SMU in Four

Year-one progress and Common Curriculum degree planner


September 9, 2022


Dear Campus Community –

Welcome back for the fall semester! We’ve completed the first year of SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), SMU in Four, our comprehensive initiative to improve four-year graduation rates and retention. Thank you all for your contributions to important aspects of the QEP. We could not do it without you, after all, retention is a collective effort. We write with updates on the initiative as we look ahead to year two.

Leadership & Membership: First, the initiative is now co-directed by Dr. Molly Ellis, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Office of Faculty Success, and Dr. Dustin Grabsch, Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education & Academic Success.

Next, in preparation for the new year, we would like to share the year-two membership rosters for all SMU in Four pillars/teams. For the 2022-2023 Academic Year, the chairs of each SMU in Four Pillars and Teams are:

  • Early Alert Pillar: Dr. Sue Bierman & Audryanna Reed
  • Academic Advising: Josh Beaty
  • First-Year & Gateway Courses: Dr. Paige Ware
  • Faculty Steering Committee: Dr. Paige Ware
  • Student Steering Committee: Dr. Dustin Grabsch
  • Technology Team: Curt Herridge
  • Assessment Team: Dr. Molly Ellis
  • School Implementation Teams: Dr. Sheri Kunovich

Join Us for a Progress Presentation: We will all gather at key moments throughout this five-year initiative. Our first will be the SMU in Four Year-One Progress Presentation for the SMU campus community on September 28, 2022 from 3:30 – 5:00 pm. Please RSVP and join us in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Auditorium. We will update the campus on our progress and goals for year two.

Undergraduate Degree Planner is Coming: To aid undergraduate Common Curriculum students in their progress toward degree, the SMU in Four Technology Team is developing a new tool called HighPoint Degree Planner within my.SMU. This tool will help students and advisors develop and sequence a personalized path to on-time graduation. HighPoint Degree Planner will not only benefit students and advisors but will aid academic departments in data-driven course scheduling and seat capacity planning. The new tool will launch to students on the Common Curriculum in November 2022.

In preparation, SMU in Four School Implementation Teams will be asked to work with academic departments to verify their degree plans within the HighPoint system. Instructions will be sent to department chairs (or a designee) to verify in September/October. Training and support sessions will be provided to the campus community and by request. Read more about the Common Curriculum HighPoint Degree Planner.

If you would like to stay abreast of updates related to SMU in Four, we invite you to subscribe to our blog or check out our updated website.



Molly Ellis

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Office of Faculty Success, Office of the Provost


Dustin Grabsch

Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education & Academic Success

Student Academic Engagement & Success, Office of the Provost



First-Generation Initiative

Yellow September: First-Generation Initiative spotlights suicide prevention month

It’s National Suicide Prevention Week/Month, also known as Yellow September. The First-Generation Initiative would like to highlight campus and national mental health resources.

If you are looking for a sign, this is it. You matter. Your life matters. If you need support or someone you know needs support, resources are available.

SMU Mental Health Resources:

  • SMU Counseling Crisis Intervention: 214-768-2277, select Option 2
    • Speak to an on-call counselor 24/7
  • SMU Counseling Services Continued Care Support: 214-768-2277
    • All SMU students are eligible to receive free services at the counseling center, regardless of insurance

National Resources:

  • Suicide Crisis Center: 214-828-1000
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, press Option 1
  • Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
    • The Trans Lifeline’s Hotline is a peer-support service for trans and questioning individuals in crisis. All operators are trans-identified.
  • Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
    • The only national 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ young people under 25
  • TrevorText: Text START to 678678
    • A free, confidential service in which LGBTQ young people can text a trained Trevor counselor for support and crisis intervention.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
    • Crisis-intervention hotline that conducts conversations exclusively by text message 24 hours a day.
Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Office of Engaged Learning September Newsletter

The Office of Engaged Learning’s September newsletter is available to read online. Check out upcoming workshops and events, along with recent news about our entrepreneurship and research programs. Click here for a PDF version



SMU in Four

New tool in development to aid undergraduate Common Curriculum degree planning and progress

SMU in Four – SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) – is the SMU’s comprehensive approach to improving retention and four-year graduation rates. To this end, our QEP advances student academic success through its most essential form: progress toward degree. The strategies in the QEP build upon existing University practices to integrate three important levers, which will be activated across academic majors and student-support resources to address the needs of all SMU students and ultimately lead them to greater levels of success.

SMU in Four is developing a new my.SMU tool called HighPoint Degree Planner. This tool will permit Common Curriculum students to plan courses for the attainment of their degree and aid SMU in course scheduling and seat planning to permit timely graduation. Common Curriculum students are those who matriculated in the fall 2020 semester or after. In the coming months, academic departments will be asked to verify their degree plans while advisors & students will be provided with training resources and opportunities.

What is Degree Planner and why would I use it?

HighPoint Degree Planner helps students & advisors develop and sequence a personalized path to on-time graduation. All data used within Degree Planner is real-time as it leverages my.SMU’s system. As a student adjusts their academic plan and complete courses, the Degree Planner recognizes those changes and makes the appropriate adjustments. Students can run a “What If” degree plan if they are considering another academic plan; major and/or minor. Degree Planner should help students stay on track and give guidance when adjustments are made to the academic plan.

Degree Planner is a planning tool for a student’s degree plan while the Degree Progress Report (DPR) is the authoritative source for graduation requirements.

How do I use Degree Planner?

With the implementation of Degree Planner, students & advisors can develop a degree plan to graduation. Together, advisors & students evaluate and update the plan each term and then move the degree plan into a Course Schedule and Shopping Cart for enrollment when the registration periods arrive each term. Specific training information will be available in mid-October 2022.

When is the implementation of Degree Planner?

