Office of General Education Peer Academic Leaders Student Academic Engagement & Success

Office of General Education promotes office hours in latest email blast to undergraduates

With finals on the horizon and enrollment beginning, the Office of General Education is working hard to ensure that SMU’s undergraduate students feel supported while on their academic journey.

To increase knowledge of the services provided by the Office of General Education, a recent email blast has been sent out to all undergraduate students promoting drop-in advising for both in-person and virtual appointments.

Students are encouraged to attend these appointments should they have questions about Common Curriculum or University Curriculum requirements, petitions, or Degree Planner.

The email blast also invites students to book appointments with the Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) during their office hours in Laura Lee Blanton, Suite 100.

Students, faculty, and staff can refer to SMU 360 to keep up with the events and programs offered by the Office of General Education.

Office of General Education Peer Academic Leaders Student Academic Engagement & Success

The Office of General Education celebrates their October PAL of the month

With the end of the Fall semester fast approaching, the Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) are wrapping up another month of programming.

The PALs have consistently offered October programming over topics such as navigating Degree Planner, effective testing strategies, and enrollment. In total, the PALs had 295 students attend their 16 events in October!

Although every PAL has played a role in making their first semester of programming successful, one PAL has impressed the Office of General Education with her time management skills, creativity, and reliability.

Meet Ruth Kinyua. Ruth is a current Sophomore at SMU pursuing degrees in Biochemistry and Spanish. Despite having a demanding course load, Ruth manages to meet all deadlines and programming requirements while maintaining a positive attitude.

Ruth even goes as far as to assist her teammates with tasks and shares her tips for staying organized. Ruth has remained consistent in her hard work and effort, and the Office of General Education is pleased to announce her as the October PAL of the month.

Learn more about the program and upcoming events at

Student Academic Engagement & Success

Pass/fail declaration deadline moved to deadline to withdraw

New pass/fail declaration deadline for fall 2023 classes is Tuesday, November 21, 2023.

Student Academic Engagement and Success (SAES) is pleased to announce that the pass/fail declaration deadline, which has typically been aligned with the deadline to drop a course without academic record, has been moved later into the semester to align with the deadline to withdraw from classes and/or the University. As we move into future semesters, we plan on keeping the pass/fail declaration deadline in the later part of the semester. By changing this policy, we hope to provide students with academic continuity alternatives other than simply withdrawing from a course.

The decision to change the date was made after careful examination of student behavior, discussions with faculty, benchmarking of our peer and aspirant schools, and observing the impact of changes to the academic calendar during previous semesters.  The recommendation to change the date was discussed by the faculty and student steering committees associated with SMU in Four, the University Registrar, school records offices, and was formally approved by Academic Policies Committee of Faculty Senate and the Educational Policies Committee.

In light of this new deadline, we ask that faculty whose students wish to switch to a pass/fail grading option, as long as it is before the deadline, give serious consideration to these requests. Completing a course via pass/fail enables students to earn elective credit, helps them stay on track toward a timely graduation, and for some, retain their full-time student status.

For students, we ask that you keep the following criteria in mind when looking to change a class to the pass/fail grading format. You may take one course per term on a pass/fail basis with a maximum total of 12 hours of pass/fail credit counting toward a degree. Your intention to take a course pass/fail must be indicated no later than the published deadline on the academic calendar by completing the Undergraduate Pass/Fail Option Declaration Form available in your school’s Records Office. After the declaration of intent, you may not change back to a letter grade.

We always encourage students to consult their advisers before utilizing the pass/fail option for any course. Not all courses can be taken pass/fail such as courses needed to meet major/minor requirements or those used to meet Common Curriculum requirements. Additionally, SMU schools may have different pass/fail policies for major and minor courses, and an academic advisor will help students navigate these exceptions.  We have created an expanded FAQ on the Registrar’s website to answer as many questions as possible to inform your decision.

Thank you for supporting this academic calendar change. As always, we look to support our students as holistically as possible as they work towards their degrees and believe that this change will make an impactful difference for many of our students and their ability to stay on track to an on-time graduation.

FAQs about pass/fail grading will be posted to SMU’s Office of the Registrar website soon.

With questions or concerns about the new pass/fail declaration deadline, please contact:

Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success

Approved meeting minutes from the Council on General Education on October 20, 2023

The Council on General Education met on October 20, 2023. The meeting minutes for September 29, 2023 were approved at this meeting. Below is the agenda, and the meeting minutes have now been posted on the General Education website.

