Good weather and plenty of Mustang spirit came together on Tuesday, May 22 as the SMU staff – and President R. Gerald Turner – gathered on the Clements Hall South Lawn. The 2018 President’s Picnic featured cookout food and lighter fare, plus fresh popcorn and cookies for snacking. Lawn games, Flat Peruna adventures, tabling, a pop-up library, and even some salsa dancing completed the recipe for fun. The annual event is organized by the SMU Staff Association.
In addition to food and popcorn, the festivities include lawn games, a photo booth, and staff recognition throughout the event.
The post-Commencement celebration takes place 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 on the Clements Hall South Lawn. Share your images and impressions on social media with the hashtag #SMUstafflove.
The SMU Faculty Senate honored five exemplary staff members with 2018 Faculty Senate Outstanding Staff Awards during the Senate’s last meeting of the 2017-18 academic year on Wednesday, May 2.
All winners are nominated by SMU faculty members, and the awards are presented each academic year at the Faculty Senate’s final meeting in May. The recognition is “a measure not just of jobs well done, but also of the personal contributions the individuals have made to the web of interconnections that make up SMU,” according to the Faculty Senate’s website.
This year’s winners:
- Kathryn Canterbury, Grants and Research, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development
- Chuck Donaldson, Academic Services, Meadows School of the Arts
- Melissa Emmert, Department of Political Science, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences
- Dee Powell, Dean’s Office, Cox School of Business
- Janet Stephens, Academic Services, Meadows School of the Arts
SMU honors outstanding achievement, community service at 2017-18 Hilltop Excellence Awards and Honors Convocation
SMU faculty, staff, administrators and students were recognized with teaching awards, service honors and the University’s highest commendation – the “M” Award – at the 2017-18 Hilltop Excellence Awards Monday, April 16.
Earlier in the day, the University honored its best students at the 21st annual Honors Convocation. The address was delivered by Maria Dixon Hall, senior adviser to the SMU Provost, associate professor in the Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs in Meadows School of the Arts, and adjunct associate professor of homiletics in Perkins School of Theology.
Appointed in August 2016 as Senior Advisor to the Provost for Cultural Intelligence, Dixon Hall is charged with oversight of the University’s efforts to ensure that all members of the SMU community are equipped to effectively create, collaborate, and work on solutions to change the world. In this role, she is responsible for development and implementation of the University’s new cultural intelligence curriculum and training program.
As director of mustangconsulting, Dixon Hall heads a staff of some of SMU’s best and brightest communication students. The group serves a global client list that includes corporate, nonprofit, and religious organizations such as Southwest Airlines (Dallas), The Dance Theatre of Harlem (New York), the Ugandan American Partnership Organization (Kampala/Dallas), The Lydia Patterson Institute (El Paso), and Carry the Load (Atlanta/Dallas).
A graduate of the Culverhouse School of Business at the University of Alabama, Dixon Hall earned her Master of Divinity and Master of Theology from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, as well as a Ph.D. in organizational communication and religion from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Texas native, former Cal and Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes named SMU head football coach Dec. 11, 2017
Sonny Dykes has been named SMU’s head football coach, as Director of Athletics Rick Hart announced on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Dykes arrives on the Hilltop after head coaching stints at Cal and Louisiana Tech. He will coach the Mustangs in the DXL Frisco Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 20.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be introduced as the Head Coach at SMU. This is home and this is a program I grew up watching. I watched Mustang legends compete and I could always see myself putting on that iconic pony. Today, I’m proud to do just that,” Dykes said. “Coach Morris did great things here and I am fortunate that I have been selected to take the foundation Chad and his staff put in place and take it to a new level. And, make no mistake, that is what we plan to do.
“This is a proud football program with a rich tradition,” he added. “It is also a proud academic institution. I place great emphasis on both. We will set lofty goals for our program, but will keep our primary focus on improving every day in all phases on and off the field to ensure we build a total program and shape champions.”
