SMU Magazine

SMU Magazine is updated monthly on this website and the print edition is published each spring and fall.

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SMU And Dallas: Priceless Intellectual Capital

SMU has always played a leading role in Dallas’ vibrant arts milieu, beginning with the Arden Club, the longtime student drama organization, and expanding in scope and scale as the University and the city matured. Among the trove of SMU’s rich cultural resources is the Meadows School of the Arts. In 2010, the school welcomed an estimated 9,500 audience members to 104 ticketed events that included dance, theatre, opera, symphony, wind symphony and faculty performances. The Meadows Museum is one of the city’s cultural landmarks, attracting about 60,000 visitors each year. Entrepreneur Algur H. Meadows, whose prized assemblage of Spanish art serves as the museum’s core collection, envisioned a “Prado on the Prairie.” That vision became further realized with the announcement of a three-year partnership between the museum and the Prado Museum in Madrid last year. The first of three major paintings to be loaned from the Prado was the focus of “The Prado at the Meadows: El Greco’s Pentecost in a New Context,” drawing 20,446 visitors. In addition, the University’s nine libraries house the largest private collection of research materials in the Southwest, valued by scholars from across the globe. The holdings include more than 3 million print volumes, as well as over 9,000 digitized items from the University’s special collections. Counted among SMU’s one-of-a-kind collections is the archive of Academy Award-winning playwright Horton Foote. When North Texas arts organizations honored Foote with a two-month festival in the [...]

2017-04-04T10:28:12+00:00 December 23, 2011|

SMU And Dallas: Defining The Future

While large cities like Dallas boast innumerable advantages, they also face complex problems that often endure for generations. Interdisciplinary student teams involved in SMU’s Big iDeas program investigate some of those massive challenges, dissect them into smaller issues and design viable projects based on their research. The Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs launched Big iDeas in 2008 and awards grants of up to $5,000 to put students’ plans into action. Eight teams received Big iDeas grants in April, and student researchers reported their findings at a symposium November 4. Big iDeas provided a conduit to the community for senior Amrita Vir. She and fellow finance major Sean Zech ’11 produced “Mustang Microfinance,” a proposal to provide loans to fledgling entrepreneurs in underserved neighborhoods. Their group, which includes seniors Trigg Burrage, Seth Dennis and Christina Sanders and junior Weston Richter, has grown to 20 participants. “Education has always been a passion, but I’m not a teacher. I wanted something empowering and uplifting that I could do as a finance major,” says Vir, the 2011-12 Carl and Peggy Sewell President’s Scholar and a 2010-11 Richter Research Fellow. “The more I learned about microfinance, the more I believed it could work here in Dallas.” While researching how to proceed, Vir and the team met Jeremy Gregg ’01, executive director of The PLAN Fund, a Dallas-based nonprofit microfinance institution. Gregg discovered an affinity for the nonprofit [...]

2017-04-04T10:28:14+00:00 December 23, 2011|

Legal Advocacy For The Underserved

For more than six decades, SMU’s Dedman School of Law Clinical Program has remained true to its core intent of public service by providing legal representation to low-income clients while providing skills training to legal students through seven clinics and projects: CIVIL CLINIC Represents low-income clients in civil matters such as housing disputes, elder advocacy and civil-rights litigation. CRIMINAL DEFENSE CLINIC Partners with the Dallas Public Defender’s Office to provide students with felony trial experience. FEDERAL TAXPAYERS CLINIC Represents low-income taxpayers with tax issues. This clinic is the first tax clinic in the country with the authority to represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Tax Court. SMALL BUSINESS CLINIC Represents small start-up companies and individuals developing private nonprofit entities. W. W. CARUTH, JR. CHILD ADVOCACY CLINIC Is appointed by juvenile district court judges to serve as guardian/attorney ad litem to represent children who have been abused and neglected in Dallas County. Interdisciplinary lectures given by psychologists, forensic detectives, child development specialists and social workers are a significant component of this clinic. CONSUMER ADVOCACY PROJECT Assists the local Hispanic community with consumer complaints and focuses on informal advocacy, negotiation and mediation strategies, and community education. DEATH PENALTY PROJECT Gives students practical experience on death penalty cases. Dedman School of Law and Embrey Human Rights Program were awarded 2011 “Angel of Freedom” awards by the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas in [...]

