student news

SMU honors outstanding achievement, community service at 2017-18 Hilltop Excellence Awards and Honors Convocation

Laurel wreath stock photo - Hilltop Excellence AwardsSMU faculty, staff, administrators and students were recognized with teaching awards, service honors and the University’s highest commendation – the “M” Award – at the 2017-18 Hilltop Excellence Awards Monday, April 16.

Earlier in the day, the University honored its best students at the 21st annual Honors Convocation. The address was delivered by Maria Dixon Hall, senior adviser to the SMU Provost, associate professor in the Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs in Meadows School of the Arts, and adjunct associate professor of homiletics in Perkins School of Theology.

> Find a complete list of award winners from Honors Convocation 2018

Appointed in August 2016 as Senior Advisor to the Provost for Cultural Intelligence, Dixon Hall is charged with oversight of the University’s efforts to ensure that all members of the SMU community are equipped to effectively create, collaborate, and work on solutions to change the world. In this role, she is responsible for development and implementation of the University’s new cultural intelligence curriculum and training program.

As director of mustangconsulting, Dixon Hall heads a staff of some of SMU’s best and brightest communication students. The group serves a global client list that includes corporate, nonprofit, and religious organizations such as Southwest Airlines (Dallas), The Dance Theatre of Harlem (New York), the Ugandan American Partnership Organization (Kampala/Dallas), The Lydia Patterson Institute (El Paso), and Carry the Load (Atlanta/Dallas).

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

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SMU Meadows Spring Dance Concert honors Danny Buraczeski through April 8, 2018

In the City by Danny Buraczeski, SMU Meadows Spring Dance Concert 2018

In the City by Danny Buraczeski, part of a seven-work tribute to the retiring SMU professor in the Meadows 2018 Spring Dance Concert. All photos: Paul Phillips

The SMU Meadows 2018 Spring Dance Concert honors retiring jazz dance faculty artist Danny Buraczeski with a retrospective of seven of his works. The concert will be presented in two alternating programs, April 4-8, 2018, in SMU’s Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

Featured will be dances created over the past 30 years for professional companies and for SMU students, ranging from 1989’s Merry Go Round to In the City, which premiered in 2013 at SMU’s “Meadows at the Winspear” concert. Performers will include current students; alumni Albert Drake and Adrián Aguirre; and the Zenon Dance Company from Minneapolis, long-time collaborators of Buraczeski’s who performed his critically acclaimed Ezekiel’s Wheel in 2016 in Cuba.

> SMU Forum: Spring Dance Concert to honor retiring SMU dance faculty artist Danny Buraczeski

The concert programs include the following works, to be performed on the days listed:

Program A, to be performed April 4, 5 and 7, opens with In the City (2013), based on “Three Dance Episodes” from the popular Leonard Bernstein musical On the Town. Inspired by the urban rhythms and textures of Bernstein’s music, the work features 15 dancers celebrating youth, optimism and the vibrant new energy that the Dallas Arts District has brought to the city.

It’s followed by Scene Unseen (1998), set to music by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington, featuring a duet with alumni Albert Drake, a founding member of Bruce Wood Dance Project, and Adrián Aguirre, a current member of the company.

Song Awakened (2001) follows, a work set to the songs of the late Cesária Évora, a noted singer of Creole-Portuguese soul music. The work, which debuted to critical acclaim at New York’s Joyce Theater, will be performed by eight Zenon Dance Company members.

The next piece, Points on a Curve (1998), is danced to music by Ornette Coleman; The New York Times said the low-key choreography evoked the music “in often witty and thought-provoking ways.”

Program A concludes with Swing Concerto (1994), an athletic and ebullient exploration of the relationship between two musical traditions: European klezmer music and the American swing of Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. The piece synthesizes the grounded qualities of folk dance with the exuberance of swing era movement. The Times wrote, “Swing Concerto is Mr. Buraczeski’s choreography at its most inventive, perceptive best.”

