SMU in Four

SMU in Four Year-one Progress report available

The SMU in Four team releases the year-one progress report on SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan.

Updates are provided on early-alert mechanisms, undergraduate academic advising, technology enhancements, and gateway & introductory courses. Plus, student retention and graduation numbers are shared along with goals for year two of the five-year initiative.

In September, a copy of the year-one progress presentation was shared with the SMU community and is also available online. Questions regarding the report or presentation may be directed to

Office of General Education SMU in Four University Advising Center

Another thing to be thankful for! Degree Planner is coming

Degree Planner is coming this fall
It’s another thing to be thankful for! To aid undergraduate Common Curriculum students in their progress toward degree, the SMU in Four team is leading the development of a new tool called Degree Planner within my.SMU.

This tool will help students and advisors develop and sequence a personalized path to on-time graduation. The new tool will launch later this semester, so take a sneak peek today.

Offices & Programs Student Academic Engagement & Success

Student Academic Engagement and Success New Team Member

We are excited to announce Bailey Price has joined the Student Academic Engagement and Success Team as of Monday, November 21st. Bailey will be serving in our new position as SAES business manager. Bailey received her undergraduate degree from SMU in 2021 and she’ll be starting the MBA program this spring. Bailey wrote “I received so much support and guidance from SMU administration during my undergraduate career, and I’m grateful for the chance to help various offices that provide these opportunities to the students. The SAES team has implemented some exciting initiatives and set some incredible goals, and I can’t wait to be a part of the growth that this office is working towards.” Bailey has been working in Human Resources and recently competed her aPHR certification (Associate Professional in Human Resources). Please help us welcome Bailey back to the Hilltop!

University Testing Center

University Testing Center final examination hours of operations

The University Testing Center’s hours of operation will change for final examinations to accommodate an increased need for testing services.

Our facility and office will be open from 7:30am-7:30pm, with testing hours of 8:00am-7:00pm. This schedule will begin December 8th and conclude December 14th, with our center only closed on Sunday, December 11th through this period.

In summary, testing hours will be expanded to 8:00am-7:00pm on weekdays with the addition of Saturday. The center will be open 7:30am-7:30pm during that same schedule. You can view these updates on our website,

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship

Mantra and Co. Fuses Culture with Commerce!


by Hannah Green ’26

Founded as a jewelry brand by Nrithi Subramanian 25’ (pictured above sitting on a chair) in 2020, Mantra and Co. is a South Asian diasporic brand that relaunched on November 1st to additionally sell apparel and other accessories. Mantra and Co. seeks to promote unity within the diversity of the South Asian community! The brand sells crewnecks, t-shirts, and other apparel that merges South Asian culture with a western streetwear aesthetic. The company is one of profit and progress as a portion of its proceeds are used to help fund a non-profit hospital in Chennai, India! 

Along with her team of fellow college students from around the country, Nrithi is passionate about reclaiming the desi culture, narrative, and community! Here are her own words:

“I created this idea, of a desi fusion apparel brand 3 years ago, while confused by my identity, hoping to create the representation for South Asian Americans that our society lacked. 3 years later, my dream, Mantra and Co, is live.

This is for the children that grew up ashamed of their culture, navigating the duality of their upbringing, and building their identity from the ground-up. This is ours.” 


To learn more about Mantra and Co., visit mantra and co. 

Office of General Education

Student communication shared concerning changes to Writing in the Major Proficiency and Experience

The following communication was sent to all undergraduate students on the Common Curriculum from the Office of General Education.

Subject: Changes to your Writing in the Major Proficiency and Experience

November 10, 2022

Dear SMU Common Curriculum Students:

We are writing to you with important information about changes to the Writing in the Major (WiM) Proficiency of the Common Curriculum (CC) that were made to make it easier to administer and fulfill.

  1. We will be tracking student completion of the WiM Proficiency through program assessment, rather than through Degree Progress Report (DPR) tracking.
  2. This change will go into effect tomorrow, November 11.
  3. This change will make it easier for departments to administer and assess this Proficiency and for you (students) to fulfill it.

On September 9, 2022, the Council on General Education approved a proposal to change how the Common Curriculum’s  Writing in the Major Proficiency and Experience is tracked on your Degree Progress Report and replace it with program-level Writing in the Major student learning outcome.

What does this mean for you? Ultimately, this Common Curriculum change merely moves tracking from the student level (e.g., on the DPR) to the program level (e.g., program evaluation process). Therefore, you will notice the WiM Proficiency and Experience will no longer appear on your DPR.

Writing in your academic discipline remains important to your undergraduate education at SMU. The knowledge, skills, and abilities SMU expects of our graduates will remain the same, without students having to worry about finding a particular course tagged for the WiM graduation requirement. These learning outcomes will be achieved across one or several of your major-required courses.

Questions related to this change can be directed to your academic advisor, faculty advisor, or the Office of General Education at


Dustin Grabsch 

Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education & Academic Success

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Fall Research Symposium Recap

Thanks to everyone who attended the Fall Research Symposium on November 3rd! Over 70 students, faculty, staff, and guests came to support the 21 students who presented their recent work. The Research in Mathematics Education team, led by Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller, spoke at the opening roundtable discussion.

To see some of what you missed, check out this Reel created by Khadija Ijaz ’24. More photos and video are coming soon.

Office of Engaged Learning Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success

General Education reminisces on the inaugural Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium

On October 3 and 4, Engage Dallas, in partnership with the Dedman College Interdisciplinary InstituteCenter for Teaching Excellence (CTE)Office of General Education, and Residence Life and Student Housing, hosted the first Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium.

