Great Minds … Think

As oil gushed and accusations flew, the media called on SMU experts to pilot them through the details of deep-water drilling after the BP well blowout last April.

The Cox School of BusinessMaguire Energy Institute quickly became a go-to resource as Bruce Bullock ’81, director, and Bernard “Bud” Weinstein, associate director, provided expertise to the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post and other news outlets around the country covering the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bullock and Weinstein are two of SMU’s many recognized authorities helping print, broadcast and online news consumers understand the most complex questions of the day. National politics and the economy are other hot-button topics recently analyzed by faculty. These high-profile thinkers also share their wisdom on important issues with students in their classes.

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Professor Dan Howard

An immeasurable amount of favorable public opinion for the University is generated when notable faculty are quoted in the news, says Cox’s Dan Howard, a marketing professor who studies consumer behavior.

“When students and parents are impressed by an intelligent quote from a faculty member, they develop a positive impression of SMU overall,” says Howard, who is frequently tapped by the media to explain everything from the effect of herd mentality on the stock market to the benefits of product placement in the movies. “That’s especially true when the information is delivered by a credible source in a context where they believe no one is trying to persuade them, like a newspaper story or TV news broadcast.”

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Dean David Chard

At the root of many memorable sound bites is consequential research. Some of the University’s sharpest minds concentrate on challenges as diverse as treating dysfunctional families and understanding immigration issues. Their evidence-based solutions play significant roles in reshaping policies and programs to better serve communities everywhere.

“Implementing research is not as neat as it may seem. As a university, we have to produce the evidence to support our solutions, then we have to disseminate the knowledge of what works and why – that’s really the role that we as a faculty can play in outreach,” says David Chard, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Chard is a nationally recognized expert on best educational practices and teacher training.

“Research that lacks a response to the community can become irrelevant,” he adds.

NAVIGATING THE DETAILS

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Bruce Bullock

In helping journalists sift through layers of oil spill particulars, Bullock provided more than pithy quotes and shrewd analyses; he also schooled them in the finer points of deep-water drilling.

“I provided journalists with lots of background information, helped them understand what’s involved in the technology, what kinds of questions to ask and what to believe and not believe,” he says.

A 24-year veteran of the energy industry, Bullock has held positions at Atlantic Richfield Company and FMC Technologies, a leading global supplier of technology for the energy industry. Through a network of insiders and analysts, Bullock stayed informed as events unfolded. “We kept in touch with e-mails and phone calls on a daily basis.”

Posting on the Houston Chronicle’s Barrels and BTUs blog, he explored the economic and political consequences as the cleanup efforts progressed. He predicts the spill will be a game-changer. “In an era of Twitter and other social media, this is going to rewrite the crisis management manual for many corporations, particularly in the energy industry.”

Click on the links below to read more about some of the dozens of SMU faculty members offering commentary on international issues, based on research and analysis. Click here to visit the SMU Faculty Expert Search page.

Caroline Brettell: Understanding Immigrants
Bonnie Jacobs: Into Africa
Cal Jillson: Politics In America
Ernest Jourile and Renee McDonald: Creating Healthy Families

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