SMU hosts 2015 Honorary Degree Symposia Friday, May 15

Kimberly Cobb

SMU hosts 2015 Honorary Degree Symposia Friday, May 15

Three international leaders who will receive honorary degrees at SMU’s 100th May Commencement will participate in symposia on the main campus Friday, May 15. All symposia are free and open to the public.

The symposia will feature 2015 honorees Meave Leakey, a renowned anthropologist whose research in Africa has revealed important clues to humans’ earliest ancestors; Irene Hirano Inouye, who helped build the Japanese American National Museum and is founding president of the U.S.-Japan Council; and Helen LaKelly Hunt, a donor-activist, author and SMU alumna whose life focus has been to empower women and educate people about the value of healthy, intimate relationships. All three will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, during the Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16.

> The history of honorary degrees at SMU, including honorees by name, year and degree

Meave Leakey

“Human Evolution in the East African Rift Valley:
A Symposium Honoring Meave Leakey”
Friday, May 15, 2-4 p.m.
McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall

Leakey, one of the world’s most distinguished paleoanthropologists, is a research associate at the National Museums of Kenya, director of Plio-Pleistocene research at the Turkana Basin Institute, Nairobi, and research professor in anthropology at Stony Brook University, New York. In 2002 she was named a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Leakey is a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and an honorary fellow of the Geological Society of London.

David Pilbeam, curator of paleontology at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, will moderate the symposium.

Leakey will speak on “Human Evolution in the East African Rift Valley.” Also presenting will be Frank Brown, dean and distinguished professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, who will speak on “Time and the Physical Framework in the Turkana Basin, Kenya;” and Kay Behrensmeyer, curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, who will speak on “Faunal Context of Human Evolution in the East African Rift Valley.” Thure Cerling, Distinguished Professor of Geology and Geophysics and Biology at the University of Utah, will speak on “Floral Context of Human Evolution – as Represented by Geochemical Signatures;” and Bonnie Jacobs, professor of earth sciences in SMU’s Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, will speak on “Floral Context of Human Evolution – as Represented by Plant Fossils.”

Irene Hirano Inouye

“Celebrating the American Experience and U.S.-Japan Relations:
Irene Hirano Inouye, Her Life, Works and Achievements”
Friday, May 15
Reception, 3-3:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion and Remarks, 3:30-5 p.m.
Hillcrest Appellate Courtroom and Classroom, Underwood Law Library 

Inouye is a leader in international relations who, while still in her 20s, began tailoring her career toward service as director of a Los Angeles medical clinic providing affordable care for poor and uninsured women. She helped build the Japanese American National Museum, which opened in 1992, and became the founding president of the U.S.-Japan Council in 2008.

Panel participants are Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, U.S. Navy (ret.), Tower Center senior fellow and former commander of the Pacific Fleet; Anny Wong, research fellow in the Tower Center and a member of the board of the Japan-America Society of Dallas-Fort Worth; and moderator Hiroki Takeuchi, associate professor and director of the Tower Center’s Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia. Inouye will deliver closing remarks and will be available for questions.

The symposium is free, but registration is required; email the Tower Center to RSVP. More information is available at the Tower Center website.

Helen LaKelly Hunt

“A Revolutionary Approach to Conflict Resolution:
A Symposium Honoring Helen LaKelly Hunt”
Friday, May 15
Panel presentation 10:30 a.m.-noon, Smith Auditorium, Meadows Museum
Lunch and remarks, noon-1:30 p.m., Jones Room, Meadows Museum 

Hunt is a donor-activist, author and SMU alumna who has been recognized for both her work for healthy marriages and family and her efforts in helping to build the global women’s funding movement. She is the founder of The Sister Fund, a private foundation that supports women’s social, political, economic and spiritual empowerment. Hunt has helped establish several other organizations, including Dallas Women’s Foundation, New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Funding Network and Women Moving Millions. Her books include Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance, as well as seven books on intimate relationships and parenting co-authored with her husband, Harville Hendrix.