“It is my pleasure to introduce Sonny Dykes as the Head Football Coach at SMU,” said Hart. “Coach Dykes is enthusiastic about joining the Mustang family. He has a plan to assemble a talented staff, dedicated to shaping champions and pursuing championships with integrity. Coach Dykes shares our commitment to establishing SMU as the best overall program in the American Athletic Conference.”
Dykes, the son of former longtime Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, spent four seasons at Cal (2013-16) and three seasons at Louisiana Tech (2010-12). He served as an offensive analyst at TCU in 2017.
At Cal, Dykes returned the school’s football program to national prominence and a post-season bowl game. Inheriting a team that went 3-9 in the season before his arrival, Dykes had the Bears at 8-5 just three seasons later, capping the 2015 season with a win over Air Force at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.
Dykes came to Cal after spending three seasons at Louisiana Tech where he directed an offense that led the nation in both scoring offense (51.50 ppg) and total offense (577.92 ypg) during his final campaign at the helm in 2012. He spent three seasons as head coach for the Bulldogs, compiling a 22-15 overall record and winning 16 of 17 regular-season games during one stretch over the 2011 and 2012 schedules.
As offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona for three seasons from 2007-09, Dykes helped the Wildcats to the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl and 2009 Holiday Bowl after Arizona had not reached the postseason for 10 years. Arizona posted marks of 8-5 both seasons and tied for second in what was then the Pac-10 in 2009 with a 6-3 league mark.
Prior to his tenure at Arizona, Dykes spent seven seasons at his alma mater Texas Tech, serving as receivers coach from 2000-04 and adding the title of co-offensive coordinator from 2005-06. The Red Raiders made seven straight postseason appearances and won 56 games during the span, including four postseason victories over his last five seasons in the Tangerine, Houston, Holiday and Insight bowls. In 2006, Dykes received the Mike Campbell Top Assistant Coach Award from the American Football Coaches Association, the same year he was recognized as one of the top 25 recruiters in the country by Rivals.
Dykes began his collegiate coaching career with a two-year stint (1995-96) at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. He also was a baseball assistant at Monahans High School in Texas in 1994 and a football assistant at Richardson’s J.J. Pearce High School in 1995.
Born in Big Springs, Texas, Dykes received his bachelor’s degree in history from Texas Tech in 1993 and was a member of the Red Raider baseball team for two seasons. He is married to the former Kate Golding and they have two daughters, Alta (Ally) and Charlotte (Charlie), and a son, Daniel.
Known to most on the Hilltop as “Coach Mac,” legendary SMU swimming coach George McMillion has died. McMillion’s passing on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 came just days after the dedication of the new Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium last week.
McMillion was the head coach of the SMU men’s swimming team from 1971-88 after a standout career as a student-athlete and 14 years as an assistant coach. His impact on the SMU swimming program helped inspire the construction of the new center and led to his name being attached to the facility.
“I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved with SMU swimming while attending SMU,” said former SMU swimmer and a lead donor to the Aquatics Center, Bruce Robson. “Coach Mac made an impact on my life and the lives of so many others. His influence will continue to be felt at SMU for years to come.”
Another lead donor, Steve Lindley, said, “I always admired Coach Mac’s commitment and dedication to and passion for SMU, its swimming and diving programs, and especially his swimmers. You can’t put a value on this. Not only was he a very successful coach, but he was truly interested in and positively impacted all the people he touched. I am also very thankful to all those that helped make the new Aquatic Center and Natatorium a reality. This was Coach Mac’s vision and it is certainly a very fitting legacy to him.”
SMU President R. Gerald Turner echoed Lindley’s sentiments.
“Coach Mac’s legacy as a student-athlete, mentor and coach will live on has an enduring legacy at SMU and in the world of swimming,” Turner said. “His accomplishments at SMU are legendary, but it’s the positive impact he had on those around him that will forever define his greatness.”
Former SMU swimmer and lead donor Dr. Jody Grant said McMillion built on a history of winning at SMU.
“Coach Mac added to the outstanding swimming tradition established by Coach Red Barr many years ago,” he said. “It’s been an honor to be associated with the program over the years. Coach Mac will be greatly missed by all of us in the swimming community, but what he helped build here at SMU will live on forever.”
