Jennifer Collins

New center in SMU’s Dedman School of Law will equip legal and business leaders for a changing world

Umphrey Lee Cenotaph, Dedman School of Law quad, SMUCombined gifts of $4 million will create a new center in SMU’s Dedman School of Law to train the next generation of prominent legal and business leaders and influence national conversations surrounding business and corporate law. The Robert B. Rowling Center for Business Law and Leadership is being named in honor of Dallas businessman Robert B. Rowling, owner and Chairman of TRT Holdings, Inc., which is the holding company for the Omni Hotels and Resorts chain as well as Gold’s Gym International. Rowling received an undergraduate degree in business before graduating from Dedman Law in 1979.

The center will be named for Rowling at the request of an anonymous donor who made the lead gift. The donor asked Mr. Rowling the favor of sharing his name with the new center to reflect that Mr. Rowling exemplifies the type of business achievement, community engagement and civic contribution that future participants in the center’s programs should strive to emulate.

“Bob Rowling is the perfect example of the combined skills that will be the focus of the new center,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Today’s law students will be navigating careers that we cannot even imagine at the moment. They need training in ethical leadership, business analytics and entrepreneurship to develop the skills they will need to be successful. The Rowling Center has a role to play in shaping the future of business and corporate law.”

The Rowling Center will enrich the School’s existing curriculum, and include new leadership training to highlight professionalism and “soft skills,” as well as empirical training to teach core business skills. The program will build on the legal and business acumen centered in Dallas, collaborating with SMU’s Cox School of Business to provide an interdisciplinary approach. The center also will enhance Dedman Law’s mentoring program and provide new opportunities for students to connect with SMU’s extensive network of highly successful alumni and supporters.

In addition to expanded course offerings for J.D. students, the J.D./M.B.A. degree programs will be closely connected with the Rowling Center and its broader activities. Both the traditional four-year and the recently launched three-year accelerated J.D./M.B.A. degree programs are attracting top students with exceptional promise and strong credentials.

“I am honored to have my name associated with this center for several reasons,” Rowling said. “Dedman Law is my alma mater, of course, and I know from personal experience that a law degree is very useful in business. The center’s emphasis on business law and leadership will train law students in critical areas of business and position them well for future career success.“

A gift of $3 million from an anonymous donor, in addition to $1 million from the Dedman Foundation, will launch the center in fall 2018.

“This is great philanthropic synergy,” said Brad Cheves, SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs. “We had a very generous donor who wanted to support an important initiative at Dedman Law and, at the same time, honor Robert Rowling, a Dedman Law alumnus who epitomizes the type of work on which this center will focus. We are delighted to see this idea come to fruition.”

The center will focus on two areas:

  • Training through an interdisciplinary program that includes new and innovative courses and extracurricular offerings, and
  • National conversations related to business and corporate law topics through programming, faculty research and partnerships.

“The center will capitalize on the Dedman School of Law’s global reputation for producing graduates who work at the interface of law and business,” said Steven C. Currall, SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “The center will also build upon innovative partnerships with SMU’s Cox School of Business and with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which is located on our campus.”

“The Rowling center for Business Law and Leadership is an extraordinarily good fit for us, and a natural progression for Dedman Law,” said Jennifer Collins, Judge James Noel Dean of Dedman School of Law. “This Center will enhance the education we provide to our students by ensuring that graduates have the commitment to ethical leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and business acumen they need to navigate the rapidly evolving employment landscape. It also will position the law school as a thought leader on questions related to corporate law and leadership and provide us with new opportunities to engage our alumni and the broader legal and business community. We are profoundly grateful to our lead donor, to the Dedman family, and of course to Mr. Rowling for helping us transform our vision of a business law center into a reality.”

Collins said the search would now begin for a center director with the practical experience and professional connections to make the Rowling Center immediately impactful. In addition to hosting seminars, conferences and symposia aimed at stimulating new developments in business and corporate law and policy, the center will house and coordinate established programming such as Dedman Law’s Corporate Counsel Symposium, Corporate Counsel Externship program and Corporate Directors’ Institute.

