December 23, 2011

SMU’s Human And Intellectual Capital

Read more about SMU programs that have a major impact on the greater Dallas community.

Over the past century, the “town” and “gown” have flourished together. With more than 40,000 alumni now living and working in the area, the University’s DNA runs through the economic, civic and cultural networks of greater Dallas.

“Universities bring intellectual capital to their regions. They bring young, talented students. They create new knowledge through faculty research, resulting in new corporations and business opportunities. They elevate civic dialogue and contribute to cultural vibrancy. They serve as a city’s conscience, and they set the standard for civic discourse and free expression,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said at SMU’s Centennial Academic Symposium.

“SMU has done all of this for Dallas. … Dallas would not be the intellectual, business, cultural and philanthropic powerhouse that it is, were SMU not to have been founded 100 years ago.”

Forbes magazine ranked Dallas a top-10 city for businesses and entrepreneurs in June, calling it “one of the most resilient economies during the recession” and forecasting the city “could add 190,000 jobs in the next three years.”

In cultivating human capital through more than 100 majors and 75 minors, SMU helps drive that growth. The worldwide reach of ExxonMobil, Texas Instruments and other leading employers based in the Metroplex demands educated problem-solvers with global perspectives.

“Upon graduation SMU students are well prepared to contribute in a meaningful way to the world of work and possess the initiative to become the leaders of the future global economy,” says Darin Ford, director of SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center. The center assists approximately 7,000 students and alumni each year through a campus recruiting and job-referral program, as well as career plan development and counseling.

From the beginning, SMU’s core mission has been to prepare graduates for successful futures as citizens and professionals, and in fulfilling that duty, SMU has remained nimble, helping to predict emerging needs and being ready to adapt to the shifting economic landscape.

STEM knowledge – science, technology, engineering and math – is critical, according to symposium panelist William A. Blase Jr., senior executive vice president, human resources, AT&T. Today’s students “are much more demanding,” he said. “They want the University to get them prepared.”

The most successful job candidates, however, must have an education balanced with coursework and experiences that develop a range of nontechnical “life skills,” said symposium keynote speaker Duy-Loan Le, senior fellow, Texas Instruments, and board of directors, National Instruments. The ideal employee, she said, has the ability to handle complex problems and think creatively; write and listen effectively; collaborate and work with people with different viewpoints, backgrounds and cultures; and possess a strong sense of ethics and integrity.

If two candidates have equally solid technical skills, but one has stronger life skills, “guess which one I would choose,” she said. Life-skills knowledge requires years of development, and the candidate with those qualities is more valuable, she explained.

Priceless Intellectual Capital … next page