William Tsutsui

Noted brain researcher Santosh D’Mello joins SMU as Biological Sciences chair

Santosh D’Mello

Santosh D’Mello, a respected scientist whose research is centered on understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating neurodegeneration, has joined SMU as professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, effective Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

D’Mello comes to SMU from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he was a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. He is a longtime partner in research with SMU Professor of Chemistry Edward Biehl.

In December 2010, D’Mello and Biehl published in The Journal of Neuroscience Research their discovery of a family of small molecules that shows promise in protecting brain cells against nerve-degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.

“Professor D’Mello brings broad experience and an excellent record as a researcher and teacher to SMU,” said Dedman College Dean Bill Tsutsui.  “His focus on building meaningful collaborations and his ambitious vision for the future of the Department of Biological Sciences impressed all of us on campus.”

D’Mello received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1989 and joined the faculty at UTD in 1998. Funding for his research has included support from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and the Whitehall Foundation.

“Neurodegenerative diseases, which include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and Huntington’s disease, are characterized by the slow but relentless loss of brain cells,” D’Mello said.  “There are no effective drugs or other therapeutic approaches to treat or prevent these progressive and fatal diseases. The goal of my lab is to understand neurodegeneration at the molecular level so that effective therapies can be developed.”

D’Mello said he was drawn to SMU because of the University’s strengths in several areas of the arts, humanities, and sciences. “I was particularly attracted by the collegial and talented faculty in the biology department, their keen interest in solving important biological problems, and their strong commitment to the teaching and training of students,” D’Mello said.

“I am honored to be named Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and am very excited about the opportunity,” D’Mello said.  “I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and students to build a strong multidisciplinary and collaborative research department with cutting-edge research performed by bright, talented, and motivated undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.”

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

SMU Dean William Tsutsui named president of Hendrix College

William TsutsuiAfter a nationwide search for the new president of Hendrix College, the trustees of that institution have identified Dedman College Dean Bill Tsutsui for the position. He has accepted the offer and will leave SMU May 31, 2014, to assume the presidency. His wife, Marjorie Swann, will hold a tenured faculty position at Hendrix, which is located in Conway, Arkansas.

“We deeply appreciate the leadership of Bill Tsutsui during the past three years,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “During that time he has worked collaboratively to lead significant and rapid progress in developing innovative programs, establishing new endowed chairs and advancing research. It is not surprising that Dean Tsutsui would be tapped for a college presidency as the next step in his distinguished career as an administrator and educator. We wish him the best of luck.”

Dean Tsutsui has been a strong advocate in cultivating support for Dedman College, working closely with the Dedman College Committee of The Second Century Campaign and the Dedman College Executive Board. Dedman’s relationships with these leaders will remain intact as a major asset in attracting a new dean for the College.

Recent innovations such as establishment of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, the strength of current programs such as the Tower Center for Political Studies, significant research achievements and the College’s tradition of strong teaching will continue to serve as the foundation of Dedman’s ongoing progress.

“While we will miss Bill, who became a friend to all of us during his time here, his accomplishments and leadership leave us well-positioned to maintain SMU’s rising quality and to attract an outstanding new dean,” said Paul Ludden, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The success of The Second Century Campaign has brought national recognition and prominence to SMU and Dedman that will serve as a strong foundation for new leadership.”

After May 31, Associate Dean Peter Moore will serve as interim dean of the College. “His past experience in this role and his continuing leadership within Dedman ensure that progress will continue in a seamless fashion,” Ludden continued. A search committee will be chaired by Perkins Dean William Lawrence, and its membership will be named in the next few weeks.

Strategist Karen Hughes named 2013 Dedman Distinguished Grad

Karen HughesCorporate and political strategist Karen Hughes, named by The Associated Press as “perhaps the most influential woman ever to serve an American president,” will be honored with SMU’s 2013 Dedman College Distinguished Graduate Award on Thursday, Oct. 10.

The invitation-only event, sponsored by Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, will begin at 11 a.m. in the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center.

“Karen Hughes’ extraordinary career embodies what is so special about a liberal arts education. We are pleased to recognize her contributions to Dedman College, SMU and the country, and we are proud to call her one of our own,” said Dedman College Dean William Tsutsui.

Hughes earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Journalism from SMU in 1977. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

She began her career as a television reporter for NBC-Fort Worth affiliate KXAS before moving into public relations in the 1980s. Her political savvy was bolstered during her time as Texas press coordinator for the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1984, and by 1992 she was executive director of the Texas Republican Party.

Hughes’ ability to manage public policy, communications and politics helped brand George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservative” image, which secured the success of his gubernatorial campaigns beginning in 1994, and his subsequent campaigns for president. From 2001-02, she served as strategic adviser to the president on policy and communications, managing for the White House all communications, speech writing and media affairs.