> Read the full story from SMU News

SMU, Dedman School of Law announce Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center

Umphrey Lee Cenotaph, Dedman School of Law quad, SMUSMU’s Dedman School of Law is poised to become a hub of research and education on issues related to criminal justice reform.

The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center will be a place for scholars to undertake independent research and develop educational opportunities on topics such as the causes of wrongful convictions and over-incarceration, and ensuring the fair and ethical treatment of individuals at all stages of the criminal justice process.

The new center is supported by combined gifts totaling $7 million from the Deason Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation. The gifts will provide $3.5 million each over a period of five years.

“The support from the Deason Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation for this center goes right to the heart of what a great university like SMU is positioned to do in finding solutions to societal problems,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prison population, so there’s work to be done. Dedman Law is eager to engage in the important national debate surrounding issues of fairness, accuracy and compassion in the criminal justice system.”

> The Dallas Morning NewsDeason and Koch give $7 million to SMU Dedman Law for criminal justice reform

Jennifer Collins, the Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law at Dedman School of Law, served as assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia from 1994 to 2002 and is well positioned to anticipate the impact of the Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center.

“Policy makers across the ideological spectrum are talking about the need for criminal justice reform,” Collins said. “From the adequacy of defense counsel, to police uses of force, to wrongful convictions and the racial disparities in the criminal justice system – these are the huge issues of our time. This new center will work well with our existing criminal clinic and innocence clinic, and build on our existing faculty strength in criminal law.”

The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center will provide a platform for important interdisciplinary collaboration among many different groups, including scholars, students, the judiciary, law enforcement, prosecutors, and defense counsel. By bringing together experts from across the country to participate in symposia and conferences, the center will engage in national conversations surrounding criminal justice.

“Our passion for criminal justice reform is based on our desire to create and support programs that help lift the poor from poverty, to help them become self-dependent and, consequently, support their families and live their lives with dignity,” said Doug Deason. “Because the problems with our criminal justice system are so complex and deeply rooted, a collaborative, thoughtful approach is essential. This new Criminal Justice Reform Center will offer the research required to find innovative solutions, and we are very proud to support it.”

“Finding solutions to the problems with our criminal justice system will require the sort of leading-edge scholarship that the faculty at SMU produce. This is an issue that separates families, divides communities, and gets to the heart of how our society treats people in their most difficult hour. The Deason Center scholars can make a major difference and we’re proud to partner with the Deason family and SMU on this initiative,” said Charles Koch Foundation President Brian Hooks.

The gifts to fund the Deason Family Criminal Justice Center in Dedman School of Law count toward SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which concluded on Dec. 31, 2015 and raised more than $1 billion to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

“The overarching goal of our Second Century Campaign has been to build an extraordinary platform for research and learning at SMU,” said Brad Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs. “The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center will support important learning experiences for our students, and, we believe, equally important societal changes. We are grateful for the opportunity this provides us.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

Centennial gift from Sarah and Ross Perot Jr. endows Dedman Law scholarships in honor of Thomas W. Luce III ’62, ’66

H. Ross Perot, Tom Luce and Ross Perot, Jr.

H. Ross Perot, Thomas W. Luce III, and Ross Perot, Jr., celebrate the new Thomas W. Luce III Centennial Dedman Law Scholars Program at SMU.

A new Centennial gift from Sarah Fullinwider Perot ’83 and Ross Perot, Jr., will fund new scholarships in SMU’s Dedman School of Law in honor of one of its most distinguished graduates.

Their $1.75 million gift creates the Thomas W. Luce III Centennial Dedman Law Scholars Program, with $1.5 million going to endowment and an additional $250,000 in operating funds for the first five years. The “Centennial” designation of the program recognizes a gift that provides operational funds while the endowment matures.

Luce, who received SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999, earned his undergraduate degree on the Hilltop in 1962 and graduated from what is now Dedman School of Law in 1966.