Hunt and Hendrix will discuss the new science of relationships with panelists David Chard, dean of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human DevelopmentRita Kirk, director of SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public ResponsibilityLorelei Simpson Rowe, associate professor and graduate program co-director in SMU’s Department of Psychology and an expert in couples relationships; and Michelle Kinder, executive director of the Momentous Institute.

Please RSVP for the lunch to Family Wellness Dallas.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Learn more about SMU’s Commencement ceremonies, events and traditions at

May 1, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

SMU Lyle to offer multidisciplinary M.A. degree in design and innovation

SMU Innovation GymBeginning in Fall 2015, SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering will offer a new master’s degree designed to spark creativity in problem solving across multiple disciplines.

The Master of Arts in Design and Innovation (MADI), grounded in an approach known as “design thinking,” will provide a toolkit for people working outside the typical design environment. Coursework and project-based learning experiences will teach participants to combine what people need with the possibilities created by technology and the economic requirements for business success through design research, idea generation, and rapid prototyping.

“Some of the most successful CEOs in the world are crediting the concept of ‘design thinking’ as a breakthrough approach for solving systemic problems,” said Lyle Dean Marc Christensen. “Our undergraduates have been thriving on a no-barriers approach to problem-solving through competitions and projects organized in our Deason Innovation Gym. Expanding on our undergraduate success, the Master of Arts in Design and Innovation is a great way to introduce our students to a framework and methodology for innovating and designing, which will have impact wherever their career takes them.”

Kate Canales, director of Design and Innovation Programs in the Lyle School, will lead the program. A Stanford University mechanical engineer, Canales spent her early professional years with global design and innovation firm IDEO, where she helped pioneer the use of design thinking as a means of building the capacity for innovation within companies. She arrived at the Lyle School in 2012 after working as a consultant and as creative director at frog design.

“The process and the skills these students learn will make them much different job applicants,” Canales said.  “It’s about confidence and approaching problems in ways that are not typical.  And while many engineering students will see this as a natural progression in their studies – it’s not a degree just for engineers. It’s a great fit for people pursuing careers in fields as different as business, the arts, advertising and the social sciences.”

MADI students will be able to take advantage of an unprecedented multidisciplinary approach that opens up relevant electives across SMU departments and schools on campus for the first time. The curriculum pulls from the Lyle School’s Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Computer Science and Engineering departments, as well as advertising through SMU’s Temerlin Advertising Institute, entrepreneurship through the Cox School of Business, anthropology through Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and arts entrepreneurship and creative computing through the Meadows School of the Arts.

Find out more about the MADI program at, or contact the SMU Lyle graduate recruiting office at 214-768-2002.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

April 6, 2015|News|

SMU geothermal scientist Maria Richards named 2016 president-elect of the Geothermal Resources Council

Maria Richards, SMU Geothermal LaboratoryMaria Richards, coordinator of the SMU Geothermal Laboratory in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, has been named president-elect of the Geothermal Resources Council. She will become the 26th president of the global energy organization beginning in 2017, and the first woman president in its history.

Richards has been at the forefront of SMU’s geothermal energy research for more than a decade, and the University’s mapping of North American geothermal resources is considered the baseline for U.S. geothermal energy exploration. SMU’s Conference on Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas fields, which Richards directs, is pioneering the transition of oil and gas fields to electricity-producing systems by harnessing waste heat and fluids.

“The Geothermal Resources Council is a tremendous forum for expanding ideas about geothermal exploration and technology related to this commonly overlooked source of energy provided by the Earth,” Richards said. “It’s a great opportunity for educating people about an energy source that covers the whole gamut – from producing electricity for industries, to reducing our electricity consumption with direct-use applications, to even cooling our homes.”

“This also is a unique occasion for me to encourage and mentor young women to participate in the sciences throughout their careers and get involved in leadership roles,” she added.

