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

Interview with Summer Research Fellow Kevin Nguyen

One of the greatest issues our world is facing today is the human relationship and impact on the environment. Kevin Nguyen is a senior majoring in chemistry with a minor in art and he is attacking an aspect of this issue through his project: Synthesis of HEMI and Biodegradable Polymers. 

Kevin is one of Engaged Learning’s Summer Research Fellows and he is working with Dr. David Son as well as other undergraduates, and graduate students in their lab. Alongside his research, Kevin also has trained incoming lab students on everything from cleaning glassware to synthesizing HEMI.  

In this project, Kevin is working to create biodegradable polymers, or plastics, to find a way to “synthesize plastics that are both environmentally safe and are cheap on the market.” The current compound his is working is called HEMI and is the key component to his project. Unfortunately, many companies currently shy away from the compound since “five grams of it, which is about the mass of a penny, sells for about nine hundred fifty-five dollars.”   

The process of created different HEMI reactions has required a lot of trial and error. Kevins biggest lesson throughout this process last summer is that “you will probably always fail.” It took many reactions to try get a pure “white and powdery” reactions that he wanted which was discouraging for him at times. But when times were tough, he would remind himself of his goals and how his work is for “the betterment of the world.” 

Kevin is continuing his research as he was recently awarded the Engaged Learning Fellowship. The opportunity has also helped Kevin with his grad school and PhD plans. He wants to use this polymer chemistry experience to help him get more experience with others polymer scientists. Most importantly, Kevin wants everyone to know that while this issue of improving the synthesis of plastics is a significant problem, it is being worked on!  

Read more about Kevin’s summer research experience


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

The Office of General Education launches new Peer Academic Leaders website

The Office of General Education is happy to announce the launch of the new Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) website.

The website has exciting new updates, including an SMU 360 calendar of PALs events, details on the services provided by the PALs, and information on recruitment and selection.

The website also offers the option to book a PAL workshop for student groups or organizations that would like the PALs to come to them.

As the end of the Fall semester quickly approaches, students are encouraged to book a one-on-one appointment with a PAL should they need additional academic support, help understanding Common Curriculum requirements, tutorials on properly enrolling for classes, or assistance with filling out their Degree Planner.


Honors and Scholars Mustang Scholars President’s Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success

Maria Izaguirre, Program Specialist for Scholars Programs

Maria Izaguirre joined the Honors and Scholars team as the Program Specialist for Scholars Programs on October 13th.

As a Program Specialist, Maria will be supporting the President’s Scholars Program and the Mustang Scholars Program.

Maria Izaguirre, a Dallas Native, earned bachelor’s degrees in Human Rights, Psychology, and Sociology from SMU. Before joining the team as a Program Specialist for Scholars Programs, Maria was the Postbaccalaureate Fellow for the SMU Human Rights Program. Maria is currently a candidate for a Master of Science in Counseling at SMU.

When not working or studying, Maria enjoys taking long walks at White Rock Lake with her dogs, spending time with her cat, attending concerts, and trying new coffee shops.

SMU in Four

SMU in Four presented year-two progress and goals for year three

On Thursday, October 12, the SMU in Four team presented their second annual presentation to discuss and showcase SMU’s progress toward completing our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). A total of 141 members of the campus community were in attendance.

This five-year QEP, a key component of SMU’s SACSCOC accreditation process, is constructed to undergird SMU’s goals to increase first-year retention and four- and six-year graduation rates for our undergraduate students.

Sheri Kunovich, Associate Provost for Student Academic Engagement and Success; Paige Ware, Associate Provost for Faculty Success; Dustin Grabsch, Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education and Academic Success; Curt Herridge, Associate Chief Information Officer in the Office of Information Technology (OIT); Molly Ellis, Director of Strategic Initiatives in the Office of Faculty Success; and Josh Beatty, Associate Director for the University Advising Center each spoke about the SMU in Four initiatives currently underway, shared data analyses and reflections on this year’s activities, and previewed plans for next year’s initiatives.

The written SMU in Four Year-Two Progress Report will be made available later this fall, but in the interim, click here for a copy of this week’s presentation.

What can you do to support student success and retention on campus? We invite faculty and staff to support this work by submitting progress reports, Advising Notes, and Retention Alerts.

Learn more about these efforts on the Office of Student Success and Retention website. 

Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Success & Retention

Undergraduate student marketing campaign to clear enrollment holds begins

Student Academic Engagement and Success (SAES) began a multi-modal marketing campaign on October 13 to encourage undergraduate students to clear enrollment holds.

An enrollment hold is an administrative action that prevents a student from enrolling in classes or changing enrollment. Enrollment holds may be related to tuition or miscellaneous account balances, advising holds, missing paperwork or documentation, or incomplete orientation modules, to name a few.

With spring enrollment appointments beginning October 31 for undergraduates, SAES has already started an email, text message, digital signage, and newsletter campaign to raise awareness of holds that may impede enrollment and class selection.

On the first day of the campaign, 2,021 undergraduate students received a tailored email informing them they had one or more enrollment holds. The email contained details as to the type of hold and how to access their my.SMU Student Dashboard to clear or address the hold with the appropriate administrative office.

Over the next two weeks, students can expect reminders in the SMU Connected Wednesday newsletter, on various yard signs and digital signage across the Hilltop, via text message, and more.

