SMU honors outstanding achievement, community service at 2017-18 Hilltop Excellence Awards and Honors Convocation


Laurel wreath stock photo - Hilltop Excellence AwardsSMU faculty, staff, administrators and students were recognized with teaching awards, service honors and the University’s highest commendation – the “M” Award – at the 2017-18 Hilltop Excellence Awards Monday, April 16.

Earlier in the day, the University honored its best students at the 21st annual Honors Convocation. The address was delivered by Maria Dixon Hall, senior adviser to the SMU Provost, associate professor in the Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs in Meadows School of the Arts, and adjunct associate professor of homiletics in Perkins School of Theology.

> Find a complete list of award winners from Honors Convocation 2018

Appointed in August 2016 as Senior Advisor to the Provost for Cultural Intelligence, Dixon Hall is charged with oversight of the University’s efforts to ensure that all members of the SMU community are equipped to effectively create, collaborate, and work on solutions to change the world. In this role, she is responsible for development and implementation of the University’s new cultural intelligence curriculum and training program.

As director of mustangconsulting, Dixon Hall heads a staff of some of SMU’s best and brightest communication students. The group serves a global client list that includes corporate, nonprofit, and religious organizations such as Southwest Airlines (Dallas), The Dance Theatre of Harlem (New York), the Ugandan American Partnership Organization (Kampala/Dallas), The Lydia Patterson Institute (El Paso), and Carry the Load (Atlanta/Dallas).

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

Congratulations to SMU faculty, staff and students who were recognized at the 2018 Hilltop Excellence Awards on Monday, April 16!

Receiving the “M” Award, SMU’s most prestigious honor, are five faculty and staff members and 10 students (see below) whose contributions to the University are “above and beyond the call of duty.” Faculty and staff recipients include:

Stephanie Amsel, lecturer in English, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences
• William Bridge, associate professor, Dedman School of Law
Elsie Johnson, associate director of student life, Office of the Dean of Student Life
Mary Jane Johnson, executive assistant to President R. Gerald Turner
• Mikel Saloma, assistant dean of recruitment, retention and alumni relations, Lyle School of Engineering

The Students’ Association Awards recognize faculty, administrators, staff members and trustees for giving unselfishly to the students and the University as a whole. The recipients are:

• Outstanding Administrator – Elizabeth Killingsworth, dean and director ad interim, Central University Libraries
• Outstanding Trustee – William D. Armstrong ’82, president and CEO, Armstrong Oil and Gas, Inc.
• Outstanding Staff Member – Mary Jane Johnson, executive assistant to President R. Gerald Turner

The Willis M. Tate Award, also given by the Students’ Association, was presented to Ben Voth, director of debate and speech and associate professor of corporate communication and public affairs, Meadows School of the Arts. The award honors an outstanding faculty member who has been involved in student life.

Receiving the Extra Mile Awards, presented by Students for New Learning for graciousness and sensitivity to students with learning differences:

• Matthew Boulanger, lecturer in anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences
• Adreana Julander, senior associate director, Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center
Conchita Villar Martín, lecturer in Spanish, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

The Office of Community Engagement and Leadership presented its Outstanding Faculty/Staff Volunteer Award to Sarah Feuerbacher, director of the Center for Family Counseling at SMU-in-Plano, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. The award honors exemplary community service outside the University.

Superior students

SMU students who received recognition during the Hilltop Excellence Awards included “M” Award winners, recipients of the Presidential Awards of Excellence, and Outstanding Senior honorees, as well as several winners of special awards.

Student recipients of the “M” Award:

• Anna Bender
• Madeleine Case
• Richmond Dewan
• DeAngelo Garner
• Will Jones
• Matthew Lucci
• Jessica Pires-Jancose
• David Shirzad
• Angela Wang
• Karly Zrake

Other students recognized with special awards include:

• Jacquelyn Elias – James E. Caswell Award, based on contributions to resident student life
• Raven Harding – Umphrey Lee Award, based on involvement in the SMU community
• Ray Cipriano – Avella Winn Hay Award, based on scholarship, character and contribution to the SMU community

Receiving John L. Freehafer Awards based on recipients’ interest in student life, activities and government are:

• Hannah Ali
• Rachel Bergeson
• James “Peach” Kuchler
• Ryan Lozano
• Clinton Osifo
• Taylor Vinson

Presidential Awards of Excellence:

• Bryson Clark – Scholar/Athlete Award
• Alexandra Rutherford – Scholar/Leader Award
• Ekiomoado Olumese – Scholar/Volunteer Award

SMU Dads’ Club – Outstanding Senior Man Award:

• Chikwarauzo Isaac Oti

SMU Mothers’ Club – Outstanding Senior Woman Award:

• Nivethitha Manohar

Office of the Chaplain – Sheri Mooney Memorial Scholarship Award:

• Mary Parker Johnstone
• Erin Walsh

Women and LGBT Center – Emmie V. Baine Legacy Award:

• Sydney Clark

Students receiving the A. Kenneth Pye Outstanding Greek Leader Award:

• Drew Benson
• Blair Betik
• Charmion Davis
• Samantha Klaassen
• Ian McManus
• Chad Solomon