$10 million gift will establish Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement in SMU’s Cox School of Business

Marci Armstrong, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs at SMU Cox - Albert Niemi, Dean of the SMU Cox School of Business - Harold (Hal) Brierley
Hal Brierley (right) with Cox Dean Albert Niemi and Cox Associate Dean Marci Armstrong.

The nation’s first academic institute devoted to the study of customer engagement will be based in SMU’s Cox School of Business thanks to a $10 million gift from Diane and Harold (Hal) Brierley.

A pioneer in database marketing and customer loyalty programs, Hal Brierley is perhaps best known as the only consultant for the launch of American Airlines’ AAdvantage program, the nation’s first frequent traveler program. The Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement will support a critical and growing business need: capturing customer attention in what Brierley has described as “a time-starved, social media-obsessed environment.”

The gift – among the largest in the history of the Cox School – will be formally announced at a ceremony on the SMU campus in the James M. Collins Executive Education Center at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14.

“It is an honor for SMU and the Cox School of Business to serve as home of the Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are grateful for the Brierleys’ foresight and their generous gift to establish endowments and provide operational funding that will support curricular innovation, graduate scholarships and faculty leadership to address the issue of building and maintaining customer relationships.”

Hal Brierley
Hal Brierley

The ceremony will be followed by a 5 p.m. panel discussion, also in the Collins Center, focusing on customer engagement insights for the future. Panelists will include John Deighton, Baker Foundation Professor and Harold M. Brierley Professor Emeritus of Business Administration at Harvard Business School; Karen Katz, CEO & President of Neiman Marcus; Suzanne Rubin, former president of American Airlines AAdvantage program; Hal Brierley; and Marci Armstrong, SMU Cox associate dean of graduate programs. SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Currall will host the panel discussion.

“This gift will greatly enrich our marketing concentration, provide extra funding and create depth,” said Cox Dean Albert Niemi. “The Brierley name is magic in customer engagement. Hal will have an office here and serve as an executive-in-residence. He’ll be engaged in the classroom with our students. Both his gift and his presence will strengthen the program.”

“It’s more than serendipity when the right program comes to the right University,” said Currall. “Our existing course offerings within the Cox School are a strong foundation for the new Brierley Institute, and we look forward to partnerships with other disciplines across campus, which will multiply the Institute’s value to our students and faculty members.”

“I look forward to having Dallas and SMU viewed as a center of excellence in customer relationship management,” said Hal Brierley. “I’m pleased that SMU Cox has stepped up to create effective curricula to teach tomorrow’s marketers the techniques that are essential to design and manage successful customer loyalty programs. The Brierley Institute will take an active role in advancing the techniques employed by consumer brands for their current and future customer engagement efforts.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

Steven C. Currall named SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs

Steven C. CurrallSteven C. Currall, whose record of academic leadership includes achievements at Rice University, University College London and the University of California-Davis, has been named vice president for academic affairs and provost at SMU, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Currall, a psychological scientist, becomes SMU’s chief academic officer as the University begins its second century of operation. He will oversee all aspects of academic life, including admission, faculty development, libraries, the curriculum and study abroad. He will supervise SMU’s seven degree-granting schools and will hold departmental appointments in three of them – Management and Organizations in the Cox School of Business; Engineering Management, Information, and Systems in the Lyle School of Engineering; and Psychology in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

Most recently, Currall served as senior advisor for strategic projects and initiatives to the UC Davis chancellor, and previously served as dean of the Graduate School of Management at UC-Davis.

“Steven Currall brings the perfect combination of experience and skills to lead SMU’s rise among the nation’s best universities,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He brings interdisciplinary perspectives that are central to our academic mission going forward. He possesses expertise in the sciences and technology as well as in the humanities and social sciences, insights that are critical for SMU’s progress and that reflect the challenges and opportunities of a complex society. We are delighted to welcome him to SMU and back to Texas.”

