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Dallas Police Chief David Brown receives SMU’s 2017 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award

“I’m [here] because of J. Erik Jonsson”: Retired Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown shared a personal story of how the iconic Dallas mayor impacted his family’s lives as he accepted the Jonsson Ethics Award from SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility March 21, 2017.

A version of this story was originally posted Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, and updated Monday, March 20, 2017.

Retired Dallas Chief of Police David O. Brown, who in July 2016 helped lead the city through the anguished days following the ambush shooting deaths of five police officers, received the 2017 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at a luncheon on March 21, 2017, at the Belo Mansion.

“Chief David Brown has demonstrated by his words and his actions all of the leadership qualities we had in mind when the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award was created,” said Bobby Lyle, SMU trustee and Maguire Ethics Center board member. “He has led our community with courage and integrity during our brightest days and our darkest hours. He has set standards for public and community service that we would all do well to emulate. I can think of no one more deserving of this prestigious award that bears the name of one of Dallas’ most admired leaders.”

Brown, a Dallas native who was born and raised in South Oak Cliff, is a 33-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department and the department’s longest-serving chief in modern times. He was sworn in as Dallas’ 28th police chief in May 2010, commanding a department with more than 4,000 employees and an annual operating budget of $426 million dollars. Brown has announced he will retire Oct. 4, 2016.

Building and maintaining strong, transparent relationships with the community has been Brown’s focus since he took the top position. During his tenure, Brown transitioned the department to a community-policing focused organization and implemented policies and training to ensure citizen and officer safety. He also expanded several community outreach programs and youth centered programs.

Brown implemented policies and training to ensure citizen and officer safety during interactions, and emphasized the importance of de-escalation training for his officers. Under Brown’s leadership, the Dallas Police Department reduced the use of deadly force by more than 40 percent and reduced excessive force complaints by more than 80 percent.

“This award recognizes those who face hard decisions and whose mettle is tested,” said Rita Kirk, Maguire Center director. “Chief Brown personifies the struggle of leaders trying to do the right thing during periods of intense pressure. Our community is stronger because of his leadership, particularly in the wake of recent events. His actions during those days not only reflected the character of our community to other cities around the world who watched, but also left us united, stronger, and more hopeful that we will overcome any obstacle to make this a better city for all our citizens.”

Brown is the 20th recipient of the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award. Past honorees include Terry J. Flowers, Lyda Hill, Gail Griffin Thomas, Nancy Ann & Ray Hunt, Walter J. Humann, Ruth S. Altshuler, Bob Buford, Ronald G. Steinhart, Michael M. Boone, Zan W. Holmes Jr., Roger Staubach, Caren Prothro, Tom Luce, Ron Anderson, Jack Lowe Jr., William T. Solomon, Stanley H. Marcus, Charles C. Sprague and Curtis W. Meadows Jr.

— Kenny Ryan

March 23, 2017|Calendar Highlights, News, Tune In|

SMU Guildhall named #1 for game design in The Princeton Review‘s 2017 rankings

SMU GuildhallSMU Guildhall, No. 1 graduate program ranking has risen to the top spot among the world’s best graduate game-design programs in The Princeton Review’s eighth annual report, published March 21, 2017.

At No. 1, SMU Guildhall ranks above the No. 2 Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at UCF. Other schools in the top 25 include the University of Utah, Rochester Institute of Technology, USC, NYU, Drexel, Abertay University (Dundee, Scotland), DePaul, Michigan State, Ohio State, MIT, the University of Malta in Msida, and the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition, SMU Guildhall ranks higher than two other top-25 graduate programs in Texas: the University of Texas-Dallas (No. 14) and Texas A&M (No. 17).

> See the full list of graduate and undergraduate game-design program rankings at princetonreview.com

The Guildhall created its Master of Interactive Technology degree as the only program of its kind in the world. Designed with ongoing input from industry professionals, the graduate degree provides a rigorous preparation to enter the game development industry at a two-year experience level.

“Becoming the No. 1 graduate game-design school is a tribute to faculty with deep experience, bright and motivated students, a robust network of successful alumni, stellar industry support, cutting-edge curriculum, and a commitment to continual improvement,” said SMU Guildhall Director Gary Brubaker.

The Review determined its rankings based on its 2016 survey of 150 institutions in the United States, Canada, and abroad that offer game design coursework and/or degrees. The 40-question review asked schools to report on everything from academic offerings and faculty credentials to graduates’ starting salaries and employment experience. Curriculum, faculty, facilities, career services, and technology were all among criteria The Princeton Review weighed to make its selections.

The Princeton Review’s reporting partner, PC Gamer magazine, will include a section on the top schools in its May 2017 issue, available on newsstands March 29. It will feature information on degree programs, class offerings, events, prominent professors, and alumni.

> Read the full story from SMU News

March 21, 2017|News|

SMU names search committee for Vice President for Student Affairs

SMU President R. Gerald Turner has appointed the search committee for the University’s next vice president for student affairs.

The position became vacant with the death of Dr. Pamela Anthony in January 2017. Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Life Joanne Vogel currently serves as vice president ad interim.

