SMU Relay For Life team wins top place for cancer fund-raising, event returns to campus April 5, 2014

SMU Relay For Life 2014 graphicSMU’s Relay For Life team won first place among the top 25 collegiate relay teams by raising more than $29,000 in pledges in a 72-hour fundraising event to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Following up on the pledges, SMU will hold its 11th annual Relay For Life walk-and-run event from noon-midnightSaturday, April 5.

>  Learn more about SMU Relay For Life on Facebook

Relay For Life is designed to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local campus, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path.

SMU won the #1 Relay Challenge March 3-5, where the top 25 collegiate relay teams from 2013 competed in an online challenge to see who could raise the most Relay for Life pledge money in a 72-hour period.

“The campus-wide effort behind our victory in the #1 Relay competition was truly humbling,” said Liz Blumberg, SMU Relay For Life event chair. “We could not be more proud of the SMU community and the compassion, commitment and generosity displayed over a whirlwind 72 hours.”

Register for or donate to an event at

SMU Relay For Life took top honors after defeating defending champion Virginia Tech by a more than $7,000 margin by combining social media outreach, phone campaigns and emailing.  The University of Georgia came in second and Virginia Tech placed third.

Campus festivities kick off at noon Saturday, April 5, with an opening ceremony followed by a survivors and caregivers lap at 12:15 p.m. Lanterns will be lit at 8:30 p.m. in memory of or to honor a person with cancer, with each luminaria personalized with a name, photo, message or drawing. Luminarias can be purchased prior to the event for $10.

Closing ceremonies will take place at 11:30 p.m.

Relay for Life began in Tacoma, Washington, with the initiative of one man, Dr. Gordy Klatt. In May 1985 he ran a track for 24 hours and, with the support of his friends, family and the community, raised $27,000. Relay for Life is now the largest nonprofit activity in the world. It takes place in more than 20 countries and has raised more than $4 billion to fight cancer.

Written by Christina Voss

> Visit the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event finder

SMU Psychology partners with Pakistani women’s university

Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women’s University
(l. to r.) Javed Azam, program director at SMU; Nawal Shuaib, Ph.D. student and lecturer at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University; SMU Associate Psychology Professor Lorelei Simpson Rowe; SMU Psychology Professor George Holden, project director; Farhana Jahangir, Vice Chancellor of SBBWU; Mahwish Asmatullah, Quality Assurance at SBBWU; and Faiza Khan and Neelam Ehsan, both students and lecturers at SBBWU.

The Department of Psychology in SMU’s Dedman College, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State, will work with a women’s university in Peshawar, Pakistan to strengthen that institution’s psychology studies and promote better understanding between the United States and Pakistan.

The three-year agreement between SMU and the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women’s University is scheduled to run through January 2016 and totals more than $1 million.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Psychology Department as we form our first international partnership, and we look forward to sharing our expertise in research and clinical work to strengthen the psychology department at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University,” said George Holden, SMU psychology professor and project director.

“This grant will also allow us, through scholarly exchange visits, to develop research collaborations and learn from Pakistani colleagues.”

The partnership has five specific goals:

  • Enhancing faculty development through faculty exchange programs and distance learning courses
  • Facilitating the growth of the curriculum, teaching and research at SBBWU
  • To improve the SBBWU Psychology Clinic’s capacity to provide assessments and therapy for the people of Peshawar
  • To develop a psychology center at SBBWU that will be a resource center and sponsor an annual conference
  • To create cross-cultural research collaborations

Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University was established in 2005, with a primary objective to provide quality education to female students in accordance with modern trends. Since 2012, enrollment has risen to 4,600 students in 18 different departments. In addition to rising enrollment, 16 colleges have become affiliated with the university with more than 5,000 additional registered students.

The participants from SMU consist of three psychology faculty members including George Holden, psychology professor and project director; Robert Hampson, associate professor of psychology; and Lorelei Rowe, associate professor of psychology. Javed Azam, M.B.A, MSc., is the program director.

“This grant affords our department, one that has been in existence for more than 90 years, a wonderful opportunity to share our expertise with a developing department founded less than 10 years ago,” said Holden. “In the process of helping them gain expertise in psychological education, research and counseling, we too will be enriched through our collaborations.”