“I am thrilled and honored to join the SMU community as the next provost,” Currall said. “SMU has a foundation of academic excellence, its teaching and research are transformational, and its interdisciplinary ethos fosters innovations by faculty and students that are positively impacting Dallas, the state of Texas, the nation, and beyond.  I am grateful to President Turner and the search committee for the opportunity to serve SMU. I look forward to listening, learning, and partnering with my colleagues to propel SMU into an ever higher orbit.”

Currall served as dean of the Graduate School of Management at UC-Davis for more than five years, during which time the school reached the highest ranking in its history, before becoming the chancellor’s advisor. He describes himself as an “organizational architect” and has conducted research in organizational behavior, innovation, entrepreneurship, emerging technologies, trust and negotiation, and organizational governance.

He is lead author on Organized Innovation: A Blueprint for Renewing America’s Prosperity (Oxford University Press, 2014) and a frequently quoted source for national and international media.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Currall received his Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; a master of science in social psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science; and a bachelor of arts cum laude in psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

As chancellor’s advisor at UC-Davis, Currall has facilitated campus-wide deliberations on the university’s strategic vision for its role in the 21st century, including how UC-Davis will address global challenges relating to food, health, and energy. He developed plans for an additional UC-Davis campus in Sacramento. He co-led development of a blueprint for increasing annual research expenditures to $1billion. He led the development of a new framework for recognizing faculty excellence and a methodology for eliminating faculty salary disparities due to gender or ethnicity.

Currall also has served as the vice chair and member of the executive committee of  the board of directors for the 10-campus University of California system’s Global Health Institute.

He spent 12 years at Rice University, where he was the William and Stephanie Sick Professor of Entrepreneurship in the George R. Brown School of Engineering and a Rice faculty member in the departments of management, psychology, and statistics.   He was founding director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. He was formerly vice dean of enterprise and professor of management science and innovation in the Faculty of Engineering Sciences at University College London and a visiting professor at the London Business School.

At the invitation of the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Currall served as a member of the Nanotechnology Technical Advisory Group. His other honors include:

Currall’s appointment ends a nationwide search through a committee led by SMU Cox School of Business Dean Albert Niemi.

“Steve Currall will be an outstanding addition to the SMU leadership team,” said Niemi. “In particular, his background in strategy and planning will be a tremendous asset as SMU embarks on a new strategic plan for 2016-2025.”

“I want to thank Steve for his dedication to UC-Davis over the years, and in particular while he served as my senior advisor during this last year,” UC-Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said. “Steve will bring to Southern Methodist University strong academic leadership and a deep understanding of the needs of students, faculty and staff. We know he will contribute to and help advance the wonderful culture and distinguished reputation of SMU.”

Currall will be joined in Dallas by his wife, Cheyenne Currall, Ph.D. Read Currall’s full curriculum vitae.

Faculty in the News: Dec. 14, 2010

Al Niemi, Dean, Cox School of Business, and Cox faculty members discussed how unemployment and the lack of job creation could make 2011 a worse economic year than 2010 in an article that appeared in The Dallas Business Journal Dec. 9, 2010.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, talked with The Calgary Herald about the political implications of establishment Republicans’ recent questioning of Sarah Palin’s fitness for elected office. The article appeared in the paper’s Dec. 4, 2010 edition. He also talked with The Houston Chronicle about Texas Governor Rick Perry’s plans to take his anti-Washington message national as the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association. The story was published Dec. 5, 2010.

William Lawrence, Dean, Perkins School of Theology, talked about how fear can be supplanted by hope in a commentary for KERA 90.1 FM public radio that aired Dec. 8, 2010. Listen to Lawrence’s KERA broadcast here. audio

In addition, Lawrence discussed whether a Dallas-based website identifying businesses as “naughty” for not acknowledging Christmas is inappropriate for the season with The Dallas Morning News Dec. 8, 2010. He also wrote about the moral argument in favor of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act for the DMN’s “Texas Faith” column.

Nathan Cortez, SMU Dedman School of LawBud Weinstein, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, discussed with The Dallas Morning News the possible effects on Texas if Congress votes to let Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire. The article appeared in the Dec. 2, 2010 edition.