Please encourage students to address any enrollment holds as soon as possible so they have a clear path to enrollment and graduation. Questions about the campaign can be directed to

Office of Engaged Learning

Save the Date!

The Fall Research Symposium 2023 will take place in Hughes-Trigg Student Center on Wednesday, November 1st.

Each fall, students in select research and service programs are invited to give oral presentations in a miniature professional conference. The programs include: Engaged Learning FellowsSummer Research FellowsCooper McElvaney Peace and Justice FellowsHamilton ScholarsMaguire Public Service FellowsMayer FellowsMcNair ScholarsRichter Fellows, and Tower Scholars.

Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success

Approved meeting minutes from the Council on General Education on September 29, 2023

The Council on General Education met on September 29, 2023. The meeting minutes for September 01, 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 September 29, 2023, Council on General Education meeting.
  2. Approval of Minutes for the September 1, 2023, Council on General Education meeting.
  3. Critical Reasoning Update
    1. Meadows, Lyle, and Dedman
    2. Phase Update
      1. Phase 4
      2. Phase 5
    3. December 1 Proposal Deadline
  4. CoGE Secretary Election
    1. Duties and Responsibilities
      1. Assists with counting and recording votes.
      2. Reviews CoGE minutes for accuracy and details.
  5. Course/Experience Proposals Administrative Review Process
  6. Course Proposal
    1. JOUR 1313 (Writing and Critical Reasoning) – CR
    2. CCPA 1313 (Writing and Critical Reasoning) – CR
    3. ASIM 1300 (Introduction to Digital/Hybrid Media) – TAS
    4. ASCE 1310 (Ceramic Technology) – TAS
    5. RELI 3331 (Renewal: Roman Catholicism) – PREI
    6. ARHS 3355 (Exhibiting Cultures Curating and Interpreting the Arts of the Global South) – CA
    7. WL 3388 (Future Worlds: French Science Fiction from the Enlightenment to the present) – LAI
    8. ENGL 1363 (The Myth of the West) – LAI/PREX-HD
    9. APSM 3360 (Nutrition and Population Health) – PREX-CIE
    10. UHP 3301 (STEM Communications) – PREX-OC/PREX-W
    11. BLI 1210 (Business Communications) – PREX/OC
  7. General Education Office Updates (Dustin)
    1. ARHS 3315 (Classical Sculpture) – CA
      1. During rollover course was approved for both CA and HC. They want this to count for CA. Gen Ed submitted catalog update effective Jan 2024.
    2. Student Outreach Schedule
      1. Workshops
      2. Zoom Hours
      3. Pop-Up Tabling
    3. Admin Imaging Update
    4. Breadth Swap Petition (students matriculated Fall 2023 or later)
    5. November 2/3 Engage Dallas Place-based Community Engagement Symposium RSVP by October 20, 2023
      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
    6. Recently removed CC tags from courses
      1. Process Reminder
        1. ARHS 3338-W
        2. ECO 1311-SBS
        3. ENGL 2315-CA
        4. FILM 1304-CA
        5. HIST 1321-OC
        6. HIST 3309-W
        7. SOCI 3312-W
        8. WL 3383-OC

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

Office of General Education

Approved meeting minutes from the Council on General Education on September 01, 2023

The Council on General Education met on September 01, 2023. The meeting minutes for April 21, 2023 were approved at this meeting. Below is the agenda, and the meeting minutes have now been posted on the General Education website.

  1. Welcome & Introductions
  2. Approval of Agenda for the September 1, 2023, Council on General Education meeting.
  3. Approval of Minutes for the April 21, 2023, Council on General Education meeting.
  4. Critical Reasoning Revision Background
  5. Critical Reasoning Rubric Review
  6. Critical Reasoning Spring Course Pilots
  7. New Course Proposal Forms
  8. Council on General Education Meeting Schedule
  9. General Education Office Updates

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

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

PALs wrap up September programming and look toward October

The Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) are happy to announce that they have completed their first whole month of programming this academic year.

In September, the PALs hosted:

  • 4 Degree Planner Workshops
  • 2 Peer Panels
  • 2 Advice Booths
  • 2 Enhancement Workshops highlighting the A-LEC and SMU 360.

The PALs consistently marketed all their events via Instagram, physical flyers, and digital boards across campus. These efforts proved successful, as the PALs averaged 10-30 attendees per event.

The PALs have also succeeded with their one-on-one advising appointments at Laura Lee Blanton in Suite 102. Undergraduate students scheduled appointments in Booking.SMU with the PALs to cover topics such as Degree Planner, and how to get involved on campus as a Freshman.

With a month of programming under their belt, the PALs are eager to get a start on their October events.

They will host workshops throughout the month highlighting Spring Enrollment, with their first one being held on October 20th. Students can find their PALs before then; however, during their October Peer Panel that will highlight TAOS, Intersessions, and Study Abroad experiences.

The Office of General Education also encourages SMU students to take advantage of the PALs office hours should they prefer a one-on-one appointment with a PAL.

Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Honors and Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success University Testing Center

University Testing Center closed for Fall Break

The University Testing Center will be closed on Monday, October 9th, and Tuesday, October 10th for Fall Break.

Testing will resume on Thursday, October 12th.   

Good luck on midterms, and enjoy the break!