$1 million gift endows Meadows Museum directorship

William and Linda Custard of Dallas
William and Linda Custard of Dallas

A $1 million gift from Linda and William Custard of Dallas will establish and endow the position of Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU. An additional $1 million from The Meadows Foundation will add to the endowment of the position.

Mark Roglán, who has served as director of the Meadows Museum since 2006, will be the first holder of the position of the Custard Director of the Museum and Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts. As the chair of the Meadows Museum Advisory Board since 2009, Linda Custard has worked closely with Roglán in development and expansion of Museum programs.

The Centennial designation is a special gift category during SMU’s 100th anniversary commemoration, 2011-15. Centennial endowments include operational funding to support the immediate needs of a scholarship or academic position while the principal of the endowment matures.

“We are deeply grateful to Linda and Bill Custard for their generosity in establishing this endowed position for the Meadows Museum and Meadows School,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Linda Custard has provided dedicated leadership on the SMU Board of Trustees and the Leadership Council of the Second Century Campaign. This endowed Centennial chair supports one of the campaign’s highest priorities. It brings the total of SMU’s endowed academic positions to 93 toward a goal of 100.”

“Mark Roglán has enhanced the Meadows Museum’s international stature with important new programs, such as a partnership with the Prado Museum in Madrid,” said Linda Custard. “I have been privileged to assist him in implementing some of his exciting plans for the Museum. Bill and I are pleased that we can endow the Museum directorship and delighted that Mark will be the first person to hold the position.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

SMU’s DeGolyer Library celebrates Joe Coomer’s life in letters

Author Joe Coomer, SMU '81
Award-winning author and SMU alumnus Joe Coomer will be celebrated in a retrospective exhibition running through May 24 at SMU’s DeGolyer Library.

The career and achievements of acclaimed author and SMU alumnus Joe Coomer is celebrated in a retrospective exhibition running through Friday, May 24, 2013 in SMU’s DeGolyer Library.

“Joe Coomer: A Life in Letters” explores Coomer’s creative process using handwritten drafts, manuscripts, galleys, letters, first editions, translations and other materials drawn from the literary archive he recently donated to DeGolyer Library.

The gift of more than 20 boxes of materials includes essays and stories, tests, a transcript and other papers from Coomer’s time as an undergraduate in SMU’s creative writing program. He graduated in 1981.

Known for his graceful prose and memorable characters, Coomer has published eight works of fiction, two non-fiction books and one collection of poetry. His writing has been praised by The Boston Globe as “fresh and authentic” and as “compelling” and a “genuine pleasure” by The New York Times.

The Decatur Road: A Novel of the Appalachian Hill Country by Joe Coomer
A 30th-anniversary edition of Joe Coomer’s debut novel, ‘The Decatur Road: A Novel of the Appalachian Hill Country,’ has been published by SMU’s DeGolyer Library. Coomer graduated from the University in 1981.

“Joe Coomer is one of the great voices to emerge from SMU’s English department and creative writing program,” says Russell L. Martin III ’78, ’86, DeGolyer director. “We are honored and delighted to have his papers, where they will join our growing collection of the archives of other contemporary writers. It is also fitting, during SMU’s centennial, that we recognize our own.”

A 30th-anniversary edition of Coomer’s debut novel, The Decatur Road: A Novel of the Appalachian Hill Country, will be published by DeGolyer Library in conjunction with the exhibit. He will sign copies and talk about his work at a reception and lecture Thursday, April 18 as part of the SMU Founders’ Day weekend. The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the library and will be free and open to the public.

First published in 1983, the book won the Jesse A. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984. He started writing the book as an SMU student.

“I wrote three of the short segments for an independent study with Marsh [Terry]. He liked them, so after I graduated, I wrote 55 more,” Coomer says.

Terry ’53, ’54, who retired in 2007 as the E. A. Lilly Professor of English, founded the creative writing program and the SMU Literary Festival and became Coomer’s mentor and friend.

“Joe Coomer transferred into SMU and came to my office in Dallas Hall and asked, ‘Are you the writing teacher?’ I nodded my head and did my best, and Joe turned out to be the leader of our nationally celebrated SMU Literary Festival. John Updike and Raymond Carver heard him read at the festival and were impressed,” Terry recalls.