  1. Approval of Agenda for the October 20, 2023, Council on General Education meeting.
  2. Approval of Minutes for the September 29, 2023, Council on General Education meeting.
  3. CoGE Secretary Election
  4. Course Proposal Update
    1. Courses tabled from Spring 2023
      1. WL 3311 (Food/ Identify in the SW) – TAS
    2. Courses approved still pending assessment meeting.
      1. ASIM 1300 (Introduction to Digital/Hybrid Media) – TAS
    3. Courses approved pending assessment meeting: CC tags added.
      1. RELI 3331 (Renewal: Roman Catholicism) – PREI
      2. ARHS 3355 (Exhibiting Cultures Curating and Interpreting the Arts of the Global South) – CA
      3. UHP 3301 (STEM Communications) –PREX-W
    4. Courses tabled pending revisions.
      1. ASCE 1310 (Ceramic Technology) – TAS
      2. ENGL 1363 (The Myth of the West) – PREX-HD
      3. APSM 3360 (Nutrition and Population Health) – PREX-CIE
  5. Course Proposal Form Feedback Discussion
  6. Common Curriculum Assessment Results
    1. CC Components Assessed
    2. Presentation at December 1st CoGE Meeting
  7. CoGE Working Groups (Spring/Summer)
    1. External Test Credit Review (AP, IB, CLEP)
    2. Re-Evaluation of Transfer Credit on Texas Common Course Numbering System (TCCNS)
  8. General Education Office Updates
    1. November 2/3 Engage Dallas Place-based Community Engagement Symposium
      1. November 2nd 4:30-7:00pm at SMU Indoor Performance Center
      2. November 3rd 9:00-1:00pm at Dallas College- West Dallas Campus

Please contact the Office of General Education for questions or proposal development support.

News Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Student Academic Engagement & Success

The Office of Engaged Learning welcomes new ELFs

The Office of Engaged Learning is happy to introduce the new Engaged Learning Fellows for 2023! Engaged Learning Fellowships award up to $2500 for student pursuing capstone projects in research, service, and creative activities.

Tyler Chapman ‘24
Fight the New Drug
Mentor: Mark Allen (Temerlin Advertising Institute)

Isis Kazadi ‘24
Am I My Brother’s Keeper: A Rational Dissection into the Family Unit’s Political Response to Incarceration
Mentor: Kara Sutton (Sociology)

Kevin Nguyen ‘24
The Synthesis of HEMI and Biodegradable Polymers
Mentor: David Son (Chemistry)

Theodore Morris ‘24
SMU Guildhall Capstone Recording Sessions: Year Two
Mentor: Robert Frank (Music Composition)

Anika Saiprabhu ‘26
Prisoner of the Strings: The Dystopia of Book Bans and Censorship in Schools
Mentor: Lane Harder (Music Composition)

Anna Su ‘24
Early Interventions in STEM Education: Examining Spectrums of Youth Interest in Engineering
Mentor: Richard Duschl (Caruth Institute for Engineering Education)

Yvonne Yang ‘24
Mentor: Rebecca Flores (Film and Media)

First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

First Gen Fest 2023

Join us November 8th as we celebrate our First Gen students!  Co-sponsored by First Gen Assn and First Gen initiative
Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Student Academic Engagement & Success

Interview with Engaged Learning Fellow Ella Dabney

Vocal disorders are a significant health problem that have an impact on how a person’s voice sounds, and it requires very specific care. Ella Dabney, a senior studying vocal performance and health and society with minors in health sciences and biological sciences, is researching vocal disorders among professional singers and personality as an Engaged Learning Fellow 

Ella learned about the Office of Engaged Learning because of her interest in interdisciplinary research. Through this she has not only been able to conduct her own research but also attend research conferences and gain scholarships like the Bea Medicine Award by presenting herself at a conference. Ella’s project Vocal Disorders and Personality delves into vocal therapy that “repair the effects of vocal disorders such as, phono trauma or overuse.” Ella is also studying the importance of clinician-patient relationships that “can be influential in the success of vocal therapy, as it impacts patient motivation and comfort in practicing the necessary voice therapies.” 

The inspiration for this project came from Ella’s own experience. Because of a cold, she had lost her voice for three weeks and got treatment for it at UT Southwestern’s Voice Center which helped to recover her singing voice. Ella was impressed by the “quality of care provided for singer’s specifically” which inspired her to learn more about the “relationships between voice disorders, singers, and personality.” Treatment and attention to vocal health is incredibly important when people’s professions rely heavily on their voices. 