Program B, to be performed April 6 and 8, opens with the aforementioned In the City, followed by Merry Go Round (1989), set to music by Glenn Miller and the Army Air Force Band and featuring Zenon company dancers Scott Mettille and Sarah Steichen Stiles.

Next is Points on a Curve (noted above).

The final work in Program B will vary. On April 6, it will be Ezekiel’s Wheel (1999), a piece for eight dancers that was inspired by the life and work of author and civil rights activist James Baldwin. The work, exploring the themes of recognition, responsibility and redemption, will be performed by Zenon Dance Company. Commissioned when Buraczeski was artistic director of the acclaimed Minneapolis-based JAZZDANCE, Ezekiel’s Wheel was praised by The Times as “a balm for the soul in troubled times.”

On April 8, the concert program will conclude with the aforementioned Swing Concerto.

Performance times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8 for students, SMU faculty and staff. Buy your tickets online or contact the Meadows Ticket Office at 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Buy Meadows Spring Dance Concert tickets online at Vendini

Enjoy a gallery of can’t-miss photos from Swing Concerto, Points On a Curve and In the City, all by Paul Phillips.

Save the date: SMU Research Day 2018 scheduled for March 28-29

This story was originally published Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

Research Day 2017SMU Research Day is growing so much that in 2018 it will take two days to share the experience. Save the dates for Tuesday and Wednesday, March 28-29, in Hughes-Trigg Student Center.

March 28 is devoted to the Poster Session, which is scheduled for 2-5 p.m. in the Promenade Ballroom. SMU graduate students and a select cohort of undergraduates will present results of ongoing and completed University-based research. The session aims to “foster communication between students in different disciplines, give students the opportunity to present their work in a professional setting, and share the outstanding research being conducted at SMU with their peers and industry professionals from the greater Dallas community,” according to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

New this year: the Three Minute Thesis Competition, which will take place 9 a.m.-noon on March 29. The 3MT competition format, developed by the University of Queensland, gives graduate students 180 seconds in which to explain their work, in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. It is designed to help students cultivate, integrate and hone their academic, presentation, and research communication skills.

> Visit the SMU Research Day homepage

2018 SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage will travel under a new name, with a new endowment from Kelvin Beachum Jr. ’11, ’12

Kelvin Beachum Jr. on the field

New York Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum Jr. ’11, ’12 has made an endowment and naming gift to the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage. The SMU alumnus is a former Pilgrimage  participant.

When the 2018 Civil Rights Pilgrimage leaves SMU on Friday, March 9, it will do so with a new name and a new endowment. The Dennis Simon Endowed Civil Rights Pilgrimage has received a $100,000 endowment gift from New York Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum Jr. ’11, ’12.

Beachum and his wife, Jessica, visited campus to celebrate the gift on Thursday, March 8, 2018. The gift renames the pilgrimage the Dennis Simon Endowed Civil Rights Pilgrimage in honor of the SMU political science professor who led the program from 2008 to 2015. Dr. Simon died in February 2017.

An NFL athlete since 2012, Beachum devotes his off-the-field efforts to providing opportunities for students, particularly for minority youth. Since 2012, Beachum also has supported the pilgrimage that was so meaningful to him by funding scholarships and paying for meals for participants.

“Dr. Simon’s empathy and sympathy for those who went through the civil rights era was palpable,” Beachum said. “His urgency for students to know what happened then and how it has affected our current society always resonated with me.”

> Learn more about the Dennis Simmon Endowed Civil Rights Pilgrimage from the Chaplain’s Office

Under Simon’s leadership, the trip featured stops at meaningful sites in the civil rights movement, such as Little Rock High School, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s parsonage in Montgomery, Alabama. History came alive at each spot thanks to Simon’s friendships with original participants he called civil rights “foot soldiers,” who shared their recollections with students.

Dennis Simon, SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage

The late Dennis Simon (front row, second from right) led the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage from 2008 to 2016 – combining an existing Chaplain’s Office program with his own class, “The Politics and Legacies of the Civil Rights Movement.”