Vice President for Executive Affairs Harold W. Stanley will chair the search committee. Its members include:

  • Kent Best, executive director, News and Communications, SMU Public Affairs
  • Kelly Hoglund Compton ’79, executive director, The Hoglund Foundation; SMU trustee
  • Joe Davis ’06, ’09, associate dean of admission
  • Renee Gibson ’05, assistant director, Southeast area, Residence Life and Student Housing
  • Donna Gober, senior lecturer and director of wellness, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development
  • Fred Hegi ’66, founding partner, Wingate Partners; SMU trustee
  • Monique Holland, executive senior associate director for administration, SMU Athletics
  • MacKenzie Jenkins, human rights and political science major, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; president, Association of Black Students
  • Jorge Juarez, executive director, Recreational Sports
  • Creston Lynch, director, Multicultural Student Affairs
  • Betty McHone ’06, ’10, assistant chaplain and coordinator of religious life
  • Blake Rainey, business management and management science major, student body president
  • David Son, professor of chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; faculty-in-residence, Boaz Commons
  • R. Haynes Strader Jr. ’11, CBRE, alumnus
  • Jake Torres ’11, graduate student, Dedman School of Law; student trustee
  • Lt. Bernie Trujillo, Patrol Operations, SMU Police

Mai Bui will serve the committee as liaison to Human Resources. Valerie Benjamin will support the committee, which welcomes input from the SMU community regarding possible candidates for the position. The higher education search firm of Isaacson, Miller will assist the University in the national search.

Inquiries, nominations and applications should be sent in strict confidence to:

Ponneh Varho or Jennifer Carignan
Isaacson, Miller
1300 19th Street NW, Suite 700
Washington DC 20036
www.imsearch.com/6160

March 15, 2017|News|

Composer, SMU graduate student Olga Amelkina-Vera named 2016-17 student composer-in-residence with Irving Symphony

Olga Amelkina-VeraOlga Amelkina-Vera, a master’s student in music composition in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, has been named the 2016-17 Student Composer-in-Residence with the Irving Symphony Orchestra (ISO).

Launched in 2011, the student composer-in-residence program is a unique partnership between SMU Meadows and the ISO. Each year, an undergraduate or graduate Meadows music composition student is selected to serve as a composer-in-residence with the orchestra and to create a commissioned work to be premiered by the ISO. It is the only known program of its kind between a professional orchestra and a university music department.

An annual competition to select the winner is held by a committee composed of two members of the SMU composition faculty and ISO Music Director Hector Guzman ’83, who earned his Master of Music in instrumental conducting at SMU.

Amelkina-Vera won the honor with her piece Cattywampus Rompus (Texas Tarantella), a five-minute composition give the ancient musical “tarantella” form a modern, Texas twist. The piece began as an award-winning work for guitar quartet, but for this commission it has been expanded into a full work for orchestra. It will be premiered by the ISO during its regular season concert on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

“I feel fortunate and grateful to SMU composition faculty members and Maestro Guzman for selecting me for this honor,” she said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about writing for orchestra in a ‘hands-on’ way. I am also enjoying having an inside look at the behind-the-scenes work of rehearsals and outreach with the ISO. Having my work premiered by them will be an invaluable experience!”

“For many professional composers, an orchestral residency is the ‘golden ring’ they aspire to, with only a few getting the opportunity even once,” said Robert Frank, associate professor of composition. “For our students to gain this professional experience and to have a work performed in a concert season by a wonderful orchestra is beyond anything I am aware of at any other university. Olga came to us already holding her D.M.A. in guitar performance, so she has already established a professional performing career as a soloist. This residency gives her the chance to break across disciplines into the composer side of her career, which we have enjoyed helping her develop during her studies in Meadows.”

Amelkina-Vera is the fifth SMU student selected for the ISO Student Composer-in-Residence program. The first was Vince Gover, whose “Let Us Begin Anew…” (a quote from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech) premiered in November 2011 at an ISO concert honoring the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s inauguration. The second winner, Alvin Trotman, premiered Jubilee in November 2012, followed by Jesus Martinez’s Harmonic Tremor in February 2014. Last year’s winner, Michael van der Sloot, premiered a piece titled Cascade in March 2016.

> Read the full story from SMU News

March 10, 2017|For the Record, News|

SMU law students to spend Spring Break 2017 representing detained immigrant women, children in Karnes, Texas

Karnes City Family Detention Center

Detained immigrant children line up in the cafeteria at the Karnes County Residential Center (Photo by Eric Gay of The Associated Press courtesy of National Public Radio)

About an hour outside of San Antonio, hundreds of undocumented immigrant and refugee women and children who fled violence in their home countries are detained at the Karnes City Family Detention Center, faced with the threat of deportation from an administration that wants them gone.

Starting Sunday, March 12, 2017, a team of eight SMU Dedman School of Law students (led by professor and immigration law expert Natalie Nanasi) will spend their spring break providing pro bono legal services to these undocumented immigrants, hoping to win them asylum in the United States.

The Karnes City center, operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been open since 2014, housing women and children who have crossed the border into the South Texas.

“A majority of the Karnes City detainees are coming from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and fleeing gang violence, family violence or some combination thereof,” Nanasi said. “Their trip is supremely dangerous. Many don’t make it, and that’s something important to remember; these people flee because they know that if their daughters stay there, it’s certain they’ll be raped, and if their sons stay there, it’s certain they’ll be kidnapped by gangs.”

— Kenny Ryan

> Read the full story from SMU News

March 10, 2017|Faculty in the News, News|
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