Hughes served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2005-07, afterward noting that one of her greatest accomplishments had been “transforming public diplomacy and making it a national security priority central to everything we do in government.”

Now based in Austin, Hughes is worldwide vice chair of the public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, advising global business leaders on strategies for their corporate communications and branding. She also serves as a board member for SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College.

Hughes is the author of Ten Minutes From Normal (Viking, 2004), which highlights her time in the inner circle of President George W. Bush, with whom she co-wrote A Charge to Keep (William Morrow, 1999).

> Read more from SMU News

CTE to discuss ‘Higher Ed in the Crosshairs’ Feb. 22, 2013

Concerns about the costs and value of higher education are rising to the top of debate from the kitchen table to Capitol Hill.

In response, SMU’s Center for Teaching Excellence has organized a symposium to explore questions of government support, online competition and the perceived marketability of a university degree.

“Higher Ed in the Crosshairs” takes place from 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22 in the Hughes-Trigg Lower Level. The symposium will examine the extent to which high-quality teaching – especially at a place like SMU – can answer critiques about the costs and benefits associated with a bachelor’s degree.

Register online at SMU’s Center for Teaching Excellence homepage

Participants will also explore the questions of what and how colleges and universities should be teaching students, and how they can demonstrate the results of what happens in the classroom and on campus.

CTE Director Beth Thornburg will provide opening and closing remarks. Speakers and topics include:

  • Dean Albert Niemi, Cox School of Business, on “Valuing Higher Education”
  • Dean William Tsutsui, Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences, on “Preserving the American Character Through Liberal Education”
  • Associate Provost Linda Eads on “Responding to How People Learn,” with panelists including Professors Stephanie Al Otaiba, Teaching and Learning; Miguel Quiñones, Organizational Behavior; Maria Dixon Hall, Communication Studies; and Patty Wisian-Neilson, Chemistry
  • Dean ad interim Marc Christensen, Lyle School of Engineering, on “Using Technology to Enhance Learning,” with panelists including Professors Paul Krueger, Mechanical Engineering; Lynne Stokes, Statistical Science; Scott Norris, Mathematics; and Jake Batsell, Journalism
  • Dean José Bowen, Meadows School of the Arts, on “Demonstrating Our Value,” with panelists including Professors Michael McLendon, Education Policy and Leadership; and Paige Ware, Teaching and Education; and Assistant Provost Tony Tillman

The CTE has created an Xtranormal text-to-movie animated video about the symposium and the issues it tackles. Click the YouTube screen to watch it, or visit this link to see “Henny Penny & Ducky Lucky Discuss Challenges to Academia” in a new windowvideo

> Get a mobile guide to the “Higher Ed in the Crosshairs” program

SMU’s Dream Week 2013 celebrates MLK Jan. 21-25

Martin Luther King Jr.

SMU celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. during Dream Week 2013.

SMU celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during Dream Week 2013, Jan. 21-25.

Sponsored by SMU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the annual observance features a variety of activities, including opportunities for community service and a commemorative walk.

The schedule of events:

Monday, Jan. 21:

  • Day of Service, 7:30 a.m.-noon. Students will have opportunities to volunteer at Readers 2 Leaders, We Over Me Farm and the Wesley-Rankin Community Center. Co-sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and Community Engagement and Leadership.

Tuesday, Jan. 22:

  • Real Talk: Conversations Around Diversity, “Dream or Nightmare: How far have we come since the MLK Speech,” noon, Hughes-Trigg Student Center Portico B-C-D.

Wednesday, Jan. 23:

  • Unity Walk featuring remarks from SMU President R. Gerald Turner, noon. Meet at the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Commons.
  • Dream Week Keynote AddressCheryl Brown Henderson, “Brown v. Board of Education: The Legacy Continues,” 6 p.m., Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. Cheryl Brown Henderson, one of the three daughters of the late Rev. Oliver L. Brown, who along with 12 other parents led by the NAACP, filed a lawsuit against the local board of education on behalf of their children in the historic school integration case Oliver L. Brown et. al. vs. the Board of Education of Topeka. The 1954 Supreme Court decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Thursday, Jan. 24:

  • Film ScreeningBrother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, 7 p.m., Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum. Sponsored by SMU’s Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives.
  • Friday, Jan. 25 – Unity Luncheon, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballrooms. Featured speaker for the luncheon will be Dedman College Dean William Tsutsui, who will speak on “Chasing the Asian American Dream.” Co-sponsored by the SMU Asian Council, Association of Black Students, and College of Hispanic American Students.


