 8, 2007 edition.

Rev. Page A. Thomas, Bridwell Library, was the subject of an article in The Dallas Morning News July 21, 2007, recognizing his 46 years with Bridwell — the longest term of service in a single posting for any Methodist minister.

Gregory Warden, Art History, and his work at an ancient Etruscan settlement in Poggia Colla, Italy, were the subjects of a Robert Miller column in the Aug. 12, 2007 edition of The Dallas Morning News.

Jerry White, Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship, discussed how the credit crunch is affecting small businesses with The Dallas Morning News Aug. 11, 2007.

Matthew Wilson, Political Science, spoke with Reuters in June 2007 about the Religious Right and Jerry Falwell’s legacy, and with The Dallas Morning News about Tom Leppert’s mayoral victory in the June 17, 2007 edition.

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