SMU Director of Athletics Rick Hart said McMillion was revered by the SMU swimming community.
“The Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center is a reality because his commitment and love of SMU swimming and diving inspired others to give back,” Hart said. “While we are saddened by his passing, and I will personally miss visiting with him on Thursday mornings, we take solace in knowing that the Barr-McMillion Natatorium will serve as a fitting tribute and a legacy to his influence and impact on our program.”
SMU men’s swimming coach Eddie Sinnott said McMillion’s relationships spread far and wide.
“Coach Mac was a fixture on the SMU campus for over six decades, as a student, athlete, teacher, coach administrator and alum,” Sinnott said. “He impacted literally thousands of lives, both young and old, throughout his time on the Hilltop.”
As a student, McMillion was captain of the 1954 SMU team, winning seven Southwest Conference individual championships. McMillion also helped the Mustangs to team championships in 1953 and 1954. He returned to SMU to become an assistant coach for 14 years, then succeeded Coach A.R. Barr in 1971. That same year, McMillion was honored as the Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy recipient, which is presented annually to an individual or organization which, in the estimation of the recipient’s peers, has contributed in an outstanding way to swimming as a competitive sport and healthful recreational activity.
McMillion led the program to eight consecutive Southwest Conference Championships and was named SWC Coach of the Year four times. He coached 78 All-Americans and 15 NCAA Champions, while his teams earned 14 NCAA top-10 finishes.
“Coach Mac was a big influence on my life and coaching career,” said head women’s swimming coach Steve Collins. “I came to SMU in the fall of 1977 to work as a graduate assistant with the SMU men’s team to learn from George McMillion. During the course of my career, Coach Mac was a mentor and a friend whom I will miss dearly.”
On the international level, McMillion mentored 10 Olympians, including five Olympic medalists – Steve Lundquist, Ricardo Prado, Rich Saeger, Jerry Heidenreich and Ronnie Mills. His Mustang swimmers earned a combined six gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
McMillion was inducted into the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011, the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Texas Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in 2009.
The Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium honors SMU swimming and diving’s tradition of excellence.
“Our dream of building an Aquatics Center has been realized, and I am so grateful that he was able to see the finished product shortly before his death,” Collins added. “His legacy will live on and be honored in the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium, and through the lives of the many people touched as a teacher, swim coach and friend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the McMillion family.”
Memorial gifts may be made to The Coach George McMillion Men’s Swimming Endowment Fund at SMU, online at www.smu.edu/giving or by mail to SMU Gift Administration; PO Box 402; Dallas, TX 75275-0402.
“From the Learn to Swim Program to the Olympic gold medal, he helped young men and women reach their goals, while helping them develop into the people they ultimately became. His legacy will forever be remembered in the hearts of those he touched. He has run his race, and he has won,” Sinnott concluded.
Bearing witness to Poland’s deep physical and emotional scars that linger long after World War II – when the Nazis made the country the epicenter of the Holocaust – is the focus of a new book by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.
No Resting Place: Holocaust Poland (Terrace Partners, $39.95) combines more than 200 contemporary photos of occupied Poland’s deadliest Holocaust sites with historical vignettes and poignant observations from those who have experienced one of the most comprehensive, longest-running Shoah study trips offered by a U.S. university.
Each December, the two-week “Holocaust Poland” trip – led for more than 20 years by SMU Prof. Rick Halperin – exposes students and lifelong learners to the Third Reich’s genocidal “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Both the trip and book are meant to ensure historical remembrance and “history as warning,” says history professor and co-author Halperin. “In our increasingly polarized world, where hate crimes against Jews and Muslims are on the rise, the need for tolerance and understanding has never been greater.”
Dallas philanthropist and SMU alumna Lauren Embrey (’80, ’06) couldn’t agree more. Embrey’s life would be profoundly changed by the 2005 “Holocaust Poland” pilgrimage she took while pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) degree at SMU. In 2006, Lauren, her sister Gayle, and their Embrey Family Foundation funded the pioneering Embrey Human Rights Program, led by Halperin, within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. In 2012, enthusiasm for the program allowed SMU to go from offering a human rights minor and MLS concentration in human rights and social justice to providing a Bachelor of Arts degree in the field, making SMU one of only five U.S. universities to do so. (Since then, two others have followed suit.)