> Read the full story from SMU News

 

New pope’s age, name, Jesuit history clues to future, says Curran

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., now Pope Francis, in 2008
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., now Pope Francis, in 2008. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

News that Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would become Pope Francis revealed “two significant surprises,” says Father Charles Curran, SMU’s Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values and one of the nation’s foremost experts on Catholic theology.

The first surprise? Pope Francis’ age: “He is 76, and will be 77 this year,” Curran says. “Every bishop and archbishop is expected to retire at age 75, so his age is older than what people thought the new pope’s age would be. Perhaps a precedent has been set with Pope Benedict XVI, and most Cardinals weren’t afraid of going beyond retirement age.”

> Curran in The Houston Chronicle: Picking a pope for the 21st century

Next, his name: “His selection of the name ‘Francis’ after Saint Francis of Assisi reflects that he’s obviously a very simple man,” Curran says. “He gave up the archbishop’s big house in Buenos Aires to live in a modest apartment. He takes public transportation to his office. That says he’s not very high on the trappings of the church.” What’s more, Curran notes, “Everybody loves St. Francis, whether Catholic, Protestant or Jewish. Francis is universally respected for his commitment to peace, poverty and ecology, so one would expect those to be significant issues for the new papacy.”

While Curran doesn’t expect Pope Francis will try to change any great teachings, “I do think he will be more open to dialogue about issues of social importance,” he says. “Having been a Jesuit priest and superior, he is used to having a collegial, brotherly relationship with others — and taking a less down-from-on-high approach to decision making.”

Written by Denise Gee

> More on Pope Francis in The Dallas Morning News

Marriott gift creates Meadows endowed professorship fund

Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist UniversityA new gift of $1 million will create the Marriott Family Endowed Professor Fund in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

SMU parents John W. Marriott III and his wife, Angela C. Marriott, as well as John’s father, J. Willard Marriott Jr., and his wife, Donna Garff Marriott, supported the gift, which was provided through the Marriott Fund of The Columbus Foundation in Columbus, Ohio.

The Marriott gift gives the Meadows School the flexibility to use the funds as needed in support of a professorship focused on any key academic area.

“We are deeply grateful to the Marriott family for their vision and generosity,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “This gift will enable Meadows School of the Arts to strengthen and broaden its academic offerings to prepare students for success in the arts. The gift supports a goal of SMU’s Second Century Campaign to endow 100 faculty positions and brings the current total to 85.”

“The Marriott Family Endowed Professor Fund gives Meadows School of the Arts the flexibility to identify and pursue a strategic priority in its curriculum,” said SMU Provost Paul Ludden. “It will help the school to meet changing needs for arts education and enable students to enhance their creative talents.”

> Read the full story from SMU News
> Visit Meadows School of the Arts online

Barnard, Ehring, Sverdlik receive 2012 Godbey Authors’ Awards

SMU faculty books receiving 2012 Godbey Authors' AwardsThree SMU faculty authors were honored for outstanding books published in 2011 at the 2012 Godbey Lecture Series Authors’ Award Luncheon. The 32nd annual presentation took place Wednesday, April 25.

The Godbey Authors’ Awards are presented by the Godbey Lecture Series in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Honorees are chosen for their outstanding scholarly research, publications and teaching ability. Each receives a prize of $1,000.

The 2012 honorees are:

> Visit the Godbey Lecture Series homepage at smu.edu/godbey

Engineering professor Joe Camp wins 2012 NSF career award

Joseph CampJoseph Camp of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering has earned a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award, given to junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding researchexcellent education and the integration of education and research in American colleges and universities.

Camp, assistant professor and J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Professor of Electrical Engineering, will receive $450,000 over the next 5 years to fund research toward improved wireless network design incorporating low frequencies previously occupied by analog TV signals.

“The FCC has recently reassigned the frequency bands that were previously used by analog TV – that’s why viewers were forced to switch to an analog-to-digital converter,” Camp said. “It opened up a large portion of bandwidth for data communications, creating opportunities for innovative wireless network design.”