The research process was a learning experience for Ella because of the different challenges she faced. One challenge was “efficiency of patient recruitment” since her patient pool had very specific requirements – professional and amateur singers and voice users that were experiencing vocal disorder. She also had to navigate handling situations that were out of her hands like working with businesses and their specific patient flow. These experiences helped her to learn how to interview in a convenient and efficient manner and how to organize appointments. Additionally, Ella had to work with UT Southwestern professor Dr. Carolyn Smith-Morris as well as a vocal specialist Dr. Laura Toles, which helped her develop professional skills related to motivation and organization.  

The skills and knowledge Ella has gained from this research opportunity play into her post-graduate plans as well. Ella intends to pursue a career in health care specializing in otolaryngology in healthcare for professional singers. Having prior research experience has given her the foundation to achieve these dreams! You can learn more about Ella and her project at the Fall Research Symposium on November 1st where she will be presenting her discoveries. 


Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success

Reminder to join us at the 2nd Annual Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium

Once again, we are excited to extend you an invitation to the 2nd Annual Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium hosted by Engage Dallas, in collaboration with Residence Life & Student Housing, The Budd Center, Office of General Education, the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility, and the Center for Teaching Excellence.

This two-day event will occur on November 2nd, 4:30pm – 7:00pm at the SMU Indoor Performance Center and November 3rd, 9:00am – 1:00pm at the Dallas College West Dallas Center. 

The theme for this year’s symposium is Listening, Learning and Leading Locally: A Place-Based Approach to Promoting Public Responsibility & Community Engagement in a Covid-Impacted World.




Latosha Herron Bruff is the Senior Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement at the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC), which in 2023 was recognized as the National Chamber of the Year.



Byron Sanders is a committed advocate for education, economic development and creating equitable communities. As the President and CEO of Big Thought, he explores innovative ways to narrow the opportunity gap and believes it’s our charge to shape society so young people have the chance to live the innate greatness that’s inside of them.

About the Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium

The Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium is a gathering of thought leaders, academics, community leaders, and nonprofit professionals from SMU and the DFW area. This event is designed to explore the transformative potential of community engagement within specific geographic contexts. Our goal is to delve into the strategies and innovations that have the power to catalyze positive change within communities, with emphasis on campus and community collaboration and sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships.

The SMU Engage Dallas Program

Engage Dallas is a place-based community engagement initiative via SMU’s Residential Commons to address community needs focusing on South and West Dallas. The initiative is a long-term, university-wide commitment led by students to partner with local residents, organizations, and other leaders to positively impact the community. There is equal emphasis on campus and community impact stemming from the initiative. This symposium allows us to share, expand and further develop the work of Engage Dallas, as well as invite other SMU faculty and staff to consider new and innovative ways to support community engagement efforts in Dallas.


This event is free and seats are limited, so please register by October 27, 2023. You will be able to opt to register for one or both days.

Register now.

Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success

SAES shows up to support Engage Dallas’ #1Day4Dallas Residential Commons Fall Day of Service event

On Saturday, October 21st, Engage Dallas hosted its third annual #1Day4Dallas event. Student Academic Engagement and Success members showed up to serve with students over the weekend.

The Residential Commons fall service day, known as #1Day4Dallas, serves as an annual tradition where every Residential Commons participates in service around their community-identified need on the same day. This annual event is a student-led initiative supported by the Engage Dallas Student Directors and SMU Service House (SMUSH) liaisons.

Preliminary numbers revealed 151 volunteers attended, including 25 student leaders from Engage Dallas and SMUSH, who helped facilitate the service opportunities. Volunteers were sent to one of 13 service sites with West and South Dallas community partners. Sites included:

  • Greenspace
  • Our Saviour Community Garden
  • Sunny South Community Garden
  • Brother Bill’s Helping Hand
  • Genesis Women’s Shelter
  • Austin Street Center
  • The Bridge
  • Jubilee Park
  • Dallas Furniture Bank
  • After8toEducate
  • Voice of Hope
  • Empowering the Masses
  • Legacy Cares

Why is SAES all in with Engage Dallas? Engage Dallas is the most accessible co-curricular way for Common Curriculum students to receive their Community Engagement (CE) and/or Civics and Individual Ethics (CIE) Proficiency and Experience required for graduation. Students can learn more and get started with the service by following the instructions on the Engage Dallas website.

Special thanks to the University Advising Center (Vivian Fowler, Michelle Gaunt, Jacob Trevino), Student Academic Success Programs (Gracy Herrera, Makenzie Moriarty), and the Office of General Education (Dustin Grabsch) for joining in this annual service offering.

Engage Dallas is a partnership between Residence Life & Student Housing, the Office of General Education, the Office of Social Change & Intercultural Engagement, the Office of Engaged Learning, and the Hegi Family Career Development Center.

