Highland Park UMC establishes Umphrey Lee Professorship in Methodist History to honor SMU’s centennial

William B. Lawrence

Highland Park UMC establishes Umphrey Lee Professorship in Methodist History to honor SMU’s centennial

One of SMU’s oldest neighbors has given the University a lasting 100th birthday present.

A $1.5 million gift from Highland Park United Methodist Church (HPUMC) will endow the Umphrey Lee Professorship in Methodist History, as well as support the HPUMC Future Church Leaders Program, in SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. The announcement of the gift fell on the date of the SMU Centennial – Sept. 24, 2015 – allowing the University to celebrate its longstanding relationship with the church that held its first service on the SMU campus in 1916.

“Our church history dates back to the founding of SMU, but our relationship is more than just an overlapping of time and geography,” said Rev. Paul Rasmussen ’04, HPUMC senior pastor, during the University’s Centennial Convocation. “It is our privilege to endow this professorship and to support the growth of future church leaders as we prepare for future generations of congregants. The Perkins School of Theology is our partner in so many ways, and remains at the heart of the SMU tradition of outreach in the community and the world.”

The gift includes $1 million to establish the faculty position in the Perkins School of Theology, and $500,000 to support educational opportunities for individuals aspiring to serve in church leadership roles. Recipients of “future leaders” funding may include students enrolled in graduate, undergraduate, certificate or continuing education programs or courses across the University, with students identified and recommended by HPUMC.

“When it comes to Umphrey Lee, it’s hard to know where SMU ends and Highland Park United Methodist Church begins, because Rev. Lee served us both for so many years,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Our HPUMC neighbors are part of the SMU family and we feel a special sense of pride that this gift will support us in teaching the rich Methodist history that we share and help to prepare future church leaders.  It’s a wonderful way to celebrate our combined centennials.”

Lee arrived at SMU in 1915, the first year classes were held on the Hilltop, and was elected the first student body president. He received his master’s degree as a member of SMU’s first graduating class in 1916. He served as pastor of HPUMC for 13 years, as SMU’s fourth president for 15 years (including during the World War II years) and as its chancellor after he stepped down as president. Over his lifetime he wrote 10 scholarly books on topics including Methodist history, the relationship between church and state, and pacifism in the context of the historic church.

“Umphrey Lee was a scholar of Methodist history who believed that the liberal arts should make students think about their responsibilities in society, and that a successful experience at Southern Methodist University would help instill personal and social values,” said Perkins Dean William B. Lawrence. “This gift from the congregation that Rev. Lee loved to the University that he also loved is a wonderful tribute to a man whose influence on SMU was transformational.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

October 1, 2015|News|

Perkins dean search committee named; open faculty-staff forums scheduled for Sept. 14, 2015

SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs ad interim Harold W. Stanley has named the members of the search committee for the next dean of Perkins School of Theology.

Dean William B. Lawrence has announced that he will retire from the position on May 16, 2016 and take a leave of absence during the 2016-17 academic year, possibly returning to SMU as professor of American church history after that time.

Samuel S. Holland, dean of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, chairs the Perkins Dean Search Committee. The committee members include:

  • Rev. Richie Butler ’93, senior pastor, St. Paul United Methodist Church, Dallas
  • Dodee Frost Crockett ’75, ’03, managing director, Crockett, McBride & Associates, member of the Perkins Executive Board
  • Bishop Michael McKee, SMU trustee, Resident Bishop of the North Texas Annual Conference
  • Rev. Paul Rasmussen ’04, senior pastor, Highland Park United Methodist Church
  • Kay Prothro Yeager, community volunteer and civic leader, member of the Perkins Executive Board
  • Chris Anderson, Sacred Music, Perkins School of Theology
  • William Jennings Bryan III, associate dean for student affairs, Perkins School of Theology
  • Carlos Cardoza-Orlandi, World Christianities and Mission Studies, Perkins School of Theology
  • Kate Carté Engel, History, Dedman College
  • Steven Lindquist, Religious Studies, Dedman College
  • Natalia Mirandiuc, Christian Theology, Perkins School of Theology
  • Peter Moore, professor of mathematics, senior associate dean and associate dean for general education, Dedman College
  • Evelyn Parker, Susanna Wesley Chair of Practical Theology, associate dean for academic affairs, Perkins School of Theology
  • Rev. Dr. Stephen Rankin, SMU chaplain
  • Abraham Smith, New Testament, Perkins School of Theology
  • Pavielle Chriss, Master’s degree candidate, Perkins School of Theology
  • Geoffrey Moore, doctoral candidate, Religious Students, Dedman College

Dr. Ann Die Hasselmo, senior consultant of Academic Search, Inc., will serve as consultant to the Search Committee. She has worked with SMU on several previous academic searches, including the most recent dean searches for Dedman College and Meadows School of the Arts as well as the current searches for the provost and the vice president for student affairs.

Dean Holland has invited all Perkins faculty and staff members to meet with members of the Search Committee and Dr. Hasselmo. Two open forums have been scheduled for Monday, Sept. 14, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in 121 Prothro Hall in the Theology Quad.