Transmission range improves at lower frequencies, as does as the ability of the signal to cut through obstacles, which makes these newly available frequency bands highly desirable for internet transmission. Being able to establish wireless networks with fewer transmission towers could result in lowering the cost of service delivery in some cases.

“Alongside these policy changes, wireless hardware is becoming increasingly complex and capable of supporting more bands,” Camp said. “As a result, the simple question becomes, ‘How do we use the simultaneous access to many different types of frequency bands to improve wireless network performance?’”

The NSF is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won more than 180 Nobel Prizes.

“Joe’s highly competitive NSF award recognizes the extraordinary value of his work and his commitment to share his discoveries and knowledge with students,” said Lyle Dean Geoffrey Orsak. “We are fortunate to have him at the Lyle School and very proud that Joe represents the sixth NSF CAREER awardee on our faculty. Given the small size of our faculty, this is a remarkably strong showing.”

> Read more from SMU News
> Visit SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering homepage

Charles Wood elected president-elect of the American Theological Society

Charles M. Wood, SMU's Lehman Professor of Christian DoctrineCharles M. Wood, Lehman Professor of Christian Doctrine in SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, has been elected vice-president and president-elect of the American Theological Society. The ATS, which celebrates its centenary in 2012, is the oldest theological society in the United States. Wood will serve as vice-president in 2011-12 and president in 2012-13.

“Professor Wood’s election is a truly prestigious honor,” said Perkins Dean William Lawrence. “The decision by the Society to select him as its President recognizes his career of contributions to systematic theology. He is only the second person in the history of SMU to be chosen for this honor.”

According to Professor Peter Slater, a past president of the ATS, “Membership in the American Theological Society is by election only of no more than one hundred active members … who are recognized by their peers for their contributions to ongoing research into issues of concern to systematic theologians.”

A native of Colorado, Wood received his B.A. degree from the University of Denver, the Th.M. from Boston University School of Theology, and the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University. A clergy member of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, he served pastoral appointments in Colorado and Wyoming before joining the Perkins faculty in 1976. In addition to his faculty appointment at Perkins, Wood served as the school’s associate dean for Academic Affairs from 1990 to 1993 and as director of SMU’s Graduate Program in Religious Studies from 2005 to 2010.

An influential scholar, Wood has written books including The Question of Providence (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), Vision and Discernment: An Orientation in Theological Study (Scholars Press, 1985), Theory and Religious Understanding (Scholars Press, 1975), The Formation of Christian Understanding (Westminster Press, 1981; second edition, Trinity Press International, 1993), An Invitation to Theological Study (Trinity Press International, 1994), Attentive to God: Thinking Theologically in Ministry (co-authored with Ellen Blue, Abingdon Press, 2008), and Love That Rejoices in the Truth: Theological Explorations (Cascade Books, 2009).

Beyond his service to Perkins and SMU, Wood has been involved in a variety of collaborative projects for the advancement of theological study and theological education, under the auspices of the American Academy of Religion and the Lilly Endowment, as well as the Association of Theological Schools and other organizations. He is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Systematic Theology and on the board of directors of Methodist Review, and has recently been appointed to the Committee on Faith and Order of The United Methodist Church. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa.

Wood plans to continue writing and research following his retirement from Perkins School of Theology in June 2011.

Students, faculty remember Law Professor Daniel Shuman

SMU Law Professor Daniel ShumanDaniel Shuman, M.D. Anderson Foundation Endowed Professor of Health Law in SMU’s Dedman School of Law, will be remembered for his work as a renowned legal scholar, but he was much more to his students.

“He was a caring mentor to so many of us, right up to even the last week of his life,” says Clarence Wilson, who recently achieved a scholarship with Shuman’s help. Shuman, 62, died Tuesday, April 26, 2011 of multiple system atrophy, a rare neurological disorder.

SMU’s Health Law Association (HLA) has announced that it will raise money for a plaque to serve as a lasting tribute to Shuman’s dedication.

