August 30, 2016
Alumni Marshals direct students around the SMU seal in Dallas Hall during Rotunda Passage, a beloved part of the tradition of Opening Convocation.

Alumni Marshals direct students around the SMU seal in Dallas Hall during Rotunda Passage, a symbolic rite of passage during SMU’s Opening Convocation.

As the strains of “Varsity” filled Dallas Hall, incoming SMU students streamed through the landmark building for Rotunda Passage, marching toward McFarlin Auditorium and SMU’s 102nd Opening Convocation.

Rotunda Passage and Opening Convocation hold a special place in the hearts of alumni parents, grandparents and other relatives as the next generation joins the Mustang fold. Many graduates volunteer to serve as Alumni Marshals during this milestone event. Donning ceremonial regalia, the alumni line the Convocation path, welcoming students as they take their initial steps toward intellectual and personal growth at SMU.

Among this year’s participants were Robert Hyer (Bob) Thomas ’53, ’57 and Gail Griffin Thomas ’58. Robert, a Dallas attorney, is the grandson of SMU’s first president, Robert S. Hyer (1911–1920). Gail is president and CEO of The Trinity Trust Foundation and co-founder of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. The two met as students at SMU.

Their granddaughter, Electra Gail Thomas, is a member of the Class of 2020. She extended an invitation to her grandparents to participate in this pivotal moment in her future on the Hilltop.

“She is so excited to be at SMU, and we’re so excited for her,” Gail said.

As Charles Salazar ’88 watched students prepare to enter the Rotunda, he marveled at the opportunities that await his first-year son, Matthew.

“I hope he will take advantage of all that SMU has to offer, from study abroad programs to internships,” he said.

Charles received his bachelor’s degree from another university before graduating from Dedman School of Law, and he’s “very pleased” that his son chose SMU as an undergraduate. Matthew plans to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering in the Lyle School of Engineering.

The campus is already familiar territory to first-year student Gatlin Shore, son Michael Shore ’86, ’90 and Judy Shore ’90, both graduates of Dedman School of Law. One of their favorite family photos shows four-year-old Gatlin decked out in spirit gear, ready for game day at Ford Stadium.

“We’ve always been active in the SMU community, so coming to SMU as a student is like coming home for him,” said Michael, managing partner at Shore Chan DePumpo LLP in Dallas.

Cara Davila ’91 and Joe Davila ’92 were “surprised and excited” when their son, Jordan, decided to attend SMU as a journalism major in Meadows School of the Arts.

“We visited schools around the country – Wisconsin, North Carolina and California as well as Texas – so we weren’t sure where he would end up,” said Cara, who received a B.B.A. from the Cox School of Business. “He really liked SMU. It felt comfortable, and he wanted to be in Texas.”

Joe, who received a bachelor’s degree in management science from the Lyle School, is in mortgage finance, and Cara serves as the yearbook advisor for the International School of Luxembourg. The couple traveled from Luxembourg to help their son move in and stayed to participate in Opening Convocation. They were stationed at the front doors to Dallas Hall, providing Cara with a great vantage point for snapping a cell phone photo of Jordan as he processed by.

When the Class of 2020 graduates in four years, they’ll be joined on Commencement Weekend by alumni celebrating their 50th reunion. In recognition of that special Mustang bond, members of the Class of 1970 were invited to participate in the Rotunda Passage.

Buddy Ozanne ’70 says that next to his own graduation – he earned a B.B.A. from SMU – his proudest moment on campus has been the graduation of his son, Tyler Ozanne, who received a B.B.A. in 2002. He’s looking forward to following the progress of SMU’s newest students as they experience time-honored traditions while creating a few of their own.

“It feels great to welcome a new class to SMU,” he said, “and be a part of this memorable time in their lives.”

2016 Opening Convocation Alumni Marshals
Fred Arnold ’57
Cara Davila ’91 and Joseph Davila ’92
Raymond Fernandez ’78, ’82
Stephen Griffith’86
Balie Griffith ’53
Alexandra Gulledge ’92
Robert Hatcher ’85
Carolyn Hoffmann ’83
Carrie Katigan ’89 and Steven Katigan ’89, ’94
Jennifer Madding ’15
Buddy Ozanne ’70
Randy Phillips ’70
Sheila Rogan ’92
Henry Rogan ’93
Charles Salazar ’88
Judy Shore ’90 and Michael Shore ’86, ’90
Geoffrey Small ’86
Carrie Teller ’02 and Andrew Teller ’86
Gail Thomas ’58 and Bob Thomas ’53, ’57
Mary Jo Vida-Fernandez ’82
Marti Voorheis ’92 and Paul Voorheis ’92
Maidie Yale ’85
Amy Lou Yeager ’93 and Stephen Yeager ’93