Provost names Maria Dixon Hall to lead new campus-wide initiative on cultural intelligence

Maria Dixon HallSMU Provost Steve Currall has named Associate Professor of Organizational Communication and Director of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs Maria Dixon Hall as Provost’s Senior Advisor for Campus Cultural Intelligence Initiatives effective Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.

Professor Dixon Hall will have strategic oversight of an emerging initiative “designed to ensure that we are cultivating a campus culture involving faculty, staff and students that ensures our students are ready to effectively engage the complex world into which they will graduate,” said Currall, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“The question that guides me in this unique appointment is: Whether in Detroit or Dubai, South Wales or South Dallas, do our classrooms equip our students to effectively communicate and negotiate human difference?” Currall added. “I believe the faculty has an especially vital role in fostering contexts that teach our students how to successfully and respectfully work, collaborate and create solutions regardless of who their partners may be. Professor Dixon Hall is uniquely qualified to lead this exciting initiative.”

“Last year, I promised the SMU community that we would be bold in our efforts to ensure that our campus was welcoming, inclusive and thoughtful about matters of difference. Maria’s appointment allows us to tap into her internationally recognized expertise in cultural intelligence,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “In addition to being an outstanding faculty member in the classroom, she has earned a reputation, through her research and consulting, for moving organizations and institutions beyond the old frameworks of diversity training to intelligent, thoughtful ways of communicating effectively across cultural boundaries. Her work as an organizational scholar and theologian will help us formulate sustainable actions to position SMU as a strategic leader in inclusion and cultural intelligence in higher education by 2025.”

Recognized throughout her SMU career for her teaching and research, Dixon Hall has been honored with the 2005-06 Willis M. Tate award for service to the student body; the 2009 Golden Mustang Award for outstanding teaching and research by junior faculty; the 2010 Rotunda Award for Outstanding Teaching; and the 2011 “M” Award, SMU’s highest award for service to the University. In 2016, she was named an Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor by SMU’s Center for Teaching Excellence.

“I am deeply honored by this appointment,” Dixon Hall said. “The conversations I’ve had with my colleagues during the past year have demonstrated the commitment our faculty has to ensuring that we are shaping world changers in every sense of the term. The opportunity to lead those conversations in service of a University I love is deeply gratifying. Provost Currall’s innovative structuring of this appointment can only encourage others like myself, who love the classroom, to occasionally step out of it and engage in these types of transformative opportunities on behalf of the University.”

Dixon Hall will return to research and teaching once the initiative is complete, at which time the University leadership will unveil a long-term plan to sustain the cultural intelligence programs she will develop.

Professor Dixon Hall joined the SMU faculty in 2004. As Director of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs in the Meadows School of the Arts’ Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs, she oversees curriculum and assessment for the Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communication program.

She also serves as the director of Mustang Consulting, an in-house firm staffed by top communication students, whose global client list includes Southwest Airlines (Dallas), The Dance Theatre of Harlem (New York), the Ugandan American Partnership Organization (Kampala/Dallas), The Lydia Patterson Institute (El Paso), and Lifeworks (Austin). The firm’s research has been featured in The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, The Franchise Times, and Restaurant Nation.

Dixon Hall’s research and professional consulting is focused on the implications of identity, power and organizational culture on the strategic communication of religious and non-profit organizations. Dixon Hall serves on the editorial boards and as a reviewer for both her field’s national and international publication outlets, as well as their academic conferences. Her work appears in the discipline’s top journals, including Management Communication Quarterly, The Journal of Communication and Religion, Business Communication Quarterly and Southern Journal of Communication.

Dixon Hall maintains an active speaking schedule and is a frequent contributor to national media outlets such as TIME Magazine and CNN on issues of race and education. Her examination of the University of Oklahoma’s failures in dealing with race, “Transformation 101,” became one of 2015’s most viral blog posts. A probationary deacon in the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, she is also a frequent contributor to the United Methodist Reporter and The Religious News Service.

A graduate of the Culverhouse School of Business at the University of Alabama, Dixon Hall earned a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from the Candler School of Theology of Emory University. She received her Ph.D. in organizational communication and religion from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2004.

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Ebonii Nelson named Interim Assistant Provost of Strategic Initiatives and Director of Student Retention

Ebonii Nelson, SMU Interim Assistant ProvostSMU Provost Steve Currall has named Ebonii Nelson as Interim Assistant Provost of Strategic Initiatives and Director of Student Retention effective July 1, 2016. Nelson previously served as Assistant Director of Student Success at SMU.