“We had a chance to meet members of the Little Rock 9, the African American students who integrated Little Rock High School in 1957,” Beachum remembers. “We stepped inside the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which was bombed in 1963 by members of the Ku Klux Klan. We walked over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, site of the 1965 Bloody Sunday march. I literally followed in the footsteps of some very important and impactful agents for change and progress, some of whom gave their life.”

— Written by Nancy George

Read the full story from SMU News

35 outstanding teachers honored with 2017-18 HOPE Professors Awards

Alice Kendrick and Tiffany Giraudon, HOPE Awards 2018

Alice Kendrick (left) accepts the 2017-18 HOPE Professor of the Year Award from advertising major Tiffany Giraudon.

SMU’s Department of Residence Life and Student Housing (RLSH) honored 35 outstanding professors at the 2017-18 HOPE Awards Banquet Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Alice Kendrick, Marriott Family Endowed Professor of Advertising in Meadows School of the Arts, was recognized as 2017-18 Professor of the Year.

HOPE (Honoring Our Professors’ Excellence) Award recipients are named through RLSH student staff member nominations as professors who “have made a significant impact to our academic education both inside and outside of the classroom.”

The complete list of 2017-18 HOPE Award honorees:

Cox School of Business

  • Barry Bryan, Accounting
  • Jay Carson, Management and Organizations
  • Liliana Hickman-Riggs, Accounting +

Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

  • Stephanie Amsel, English (Discernment and Discourse)
  • Joan Arbery, English (Discernment and Discourse)
  • Sarah Bogard, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
  • Richard Bozorth, English
  • Teresa Brentegani, World Languages and Literatures (Italian)
  • Alejandro D’Brot, Biological Sciences
  • LeeAnn Derdeyn, English (Discernment and Discourse)
  • Jill DeTemple, Religious Studies
  • Kirsten Egerstrom, Philosophy
  • Xiao Hu, World Languages and Literatures (Chinese)
  • Bruce Levy, English (Discernment and Discourse) *
  • Leticia Trevino McDoniel, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
  • Daniel Moss, English
  • Michael Saliba, Economics
  • Ross Sloan, English (Discernment and Discourse)
  • Teresa Strecker, Biological Sciences
  • Thierry Tirado, World Languages and Literatures (French)
  • Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry *

Lyle School of Engineering

  • Elena Borzova, Mechanical Engineering
  • Frank Coyle, Computer Science and Engineering
  • Rachel Goodman, Engineering Management, Information and Systems
  • Yildirim Hürmüzlü, Mechanical Engineering
  • Andrew Quicksall, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Peter Raad, Mechanical Engineering

Meadows School of the Arts

  • Willie Baronet, Advertising
  • Sandra Duhé, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs
  • Alice Kendrick, Advertising (HOPE Professor of the Year) *
  • Troy Perkins, Film and Media Arts
  • Lauren Smart, Journalism

Perkins School of Theology

  • Tamara Lewis, History of Christianity
  • Stephen Long, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics

Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development

  • Kelyn Rola, Wellness +

+ Nominated by more than one student

* HOPE Distinguished Professor, indicating the faculty member has been nominated in five or more years

SMU Debate wins 2018 Texas state championship

SMU Debate at the 2018 TIFA State Championships - Darcy Wyatt, Chip Myers, Dr. Ben Voth, Matthew Lucci, Maggie Cook-Allen

Four SMU debaters brought home multiple awards, including a team title, at the 2018 TIFA State Championships. Left to right: Darcy Wyatt, Chip Myers, Dr. Ben Voth (SMU Debate director), Matthew Lucci, Maggie Cook-Allen.

SMU Debate brought only four team members to the state championships, but that was all they needed. The team brought home multiple awards in the 2018 Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association (TIFA) state championships, held at Blinn College in Bryan over the Feb. 3-4 weekend.

Competing against 13 other Texas universities and colleges, they took home top speaker, top scoring school and top novice debater, among other honors, in the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) division. SMU competed exclusively in IPDA-format events; the tournament also featured competition in Parliamentary and Lincoln Douglas divisions.

