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Students embark for Washington for course on inaugural address

When Donald Trump is sworn in as 45th President of the United States on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C., 21 SMU students will be in the crowd to witness the first chapter of what comes next as part of an SMU course on presidential inaugural addresses.

SMU Students go to 2017 Inauguration

“You think about some of the great speeches in American history, and so many of them come from presidents on that inaugural stage,” said William Hagens, a junior political communications and political science double major who aspires to one day work as a political campaign manager.

“This is in line with a lot of the other opportunities I’ve had through the communications program here at SMU,” Hagens added. “I wasn’t surprised this opportunity existed. I’m looking forward to seeing something historic.”

Every four years, SMU faculty organize a class around the inauguration of the president. This year’s course is being organized and taught by Christopher Salinas, director of public discourse in the Division of Communication Studies.

“This is one of those unique experiences you want from college,” Salinas said. “Years from now, students won’t remember everything that happened in the classroom, but they will remember this. For the rest of their lives, they will remember they were at a presidential inaugural address.”

Students were encouraged to contact their congressional representatives to request the highly sought-after tickets they share with constituents. They students will also be able to watch a live-stream of the event from the public area in the National Mall, further from the stage.

In addition to attending the inaugural address, students will also attend an SMU alumni event and the Texas Society’s inaugural ball on the 19th, where they’ll get a taste of Washington, D.C.’s famous ballroom society.

Participants signed up for the course in early fall, well before the election’s outcome was decided. That means that not every student participating in the course supported the winning candidate, but none of them turned down the opportunity to attend the historic event.

“I was not a Trump supporter, but this is an event that’s too big and too special to pass up,” said Spencer Gutierrez, a philosophy and political communications double major with law school aspirations.

“Trump’s presidency … we don’t know what will happen, so everyone wants to say, ‘I was there when it all started,’” Gutierrez added. “Not many people get to see an inauguration in their lifetime.”

2017-01-10T13:37:45+00:00 January 10, 2017|News|

Residential Commons: Homes for the holidays and final exams

For college students, the holiday season is a time of contrasts as celebrations take place just before students fill the libraries preparing for finals.

In SMU’s Residential Commons, home to more than 2,000 first-year and sophomore students, faculty, staff and student leaders help create a community that encourages students to embrace the holiday season and successfully prepare for finals.

With the help of student leadership, each Commons celebrates the holidays as a community, with activities and events ranging from door-decorating contests, to attending a performance in Dallas’ Arts District, to collecting toys for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.  Faculty members who live in the Commons open their kitchens for holiday baking and dress their pets in holiday wear for photos. Ugly sweater contests, international feasts, holiday movie marathons, cookie decorating and ornament-making are part of the celebrations, along with some unique events. Students in one Commons are decorating gingerbread houses, with a socioeconomic twist. Others are using SMU’s Deason Innovation Design Gym to laser cut special decorations.

The holiday spirit extends to one of the most stressful times of university life – finals. Beginning with the first day of finals, Dec. 8, Commons leaders enforce 24-hour quiet hours and provide snacks for study breaks. Pancake-suppers, pet therapy with residence kittens and dogs, hot chocolate send-offs to exams and even massages are planned to help reduce finals stress.

SMU introduced the Residential Commons model in August 2014 to 11 residence halls, integrating the academic, residential and social aspects of university life. Live-in faculty and staff members, resident assistants and other student leaders work together to create communities of support.

For more information, visit http://www.smu.edu/ResidentialCommons

– Nancy George

Decorating for the holidays at Boaz Commons

Decorating for the holidays at Boaz Commons

2016-12-08T15:39:08+00:00 December 6, 2016|News|

Retired Dallas police chief to present Commencement address

David Brown

David O. Brown

Retired Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown will present the address at SMU’s December Commencement at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, in Moody Coliseum. A Dallas native and a 33-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, he gained national attention for his handling of a gunman’s July ambush of five police officers who died working to protect participants in a downtown Dallas protest march.

Brown, who retired Oct. 4, was sworn in as Dallas’ 28th police chief in May 2010, commanding a department with more than 4,000 employees and an annual operating budget of $426 million dollars.