Participants were energized by the authors of the book Place-Based Community Engagement (PBCE) in Higher Education: A Strategy to Transform Universities and Communities, Dr. Erica Yamamura and Kent Koth. In the keynote, the authors highlighted place-based community engagement as a strategy that prioritizes a campus-wide and education-centered approach in comparison to other individual or office-level (e.g., service learning pedagogy) and economic (e.g., anchor institution) strategies. They underlined the importance and impact of equal emphasis on campus and community for the development and sustainability of the Engage Dallas initiative in moving forward with the program.

During the Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium, over 60 attendees were invited to a luncheon while they learned how faculty, staff, community partners, and students can connect to Engage Dallas and collectively build capacity for community engagement on the Hilltop.

Afterward, the authors met with faculty for the Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium Post-Keynote Faculty Workshop. This session was designed as an opportunity for faculty to follow up with the authors and learn more about PBCE and how the model may be implemented into courses, as well as more about the Engage Dallas initiative. Opportunities for faculty participation with Engage Dallas were explored, and the importance of faculty engagement for the development and sustainability of such initiatives was emphasized during the session.

The initiatives managers for Engage Dallas, Audryanna Reed, and Lauren Anne Cove, reflected on the overall symposium.

“The PBCE Symposium was a great opportunity for students, staff, faculty, and community partners to engage in the same space to exchange ideas and establish new synergies. I am grateful for the new ideas that Erica and Kent shared, particularly related to sustaining Engage Dallas and maintaining its long-term commitment to South and West Dallas. The keynote address was challenging, inspiring, and affirming. I am excited to see how the Engage Dallas team collaborates to implement some of the critical feedback and timely suggestions we received.”  – Audryanna Reed, Associate Director for High-Impact Practices, Academic Initiatives

“I appreciated that our keynote speakers, Dr. Erica Yamamura and Kent Koth, focused on the work of changing hearts and minds. I have been reflecting on the quote that Kent Koth shared from Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach: “When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change.”  My heart and mind were touched and challenged by the collective learning during the Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium. I look forward to exploring how the Engage Dallas team can achieve an equal impact on campus and in the Dallas community.” – Lauren Anne Cove, Associate Director for Social Change and Intercultural Engagement

So, where do we go from here? The Engage Dallas team has mapped out strategies to ensure the continuity of promoting Engage Dallas.

Offering regular faculty sessions with the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) on Engage Dallas, PBCE, and launching a book club in spring 2023 are among the strategies moving forward. Co-founder of the Engage Dallas initiative and organizer of the PBCE symposium, Dr. Dustin Grabsch, shared:

“It was wonderful to bring together so many in the SMU community as well as our Engage Dallas Community partners to this first symposium. We have come a long way in a short time, but there is room for more folks at the table. Our hope is to share leadership with the community in planning further professional development experiences. Thanks again to all who attended and collaborated to make this community dialogue a success.“ – Dr. Dustin Grabsch, Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education and Academic Success

In 2020, SMU adopted the PBCE model to launch and sustain the Engage Dallas initiative. We are honored by the opportunity to engage and learn from the authors of the book that operationalized this university-wide, and community-embedded initiative we call Engage Dallas. A special thanks to SMU staff, faculty, and community partners for attending this successful event. Our gratitude extends to Engage Dallas staff members and sponsor offices who made this event possible!

Please follow our Instagram @smu.engage.dallas to stay updated with our upcoming events. To learn more about the initiative, visit the Engage Dallas website.

First-Generation Initiative

NASPA features SMU’s First-Gen Fest on website

The Center for First-generation Students, an initiative of NASPA and The Suder Foundation, highlighted SMU’s celebration of National First-Gen Day, known as First-Gen Fest.

The Center has been monumental in supporting and advocating for first-generation students. Their mission statement is as follows:

“We provide data, training, and expertise for a growing network of colleges and universities around the country to scale and sustain the important work of serving first-generation students.”

It is an honor to have SMU’s First-Gen Fest highlighted by such a powerful contributor to first-generation student success. We look forward to celebrating with our students today, beginning at 12pm on Dallas Hall Lawn.

Happy National First-Gen Day!


University Testing Center

University Testing Center certified by National College Testing Association

The University Testing Center (UTC) is excited to announce its recognition as a certified testing center by the National College Testing Association (NCTA), valid through March 2024.

“We’re proud to be a member of the NCTA and to have received this distinguished recognition as a certified testing center,” said UTC Manager Lori Krone. “SMU is the only certified center in Dallas, and one of three in the greater D/FW area. We appreciate being recognized for our dedication to testing integrity and adherence to NCTA’s best practices in test administration.”

The certification is a rigorous, one-year accreditation process granted to those centers whose test administration policies are compliant with testing industry standards developed by the NCTA. Centers are evaluated using criteria from the NCTA’s Professional Standards and Guidelines that focus on the evaluation of the test facility, test integrity methods, test security, confidentiality practices, staff training, and public relations.

Krone says the distinction is not only important for the SMU community, but also to others as UTC expands its service offerings that will include professional testing for certification and licensure, proctoring for distance learners attending other universities, credit-by-exam placement testing, and school admission exams.

The National College Testing Association is a non-profit organization of testing professionals working in post-secondary institutions, in companies with test-related products and services, and in other professional testing venues. NCTA was organized in 2000 and currently has more than 3,000 members and has certified more than 300 testing centers throughout the country.