> Follow SMU Debate on Facebook

Some of the highlights:

  • Matthew Lucci (B.S. Mechanical Engineering ’18) won top speaker and was undefeated through all seven rounds of debate.
  • Lucci and Maggie Cook-Allen (B.A. Political Science, B.A. Philosophy ’21) defeated rivals from Texas A&M and Tyler Junior College to claim first and second place for SMU in the open division tournament. “Open division” is open to varsity, junior varsity or novice competitors. The four SMU debaters are junior varsity or novice.
  • Mark “Chip” Myers (B.A. History ’21) won top novice IPDA debater.
  • Darcy Wyatt (B.S. Biochemistry ’21) was the 8th-rated debater in the state of Texas in IPDA.
  • SMU had three of the top eight debaters in the quarterfinals, more than any other school at the tournament.
  • The University also took first place in the IPDA sweepstakes awards.
  • In addition to placing first in the state in the category of International Public Debate, SMU placed fifth in overall speech and debate awards.

The debate team’s director is Ben Voth, speech associate professor in the Meadows School of the Arts’ Division of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. Assistant coaches include Keith Milstead and Ross Sloan. The program is funded and sponsored by the Meadows School and the SMU Vice President of Student Affairs.

> Read the full story at the SMU Meadows website

Save the date: SMU Engaged Learning Week is Feb. 6-8, 2018

SMU Engaged Learning logoSMU celebrates student innovation during 2018 Engaged Learning Week Feb. 6-8, showcasing achievement in undergraduate research, community service, professional internships and creative projects.

The schedule includes the following sessions:

Tuesday, Feb. 6

  • 10 a.m. Creative Project Panels
  • Noon Lunch Seminar – Projecto PaleoAngola: A Paleontological Exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution with senior Engaged Learning Fellow Myria Perez and faculty mentor Louis Jacobs

Wednesday, Feb. 7

  • 10 a.m. Natural Science Research Panels
  • 2 p.m. Film: Particle Fever, with moderated Q&A by the Department of Physics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

Thursday, Feb. 8

  • 10 a.m. Research Across Disciplines Panels
  • 11:30 a.m. Service Project Panels
  • 12:30 p.m. Engineering Solutions Panels

> Find a full schedule of student presentations at the Engaged Learning homepage

Visit the SMU Engaged Learning website: smu.edu/engagedlearning

SMU Guildhall students play games for good during 2017 Extra Life Game-a-Thon Dec. 2-3

Extra Life logo 2017This weekend, you can join SMU Guildhall for 24 hours of esports excitement and gaming for good – all from the comfort of your living room.

The Guildhall’s Extra Life Game-a-Thon returns Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2-3, 2017, to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network. The student-led event features online battles in both popular titles and new student-designed games, and the event will be streamed from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. both days on the SMU Guildhall Twitch channel.

Watch Extra Life 2017 live at Twitch.TV/SMUGuildhall

Guildhall graduate students have raised more than $12,000 for Children’s Medical Center Plano during their two years of Extra Life competition. The team has set a 2017 goal of $7,500, with The Hersh Foundation pledging to match dollar-for-dollar all funds raised up to $10,000. The Dallas-based foundation was created in 1997 by Kenneth A. Hersh, president and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and his wife, Julie, who serves as its president.

> Visit Team SMU Guildhall’s Extra Life direct-donation link

The students will return with some of the most popular competition titles, including Mario Party, Rocket League Tournament and Overwatch. New this year: Mowin’ and Throwin’, a full-length game designed by Guildhall alumni that began as a 24-hour design challenge during last year’s game-a-thon.

> Sign up for a Mowin’ and Throwin’ play test at House Pixel Games

A partial list of this year’s tournament titles:

The event will include an appearance by local esports team Dallas Fuel, competitors in the new Overwatch League. They will discuss the life of a professional esports gamer beginning at 5:15 p.m. on Sunday. In addition, SMU Guildhall will give away two copies of Star Wars Battlefront II provided by alumni donors; more giveaways and fun activities will take place throughout the weekend and will be announced during the streams of each game.

Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $30 million for sick children through thousands of gamers from around the world, raising funds from friends and community to help heal sick and injured kids. One hundred percent of donations, which are tax-deductible, go to local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

> Read the press release from the SMU Guildhall website

> Learn more at the SMU Guildhall Extra Life team page

Celebration of Lights opens SMU’s holiday season Monday, Nov. 27, 2017

SMU Celebration of Lights 2016

As Thanksgiving Break ended, SMU ushered in the holiday season with one of its most beloved annual traditions: the Celebration of Lights. Sponsored by the SMU Student Foundation, the 2017 ceremony took place Monday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m. on the Main Quad.

The ceremony features thousands of decorative lights, luminarias lining the sidewalks, seasonal songs performed by student musicians, and SMU President R. Gerald Turner reading the Christmas Story. The public was invited to attend and to share cookies and hot chocolate with the campus community before the ceremony began.

The festivities continue with other beloved traditions:

  • Advent Worship ServiceSMU’s Perkins School of Theology celebrates its Advent Worship Service on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Perkins Chapel. Both services, under the theme “Ero cras…I shall come tomorrow,” will feature the Seminary Singers, directed by Simon Hill ’17 and accompanied by Hannah Cruse. The 8 p.m. service will include a special performance by the Orpheus Chamber Singers, led by founder and Artistic Director Donald Krehbiel ’83. Readers for the service will be Perkins faculty and staff members including Charles L. Aaron, associate director, Intern Program; Carlos F. Cardoza Orlandi, director, Doctor of Ministry Program; Laura Figura, coordinator of student life; Craig C. Hill, dean; Tamara E. Lewis, assistant professor of the history of Christianity; Evelyn Parker, associate dean for academic affairs and Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology; Margot Perez-Greene, associate dean for enrollment management; and Mark W. Stamm, professor of Christian worship.
  • All-University Holiday Celebration: President and Mrs. Turner invite all SMU faculty and staff members to their annual holiday reception Wednesday, Dec. 13, from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Martha Proctor Mack Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center.
  • December Commencement Convocation: SMU celebrates its 2017 December Commencement Convocation Saturday, Dec. 16, at 10 a.m. in Moody Coliseum. Retired and current faculty members will assemble for procession in academic dress no later than 9:40 a.m. in the Miller Champions Club. The ceremony will be livestreamed at smu.edu/live beginning at 9:45 a.m.

SMU Dance Marathon benefiting Children’s Health Dallas returns Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017

SMU Dance Marathon logo

SMU students are throwing a dance party to benefit sick children, and the entire community is invited to join in.

The second annual SMU Dance Marathon is scheduled for 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballrooms. And as a follow-up to its wildly successful debut, the student-led organization wants to bring in more faculty and staff attendees and participants, says senior Kimberly Rose, Dance Marathon president.

The organization raises money year-round for Children’s Health Dallas, a Children’s Miracle Network nonprofit hospital. The biggest part of those funds come from the marathon itself, which Rose describes as both a grand finale for the fundraising year and “a celebration of the children we work so hard to benefit.”

In 2016, the Dance Marathon raised more than $32,000, about $10,000 of it during the event itself. “It was a great start to what we hope is a longstanding tradition here at SMU,” says Rose, a journalism major minoring in advertising, fashion media and European studies. “You don’t have to be good at dancing in the slightest. It’s all about having fun, and opening up your heart to a cause we can all connect with – helping sick children.”

And dancing isn’t the only thing on the entertainment menu, she adds. “We have live performances, hospital stories, fund-raising, a rave hour, T-shirt sales, and so much more.”

Marathon organizers encourage students to stay for the entire event, “to honor the struggles of children who fight illness all day, every day,” Rose says. Faculty and staff members are welcome to register as participants – but all are welcome even if you don’t dance.

“We encourage anyone – faculty, staff or student – to come by, even for a few minutes, and enjoy any part of the event,” Rose says. “We want to be really welcoming to SMU, so that SMU will continue to welcome us.”

> Register for the 2017 SMU Dance Marathon, or donate online

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