Building and maintaining strong, transparent relationships with the community was Brown’s focus since becoming chief. During his tenure, Brown transitioned the department to a community policing-focused organization and implemented policies and training to ensure citizen and officer safety. He also expanded several community outreach programs and youth centered programs.

Brown implemented policies and training to ensure citizen and officer safety during interactions, and emphasized the importance of de-escalation training for his officers. Under Brown’s leadership, the Dallas Police Department reduced the use of deadly force by more than 40 percent and reduced excessive force complaints by more than 80 percent.

Read more from SMU News.

2016-12-21T11:45:36+00:00 December 5, 2016|News|

Celebration of Lights makes holidays bright

celebration-of-lights-23228d_030_rtSMU will brighten the holiday season at its annual lighting ceremony, Celebration of Lights, at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28, on the Main Quad. The ceremony will feature student musicians performing songs of the season, SMU President R. Gerald Turner reading the Christmas story from the New Testament and the lighting of the SMU Christmas tree. The celebration ends with participants bathed in the light of the candles they hold as they sing “Silent Night.” The public is invited to attend and enjoy hot cider and cookies before the ceremony begins.

The annual event is sponsored by SMU’s Student Foundation and supported by the Michael F. Miller Endowment for the Celebration of Lights.

2016-11-28T15:53:51+00:00 November 28, 2016|News|

SMU graduate awarded prestigious Marshall Scholarship

Rahfin Faruk

Rahfin Faruk

SMU graduate Rahfin Faruk has received a prestigious Marshall Scholarship. The highly selective scholarship is awarded each year to up to 40 intellectually distinguished Americans to advance knowledge in the scholars’ chosen fields and to promote understanding of Britain.

Faruk earned Bachelor’s degrees from SMU in economics, political science, public policy and religious studies in 2015, graduating summa cum laude. A President’s Scholar, he was selected to serve as the voting student member of the SMU Board of Trustees. He led the University’s student newspaper, The Daily Campus, and the Tower Center Student Forum, where students examine politics and public policy. In 2014 he was one of only 59 U.S. college students awarded a Truman Scholarship, which recognizes “change agents” who are committed to public service.

As a Marshall Scholar, Faruk will pursue Master’s degrees in development finance at the University of Reading and in comparative social policy at the University of Oxford. He intends to focus on financial inclusion, ensuring that individuals, particularly the most vulnerable, and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs in an ethical and sustainable way.

“I am incredibly humbled to receive this opportunity to study in the United Kingdom and thank the British people for this scholarship,” Faruk said. “My life’s goal is to create an economically and financially inclusive world, which I believe can beget socioeconomic progress in critical areas like education, health and housing. With the support of the Marshall Scholarship, I will explore how different technologies, models and approaches can transform painful paradoxes – like the poorer you are, the more you pay – for billions of people.”


2016-12-08T15:44:53+00:00 November 28, 2016|News|

Students to serve across North Texas for Stampede of Service

On Saturday, November 12, SMU community members will serve at nonprofit organizations across North Texas as part of Stampede of Service, a campus-wide community service day.

Stampede of Service is organized by SMU’s Community Engagement and Leadership Center (CEL), in partnership with SMU Fraternity and Sorority Life, and eight Dallas nonprofit organizations: Dallas Afterschool, Dallas-Area Habitat for Humanity, Dolphin Heights Community Garden, The Family Place, Heart House, LIFT, Mount Auburn Elementary and We Over Me Farm.

“Through Stampede of Service, students will gain experience through hands-on, educational service work,” says Rashad Givhan, assistant director of the Community Engagement and Leadership Center. “Volunteers also have the opportunity to make a positive, sustainable impact in Dallas by responding to community-identified needs through our partner nonprofit organizations.”

More than 150 students, staff and faculty members are expected to participate. Follow the hashtag #SMUserves on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/smudallas/ and on Twitter – https://twitter.com/smu/

– Camden Moore

2016-11-11T17:02:13+00:00 November 11, 2016|News|

Supporting student well-being and academic progress

The following information is provided by Deanie Kepler, director of Parent and Family Programs, and Christi Contreras, director of Parent Giving:

The end of the fall semester and the holiday season are quickly approaching. As students begin to prepare for final exams, we’d like to share information from SMU resources to provide support.