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Fall Research Symposium

The 2023 Fall Research Symposium will take place on Wednesday, November 1 from 4-7 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. All are invited to join for refreshments and to learn about the various projects conducted by these scholars.


Time Room 118 Room 120 Room 121
4:00 Brianna Freshwater
4:15 Nina Castaneda Ella Dabney
4:30 Gopika Shah Kennedy Honors Sadikshya Sitaula
4:45 Siji Deleawe Paige Edwards
5:00 Princess Igwe-Icho Tricia Tsang Shriya Siddhartha
 5:15  Ella Skelsey Sana Omar Ria Parpelli
 5:30 Oluwaseun Taiwo
 5:45 Kathryn Cross Anish Senthilkumar
 6:00 Lilly Chapman Alina Munoz Kevin Nguyen
 6:15 Jason Jordan Ryenne Reiter
 6:30 James Martin Alexis Schroeder

2023 Presenters

Nina Castaneda (Hamilton Scholar). Mentor: Chrystyna Kouros. Adolescents’ Cognitive Vulnerability for Depression in the Context of Family Stress: A Test of the Weakest Link Model

Lilly Chapman (Maguire Fellow). Mentor: Andrew Davies. The Impact of Hourly Rates on Indigent Defense

Kathryn Cross (Maguire Fellow). Mentor: Kacy Hollenback. If Tenth Street Could Talk: Counter-storytelling with Archives, Oral History, and GIS

Ella Dabney (Engaged Learning Fellow). Mentor: Barbara Hill-Moore, Carolyn Smith-Morris. Voice Disorders and Personality

Siji Deleawe (Maguire Fellow). Mentor: Tamara Lewis. Storytelling and Spirituality in Yoruba Culture.

Paige Edwards (Engaged Learning Fellow, McNair Scholar, Summer Research Fellow). Mentor: Brad Klein. Re-Imagine Paradise:  The Impacts of the Illegal Annexation of Hawai’i and Tourism on Native Hawaiians.

Brianna Freshwater (Engaged Learning Fellow). Mentor: Kara Sutton and Sondra Barringer. Advanced Placement Participation in Minority White Schools.

Kennedy Honors (McNair Scholar). Mentor: Kenitra Brown. Social Determinates of incarceration: Factors affecting incarceration rates between Washington Dc 2nd and 8th Wards

Princess Igwe-Icho (Maguire Fellow). Mentor: Linda Evans and Jill Kelly. Resilience in Transition: Navigating Change and Discovering Hope at the Father McKenna Center.

Jason Jordan (Maguire Fellow). Mentor: Maryann Cairns. Bicycle mobility and community engagement

James Martin (Maguire Fellow). Mentor: Steve Long. The Primacy of Local Community for Royal Lane Baptist Church

Kevin Nguyen (Summer Research Fellow). Mentor: David Son. The Synthesis of HEMI and Biodegradable Polymers.

Sana Omar (McNair Scholar). Mentor: Neely Myers. Understanding the Knowledge Attitudes and Practices of Opioid Use within Somalia.

Ria Parpelli (Hamilton Scholar). Mentor: Pia Vogel. Effects of Specific Metal Nanoclusters on Cancerous and Non-Cancerous Cells

Ryenne Reiter (Engaged Learning Starter Award). Mentor: Adam Neal. The Role of Gender Expectations and Stereotypes in Eating Disorders

Alexis Schroeder (Engaged Learning Starter Award). Mentor: Nia Parson. Neoliberalism in Biomedicine Regarding Medical Ableism.

Anish Senthilkumar (Tower Scholar). Mentor: Paola Buckley. Beyond the classroom: The effects of France’s secularist policies in education.

Gopika Shah (Maguire Fellow). Mentor: Carla Reyes. Banking on Ethics.

Shriya Siddhartha (Hamilton Scholar). Mentor: Alex Lippert. Photocaged Nitric Oxide Donor and Probe Systems

Sadikshya Sitaula (Engaged Learning Fellow). Mentor: Adam Neal. ADHD and LD Awareness in Nepal.

Ella Skelsey (Cooper-McElvaney Fellow). Mentor: Lisa Garvin. The relationship between speech and religion in the Czech Republic

Oluwaseun Taiwo (McNair Scholar). Mentor: John Buynak. Design, Synthesis and Evaluations of Structurally Modified Carbapenem Antibiotics.

Tricia Tsang. (McNair Scholar). Mentor: Dr. Holly Bowen. Connecting Affect & Perception in the Context of COVID-19