How to help: Disaster relief guidance from SMU’s CEL Center

SMU’s Community Engagement & Leadership Center provided the following information to students on September 1, 2017:

Over the past several days, we have seen a multitude of individual students and student organizations step up with compassion and express a desire to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. We would like to provide a few important guidelines to ensure your support can be the most beneficial during this time.


Donate money through trusted organizations. The most effective way to support disaster survivors is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable voluntary or charitable organizations.

  • Student Senate has established an SMU Student Disaster Relief Fund with the goal of providing a significant contribution to disaster relief efforts from the SMU community.
  • If your organization would like to collect cash donations for the SMU Student Disaster Relief Fund or other nonprofit organizations, or in-kind donations, please contact the Community Engagement & Leadership Center.

Give blood. The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center is sponsoring a blood drive with Carter BloodCare, which will send donations to its partners affected by Hurricane Harvey and local hospitals. Carter BloodCare is accepting donations at the Flagpole:

  • Tuesday, September 5, 11 a.m.-2:40 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 7, 10:15 a.m.-3:15 p.m.
  • Friday, September 8, 10 a.m.-1:40 p.m.

Donors should bring a government-issued photo ID, and should not fast before donating. Contact with questions.

Get your philanthropic initiatives approved. All student and student organization philanthropic initiatives must be reported and approved by the appropriate campus resources, including the Community Engagement & Leadership Center, Student Activities and the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. Contact for approval.

Report your philanthropic initiatives. The Community Engagement & Leadership Center requires that students and student organizations report any philanthropic initiatives via our Donation Report Form.


Don’t give unsolicited goods. Please do not collect or donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine or perishable food. When unsolicited and used personal items are donated, helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse and distribute items that may not meet needs.

Don’t set up unsupervised collection boxes around campus. Unsupervised collection boxes will not be permitted on campus. All collections for in-kind or financial donations on behalf of a nonprofit organization should be treated as an event and staffed during a specific, approved time period.

Don’t self-deploy to the affected areas. The State of Texas is asking volunteers not to self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up can create an additional burden for first responders. The National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) also has noted that the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and that individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement. To ensure volunteer safety, volunteers should go only to affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification.


The recovery process will be long, and there will be many opportunities to volunteer in coming months and years. The Community Engagement & Leadership Center will make the campus community aware of future opportunities for general volunteers to help contribute to Hurricane Harvey relief.

If you have questions about how you or your student organization can contribute to Harvey relief or any other volunteer need in the community, please contact the Community Engagement & Leadership Center at

2017-09-05T16:34:41+00:00 September 5, 2017|Health and Safety, News|

A message from President Turner regarding Hurricane Harvey

Dear SMU family member,

Our SMU community has watched with alarm and sadness since Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast on Friday, leaving widespread suffering, loss and destruction in its wake.

Our deepest sympathy goes to all who are feeling the impact of this disaster, including SMU families and students whose loved ones and homes are in the affected regions.

We have communicated with students about SMU resources here to support them. These include confidential counselors at SMU Counseling Services, which can be reached at 214-768-2277. An emergency contact number is provided 24 hours a day. Counseling Services is located in the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center, and appointments are free. The Chaplain’s Office, located in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, also provides confidential counseling and can be reached at 214-768-4502.

Through SMU’s Caring Community Connections (CCC) program, family members, faculty, staff and fellow students can submit any concerns about students’ well-being in order to connect them with help. The CCC form is online:

SMU has reached out to Rice University and the University of Houston to offer assistance. In addition, many in our SMU community are offering prayers, support and donations to those who have been affected. I believe our community will continue to find ways to help as needs evolve in Dallas and across the state.

Among these efforts, the SMU Student Senate is raising funds for disaster relief, with the goal of providing a significant donation to the relief effort from the SMU community. The students’ “Help 4 Houston” effort will last for four days – through Saturday, September 2.

In the days and weeks ahead, SMU will continue to monitor this unprecedented disaster, as well as state and local relief efforts and needs. The SMU community stands with our Gulf Coast students, families and neighbors. We will continue to send our prayers and support.


R. Gerald Turner

2017-08-30T14:50:25+00:00 August 30, 2017|Health and Safety, News|

Watch SMU’s 103rd Opening Convocation live August 20

President R. Gerald Turner will deliver the opening address, “World Changers Shaped Here,” at SMU’s 103rd Opening Convocation. The ceremony beings at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017 in McFarlin Auditorium.

The entire Convocation will be streamed over the internet via beginning at 4:30 p.m. Click or tap the screen below to watch. The broadcast begins one hour before the ceremony starts.

SMU Board of Trustees Chair Michael M. Boone ’63, ’67 , Faculty Senate President Paul Krueger and Student Body President David Shirzad will also give remarks. The Meadows Convocation Chorus, directed by Pamela Elrod Huffman, will provide music, accompanied by Sarah England.

> Download a PDF of the 103rd SMU Opening Convocation program

2017-08-20T16:43:45+00:00 August 20, 2017|News, Photo and Video Gallery|

Welcome back, SMU families!

