Honors students explore ‘The Immigrant Experience’

SMU students Pia Lara and Ashley Michelle Howe with Meredith VieiraDuring Spring Break, 15 SMU honors students visited New York, where they explored 130-year-old tenement rooms on the Lower East Side, staged an impromptu performance at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and traced family histories at Ellis Island.

The students toured the city as part of the Honors Cultural Formations course “The Immigrant Experience,” which has focused this term on New York as a city of immigration throughout America’s history.

“The students saw firsthand what they have been reading about in class,” says Caroline Brettell, Dedman Family Distinguished Professor of Anthropology in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, who teaches the course. “They experienced the rich and layered history of the city as well as its hyper-diversity. They saw the impact immigrants have on cities – how they claim space and construct neighborhoods.”

SMU’s Richter Fellowship Program, which has supported independent research at the University since 1999, funded the class trip as a way of getting students outside the traditional curriculum. Each student who participated will complete an independent research paper.

(Above, students Pia Lara and Ashley Michelle Howe with “Today” show host Meredith Vieira on the street outside the NBC television studios.)

Read more and see a slide show from SMU News. slide show

Physician Robert Haley is 2008 Dedman College Distinguished Graduate

Robert W. Haley and relativesDr. Robert Ware Haley, whose research has helped improve hospital care and define the symptoms of Gulf War syndrome, was honored as the 2008 Dedman College Distinguished Graduate during the Dedman College Celebration May 7.

The ceremony also honored Anthropology Professor Caroline Brettell for her service as Dedman College interim dean from 2006 to 2008.

Dennis Foster, D.D. Frensley Professor of English, was named the Dedman Family Distinguished Professor. English and history major Jessica Erwin was honored as the Robert and Nancy Dedman Outstanding Senior Student.

Right, Robert W. Haley (second row center) gathers with SMU President R. Gerald Turner (fourth from right) and a few of the 21 Haley family members who have graduated from the University.

Haley: SMU faculty among “formative influences”

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Faculty in the News: April 3, 2008

Fred Moss, Law, spoke with The Dallas Morning News March 28, 2008, about a Dallas judge’s unusual order for a new trial in the case of Ben Spencer, who is serving a life sentence for the 1987 murder of businessman Jeffrey Young.

David Freidel, Anthropology, provided expertise on the recent return to Mexico of stolen artifacts, believed to be pre-Columbian, that have been captured in Texas and New Mexico. His comments appeared in The Dallas Morning News April 2, 2008.

Caroline Brettell, Anthropology, talked about how high-tech industry has affected the new immigration boom with The Dallas Morning News April 1, 2008. She is a co-author of Twenty-First Century Gateways, a new book on immigration featuring the Dallas experience.

For the Record: Oct. 18, 2007

J.C. Penney's Christmas catalogJoan Gosnell, Central University Libraries, discussed some little-known facts about the J.C. Penney story, including information culled from SMU’s JCPenney Collection, with the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner Oct. 6, 2007. (Right, an image from an early J.C. Penney Company Christmas catalog.)

Craig Flournoy, Journalism, has been recognized by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation at the University of Texas at Austin as one of eight Texans who helped improve the lives of those who live in their communities. Read more.

Three music professors in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts have been selected for 2007 ASCAPlus Awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in New York. José Bowen, Robert Frank and Simon Sargon received the cash awards, whose purpose is to reward composers “whose works have a unique prestige value for which adequate compensation would not otherwise be received, and to compensate those whose works are performed substantially in media not surveyed by ASCAP.”

Caroline Brettell, Anthropology, is co-author (with her graduate student Kristoffer Alstatt) of “The Agency of Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Biographies of the Self-Employed in Ethnic and Occupational Niches of the Urban Labor Market,” published in The Journal of Anthropological Research, 63 (3), 2007. A book she co-edited with James Hollifield, Political Science – Migration Theory: Talking Across Disciplines – has entered its second edition.

Kamal Saggi, Economics, has been appointed an associate editor of the Indian Growth and Development Review. He will present a paper at the Conference on the Economics of Competition and Innovation Oct. 26-27 at the University of California-Berkeley.

Beth Newman, English, read a paper titled “The Vulgarity of Elegance: Social Mobility, Middle-Class Language, and the Victorian Novel” at the North American Victorian Studies Association conference in Victoria, British Columbia. The paper was excerpted from an essay that will appear in a collection titled Victorian Vulgarity, forthcoming from Ashgate Publishing.

Mark Vamos, Journalism, talked about the rollout of the FOX Business Network in The New York Daily News Oct. 12, 2007.

Peter Vogel, Law, discussed the increasing lack of usefulness of e-mail disclaimers in The Dallas Morning News Oct. 10, 2007.

Marianne Piepenburg, Development, discussed the tax benefits and other considerations involved in bequeathing a house or other real property to an alma mater through a retained life estate in the July 2007 issue of Kiplinger’s Retirement Report.

Dallas Hall model is alumna’s labor of love

Mildred Henderson Grinstead and Caroline Brettell with Dallas Hall modelAs a studio arts student at SMU, Mildred Henderson Grinstead (’54) had her classes on the third floor of Dallas Hall. Now, more than 50 years later, she has given the University a 30-inch-tall, 82-inch-long wood model she designed and built, working off the building’s 1912 blueprints. Read more. (Left, Grinstead, at right in photo, with Dedman College Interim Dean Caroline Brettell.)

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Dallas Hall dwellers honor restoration workers

Ray Noesen and Paul Lee with Caroline BrettellFaculty, staff and administrators who work in Dallas Hall held a reception Aug. 16 to honor the restoration artists who have spent the summer painting and gilding the Rotunda. Ray Noesen (left) and Paul Lee of Conrad Schmitt Studios Inc. joined Interim Dean Caroline Brettell and other community members to celebrate the project’s completion — just in time for the Aug. 22 Rotunda Passage of SMU’s centennial class of 2011.

The artisans’ biggest challenge was working in an occupied building, Noesen said. Most of his team’s historic restoration work takes place in closed areas, while Dallas Hall kept normal hours all summer for classes, tours and administrative work. “But when 50 people go in and out of the same door at the same time every day, you figure out how to work around it,” he laughed.

“Those of us who work here have watched this process in awe. As we approach our centennial, what has happened in this Rotunda will become a powerful symbol for what is happening all over the University,” said Brettell, who called Noesen’s and Lee’s work “spectacular.”