In her duties as interim assistant provost, Nelson will further propel SMU’s initiatives focused on student success, retention and outreach to at-risk students.

“Ebonii Nelson’s skills and experience are ideally suited to continue advancing SMU’s commitment to students’ academic success,” said Dr. Currall, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “As an SMU alumna, and former Assistant Director of Student Success at SMU, Ebonii has deep knowledge of the innovative programs that the University has developed to ensure that our students flourish in the classroom and make timely progress toward completion of their degrees. I have every confidence that Ebonii will be an outstanding steward of SMU’s commitment to academic achievement of our students.”

The Assistant Provost of Strategic Initiatives and Director of Student Retention oversees one of SMU’s signature programs to support and retain students, the Rotunda Academic Scholars Program. The office provides targeted academic advising, weekly review sessions in key gateway courses, peer counseling and mentoring, collaborative learning workshops and extracurricular learning enhancement experiences involving service and civic engagement to enhance Scholars’ overall marketability for “world-changing” careers.

“As SMU continues to prioritize student retention and overall success, I am enthusiastic and privileged to join Provost Currall and his team to further strengthen this important work,” said Nelson. “I believe my knowledge of SMU culture as an alumna, and previous experience as a professional in both student affairs and academic affairs, will equip me to maintain and enhance the campus relationships, policies and practices that support our amazing students.”

Nelson previously served as an academic adviser with the University Advising Center, where she developed the Peer Academic Leader Program and supported the men’s and women’s basketball and swimming and diving teams. She has held previous positions at the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Gainesville State College, Texas Woman’s University and the University of Georgia.

Nelson graduated from SMU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in Spanish, sociology and women’s studies. She earned a master’s degree in college student affairs administration from the University of Georgia and is currently earning a master’s in counseling at SMU.

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Four SMU faculty members retire with emeritus status in 2015-16

Four distinguished SMU faculty members retired with emeritus status in the 2015-16 academic year. The professors, and their dates of service:

Timothy W. Crusius, Professor Emeritus of English, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1990-2016

John A. Mears, Professor Emeritus of History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1967-2016

Stephen A. Szygenda, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science and Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering, 2000-2016

 Shlomo Weber, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1993-2016

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Douglas A. Reinelt named SMU Associate Provost effective Aug. 1, 2016

SMU, Faculty, Dedman School of Humanities, Mathematics, Reinelt, Douglas, PhDSMU Provost Steve Currall has named Professor of Mathematics and Faculty Senate Past-President Douglas A. Reinelt as Associate Provost effective Aug. 1, 2016.

In his duties as associate provost, Professor Reinelt will manage faculty recruitment and hiring, assist the Provost in administering faculty tenure and promotion, organize general faculty events, and coordinate faculty honors programs such as the University Scholar-Teacher Award and the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Awards. In addition, he will oversee department reviews and lead the annual Department Chair Review.

Reinelt will also chair the Educational Programs Committee, which advises the Provost on matters involving curricular change, new program initiation, and program discontinuance.

“Professor Doug Reinelt is ideally equipped to serve as SMU’s new Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs,” said Dr. Currall, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “He has a deep commitment to the University stemming from having served as a faculty member at SMU for more than 30 years. His leadership will also be informed by his experience as a two-time chair of the Department of Mathematics in Dedman College of Humanities and Science. Doug has held a variety of other leadership positions on campus including, most recently, President of the Faculty Senate and a member of the SMU Board of Trustees. I look forward to partnering with Doug to further develop faculty excellence at SMU.”

Reinelt, an expert in mathematical modeling of fluid problems, joined the Dedman College mathematics faculty in 1983. He served as department chair from 1999 to 2005 and from 2009 to 2015. His research focuses on scientific computation and perturbation analysis of free surface fluid problems including fluid dynamics of bubbles and thin films, coating flows, and foam rheology.

Reinelt has published dozens of articles that have appeared in journals such as Physical Review Letters, SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Physics of Fluids, and the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science and has contributed chapters in Foams and Emulsions and other special volumes. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and Sandia National Laboratories.

In addition to serving as mathematics department chair, Reinelt has served as Undergraduate Director in the Department of Mathematics as well as on the Faculty Council, Advisory Committee for Promotion and Tenure in Dedman College Division III, and the Undergraduate Council. He has also served on the Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C) Executive Committee and many other department, college and university committees.  In 2007, he received the Mathematics Department’s Betty McKnight Speairs Endowed Teaching Excellence Award.