2017-04-04T10:28:14+00:00 December 23, 2011|

The Art Of Urban Engagement

At a symposium hosted by Meadows School of the Arts this spring, participants across the creative spectrum were challenged to rewrite the relationship between artists and activists in the city. This fall, first-year Meadows Scholars put their talents to work on the Dallas Mexican American Historical League’s ongoing oral history and photo archive project as part of the course “Artspace: Mapping Sites of Social Change.” Janis Bergman-Carton, art history chair, led the team of art, art history, dance and theatre faculty teaching the class. The course is the first curricular piece produced by Creative Time, a New York-based public arts organization and a winner of the inaugural Meadows Prize arts residency in 2009. The scholars assisted the DMAHL with its mission of documenting the history and contributions of Mexican Americans in Dallas. Students also delved into the impact of the Trinity River Corridor Project, specifically the construction of the Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge, and the Mexican-American community of West Dallas. Group projects allowed the Meadows Scholars to express their findings in artistic ways. The culmination was “Las huellas: footsteps in West Dallas,” a student art installation and mapping (dance) performance at the Bataan Center in West Dallas November 28 and at the Meadows School’s Doolin Gallery December 1. “Students became stakeholders and participants in the next phase of the Meadows initiative to define its own model of urban engagement and creativity in 21st-century Dallas,” says [...]

2017-04-04T10:28:17+00:00 December 23, 2011|

Transforming Communities Through Schools

The new Center on Communities and Education (CCE) will bring research, documentation and evaluation capabilities to a West Dallas redevelopment strategy that focuses on school transformation as its core. A partnership between the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the Dallas Faith Communities Coalition (DFCC) created the CCE in October. The CCE assumes leadership of the education component of the University-wide commitment to provide intellectual resources and volunteer involvement that will have a positive impact on West Dallas. Professor Reid Lyon, associate dean of the Simmons School, serves as CCE’s faculty director. He will supervise research and faculty engagement. Regina Nippert is the executive director and will oversee operations and programs, including all nonfaculty staff. “The center is focused on communities and how their systems interact,” says Nippert. “One of its most important responsibilities is to support The School Zone, a community partnership that is committed to a healthy West Dallas educational ecosystem.” CCE will function as the backbone organization for The School Zone, a collaboration between 10 Dallas Independent School District campuses, three charter schools and 20 nonprofit agencies. While the center’s programs are still in development and details have not been finalized, its initial research partnerships are likely to focus on the effects of early intervention on children, schools and families, and interventions that support improved academic, social and language outcomes for English language learners and children in poverty, [...]

2017-04-04T10:28:18+00:00 December 23, 2011|

Supporting The Humanity Of Engineering

The Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity in the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering examines the complexities of poverty in an effort to create scalable, feasible solutions that can be applied in greater Dallas and around the globe. In January a new Master of Arts in Sustainability and Development will be offered by the Lyle School and supported by the Hunt Institute. Like the Institute, the Master’s program will focus on research, seminars, site-based internships and service learning opportunities in the local area. Coursework will concentrate on sustainability, environmental resources and urban development. The Master’s program contributes another dimension to the Hunt Institute’s mission to identify and create innovative and affordable technology that, in combination with market forces, will help accelerate improvements for the poor everywhere. The Institute’s efforts center on access to clean water; creating affordable shelter, including design justice for the marginalized; hygiene education and promotion; access to energy; and meeting basic infrastructure needs. “To make basic technology available at a price the poorest of the poor can afford requires a radical rethinking of centuries of engineering practice,” says Geoffrey Orsak, dean of the Lyle School. The harshness of life for the billions of people who exist without these building blocks was brought home by the Hunt Institute during SMU’s Engineering & Humanity Week in April. In the “Living Village” constructed on campus that week, participants cooked their [...]

2017-04-04T10:28:19+00:00 December 23, 2011|

Writing A New Chapter In Dallas History

Dallas becomes a living laboratory for students in Dedman College courses like “Latino/Latina Religions,” which blends classroom instruction with service in the community. “I think students learn better when they can apply theories and historical frameworks that we discuss and read about in class to real-world situations,” says Jill DeTemple, assistant professor of religious studies, who teaches the course. “They take a sense of ownership of course materials, and because they are working for a community organization, they are working for more than the grade.” In fall 2010 students spent hours sifting through the archives of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral in East Dallas. Their mission was to document the rich past and explore the evolving present of the multiethnic congregation. Students uncovered some surprises – Jack Benage, a senior accounting major, unearthed the academic record of former first lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, a graduate of St. Mary’s College for Women, which was housed at the site until 1930. They also examined how a surge in Latino parishioners is changing the congregation. At the end of the semester, the students presented a 57-page history of the cathedral and its programs to the congregation in English and Spanish. “Students didn’t just read about a subject, they produced knowledge based on their experiences with archival materials and interviews,” DeTemple explains. “This gives them a window into how academic materials are produced, and why they are useful [...]