“Sarah and Ross Perot have found the perfect way to honor their life-long friendship with Tom Luce,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Tom has been successful both in business and in public service and we are very proud of the history that he’s had here. Having Tom Luce’s name with us in perpetuity on a scholarship fund in the Dedman School of Law is a great way to honor his terrific contributions to SMU and the broader community.”

> Visit SMU’s Dedman School of Law online: law.smu.edu

Describing his family as big supporters of SMU, Ross Perot, Jr., said they agreed the best way to honor Luce was through a gift to his alma mater. In addition to financial support, students in the Luce Scholars Program will have both formal and informal opportunities to learn directly from Luce, who was a founding partner in the Dallas-based legal firm of Hughes & Luce LLP.

“Tom Luce is the role model for what a lawyer should be,” said Perot, Jr. “We hope that with this scholarship Tom will be able to attract great students to SMU, teach them to be great attorneys, and also to focus on public service.”

“I am so honored and grateful that my dear friends, Ross and Sarah Perot, chose to honor me in this way at my alma mater that means so much to me,” Luce said. “I look forward to working with the Luce Scholars in the years ahead.”

Jennifer Collins, Judge James Noel Dean of Dedman Law, said she expects the experience of working with Luce will be transformative for Luce Scholars.

“Not only has he excelled in the profession, but Tom Luce spends his time serving others on issues ranging from mental health to education,” Collins said. “He shows students what it means to be a world changer and how to really have an impact on their community, and those are the kind of lawyers we want to be sending out into the marketplace.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

Ellen K. Solender, SMU alumna and professor emerita, endows new chair in women and the law

Ellen K. Solender, SMU Professor Emerita of Law

Ellen K. Solender, SMU Professor Emerita of Law

Ellen Karelsen Solender, SMU law alumna and professor emerita, is giving $2 million to the Dedman School of Law to fund the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and the Law.

The Solender Chair will support a Dedman Law faculty member to encourage research, teaching and advocacy in legal education and the legal profession, aimed at advancing equality for all women.

The gift provides $1.5 million for endowment and $500,000 for operational support until the endowment matures.

“Professor Solender’s decision to endow a chair in women and the law could not come at a better time,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “This faculty position underscores Dedman Law’s commitment to empowering women to assume positions of influence in their professions. Hers is a gift that will have continuing impact.”

“As only the second woman to receive tenure at the law school, Professor Solender has been a trailblazer in legal education, said Jennifer Collins, Dedman Law’s Judge James Noel Dean and professor of law. “She has dedicated her career to promoting equity and mentored countless women along the way.  This gift will allow the law school to continue Professor Solender’s important work on issues that will advance the rights of women, ensure gender equality, and train lawyers to pursue these goals.”

Solender points to a number of significant events over the last 100 years that raised hopes for gender equality, citing the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote in 1920, the right of women to serve on Texas juries in 1954, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

“My mother worked for the passage of the 19th Amendment and thought she would see equality in her lifetime. I thought I would see it in mine,” Solender said. “Now I worry whether my granddaughter and my great-great nieces will see equality in their lifetimes. I now realize these were only milestones on a longer journey to equality. These issues are so important to me, it is my hope that this endowed chair could be a catalyst and hopefully speed up the journey to equality for women.”

Solender entered what was then known as SMU School of Law in 1968 at the age of 44. She had earned a bachelor’s degree at Oberlin College and worked for AT&T’s Bell Labs before joining The Wall Street Journal after she and her husband, the late Robert L. Solender, moved to Dallas. Active with the League of Women Voters, Solender believed government officials were not taking her questions seriously, and she entered law school to improve her credentials.

She earned her J.D. in 1971 and joined the law school’s staff shortly after graduation. In 1973 she joined the law faculty, and in 1977 she became the second woman in the history of the law school to receive tenure. She also co-authored the Research Methods/Legal Writing Manual with the late Alan R. Bromberg, University Distinguished Professor of Law. Solender retired in 1994 as professor emerita of law.

> Read the full story from SMU News

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