$5 million gift will establish Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute

Dallas Hall and Dedman College gateway monument at SMUA new $5 million gift from the Dedman family and The Dedman Foundation will create the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The new institute will bring together faculty and students from the humanities, sciences and social sciences for collaborative research and other programs. The Institute’s projects will also reach beyond Dedman College to the broader University and the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Unlike interdisciplinary centers at other universities, the Institute will engage undergraduates as well as graduate students and faculty.

“SMU has benefited from the Dedman family’s extraordinary vision and support for more than five decades,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Few other families have had such a wide-ranging impact on the University’s development. Their major gifts have supported areas from humanities and sciences to law and lifetime sports. As we celebrate the University’s Centennial, this latest gift will help SMU continue to move forward among the nation’s leading universities.”

The institute will host annual seminars bringing together faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and members of the community to discuss global issues. Informal research clusters will create collaborative groups of faculty and students from across the University to expand and enrich the interdisciplinary culture on campus. Interdisciplinary faculty appointments will develop new programming and curricular offerings, and a digital humanities lab will provide state-of-the-art computing technologies and interactive space for scholars to pursue interdisciplinary research.

Institute seminars and research clusters will generate capstone courses, a vital component of the new University Curriculum. In addition to deepening and broadening course selection, the Institute will allow Dedman College to offer students more opportunities for engaged learning beyond the classroom.

“Addressing the complex challenges of our interconnected world requires the knowledge and perspectives of more than one discipline,” said Dedman College Dean William Tsutsui. “The Institute is a perfect fit for a college that spans departments from philosophy to physics. By creating opportunities for substantive collaboration across the disciplines, the Institute will open new vistas for research and help prepare students for real-world challenges requiring multiple perspectives.”

Caroline BrettellDedman College will appoint Caroline Brettell, University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, as the first director of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute. Brettell has conducted research on international migration in Portugal, France and the United States, and for the last decade has studied new immigration in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, she also is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 14 books.

> Read the full story from SMU News

Law, human rights programs earn 2011 ‘Angel of Freedom’ awards

Shown representing SMU at the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas’ 2011 'Angel of Freedom' awards dinner in Dallas Nov. 7 are, from left, Bill Tsutsui, dean of Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences; Rebecca Greenan, director of the Dedman School of Law’s Public Service Program; professor Jeffrey Kahn, who supervises public service externships at Dedman School of Law; and Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College.SMU’s Dedman School of Law and Embrey Human Rights Program received 2011 “Angel of Freedom” awards from the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas.

As HRI’s highest honor for people or groups committed to helping victims of human rights abuses, the awards were given during a “Thanksgiving dinner” at HRI’s headquarters near downtown Dallas Nov. 7.

HRI provides legal services to people who have suffered human rights abuses. Their clients range from people seeking asylum in the U.S. to victims of human trafficking.

The Dedman School of Law “has a long and rich history” of helping HRI since the service organization’s start in 1999, says Rebecca Garza Greenan, director of the law school’s Public Service Program. Since 1992, after a law faculty-sponsored resolution, SMU’s law students have been required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of uncompensated and not-for-credit public service.

Since 1997, SMU Dedman School of Law students have assisted HRI attorneys in their representation of clients through public service as well as paid summer internships and academic externships, currently overseen by law professor Jeffrey Kahn.

“SMU law students have had the opportunity to assist HRI attorneys in representing clients from around the world, allowing them to learn the importance of, and the fulfillment from, championing human rights one client at a time,” Greenan says. “The students are enriched and the community is helped.”

“We are proud to both support the work of HRI and to provide students to support the work and mission of HRI,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin. “It is imperative that our students get involved in human rights work here in Dallas because human rights work truly begins at home.”

(Above, representing SMU at the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas’ 2011 Angel of Freedom awards dinner are, from left, Bill Tsutsui, Dedman College dean; Rebecca Greenan, director of the Dedman School of Law’s Public Service Program; Professor Jeffrey Kahn, who supervises public service externships in Dedman Law; and Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College.)

> Read more about the 2011 Angel of Freedom awards from SMU News

SMU trustees approve new Human Rights major to begin Spring 2012

SMU Embrey Human Rights Program logoSMU has become the first university in the South, and only the fifth in the country, to offer an academic major in human rights. Approved Sept. 9 by the University’s Board of Trustees, the Bachelor of Arts in human rights degree comes five years after creation of the Embrey Human Rights Program at SMU.

The undergraduate degree program officially begins in Spring 2012, but most SMU students will be allowed to apply past or current courses toward the degree, says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin. The human rights major will offer two interdisciplinary tracks: one on gender and human rights, the other on public policy and human rights.

“I have always believed that if you appealed to the better nature in people, and then offered them opportunities to put their passion into practice, that this degree would be a natural,” Halperin says. “It is beyond my comprehension that programs like this do not exist throughout this country, but at least it now exists here.”