SMU’s seventh international geothermal energy conference and workshop is scheduled for May 18-20, 2015, on the Dallas campus. Designed to reach a broad audience, from the service industry to reservoir engineers, “Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields,” is an opportunity for oil and gas industry professionals to connect with the geothermal and waste-heat industries to build momentum. The conference is a platform for networking with attendees from all aspects of project development. Presentations will highlight reservoir topics from flare gas usage to induced seismicity and will address new exploration opportunities, including offshore sites in the eastern United States.

Find information and registration for SMU’s 2015 Geothermal Energy Conference:

Richards’ projects at SMU’s Geothermal Laboratory vary from computer-generated temperature-depth maps for to on-site geothermal exploration of the volcanic islands in the Northern Mariana Islands. Along with Cathy Chickering Pace, Richards coordinates the SMU Node of the National Geothermal Data System funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Richards has previously served on the Geothermal Resources Council Board of Directors and was chair of the Outreach Committee in 2011-12. She is also a Named Director of the 2015 Board for the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA).

Richards holds an M.S. degree in physical geography from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a B.S. in environmental geography from Michigan State University.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

April 2, 2015|For the Record, News, Research|

Banjos, supercomputers and killer bacteria: TEDxSMU explores ‘Strangely Familiar’ territory Nov. 1, 2014

The 6th annual edition of TEDxSMU returns to Dallas City Performance Hall Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 with year’s theme of “Strangely Familiar.”

Admission to the daylong event includes the popular “after party” where speakers, performers and the audience continue the conversations that started during the program. TEDxSMU tickets are $150 for the entire day and are available from EventBrite.

The program begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m., and includes a light breakfast, lunch, snacks and conversation breaks. Ranging from an analysis of “sexxy fat,” to a banjo player who blames his image problems on the movie “Deliverance,” to the chilling specter of killer bacteria in a post-antibiotic world, this year’s lineup delivers on TED’s theme of “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

“Whatever we thought we were starting with TEDxSMU in 2009, we know now that it has been the catalyst for an entire community of people who are looking for new ways to view the world,” said director Heather Hankamer.  “The salons that we organize throughout the year allow us to keep great conversations going, and our auditions for TEDxSMU and TEDxKids@SMU have taken on a life of their own. The sense of adventure we felt that first year just keeps on going.”

Speakers and performers at TEDxSMU 2014 include:

Deborah CleggDEBORAH CLEGG, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center nutritionist and a former member of the Army team that develops MRE’s (meals ready to eat), has focused her research on the role that sex hormones play in human metabolism. Male and female fat cells are not the same, Clegg says, and her presentation, “Discoveries in Pursuit of ‘Sexxy Fat’ carries the message that sex matters – even when it comes to fat.

JANEIL ENGELSTADTJANEIL ENGELSTADT, a provocative artist whose works turn a spotlight on themes like youth and gang violence, homelessness, peace and ecology, is fully invested in the role of public art as an agent of social change.

Howard GoldthwaiteHOWARD GOLDTHWAITE, Dallas marketing guru, writer and creative strategist, also is a banjo player who says the movie “Deliverance” turned people like him into social outcasts. But his five-string journey has taught him the value of pursuing what you love, even if it’s unpopular. Goldthwaite won his spot on the TEDxSMU stage at the June audition at Live in Deep Ellum.

Greg HarrisGREG HARRIS is the President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. His presentation, “Our Soundtrack,” will share the inside story of the songs and artifacts that define us.

Lawrence HassLARRY HASS is associate dean at the McBride Magic and Mystery School in Las Vegas, as well as a professor of humanities at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.  He loves to talk about the psychology of magic – and how the art of illusion celebrates the impossible, and energizes people to see the world in new ways.

