When alumni are asked to recall their fondest memories of SMU, a favorite faculty member always comes to mind. As they probe and provoke, demand and debate, SMU professors make an impact in their own special ways. The faces highlighted in these profiles – Harold Stanley, Laura Steinberg, Harold J. Recinos, Maria Minniti, Jeffrey Kahn and Patricia Alvey – exemplify the quality of SMU’s faculty and are sure to turn up on the list of favorites among future alumni.
Harold Stanley: Teaching Politics Without Prejudice
For Harold Stanley, the 2008 presidential campaigns are serving as a laboratory for a class he teaches every four years. He uses the primaries, media coverage, campaign finance reports and voter patterns to teach Dedman College’s popular political science course on “Presidential Elections.”
“The challenge is trying to figure out what is happening while it is happening,” says Stanley, the Geurin-Pettus Distinguished Chair in American Politics and Political Economy. “Most election analyses are written well after the fact.”
Laura Steinberg: Preparing For The Next ‘Big One’
Some types of scientific research are driven by opportunity, which frequently means waiting for the next shoe to drop. For Laura Steinberg, that shoe usually is large and destructive.
Steinberg is a nationally known expert on how natural and technological disasters are magnified in urban areas. From earthquakes to hurricanes to plant explosions, Steinberg aims her research at mitigating the ripple effects from the next “big one.”
Harold J. Recinos: Finding Salvation On The Mean Streets
At the age of 12, Harold J. Recinos was homeless on the streets of New York City, abandoned by destitute immigrant parents. Dropping out of junior high school to focus all his attention on survival, he begged for money, wore the same clothing for months and lived in abandoned urban tenements, public parks and parked Greyhound passenger buses.
“My answer to rejection and the pitiful existence of street life was to become a street-grown heroin addict. I was one of the youngest junkies in the neighborhood. Shooting dope made it easier to eat food from restaurant garbage dumpsters,” he recalls.
Maria Minniti: Getting To The Heart Of Entrepreneurship
Like most Western countries in the 1970s, Italy was experiencing its worst economic downturn since the worldwide depression four decades earlier. Double-digit inflation and high unemployment soured la dolce vita.
“People were concerned about job security,” economist Maria Minniti recalls about her native country. “They worried about being able to afford their rent. Everyone was affected – my family, the parents of my friends. Although I was a child, I could tell there was much distress throughout society.”
Jeffrey Kahn: Reinforcing The Value Of Constitutional Law
A large world map, drawn from the old Soviet Union’s perspective, dominates a wall in Jeffrey Kahn’s office. The map is more than a Cold War artifact for this Dedman School of Law assistant professor. It is a reminder that even the most powerful institutions are not invulnerable.
In his second year at SMU, Kahn is carving out an academic niche at the intersection of U.S. constitutional law, human rights, counterterrorism and comparative law.
Patricia Alvey: Inspiring An Artful Approach To Advertising
At any moment in the Owen Arts Center, piano tunes waft from classrooms, budding actors practice their faux swordfights and ballerinas pirouette in the hallways. Advertising professor Patricia Alvey finds the creative environment “thrilling and stimulating.”
SMU’s Temerlin Advertising Institute for Education and Research in Meadows School of the Arts shares space with art, music, theatre and other fine arts students and faculty. “I love the energy. It’s delightful that I ended up back in an art school,” says Alvey, Distinguished Chair and Director of the Institute. Before receiving a Ph.D. in advertising from the University of Texas at Austin, Alvey earned a B.F.A. in drawing and painting from Murray State University.