As a Habitat for Humanity (HfH) volunteer for 25 years, Reinelt has helped build hundreds of houses as a construction volunteer and house leader primarily in South and West Dallas. He also serves as faculty adviser to SMU’s HfH Student Chapter and has been the adult leader for SMU student HfH trips to Paraguay, El Salvador and Costa Rica to build homes.  He received the SMU Faculty Volunteer of the Year Award in 2007 for his work with HfH and the Dallas Chapter’s highest honor, the Mary Brock Award, in 2011 for his commitment to the mission of eradicating substandard housing in the Dallas Area.

“I have seen the great progress that SMU has made during my many years as a faculty member and know that the university has the potential to become an even greater institution. I am enthusiastic about joining Provost Currall and his team as we strive to improve the overall academic excellence of SMU,” Reinelt said. “I believe that my experience as a faculty member, department chair, and President of the Faculty Senate will be helpful as we work together to create an even better environment where faculty members can realize their full potential and outstanding new faculty are excited about joining SMU.”

Reinelt earned his B.S. degree in physics and mathematics from the University of the Pacific in 1978 and his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1983. He has been a visiting scholar or visiting faculty member at Stanford University, Sandia National Laboratories and Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France.

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SMU announces five 2016 Ford Research Fellows

SMU Ford Research Fellows, 2016

Meghan Ryan, Ali Beskok, Frederick Chang, Jodi Cooley-Sekula and Mark Chancey (with SMU Provost Steven Currall) were honored as SMU’s 2016 Ford Research Fellows during the Board of Trustees meeting in May. Photo: SMU/Hillsman S. Jackson

Five distinguished SMU professors received awards for their scholarship and support for their research when there were named 2016 Ford Research Fellows during the Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, May 5.

This year’s recipients are Ali Beskok, Mechanical Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering; Mark Chancey, Religious Studies, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; Frederick Chang, Computer Science and Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering; Jodi Cooley-Sekula, Physics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; and Meghan Ryan, Dedman School of Law.

Established in 2002 through a $1 million pledge from trustee Gerald J. Ford, the fellowships help SMU retain and reward outstanding scholars. Each recipient receives a cash prize for research support during the year.

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SMU’s 2016 President’s Picnic is Wednesday, May 18

Originally published April 5, 2016.
presidents-picnic-2016The SMU Staff Association and President R. Gerald Turner invite all University staff members to the 2016 Staff Appreciation Day and President’s Picnic. The post-Commencement celebration takes place 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 on the Clements Hall south lawn.

This year’s event will include the announcement of the 2015 President’s Staff Recognition Award winners, who were originally scheduled to be named at the postponed Staff Association Assembly and Recognition Ceremony in March.

For more information, contact Staff Association President Tim Norris, 214-768-4959.

> Visit the SMU Staff Association online: smu.edu/staffassociation

 

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SMU ready to celebrate at 2016 May Commencement Convocation

SMU Class of 2016

SMU observes its 101st Commencement May 13-14, 2016 with events for students, faculty, alumni and the entire community.

Technology and civic leaders, and SMU parents, Richard and Mary Templeton will speak at the all-University ceremony at 9:30 a.m. May 14 in Moody Coliseum. The University expects to award nearly 2,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.

Cancer prevention pioneer and global health leader Dr. Groesbeck Parham will receive an SMU Doctor of Science honoris causa during the ceremony.

Some major events at a glance:

> Learn more about Richard and Mary Templeton
> Find times, locations and other details on school and department diploma ceremonies
> Find ceremony information and student stories at SMU News
> Visit the Registrar’s May Commencement Convocation homepage

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Theatre Artist-in-Residence Will Power receives 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award

Will PowerWill Power, Artist-in-Residence in Theatre, SMU, theatre artist-in-residence in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, is one of 21 national performing artists announced as recipients of the fifth annual Doris Duke Artist Awards, presented by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF).

Appointed in recognition of their creative vitality and ongoing contributions to the fields of dance, jazz and theater, awardees will each receive $275,000 in flexible, multi-year funding as well as financial and legal counseling, professional development activities and peer-to-peer learning opportunities provided by Creative Capital, DDCF’s primary partner in the awards.

Other recipients include Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, choreographer and MacArthur Fellowship awardee Mark Morris and Pulitzer Prize-winning musician Henry Threadgill.

Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, said, “The foundation is pleased to support this new class of Doris Duke Artists. The composers, musicians, theater artists, choreographers and playwrights who comprise this cohort are visionaries who have already made important contributions to their respective fields. We hope these awards enhance their capacities for exploration and experimentation, in keeping with Doris Duke’s adventurous spirit. DDCF looks forward to their continued creativity, as their work is not only important to the creative sector, but vital to the vibrancy of our society, as well.”

Power is an award-winning playwright and performer who combines classic folklore with modern elements. His recent musical Stagger Lee (2015) spanned the 20th century, tracing mythical characters in their quest to achieve the American Dream. Its deep-seated themes of racism and power were translated through Joplin-inspired tunes, R&B and hip-hop.

His other plays include Fetch Clay, Make Man, which enjoyed a successful run Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop; Steel Hammer with SITI Company (Humana Festival); The Seven (winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, New York Theatre Workshop, La Jolla Playhouse); Five Fingers of Funk! (Children’s Theatre Company); Honey Bo and The Goldmine (La Jolla Playhouse); and two acclaimed solo shows, The Gathering and Flow, which toured over 70 cities in the U.S., Europe and Australia.

Power’s other awards include a United States Artist Prudential Fellowship, the TCG Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, a Jury Award for Best Theatre Performance at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival and the Trailblazer Award from The National Black Theater Network.

“I am thrilled and honored to receive a 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award,” said Power. “As an artist, the road is often unpredictable and nothing is guaranteed. I have tried to the best of my ability to travel this road and create stories the best I can. When you live life as an artist, you try to sustain your faith in what you’re doing, and you pray that you will also be able to adequately take care of your family. This award allows me to do just that – it is a public acknowledgment of what I am trying to say while giving me some long-term support to provide and care for those I love. I am forever grateful to receive this award from the Doris Duke Foundation.”

Power won the Meadows School of the Arts’ Meadows Prize in 2011, an international arts residency launched in fall 2009. During his residency at SMU, Power worked with Meadows student actors and designers to create a new theatre work, Alice Underground, a modern spin on the tale of Alice in Wonderland. His work in Dallas as winner of the Meadows Prize was a partnership between the Meadows School and the Dallas Theater Center.

Power was subsequently named an artist-in-residence at the Meadows School and is also the Andrew W. Mellon Playwright in Residence with the Dallas Theater Center, a position awarded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and HowlRound. Stagger Lee, which was produced and premiered by the Dallas Theater Center in 2015, was partially developed in workshops in collaboration with the Meadows School as a part of Powers’ Meadows Prize residency.

He also conceived and directed The Shakespeare Project at SMU in 2013, which fused the rhythms of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter with the contemporary beats of hip-hop, and used that rhythm to explore key Shakespearean characters. The Shakespeare Project was an extension of a work Power created for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the London Olympics in 2012, a hip-hop version of Caliban’s speech from The Tempest.

His film and television appearances include The Colbert Report (Comedy Central), and Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason (PBS).

Power was a guest of the U.S. State Department on five separate occasions, traveling to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. On these trips and others, he taught community workshops in shantytowns, worked with poets in former regimes of the Soviet Union and lectured at various libraries, grammar schools and colleges.

Currently, he is working on Wade in the Water, which he describes as a “Nuvo-Gospel Musical,” or a work that brings a more contemporary viewpoint to a traditional Biblical or gospel tale. It is being commissioned and developed at Center Theater Group in Los Angeles.

> Read the full story from SMU Meadows News

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Cancer prevention pioneer Groesbeck Parham to receive honorary doctorate during SMU’s 2016 Commencement

Groesbeck ParhamA simple procedure developed by Groesbeck Parham has saved the lives of thousands of women in Africa. Cervical cancer, easily screened with a Pap test and treated in developed countries, is fatal to 81 percent of Zambian women who have limited access to health care. Dr. Parham has developed a simple, affordable screening procedure using household vinegar as an indicator of abnormal cells.

Parham will receive a Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from SMU during its 101st Commencement Saturday, May 14, 2016. In addition, he present a free, public symposium on his work from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 11. The event, co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, begins with a 2 p.m. reception in Harold Clark Simmons Hall.

For Zambian women, cervical cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and particularly dangerous to HIV-infected women. Parham helped develop a simple and inexpensive screening procedure that has been used by 350,000 Zambian women and has been adopted by health providers in countries from South Africa to China.

Four SMU students traveled in 2013 with former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush and SMU Global Health Professor Eric Bing to volunteer with Parham in Zambia. Other SMU students also have worked with Parham to develop cervical cancer research applications.