Health and well-being

We were so pleased this year to mark the opening of the new Dr. Bob Smith Health Center, a state-of-the-art facility that provides students with comprehensive health care. The Health Center is home to Medical Services, Counseling Services, a full-service pharmacy and SMU’s health education program (smu.edu/healthcenter; 214-768-2141).

At SMU Counseling Services, students can obtain confidential help with stress, anxiety, depression or other concerns. Dr. Cathey Soutter, director of SMU Counseling Services, encourages parents to be aware of any signs of distress when talking with their students, such as withdrawal from normal interests, crying or emotional outbursts, or changes in class attendance or in sleeping or eating routines. Parents can remind students of counseling resources on campus (smu.edu/counseling; 214-768-2277, an emergency contact number is provided 24/7). In the event of any concern about a health or safety emergency, please call SMU Police (214-768-3333, available 24/7).

We’d also like you to be aware of the SMU Dean of Student’s “Caring Community Connections,” a system for family members, faculty, staff and students to provide confidential information in order to connect students who may need support with resources. A form is online at smu.edu/deanofstudentsccc. Please also check with your student that his or her emergency contact information is kept up to date in my.SMU.edu.

Two serious health and safety issues on campuses across the country are sexual misconduct, particularly among acquaintances, and alcohol and substance abuse. On SMU’s health and safety website – smu.edu/liveresponsibly – you can find information about SMU policies, campus and community resources, education and prevention. All students are expected to “live responsibly,” upholding high standards of behavior, respecting the rights of others, and assisting others in need.

Finally, please remind your student to stop by the Health Center to get a free flu shot if he or she has not yet done so.

Academic support

At SMU’s Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (A-LEC), learning specialists help students make a plan for final exams. They recommend creating a daily study schedule, using library resources and meeting with professors during office hours. At the A-LEC, students can obtain free tutoring, take workshops and review essays with English faculty members. If you would like to show support during exams, the A-LEC suggests sending encouraging messages and a reminder of your student’s strengths (smu.edu/alec; 214-768-3648).

Winter break is a good time to consider learning experiences beyond the classroom, such as Engaged Learning projects, internships through the Hegi Family Career Development Center and SMU Abroad programs. Winter and summer breaks also offer opportunities to earn credits through SMU JanTerm, MayTerm and other Summer Studies courses, both on the main Dallas campus and at SMU-in-Taos. The University Advising Center can help students plan ahead (smu.edu/advising; 214-768-2291).

We hope this information helps support your student’s continued progress at SMU. Below is contact information for SMU resources, and please do not hesitate to contact either of us directly if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach Deanie Kepler at 214-768-4797, or gkepler@smu.edu, and Christi Contreras at 214-768-4746, or cshelton@smu.edu.


2016-11-08T16:20:42+00:00 November 8, 2016|Health and Safety, News|

Come home to SMU Homecoming Nov. 3-6

peruna-leapingMustang Band members are practicing Big Band tunes for Pigskin Revue, construction is underway on parade floats, and Mustang football players are aiming for a victory over Memphis. Time to load up the car and come home to SMU Nov. 3-6 for Homecoming 2016.

Plans include concerts, walking tours, exhibits, open houses, events for graduates of individual schools, mini-reunions and worship services. Visit smu.edu/homecoming for details; below are some highlights.

UPDATE: See photos from Homecoming 2016.


2016-11-08T16:23:52+00:00 November 1, 2016|News, Photo and Video Gallery|

SMU students follow the race for the White House

As the race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump nears its end, students at SMU have been following the campaigns through a class on “Presidential Elections and American Politics” and through debate watch parties.

Early voting: SMU hosts early voting for Dallas County residents Oct. 31 and Nov. 1

See the media reports:

Watch party: SMU Director of Debate Ben Voth hosted a non-partisan debate-watch party with SMU students for the third and final debate.

Political science class: Every four years, SMU political science professor Dennis Simon teaches a class titled “Presidential Elections and American Politics.”

SMU political experts have been providing analysis and commentary throughout the process. Click here for more information.

In addition, SMU has held a series events related to the fall campaigns.

2016-11-01T10:21:30+00:00 October 24, 2016|News|
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