Kevin JudiceKEVIN JUDICE’s topic is a warning: “Life in the Post-Antibiotic Era is Going to Suck.” Founder of K2 Therapeutics, Judice pursues medical treatments for antibiotic resistant superbugs.  The discovery of antibiotics resulted in a huge increase in human lifespan, he says, but their over-use has put us in on the road to a future where minor scrapes and sore throats may be deadly.

Alexander McLeanALEXANDER MCLEAN is the founder of the Africa Prisons Project, a Uganda-based organization working to improve the lives of men, women, and children living in African prisons. People consigned to prisons are not lost causes, McLean believes, and will speak about the transformations he has seen through his work in African prisons over the last decade.

Maurizio PorfiniMEGNA MURALI, a sophomore at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, knows quite a bit about the intersection of cultures and will share it through a demonstration of the similarities between Indian Kathak and Spanish Flamenco dance.

Satya NittaSATYA NITTA works with Watson, the famous IBM supercomputer, as manager of the Emerging Technologies Research Group at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center. His talk will focus on the extraordinary opportunity to transform learning that he sees at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and cognitive computing.

Kelly StoetzelKELLY STOETZEL is director of content for TED and the longtime host of TEDxSMU with slam poet Rives. This proud SMU alumna will tell you she has best job in the world, and her talk will lift the curtain on how the development of TEDxKids@SMU as a “why not” enterprise has blossomed into a global series of events designed to bring ideas worth sharing to youngsters.

See the full list of speakers coming to TEDxSMU at Keep up with TEDxSMU at and on Twitter @TEDxSMU.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

October 30, 2014|Calendar Highlights, News|

$2 million gift will create Mary and Richard Templeton Centennial Chair in Electrical Engineering in SMU’s Lyle School

Templeton Centennial Chair gift announcement

At the Templeton gift announcement ( r.): SMU Board of Trustees Chair Michael M. Boone, SMU President R. Gerald Turner, Mrs. Gail Turner, Richard Templeton, Mary Templeton, daughter Stephanie Templeton, engineering student Elizabeth (Liz) Dubret, Lyle Engineering School Dean Marc Christensen, and Brad Cheves, SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs.

A gift of $2 million from Mary and Richard Templeton will create a new endowed faculty position in electrical engineering in SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering.

The gift establishing the Mary and Richard Templeton Centennial Chair of Electrical Engineering provides for a $1.5 million endowment and $500,000 in operational support.

The special “Centennial” designation underscores the foresight of donors who recognize the need for operational funds to allow immediate impact while the endowment matures.

“This commitment is meaningful because it comes from a family of engineers who understand the reach of science and technology,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The Templetons know better than most how their gift will help SMU attract outstanding faculty in this important engineering discipline, and how it will influence students and prepare them to contribute to the engineering profession.”

Richard Templeton is president and CEO of Texas Instruments, and Mary Templeton is a computer scientist. They were together on the SMU campus last May as Mr. Templeton delivered the commencement address at the Lyle School and as their son, Jim, received his own bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

“The SMU formula for success is to combine bright, motivated students with talented, innovative faculty members,” said SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Paul Ludden. “This gift of an endowed chair gives us the ability to attract and support a strong, academic leader in the field of electrical engineering.”

The search to fill the Mary and Richard Templeton Centennial Chair of Electrical Engineering is underway.

“An outstanding faculty member can spark creative ideas in a student who goes on to change the world with an invention, or lead research that reveals a different way of looking at an old problem,” said Mr. Templeton. “It means a great deal to us to be able to help support that kind of educator.”

“Jim had such a wonderful experience at SMU that we want to help ensure the same access to superior faculty members for students who come after him,” said Mrs. Templeton.

The gift to fund the Mary and Richard Templeton Centennial Chair of Electrical Engineering counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, and toward the campaign’s goal to reach 110 endowed faculty positions. To date the campaign has raised more than $902 million in gifts and pledges to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> Read the full story from SMU News

September 24, 2014|News|
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