September 2, 2015|For the Record, News|

Thomas DiPiero named SMU’s new Dedman College dean

Thomas DiPiero, June 2014-1The next dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences is a multidisciplinary scholar whose academic interests range from French literature to the psychoanalysis of race and gender.

Thomas DiPiero has been named to lead the largest of SMU’s seven colleges and schools, as well as to professorships in the Departments of English and World Languages and Literatures. He will join the University on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014.

Currently, DiPiero is dean of humanities and interdisciplinary studies in the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering and professor of French and of Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, New York. He replaces William Tsutsui, who resigned in May to become president of Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.

DiPiero received both his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Romance studies from Cornell University, in 1984 and 1988 respectively. He earned a B.A. degree in French and an M.A. in Romance languages and literatures from The Ohio State University in 1978 and 1980.

“I am honored and exhilarated to have been named dean of Dedman College,” DiPiero said. “Dedman College is the academic heart of SMU, home to world-class, innovative teaching and research about the natural world, its people, their creations and institutions. The college’s departments, programs, and centers are leading the way in creating new knowledge and new fields of inquiry, and I am tremendously eager to work with faculty, students, and staff to extend the intellectual boundaries of our work and the geographic reaches of our discoveries.”

“I am excited about Dedman College’s future under the leadership of Dr. DiPiero,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The College, which is the heart of an SMU education, will benefit from his interdisciplinary approach to the humanities and sciences, as well as from his passion for research and teaching. He’s a great fit for Dedman College and for SMU.”

“Dr. DiPiero has an outstanding reputation for working across boundaries to bring the humanities and sciences together,” said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “He also established a strong record of promoting both graduate and undergraduate students during his time at the University of Rochester. The students of Dedman College and the broader University will be well served by his leadership and experience.”

Ludden also expressed thanks to Peter Moore, senior associate dean and associate dean for academic affairs in Dedman College, for serving as interim dean during the search. “Dr. Moore is a consummate professional, and his work in an interim role is helping Dedman College maintain its momentum as we prepare for Dr. DiPiero’s arrival.”

DiPiero is the author or co-editor of three books: White Men Aren’t (Duke University Press, 2002); Illicit Sex: Identity Politics in Early Modern Europe, edited with Pat Gill (University of Georgia Press, 1997); and Dangerous Truths and Criminal Passions: The Evolution of the French Novel 1569-1791 (Stanford University Press, 1992). He served as editor of the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies (University of Pennsylvania Press) from 2005-13, and has written several book chapters, as well as numerous journal articles.

DiPiero previously served as a visiting faculty member at SMU-in-Taos in 2011 and as a guest lecturer for SMU’s Gilbert Lecture Series in 2008.

“Tom DiPiero will bring a superb combination of gifts to his new position as dean of Dedman College,” said William Lawrence, dean of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology and search committee chair. “He has excelled as an interdisciplinary and international leader in higher education, with creative initiatives in the sciences as well as the humanities. Our search committee was tremendously impressed with his qualifications, and we are thrilled with his appointment.”

Dedman College has 307 full-time faculty members, including 19 endowed professorships. About half of SMU’s undergraduates pursue majors in Dedman College through 39 baccalaureate degree programs, and minors in more than 50 areas. Nineteen graduate programs in Dedman College lead to a master’s degree, and 13 programs lead to a doctor of philosophy degree.

> Read the full story from SMU News

June 10, 2014|News|

Dean Lawrence elected president of UMC’s 2012-16 Judicial Council

The United Methodist Church 2012-2016 Judicial Council - F. Belton  Joyner Jr., Jeanne Kabamba Kiboko, N. Oswald Tweh Sr., Katherine Austin Mahle, Ruben T. Reyes, Dennis Blackwell, Beth Capen, William B. Lawrence, and Angela Brown.

The United Methodist Church 2012-2016 Judicial Council, front row, left to right: F. Belton Joyner Jr., clergy (U.S.); Jeanne Kabamba Kiboko, clergy (U.S.); N. Oswald Tweh Sr., layperson (Liberia); and Katherine Austin Mahle, clergy (U.S.). Back row, left to right: Ruben T. Reyes, layperson (Philippines); Dennis Blackwell, clergy (U.S.); Beth Capen, layperson (U.S.); William B. Lawrence, clergy (U.S.); and Angela Brown, layperson (U.S.).

William B. Lawrence, dean of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, has been elected by the United Methodist Church’s 2012-16 Judicial Council to serve as its president. The election was held May 3, during the UMC’s 2012 General Conference.

Lawrence, who has been Perkins dean and professor of American church history since 2002, was first elected by the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church to serve as one ofnine members of the Judicial Council. Sometimes referred to as the denomination’s “Supreme Court,” the Council is the highest judicial body within The United Methodist Church.

Its responsibilities include determining whether acts or proposed acts of the General Conference, as well as Jurisdictional, Central, and Annual Conferences, conform to the Constitution and current Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church.

In addition to his service with the Judicial Council, Lawrence also has been elected by members of the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools (AUMTS) for a one-year term as AUMTS President. The election was held April 24, at the spring 2012 meeting of the AUMTS. Created in 1933, AUMTS includes the deans and presidents of all 13 theological schools in the United States directly related to and supported by The United Methodist Church through the leadership of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

> Read more from SMU News

May 11, 2012|For the Record, News|
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