Written by Christina Voss

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SMU student event raises funds and awareness for the homeless

Mustang Heroes Sleep in a Box event 2012
SMU students participating in Mustang Heroes’ 2012 “Sleep in a Box” event collect supplies from an organizer’s table. Photo by Christina Voss.

Mustang Heroes, an SMU organization dedicated to creating sustainable and engaging volunteer opportunities for students, recently hosted “Sleep in a Box” – an event to raise awareness of homelessness in the Dallas community.

The Sept. 22, 2012 event raised approximately $2,000 through donations from students who paid to participate in the event. The funds were donated to Vogel Alcove, a childcare center for the homeless.

Students painted their own boxes for a decorating competition and watched a screening of “The Pursuit of Happyness,” a biographical drama of American businessman Chris Gardner’s struggle with homelessness.

Daniel Poku, co-founder of Mustang Heroes, was the featured speaker and discussed viewing the homeless in a personal way. Participating SMU organizations included New Century Scholars, Alternative Breaks and Tri Delta.

Mustang Heroes president and co-founder Carissa Grisham said that she hopes the event “broke some stereotypes and underlined the importance of volunteerism, activism and philanthropy to my peers.”

“The event was a fun and interactive way for SMU students to broaden their horizons and become more aware about the issues affecting Dallas, especially the issue of homelessness,” said Kim Janice, a Mustang Heroes member and event participant.

> Read the full story from SMU News
> See a slide show from the 2012 “Sleep in a Box” event slide show icon
> Learn more about Mustang Heroes online

James A. Baker III to receive 2012 Tower Center Medal of Freedom

James A Baker IIIFormer U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III, will receive the Medal of Freedom from SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies during formal ceremonies at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 in McFarlin Auditorium. The Tower Center Medal of Freedom is presented every two years to an individual, or individuals, who have furthered the cause of freedom throughout the world.

This event is free to all SMU students, faculty and staff, but tickets are required. Students, faculty and staff should come to the McFarlin basement at 5 p.m. to receive two complimentary tickets per SMU ID. Business casual attire is suggested.

“James Baker is one of our country’s most accomplished statesmen and has provided strong, diplomatic leadership and a collaborative approach to politics throughout his career,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.  “He led policies and progress that secured our nation’s presence on the world stage. We are proud to present him with the Tower Center Medal of Freedom.”

Baker’s public service and scholarship extend from the Cold War through the Arab Spring. He served in senior government positions under three different American presidents – Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Baker is honorary chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and a senior partner in the law firm of Baker Botts.

Baker continues to wield influence on various national and international issues. At a recent conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Baker commented on America’s national debt crisis:

“A broad bipartisan agreement is going to be necessary if we’re going to be able to stabilize our debt,” Baker said. “It is critical that Americans of goodwill, Republicans, Democrats and independents alike push our elected officials to make the compromises necessary to get on a sustainable economic track. The alternative of political gridlock and a diminished place for the United States in the global economic arena is unacceptable.”

The Tower Center, located within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, supports teaching and research programs in international and domestic politics with an emphasis on global studies and national security policy. Additionally, it educates undergraduates in international relations, comparative politics and political institutions.

Tower Center Medal of FreedomThe Tower Center Medal of Freedom recognizes individuals who have contributed to the advancement of democratic ideals and to the security, prosperity and welfare of humanity. This year’s event chairs are Gene Jones, Linda Gibbons and Nancy Halbreich.

Written by Christina Voss

> Read the full story at SMU News

SMU’s 9th annual Relay For Life scheduled for April 13-14, 2012

Survivors, caregivers and supporters walked all night during SMU's 2011 Relay For Life cancer fundraiser. Photo credit: Clayton T. Smith.

More than 2,000 SMU community members will walk all night to raise money and awareness for cancer research during the University’s 9th annual Relay For Life cancer fundraiser.

The 2012 event takes place from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday, April 13-14, on Bishop Boulevard. Funds raised will benefit the American Cancer Society.