SMU’s faculty and staff prepared all summer for our students’ return to the Hilltop. Now we have less than a week until we kick off the fall semester!

From fostering innovation in the classroom to building spirit in the Commons, the students bring campus to life. We look forward to seeing you back again.

Dr. K.C. Mmeje, Vice President for Student Affairs

2017-08-15T12:31:00+00:00 August 14, 2017|News, Photo and Video Gallery|

SMU welcomes the Class of 2021 with Mustang Corral

Camp Corral candlelight ceremony, 2016SMU welcomes new students to campus Aug. 16-20, 2017 with Mustang Corral, a five-day University orientation for first-year and transfer students. The Corral experience begins on Move-in Day, Wednesday, Aug. 16, and ends with the close of Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 20.

The schedule includes the following:

Wednesday, Aug. 16: Move-in Day for First-Year Students, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
As new students arrive for their prescheduled check-in time, volunteers help unload cars and roll students’ belongings to their rooms. After move-in, families are invited to enjoy barbecues at Arnold Dining Commons, Umphrey Lee Dining Commons and the Mack Ballroom in Umphrey Lee.

Old Red Courthouse visit, Discover Dallas 2016Thursday, Aug. 17: Discover Dallas
Students board buses and take off to #DiscoverDallas through SMU’s popular morning field trips. Students choose one of 22 different tours to learn about their new hometown, with destinations ranging from the Dallas Zoo to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science to kayaking on White Rock Lake and touring AT&T Stadium. Students also can select community service sites, including the North Texas Food Bank, SPARK and Dan D. Rogers Elementary School.

> Check out the Discover Dallas 2017 interactive map

Thursday-Friday, Aug. 17-18: Camp Corral
On Thursday afternoon, students head to Camp Corral for a two-day, one-night retreat just outside of Dallas. Incoming and upper-class students will have the opportunity to interact while learning about the SMU community. Highlights include the Club Corral dance and closing candlelight ceremony.

Saturday, Aug. 19: Class photo, Night at the Club
The Class of 2021 gathers on the main quad Saturday morning for a class photo in the shape of a giant 2021. The day wraps up with Night at the Club at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports, an introduction to the hundreds of clubs, community service groups and campus activities for students.

SMU Opening Convocation choir, 2016Sunday, Aug. 20: University Worship, SMU Reads, Rotunda Passage and Opening Convocation
Sunday begins with University worship in the morning, and the SMU Reads discussions of SMU’s 2017 Common Reading, Evicted by Matthew Desmond, in the afternoon. Mustang Corral ends and the academic year begins Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m. with Rotunda Passage, a processional march through Dallas Hall’s Rotunda to Opening Convocation, the ceremonial gathering in McFarlin Auditorium where new first-year and transfer students are formally welcomed to SMU by faculty and administrators. SMU President R. Gerald Turner will present remarks.

For more information about Mustang Corral, visit SMU’s New Student Orientation blog.

— Written by Nancy George

> See slide shows from Discover Dallas 2016

> Find a complete schedule at SMU News

> Register for Family Weekend 2017 online here

2017-08-11T13:47:30+00:00 August 11, 2017|News|

SMU Reads Program to share ‘Evicted’ with students and community

"Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" by Matthew Desmond; Crown (432 pages, $28) (Penguin Random House)

As incoming SMU students prepare to settle into their on-campus homes, they will examine the life experiences of those who can’t afford to stay in theirs. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond, is the 2017 SMU Reads selection and first reading assignment for the class of 2021.

Community members, alumni, book lovers and book clubs are encouraged to join students in reading the book, and come to campus to hear the author discuss it at a free public forum at 6 p.m. Thursday, August 24 at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium. For more information visit

Students will read Evicted, the 2017 general nonfiction Pulitzer Prize-winning book, as part of the University’s common reading program, an academic initiative that includes small-group discussions about the book before and after classes begin in the fall.


2017-07-03T15:16:48+00:00 July 3, 2017|News|

Kenechukwu (K.C.) Mmeje named Vice President for Student Affairs

Kenechukwu (K.C.) Mmeje, assistant vice president and dean of students at Loyola University Chicago, has been named Vice President for Student Affairs at SMU effective July 17, 2017.

“Strength of character and a commitment to students shines through in interactions with Dr. Mmeje,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His experience at urban, private universities in Chicago and Los Angeles also set him apart as a candidate for this important position at SMU. We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Mmeje to the Hilltop in Dallas.”

In his new duties, Mmeje (pronounced MAY-jay) will oversee areas including the Office of the Dean of Student Life; Residence Life; women’s, LGBT, multicultural, volunteer and leadership programs; student activities; student conduct; the Hegi Family Career Development Center; campus ministries; health and wellness programs, including the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center; the Hughes-Trigg Student Center and the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

As assistant vice president and dean of students at Loyola University Chicago since September 2014, Mmeje has been responsible for several functional areas that support Loyola’s academic mission and promote a vibrant campus life, including the Office of the Dean of Students, Off-Campus Student Life, Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution, Student Activities & Greek Affairs, Leadership Development and Second Year Experience, Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, and the Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC). He has almost 15 years of progressively responsible student affairs experience in judicial affairs, crisis management, retention and academic support services, and student advocacy and support.