The only other U.S. universities to offer human rights majors are Bard College and Columbia University/Barnard College in New York, the University of Dayton in Ohio and Trinity College in Connecticut.

The new major is the result of Dallas philanthropist Lauren Embrey‘s travel with Halperin’s study group to Polish Holocaust sites in December 2005. Embrey, then enrolled in SMU’s Master of Liberal Arts program, returned from the trip determined to share her life-changing experience. In the six years since the trip, sisters Lauren and Gayle Embrey and the Embrey Family Foundation have committed substantial financial support for the Embrey Human Rights Program, which began in 2006, and the minor, which followed in 2007.

“The human rights major at SMU creates the ability to educate and broaden awareness, to challenge prevailing world views and to promote a rights-based society that minimizes injustice,” Lauren Embrey says. “We are also proud that the program can be seen as a model for other human rights education programs, and that it offers varied programming open to the community beyond SMU.”

The Embrey Foundation’s vision “will allow the major to be a signature program for SMU and for Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences,” says Dean William Tsutsui. “It not only will prepare students to understand human rights issues around the world, but also will equip them with the skills necessary to make a real difference and effect meaningful change,” he says. “The graduates of this important and timely new major will be the leaders of the next generation of global human rights advocates.”

So far 200 students have either formally declared the minor or are taking courses toward declaring the minor in the fastest growing program at SMU. Halperin, a nationally known human rights activist and former two-time chair of Amnesty International, says many students already have expressed interest in pursuing the new major, which will consist of 30 hours of traditional coursework, a minor in a related field and 12 hours of a foreign language.

> Read the full story from SMU News
> Visit the Embrey Human Rights Program homepage

Andrew Graybill becomes SMU’s new Clements Center director

Andrew R. Graybill, director of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at SMUAndrew R. Graybill, an expert on the American West, has been appointed director of SMU’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies. The Clements Center in the University’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences is internationally known as an incubator for research, writing and programming related to the American Southwest.

Graybill arrived at SMU Aug. 1, 2011, after eight years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he directed its interdisciplinary Program in Nineteenth-Century Studies and served as associate professor of history.

The San Antonio native returns to familiar hallways on the Hilltop. Graybill completed his first book, Policing the Great Plains: Rangers, Mounties and the North American Frontier, 1875-1910 (University of Nebraska Press, 2007), while a fellow at the Clements Center in 2004-05. He also collaborated with the Clements Center in 2006-07 to coordinate its symposium, “Bridging National Borders in North America: Transnational and Comparitive Histories,” and to co-edit the resulting collection of papers.

Graybill earned his Master’s degree and Ph.D in history from Princeton University. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, essays, chapters and introductions on topics ranging from environmental history to changing racial landscapes in the American West to the Texas Rangers. His second book, A Mixture of So Many Bloods: A Family Saga of the American West, is under contract with W.W. Norton & Co. and due to be published in 2013. Graybill was awarded a 2010-11 National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to support completion of the book.

Graybill succeeds Clements Center founding director David J. Weber, the Robert H. and Nancy Dedman Professor of History, who died Aug. 20, 2010.

“Andy Graybill comes to SMU with top-notch scholarly credentials and a passion for the Southwest,” says William Tsutsui, dean of Dedman College. “He understands well what makes the Clements Center so special, not just for Dedman College and SMU, but for Texas, the region and the historical profession more broadly.”

Graybill calls directing the Clements Center “the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“The study of the borderlands is poised to go global,” he says. “I’d like the Clements Center to be a leader in that conversation.”

> Read more from SMU News
> Visit the Clements Center for Southwest Studies online

Faculty in the News: May 19, 2011

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, discussed retired Army General and Iraq commander Ricardo Sanchez’ run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kay Bailey Hutchison with KERA Public Radio May 11, 2011. He also talked about President Obama’s efforts to resurrect and reframe the discussion on immigration for an article published in Politico May 10, 2011.

Mike Davis, Finance, Cox School of Business, talked about Texas House Bill 3790, which would suspend the back-to-school weekend tax break, with Star Newspapers May 7, 2011.

SMU archaeologist Metin ErenBill Tsutsui, dean of Dedman College and an expert on Japan, discussed that nation’s changing attitude toward nuclear power with ScienceInsider May 11, 2011.

Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program, discussed the moral and ethical side of U.S. reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden with CNN May 2, 2011.

Dennis Simon, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about former President George W. Bush’s low profile concerning Osama bin Ladin’s death for an Associated Press story that appeared in several publications, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 5, 2011.

William Lawrence, Dean, Perkins School of Theology, discussed the various forms of redemption in the context of the Easter holiday with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution April 23, 2011.

Metin Eren (left), Anthropology, Dedman College, discussed his research into ancient tool-making on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio show “Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald” April 16, 2011.

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