Michael Cox, O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom, Cox School of Business, provided expertise for a Steve Blow column about what it means to call Texas “business friendly.” The piece ran in The Dallas Morning News Dec. 2, 2010.

Nathan Cortez (right), Dedman School of Law, talked with CBS 11 News about the battle between BlueCross BlueShield and Texas Health Resources that was precipitated by new requirements on insurers in the new health care law. The segment aired Dec. 2, 2010. Watch CBS 11 reporter Jack Fink’s story here. video

Cox School’s full-time M.B.A. program ranked #12 by Bloomberg Businessweek

SMU's Cox School of Business quadSMU’s Cox School of Business has announced that its full-time M.B.A. program has been ranked #12 among business schools in the United States by Bloomberg Businessweek – up from #18 in the publication’s last ranking (in 2008) of full-time programs.

To compile the ranking, Bloomberg Businessweek surveyed M.B.A. graduates from the class of 2010 and the recruiters who hire them. The M.B.A. surveys and the recruiter polls each contribute 45% to the final ranking, with an intellectual-capital ranking contributing the final 10%.

Cox graduates gave the faculty an A+ for teaching and an A for career services. Recruiters gave the 2010 grads an A+ for analytical skills and an A+ for general management skills.

This ranking solidifies the Cox School’s ranking among the top 15 for all of its graduate programs. Bloomberg Businessweek also ranks Cox #9 and #15 worldwide for its Executive M.B.A. and Professional M.B.A. programs, respectively.

The ranking comes on the heels of other good news for the Cox School: This fall, The Economist ranked the Cox full-time M.B.A. program #13 in the world for the international breadth of its alumni network. The magazine ranked Cox among the top 15 schools in the world for potential to network, alumni effectiveness and faculty quality.

Also this fall, the Financial Times ranked the Cox E.M.B.A. program #6 in the world for its entrepreneurship program and #3 in the world for finance.

“Our students and recruiters have spoken, and the Cox School has again received glowing recognition,” said Cox Dean Albert W. Niemi Jr. “Having a top-ranked M.B.A. program begins with an outstanding faculty and offering admission to students with strong academic and professional backgrounds. However, regardless of the continual ebb and flow of the rankings, the Cox School continues to place the greatest emphasis on providing a classroom environment that allows our students to learn not just from our tremendous faculty but also from each other.”

“We are so proud of our 2010 graduates and our Career Management Center for offering tireless, one-on-one guidance and counseling in a very difficult economy,” said Marci Armstrong, associate dean of graduate programs. “Our small, private-school environment offers a highly-personalized experience for students and recruiters, and we are honored to have earned this recognition.”

> Learn more about the survey and its methodology from SMU News

Faculty in the News: Nov. 30, 2010

Mike Davis on KXAS TVAnne Lincoln, Sociology, Dedman College, provided expertise for a story on declining male enrollment in veterinary colleges that appeared in The Toronto Star Nov. 29, 2010.

Mike Davis (left), Finance, Cox School of Business, talked about the marketing challenges faced by older shopping malls in their quest to retain young shoppers for a segment that aired on KXAS Channel 5 News Nov. 26, 2010. Watch the KXAS News video in a new window. video

Jeffrey Kahn, Dedman School of Law, provided expertise for an editorial about Russia’s “dictatorship of law” and its treatment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former owner of the country’s largest oil company. The piece appeared in The New York Times Nov. 20, 2010.

Bud Weinstein, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, wrote about addressing the United States’ deficit problem in an op-ed that appeared in AOL News Nov. 12, 2010.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about the political gamesmanship surrounding the START treaty with The San Francisco Examiner Nov. 18, 2010.

Dan Howard, Marketing, Cox School of Business, discussed Pizza Hut’s marketing strategy in its use of employees in its advertising for a story that appeared in The Dallas Morning News Nov. 17, 2010.

Al Niemi, Dean, Cox School of Business, provided expertise for a column by Cheryl Hall on how the Federal Reserve’s second round of “quantitative easing” is meant to help the American public. The piece appeared in The Dallas Morning News Nov. 10, 2010.