In addition, he oversees Loyola’s Behavioral Concerns Team and co-chairs the Threat Assessment Team. He also co-chairs the Loyola Experience Implementation Committee, which is responsible for ensuring alignment of the institution’s academic and co-curricular programs through ongoing collaborations that include New Student Convocation, Welcome Week, and Student Support and Retention Initiatives, among others.

“I am excited to join the SMU community,” Mmeje said. “Throughout the search process, I was struck by the passion and enthusiasm with which everyone I met described their love and tremendous pride for SMU. I look forward to partnering with the outstanding professionals in the Division of Student Affairs, faculty and academic leaders to offer a seamlessly integrated curricular and co-curricular experience that supports the holistic development of each student. I am eager to meet the SMU student community and to begin working on their behalf.”


2017-05-23T15:40:49+00:00 May 23, 2017|News|

NIH director Francis Collins addresses SMU graduates

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the National Institutes of Health who may be best known for leading the Human Genome Project (HGP), was the featured speaker during SMU’s 102nd all-University Commencement ceremony, May 20, in Moody Coliseum.

“You need to be prepared for dramatic change,” Collins told the graduates. “Whatever the field, you can’t imagine what it will look like in 10 or 20 years. Your path will not always be smooth. Doors you were counting on may not open. Do you have the strength and foundation to deal with that?”

Collins concluded his Commencement address with a song.

Dr. Collins – whose own personal research efforts led to the isolation of the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome – received the Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa, from SMU during the ceremony.


2017-05-22T15:10:52+00:00 May 22, 2017|News, Photo and Video Gallery|

NIH director Francis S. Collins to deliver Commencement address

Francis S. CollinsFrancis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the National Institutes of Health who may be best known for leading the Human Genome Project (HGP), will be the featured speaker during SMU’s 102nd all-University Commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Moody Coliseum.

Dr. Collins – whose own personal research efforts led to the isolation of the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome – will receive the Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa, from SMU during the ceremony. The entire event, including Collins’ address, will be live streamed at

“We are honored to have a pioneering scientist and national leader of Dr. Collins’ stature as featured speaker at Commencement,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His life is testament to a strong, unwavering commitment to the search for scientific knowledge paired with deep religious faith. He has much to share with us.”

As NIH director, Collins oversees the work of the largest institutional supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. He was appointed by President Obama in 2009 and was asked to remain in the position by President Trump in January 2017. As director, he has helped launch major research initiatives to advance the use of precision medicine for more tailored healthcare, increase our understanding of the neural networks of the brain to improve treatments for brain diseases, and identify areas of cancer research that are most ripe for acceleration to improve cancer prevention and treatment.

While director of NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute, he oversaw the HGP, a 13-year international effort to map and sequence the 3 billion letters in human DNA. HGP scientists finished the sequence in April 2003, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of James Watson and Francis Crick’s seminal publication describing the double-helix structure of DNA. It remains the world’s largest collaborative biological project and one of the most significant scientific undertakings in modern history.

As an innovative evolutionary geneticist and a devout Christian, Collins also has gained fame for his writings on the integration of logic and belief. His first book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, became a New York Times bestseller in 2006. Since then, he has written The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine (2011) and edited a selection of writings, Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith (2010).


2017-04-27T10:42:38+00:00 April 27, 2017|News|

SMU global health professor gives back by mentoring

For SMU senior Dylan DeMuth, a “no” from an SMU professor changed his life. When Professor Eric Bing told DeMuth he was not yet qualified to enroll in his global health class, he gave the premed student a challenge to “improve your grades and call me in a month.”

Eric Bing and Dylan DeMuth

Dylan DeMuth and Prof. Eric Bing (right)

He also asked DeMuth a rhetorical question: “How would you avoid getting malaria if you went to Africa?”

“Get a malaria vaccine?” DeMuth suggested.

“No. To keep from getting malaria, you must start taking anti-malaria medicine a week before you go to Africa,” Bing said.

DeMuth got the point.  A sophomore chemistry and economics major with a 3.0 grade point average at the time, he sought tutoring before his midterm exams, instead of waiting until he was struggling with challenging science and math courses. He met with Bing a month later to report improvement on his midterm tests – the beginning of a mentorship that inspired DeMuth to re-choreograph his life.

Now a senior ready to graduate, he is teaching global health workers in Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and the United States the life-changing philosophy Bing taught him.

“I distinctly remember that phone conversation with Dylan,” says Bing, professor of global health and director of SMU’s global health program in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. “I remember thinking, ‘This kid is special, there was clarity, there was calm certainty.’ But he wasn’t ready for the class.'”


2017-04-27T11:26:04+00:00 April 26, 2017|News|
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