2017-04-04T10:28:20+00:00 December 23, 2011|

Engaged Learning: Lindsay Sockwell in Zambia

Senior Lindsay Sockwell, one of the first Engaged Learning grant recipients, experienced her own “journey of discovery” this past summer while working with orphans in Zambia. She used her skills as a dance performance major with a psychology minor to inspire the children, most of whom lost their parents to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. “I had spent time in Africa last year and saw how the children’s facial expressions changed in the presence of music and dance,” Sockwell says, “and I became interested in how that could be therapeutic for orphaned kids in Zambia.” Sockwell divided her time in Zambia’s capital of Lusaka between a summer camp and an orphanage, both operated by Family Legacy Missions International of Irving. She worked with a group of boys ages 4-16 for two weeks and helped lead dance sessions within large-group gatherings for another two weeks. Sockwell and other counselors taught the children songs through repetition and taught dance movements that used symbolic gesture because most of the children don’t speak English. The youngsters reciprocated by teaching the Americans a few songs in their tribal language. Sockwell advises other SMU students who develop an engagement project: “Prepare for your life to be changed. My experience has put hundreds of faces and names to the staggering statistics about life in Africa. This kind of knowledge changes things.” James Quick, SMU’s associate vice president for research and dean of graduate studies, [...]

2017-04-04T10:28:22+00:00 December 23, 2011|

Engaged Learning: Michael McCarthy, Veterans Affairs in Dallas

Senior and grant recipient Michael McCarthy, a double major in statistics and mathematics, is using his knowledge to analyze data for Veterans Affairs in Dallas while covering school expenses. Receiving the Engaged Learning grant enabled him to participate in the program by replacing the salary he otherwise would earn working part time, which he needs to do to cover school expenses. McCarthy is conducting database analysis that evaluates home care support the VA Spinal Cord Injury Center provides to injured veterans. “My experience at the VA already has begun to shape my post-graduation and career plans,” McCarthy says. “I’m now considering an applied statistics Master’s program to further my ability to assist with these types of statistical projects and use data analysis techniques to answer important questions. I’ve also become interested in biostatistics and health care data analysis.” The Engaged Learning program resulted from work by the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Committee, created in 2009 to develop a plan to help SMU enhance its educational mission and qualify for reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The Quality Enhancement Plan is a new requirement by SACS that presented a “great opportunity for SMU to coalesce around a strategic plan for improving student learning,” says committee chair Margaret Dunham, professor of computer science and engineering in the Lyle School of Engineering. QEP Committee members represented a cross section of the SMU community, from [...]

2017-04-04T10:28:23+00:00 December 23, 2011|

Engaged Learning: Matt Gayer, Health Literacy Dallas

The new program will build on elements of the new University Curriculum, which will debut in fall 2012. Starting then, students will be required to engage with local and global communities around issues of civic responsibility and cultural understanding either through coursework, volunteer opportunities, or study abroad. The Engaged Learning program takes students a step further: They can enhance their experiences through independently designed projects that require more depth and serious commitments of both time and effort. A major component of Engaged Learning requires the students to write reports about their projects, reflecting on their experiences. All students’ reports will be published in an online journal organized by Central University Libraries. As SMU’s first director of Engaged Learning, Susan Kress serves as a facilitator who will build on experiential learning programs that already exist at SMU under a variety of names. She previously served as SMU’s director of Education Abroad in the International Center. “I’m eager to help the University broaden opportunities for engaged learning and to get students excited about trying out what they are learning in the classroom through real-life work,” Kress says. “Engaged learners explore who they want to be, not just what they want to do.” Senior Matt Gayer, who served on the QEP Committee, is a prime example of a student who has channeled his academic interests into community engagement. Majoring in public policy and political science with minors in [...]

2017-04-04T10:28:23+00:00 December 23, 2011|
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