Parham is a gynecologic oncologist and professor of gynecology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He has spent much of the past 30 years in Africa, however, where he is helping lead and implement Zambia’s first national cervical cancer control program.

Parham’s work to combat cervical and breast cancer in Africa and Latin America is supported by Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a partnership founded by the George W. Bush Institute, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, UNAIDS and the Zambian government.

Parham will receive an honorary degree at SMU’s May 14 Commencement Convocation.

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Student-designed games debut on Steam Greenlight, available for public play-testing at 2016 SMU Guildhall Spring Exhibition

The SMU Guildhall hosts its biannual graduate exhibition showcasing video games developed by graduating students on Friday, May 13. The 2016 Spring Exhibition will honor Cohort 23: master’s degree candidates who specialize in art creation, level design, production and programming.

The day’s schedule is as follows, and all events take place at SMU-in-Plano, Building 2, 5232 Tennyson Parkway. The public is welcome to attend each event, and admission is free:

  • 2:30-4 p.m. Exhibition of student games
  • 4-5 p.m. Honors Awards
  • 5-6 p.m. Capstone team games presentations

Both Cohort 23 Capstone games have debuted on Steam Greenlight, a community service of the Steam online gaming platform that allows gamers to vote on new content. Both Guildhall games will be made available for download and play through Steam if they receive enough votes. Follow the links below each game description to learn more and vote:

Gravitas is a first-person physics-based puzzle game in which the player manipulates gravity in order to navigate the realm of a mad artist known as “The Curator.” In a revolutionary art gallery built in space using groundbreaking technology, the player character receives a special glove that can control gravity and must use the new power to explore this world.

The Guildhall game creators, collectively known as Space Shark Studios, chose to build a puzzle game because it allowed them to focus on a single core mechanic and polish it to an extremely high quality. They built Gravitas in Unreal Engine 4 over a span of six months.

The production of Gravitas gave Space Shark Studios the opportunity to work within a simulated game development environment with all of its ups and downs. Throughout the project, they learned to communicate effectively as a team of 13, as well as develop within a very constrained timeline.

> Vote for Gravitas on Steam Greenlight

Scrapped is a single player, third-person 3D platformer developed in Unreal Engine 4.8.1. It stars Robot C-23 (get it?), who must solve his way out of a dangerous junkyard after inadvertently failing a quality inspection.

After being tossed out like garbage and trapped within an expansive scrapyard, the “quantum force”-powered robot encounters a robotic light bug named Fritz. Using Fritz’s glowing guidance, C-23 must repel and attract across hazards, dodging saws and swinging over bottomless pits to make their way across the perilous terrain. With each force-powered leap or slide, C-23 and his friend draw closer to a new home.

The student team, Get Out Alive Games, designed Scrapped with the intention of constructing a short yet extremely professional and polished experience. Over the course of six months, they learned to work with an industry-sized team, gained experience developing a professionally focused project, and formed an understanding of pipeline process and interdisciplinary collaboration.

> Vote for Scrapped on Steam Greenlight

Other Guildhall cohorts will also put new games up for public play-testing. Watch SMU Forum for additional information on these titles:

  • Knightly Burden (Cohort 26)
  • Azimuth (Cohort 25)
  • For the Family (Cohort 25)
  • Iron Games (Cohort 25)
  • Velocirapture (Cohort 25)

Kate Edwards, IGDAExhibition Day will conclude with the Guildhall’s graduation reception and presentation of degrees to students receiving the Master of Interactive Technology degree in digital game development. This year’s keynote speaker is Kate Edwards, executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and one of Fortune magazine’s “10 Most Powerful Women” in the game industry.

Edwards is also the founder and principal consultant of Geogrify, a Seattle-based consultancy for content culturalization, where she uses her expertise as an applied geographer, writer, and corporate strategist. As Microsoft’s first Geopolitical Strategist in the Geopolitical Strategy team she created and managed, she was responsible for protecting the company against political and cultural content risks across all products and locales. Since leaving Microsoft, she has provided guidance to many companies on a wide range of geopolitical and cultural issues and she continues to work on a variety of game franchises. Kate is also a regular columnist for MultiLingual Computing magazine.

In October 2013, Fortune magazine named her as one of the 10 most powerful women in the game industry. In December 2014 she was named by GamesIndustry.biz as one of their six People of the Year in the game industry.

> Visit the SMU Guildhall’s new website: smu.edu/guildhall

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