The 12-hour walk – open to all SMU faculty, staff and students – is meant to remind the community that cancer never sleeps and that the fight against it must always move forward. SMU’s goal is to raise $116,000.

In just two months, SMU first-year student Kathryn Schaible, whose father died of melanoma when she was 14, has already raised $20,000 in pledges for the cause.

“I know how cancer can break a family down and change your life,” Schaible said. “The Relay For Life fundraising experience has been much more than raising money. It has given me the opportunity to spread awareness, and talk about treatment and prevention. Educating people and sharing my story has kept me committed to this project.”

An opening ceremony on Friday will honor cancer survivors. Following the ceremony, events such as a wing-eating contest, Zumba and yoga classes, a movie on the lawn and a car smash will keep supporters entertained until the walk ends at 5 a.m. on Saturday.

Live entertainment starts at 5 p.m. Friday and will include performances by the Empower Africa dancers, the Mustang Mavericks country-western dance team, the Empowered Hip Hop dancers, the Stephanie Little Band, Spencer Fox, MOVE, TREAT, and SMU’s student a cappella singing groups Belle Tones and Southern Gentlemen.

Sponsors include the Willits Foundation, EPIC, the SMU Student Senate, United Health Services, IFC, WestPoint Financial Group, Mass Mutual, Baylor Hospitals, UPS, Hannon Hydraulics and Blackberry.

Visit for details on donations and participation.

Written by Christina Voss

SMU community raises funds for Japan earthquake and tsunami victims

Japan quake relief T-shirt created for SMU fund-raising effortsThe Japanese Association at Southern Methodist University (JASMU) will raise funds for victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami through an upcoming lecture and T-shirt sales.

The newly formed organization is led by Yuri Kimura, a Ph.D. candidate in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; Noritoshi Hiyama, who is pursuing an M.B.A. in the Cox School of Business; and Isaac Saito, who is pursuing an M.S. in systems engineering in Lyle School of Engineering.

“We hated seeing what was happening in our country, and we wanted to do something to help as quickly as possible,” Kimura says. “We hope others on the SMU campus and around Dallas will join us in our quest to raise funds for those in need in Japan.”

Two SMU faculty members with unique perspectives on the Japanese earthquake will speak at a public fund-raising lecture at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, in Room 123, Fondren Science Building.

Dedman College Dean William Tsutsui was in Tokyo at the time of the earthquake as a member of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation. He will be joined by Brian Stump, Albritton Professor of Geological Sciences in Dedman College, a recognized seismology expert who leads a national university consortium funded by the National Science Foundation and works with the U.S. Geological Survey to manage global earthquake data.

Admission to the lecture is $10; SMU students will be admitted free with campus ID. Proceeds will benefit disaster relief efforts in Japan. RSVP online at the JASMU website.

In addition, JASMU will sell a fund-raising T-shirt designed by its members, priced at $20. The shirt features images of a crane and Mt. Fuji, both symbols of Japan, with a large wave symbolizing the recent disaster. “We hope that Japanese people will find a way to recover from the 2011 Japan earthquake just like cranes rising into the sun,” the students write on the JASMU homepage.

Half Price Books donated the assistance of its design team and covered the cost of the T-shirts and production, ensuring that all money raised through the T-shirts can go directly to relief efforts in Japan. The money will be given to the American Red Cross through SMU’s Institute for the Study of Earth and Man (ISEM).

The SMU community can buy the T-shirts for the first time during the Cox School of Business 7th Annual International Festival. Sales will take place 5:30-8:30 p.m. March 25 in the James M. Collins Executive Education Center.

Additional shirt sales will take place March 28, 29 and 31, and on April 1 and 8 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The shirts will go on sale from 2-6 p.m. April 9-10 at the Half Price Books Dallas flagship store, 5803 East Northwest Highway.

The shirts will also be available at the April 12 campus lecture and from SMU’s booth at the Earth Day Dallas event, April 22-23 in the Dallas Arts District.

For more information on the upcoming events, visit the Japanese Association at SMU website, or call Yuri Kimura at 214-909-0786.

Written by Christina Voss