Shuman was the inaugural M.D. Anderson Foundation Endowed Professor of Health Law at the law school and a member of the faculty for more than 33 years teaching torts, evidence, law and social science and mental health law.

“The Law School family has suffered a great loss and our thoughts and prayers are with the Shuman family right now,” says Law Dean John B. Attanasio.

Shuman was a nationally and internationally respected scholar in two separate fields, says colleague and HLA advisor Thomas Mayo, associate professor of law. “Early in his career he did groundbreaking empirical research on the attitudes and behaviors of juries, and he followed that with the best research and writing on law and psychiatry anyone has ever done. His productivity and quality were at the highest levels for an incredible three decades.”

Earlier this year, Shuman received the 2011 Manfred S. Guttmacher Award from the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The recognition – shared with psychiatrist Liza Gold – honors their book, Evaluating Mental Health Disability in the Workplace: Model, Process, and Analysis (Springer, 2009), as an “outstanding contribution to the literature of forensic psychiatry.” The award will be presented during the APA’s annual meeting May 14-18 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“Institutionally, he shaped the present and future course of the law school as the long-time chair of the faculty appointments committee, and he was extremely helpful to the development of our young faculty,” Mayo adds. “Students adored him.”

One of those is Juris Doctor candidate Isaac Haas, who says, “Professor Shuman was passionate about teaching his students to look beyond mere memorization and understanding of the law and consider the consequences of the decisions we make as a community about right and wrong. And while he was a brilliant scholar and writer, what set him apart as a teacher was the interest that he took in me and so many others.

“Very rarely would I ever leave a conversation with Professor Shuman without him asking about my other classes, job prospects, wife or son,” Haas says. “I am incredibly grateful for the time I spent with him, and with his wife, Emily, as a student, teaching assistant and friend.”

The family has requested that memorials be made to the Texas Voice Project for Parkinson Disease.

To contribute to the HLA’s memorial gift for Shuman, contact Alex Berk.

Written by Denise Gee

New engineering institute to develop solutions for global poor

Hunt Institute for Engineering and HumanityPairing technological innovation with business collaboration to improve conditions for the global poor is the driving force behind the new Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity in SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering.

Gifts totaling $5 million from Hunter and Stephanie Hunt, William T. and Gay F. Solomon, Bobby B. Lyle and others will establish the institute and initially create two endowed professorships to support a unique, interdisciplinary approach to delivering basic technology to the impoverished.

Jeffrey Talley, chair of the Lyle School’s Environmental and Civil Engineering Department and a U.S. Army Reserve general, will be the founding director of the institute, which is to be housed in the new Caruth Hall upon its completion in early spring.

“The Institute for Engineering and Humanity will accelerate the ability of the Lyle School of Engineering to serve as a magnet for the kind of students and researchers who seek solutions to societal challenges,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are very grateful for the generosity of these donors, whose passion for improving the lives of others matches SMU’s commitment to global leadership.”

The institute strategy begins with the understanding that small-scale innovations already exist to solve many problems in poor communities, while others need to be modified to fit specific geographic and cultural needs. Safe, affordable and sustainable housing will top the Institute’s project list, as well as ready access to clean water and sanitation; functional roads and transportation systems, and clean, reliable energy. The institute will create innovative approaches to easing poverty by encouraging markets for its ultra low-cost solutions, based on the principle that sustainable business models are more likely to accelerate global development than traditional approaches.

The institute’s major components will include the following:

  • an easily accessible library of existing technological solutions that are certified and ready for widespread dissemination and use
  • a global database of regional technology gaps that need to be bridged to meet specific needs
  • research and development of new ultra low-cost technologies involving SMU faculty, students and industry partners
  • field testing and scaling of new products to ensure low manufacturing costs, durability, easy maintenance, and minimal impact on the environment
  • assistance to businesses that will manufacture and maintain these technologies

“This will be no easy challenge,” said Engineering Dean Geoffrey Orsak. “To make basic technology globally available at a price the poorest of the poor can afford requires a radical rethinking of centuries of engineering practice. How many solutions have remained on the drawing board because they were too costly for communities that need them? How many have failed because they could not be locally repaired and maintained?”