SMU will be asking departments to review their degree plans in September so that updates can be made when degree plans are rolled out to students in November 2022. Details will be sent to academic departments via SMU in Four School Implementation Teams.

Questions about Degree Planner can be directed to SMU in Four via the email address.

First-Generation Initiative Hilltop Scholars Mustang Scholars Rotunda Scholars University Honors Program

AT&T Data Science Scholars lunch and learn on September 21

The First-Generation Initiative is excited to spotlight the AT&T Data Science Scholars program at an upcoming Lunch and Learn. The AT&T Data Science Scholars program is an eight-week program followed by an eight-week paid internship!

To learn more about this amazing opportunity, join the First-Generation Initiative for lunch and learn on September 21 at noon in Hughes-Trigg Student Center Chamber (lower level). All scholars and honors programs are welcome to join. RSVP on Connect.SMU to save your seat.

The program is actively recruiting students who are:

  • Current juniors (graduating December 2023 or after)
  • Seniors on accelerated pathways
  • Graduating seniors who will be immediately entering a graduate program
  • Current graduate students

Questions about the AT&T Data Science Scholars program can be directed to Terry Teague ( Questions concerning the lunch and learn event can be directed to

Office of General Education

General Education reminders and updates



September 6, 2022


Dear SMU Community,

We hope you have had a wonderful start to Fall term.  We are writing to provide you with some additional information about the previously announced re-organization of the Office of General Education.  As you may remember in the Spring of 2022, Dayna Oscherwitz, the Assistant Provost for General Education, accepted the position of Associate Provost of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness and Peter Moore, the Associate Provost of Curricular Innovation and Policy stepped down from his role.  In considering how best to provide operational support for the Common Curriculum (CC), and for the Educational Programs Committee (EPC), in light of these changes, the Office of General Education was moved under Student Academic Engagement and Success, overseen by Associate Provost Sheri Kunovich, and EPC was moved under Institutional Planning and Effectiveness.  General Education assessment remains under the Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness.

The role of Assistant Provost for General Education was reimagined into the Assistant Provost of Undergraduate Education and Academic Success.  This role includes operational support of the Office of General Education (student advising, faculty and student outreach, faculty support, advisor support, website maintenance, process improvement), oversight of the University Testing Center, First-Generation Initiative, the Mustang Scholars Program, and strategic support of SMU undergraduate student success including co-directing SMU in Four.

The Council on General Education, which remains the governing body for the Common Curriculum, will, effective Fall 2022, be chaired by a tenured faculty member instead of the Assistant Provost.  We are very pleased to announce that Peter Kupfer, Associate Professor of Musicology in Meadows School of the Arts, has agreed to Chair the Council on General Education for a three-year term.  Peter previously served on the Council on General Education and the Historical Contexts and Creativity and Aesthetics curriculum committees, which wrote the outcomes and rubrics for those components.  He has also participated in the Association of American Universities’ Institute on General Education and Assessment.  Peter also served as a faculty facilitator and assessor during the CC assessment this past summer, so he has a great deal of experience and insight into the Common Curriculum.  In his role as Chair, Peter will work with the Office of General Education to organize meetings, write the agendas for meetings, Chair the meetings, and oversee the writing and posting of the minutes for meetings.

The Council on General Education will continue to make all decisions relative to course approval and fulfillment rules for the CC.  While we do not anticipate structural changes to the curriculum, should the need for those arise, they will be approved through the established process involving Council of General Education Approval, Academic Policies Committee of the Faculty Senate Approval, EPC approval, and where appropriate, full Senate approval and Board of Trustees approval, as directed by the Council on General Education bylaws.

It is our hope that these changes will improve the functionality of the Office of General Education and expand the degree of support it offers to faculty, staff, and students.  We have linked the 2022-2023 roster for the Council if you would like to know who represents your school and have provided our office contact information below.

All the Best,

Sheri Kunovich

Associate Provost for Student Academic Engagement and Success

Dayna Oscherwitz

Associate Provost for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness


Office of General Education Contact Information:

Office of General Education (214) 768-6168

Common Curriculum Email; for students on the CC:

University Curriculum Email; for students on the UC:

Dustin Grabsch, office Blanton 100F, (214) 768-4887,

Lisa Cordoba, office Blanton 102, (214) 768-2229,




Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship

Big iDeas $1000 Pitch Competition coming up!

The Big iDeas $1000 Pitch contest is coming up during family weekend on Friday Sept 23rd.

Apply here! And you can be selected to have your 60 second pitch funded, and bring your Big iDea to life!

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Engaged Learning Fellowships – now up to $2500!

The Office of Engaged Learning has recently increased the award for incoming Engaged Learning Fellows. Applicants may now request up to $2500 of funding!

Submission deadlines are September 15, December 15, and February 15, every year. Seniors graduating in May: your deadline is September 15th!

For more info, visit

SMU in Four

SMU-in-Four Student Steering Committee now recruiting student leaders to serve for the 22-23 academic year

SMU-in-Four is excited to announce the continuation of the student steering committee titled, Student Advisory Committee (StAC)! StAC is accepting student leader applicants to join for the 2022 – 2023 Academic Year.

The SMU-in-Four StAC team focuses on bridging the gap between students, faculty, and administration by test-driving new university products, pulsing the campus for feedback, and presenting their findings to SMU’s leadership.

Last semester, this group tackled issues with the university catalog, student access to important information, and user-friendliness of our new technology, HighPoint. This semester, we’re back with a variety of sub-committees to continue to improve the student experience related to academic advising, early alert, and first-year & gateway courses work.

Interested in communicating with faculty and administration on behalf of your peers? Want to know more about what these groups do and how you can participate? Check out our job posting on Handshake, and email Bailey Price ( with questions.

Take charge of your time at SMU by helping us create a better campus and community for all our future mustangs.