Since Halperin began leading SMU study trips to Poland in 1996, the number of participants has grown from a handful to more than three dozen who went on the 20th anniversary pilgrimage in 2016 (including two dozen students able to travel thanks to a gift from SMU alumnus Mike Disque ’64 and his wife, Cherri). To commemorate the program’s 10th anniversary and trip’s second decade, Halperin teamed up with SMU colleagues Sherry Aikman and Denise Gee to create No Resting Place.
The trio’s primary objective was to produce a book sensitively depicting “the last places ever seen by millions of innocent people who didn’t want to die in such horrific places,” Halperin says. “And unlike most other Holocaust books we wanted this one to be produced in color – because the Holocaust happened in color.”
— Written by Denise Gee
President R. Gerald Turner and University Registrar John Hall ’71, ’73, ’79 helped to honor 12 staff members who are celebrating their 25th year at the University at the 2017 Staff Celebration and Convocation Thursday, Oct. 5. The ceremony also recognized staff members honored in the annual President’s Award and Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins Award programs.
It has taken every SMU staff member to achieve the milestones the University has marked in recent years, Turner told the crowd. From rising admissions standards and record fund-raising numbers, to the installation of the ManeFrame II supercomputer and the service and management of four home football games in September, “there’s no way in the world that happens without all of you – and I thank you.”
Deanie Kepler ’70, director of parent and family programs, received the 2017 Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins Award, established to recognize and reward outstanding performance among University employees. Anna Marzillo, assistant director of International Student and Scholar Services, was finalist.
The SMU Staff Association announced the winners of the 2017 President’s Awards:
- Shannon Lunt, Gretchen C. Voight New Employee Excellence Award
- Mary Tays, Continuing Excellence Award
- Lisa Tran, Outstanding Leadership Award
The event also honored the following staff members who have celebrated 25th SMU anniversaries:
- Sherry Aikman (30-year staff member)
- Joe Arnold (celebrated anniversary in 2016)
- Ronny Jepsen (celebrated anniversary in 2016)
- Yvette Castilla
- Nazario Del Rio
- Tammy Dyer
- Lorinda Lamb
- Pamela Morgan
- Susan Strobel Hogan
- Alan Pushin
- Gloria Watson
- Carolyn Yates
President R. Gerald Turner has invited the entire SMU community to the University’s relaunched staff recognition day on Thursday, Oct. 5. 2017.
The new Staff Celebration and Convocation, created by the SMU Staff Association (SMUSA) in collaboration with the Office of Operational Excellence, will take place at 10:30 a.m. in McFarlin Auditorium. A reception with light refreshments will precede the ceremony at 10 a.m.
The event is for all staff members, and President Turner will give his traditional State of SMU address as the keynote. University Registrar John Hall, SMU’s longest-serving staff member, is the featured speaker.
Staff members who have achieved 25 years of service to SMU will be honored, as well as the 2017 President’s Award and Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins Award recipients. The ceremony with also recognize staff members who have continued their SMU service beyond 25 years, and previous President’s and Loretta Hawkins Award recipients.
The SMU Staff Association, in collaboration with the Office of Operational Excellence, has created a new Staff Celebration and Convocation program honoring SMU staff excellence. The ceremony is for all SMU staff members and will take place at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017 in McFarlin Auditorium.
President R. Gerald Turner will give his traditional State of SMU address as the keynote during the event. University Registrar John Hall, SMU’s longest-serving staff member, will be the featured speaker.
Staff members who have achieved 25 years of service to SMU will be honored, as well as the 2017 Presidential and Loretta Hawkins Award recipients. The ceremony with also recognize staff members who have continued their SMU service beyond 25 years, and previous Presidential and Loretta Hawkins Award recipients.
A reception with light refreshments will precede the ceremony at 10 a.m. For more information, visit the SMU Staff Association website.