It’s going to take talented, motivated engineers to identify solutions for alleviating poverty, Orsak said, adding that the success of this new institute can have a profound impact on people who struggle just to survive with dignity.

The Lyle School’s partnership with the renowned Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® will provide proven innovation methodologies to support the institute’s research and development efforts. The institute’s approach to finding affordable solutions also will include national and international competitions and incentives, particularly targeted to students.

Hunter and Stephanie HuntThe engineering school will begin an international search for a scholar who has broad experience in developing technologies and infrastructure for emerging economies to become the William T. and Gay F. Solomon Endowed Professor in Engineering and Global Development. Institute director Talley will hold the Bobby B. Lyle Endowed Professor in Leadership and Global Entrepreneurship.

With three billion people in the world living on $2 a day or less, institute donors Hunter and Stephanie Hunt (left) believe global poverty is one of the most pressing problems of our time. “There has been a great deal of financial and commercial innovation in helping the impoverished, but there has been little technical and engineering innovation; we hope to fill that void,” Stephanie Hunt said. “This new institute will take a creative but pragmatic approach to an immense challenge,” Hunter Hunt added.

Read more from SMU News
Visit the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering online

Army Reserve general to chair Environmental & Civil Engineering

Jeffrey Talley with Gen. David PetraeusJeffrey Talley (at right in photo), just selected for his second star (Major General) in the U.S. Army Reserve and lauded for his recent work in the “engineering battle for Baghdad,” is joining SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering as chair of the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering and Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Leadership and Global Entrepreneurship.

Talley recently completed a year of service as Baghdad Provincial Engineer under Gen. David Petraeus, where he commanded more than 4,000 engineers and soldiers in the 926th Engineer Brigade. Talley is credited with developing a military and policy strategy widely referred to as “engineering the peace” that aims to reduce violence in destabilized communities by rapidly rebuilding infrastructure, schools and hospitals. His work is credited with reducing violence and terrorism in the militia stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, and he was awarded two Bronze Stars – one for his efforts in rebuilding Baghdad, and the other for meritorious achievement in combat during the January planning and execution of security operations for the Baghdad provincial elections.

Solving the community’s most basic problems delivered an important message that supporting the official government of Iraq would result in a better life for Sadr City families, Talley said in December, near the end of his tour of duty. “You are showing them there is another option besides the militia,” Talley said.

Lyle School Dean Geoffrey Orsak said Talley will put flesh and bones on the philosophy Orsak drums into his SMU students – that engineers have both the power and responsibility to change lives.

“My work has really been about service to others,” Talley said. “In the case of Iraq, specifically, it was in recognizing that engineers and scientists play a unique role in providing peace and hope. Within the Lyle School of Engineering we can link scholarship, leadership and service to others locally, nationally and globally. I think that fits really well, not only with the Dean’s vision for the school, but also with the vision of other great leaders in Dallas and the nation.”

“Jeff Talley is simply one of the best and most influential engineers in the country,” Orsak said. “He is a true engineering leader, a great scholar and educator, and a real national hero. We are so pleased that he will be heading the Lyle School of Engineering’s Environmental and Civil Engineering Department. I fully expect that he will accomplish absolutely remarkable things here in Texas and at SMU.”

Talley joins the Lyle School from the University of Notre Dame, where he is associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and geological sciences. He is also visiting scholar and professor at Ireland’s National Centre for Sensor Research at Dublin City University. Talley’s research focuses on the environmental processes and treatment of contaminated surface water, groundwater, soil and sediment. Talley has graduate degrees in religious studies, history and philosophy in addition to engineering. He received his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Talley attended Louisiana State University on an ROTC scholarship and was commissioned into the Army Corps of Engineers when he graduated in 1981. He has been a member of the U.S. Army Reserve since 1992 and was awarded his first Bronze Star in 2003 for engineering work in Kuwait and Iraq.

(Above, Jeffrey Talley (at right in photo) talks with Gen. David Petraeus as they walk through Baghdad’s Sadr City in June 2008, when Petraeus was commanding general of the multi-national force in Iraq.)