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. 

Office of General Education Peer Academic Leaders SMU in Four

Find your PAL and complete your Degree Planner in my.SMU student communication sent

SMU in Four would like to share efforts being made to encourage undergraduate students to complete their my.SMU Degree Planner. 

The following message was shared on Sunday, September 17.


From: SMU in Four (

To: Undergraduate Students

Subject Line: Find your PAL and complete your Degree Planner in my.SMU

Dear Mustangs,

We’re officially in week 4! Is this semester flying by, or is it just us? SMU in Four hopes you’re getting into the swing of things, but if not, have you considered finding a Peer Academic Leader (PAL)? PALs are a diverse group of undergraduate students at SMU who have been dedicating their time to help their peers navigate academics.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to meet them, have no fear! They have plenty of upcoming events on the books to help you succeed.

All students are expected to use Degre Planner, so visit one of the PAL workshops this month to start, update, and complete your plan! Degree Planner workshops are on the following dates. RSVP’s are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome:

If you can’t make it to any of these, book a one-on-one appointment with a PAL during their office hours, and they’re happy to help! Whether it’s at Laura Lee Blanton Building, Suite 100, or anywhere else on campus, they’re excited to PAL around!

Melina Padron

Sr. Advisor for General Education


O: 214-768-6559

Office of General Education; Student Academic Engagement & Success

Office of the Provost


6185 Airline Road

Dallas, TX 75205

Academic Center for Excellence Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies First-Generation Initiative Hilltop Scholars Mustang Scholars National Fellowships Office of Engaged Learning Office of General Education President’s Scholars Rotunda Scholars SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs Student Success & Retention University Advising Center University Honors Program University Testing Center

SEAS units begin migration to new SMU-branded web pages

In partnership with the Office of Information Technology, Student Academic Engagement and Success (SAES) began migrating unit websites to the new SMU-banded web pages.

As part of the brand migration, the SAES Marketing, Communication, and Digital Technology committee worked with unit webmasters to assist with a site content refresh (e.g., text, pictures, layouts). The committee recommended reorganizing navigation and pages based on Google Analytics data of high-traffic pages. As part of the process, broken links, spelling, SEO optimization, SMU web governance, and site navigation are also being addressed. Finally, professional headshots and employee biographies will be added over the summer.

Beginning with the SAES main navigation in late May, all units will be migrated over the course of the summer and early fall terms.

Last week, the following unit websites were completed:

Scheduled to migrate on or around the dates listed below will be:

  • June 23:
    • University Testing Center
    • University Advising Center
  • July 21:
    • Academic Development of Student-Athletes
    • Office of Student Success and Retention
  • August 11:
    • Student Academic Success Programs
    • Office of Undergraduate National Fellowships
  • September 1:
    • University Honors Program
    • First-Generation Initiative
    • Scholars’ Den
  • September 22:
    • President’s Scholars
    • Rotunda Scholars
    • Mustang Scholars
    • Hilltop Scholars

Please pardon our dust during this transition. If you discover broken links or issues, please direct them to to be routed appropriately. The next communication on the webpage migration will be once all SAES units have been completed.

Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success University Advising Center

Degree Planner after-action report and advisor incentives announced

Degree Planner was introduced to students at the end of the Fall 2022 semester as a tool that supports the SMU in Four – SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) –SMU’s comprehensive approach to improving retention and four-year graduation rates. 

The Degree Planner in the my.SMU Student Dashboard is a powerful tool that can provide students with a personalized, pre-populated degree plan to help them on their journey to graduation. This degree path provides a sequence of courses that will fulfill degree requirements and can be adjusted regularly to fit their future plans. This differs from the Degree Progress Report (DPR), the authoritative source for graduation requirements. 

Initial adoption efforts focused on the 5,348 Common Curriculum students who matriculated in the fall 2020 semester or after (213 Spring 2023 graduating seniors were excluded). Students received outreach on Degree Planner’s purpose, support with completion, and notification of their progress in a variety of ways: 

  • 1,201 students completed their Degree Planner for all remaining terms.  
  • 1,484 students completed their Degree Planner for the Fall 2023 semester. 
  • 8 Degree Planner Support sessions were held (4 in Caruth, 2 in Hughes Trigg, 1 in Meadows, and 1 Zoom Session)  
  • 7 Blog posts were written introducing Degree Planner, sharing progress, announcing raffle winners (on 2/2/23, 2/13/23, & 3/16/23 ), and general information on Degree Planner  
  • 7 Student emails were sent   
  • 130 Winners were selected in raffles to win prizes for completion of Degree Planner.  
  • To-do tasks were added to students’ My.SMU accounts. These to-do tasks were updated and removed weekly. 

We want to reward the following advisors with $100 Amazon gift cards for having the highest number of advisee completions University-wide: 

  • Dorie Beitchman 
  • Misti Compton 
  • Maria Crouch 
  • Christopher Logan 
  • Jennifer Malone 
  • Barbara Morhle 
  • Jeanene Renfro 
  • Caroline Rydquist 
  • Alyssa Wong 

Special Acknowledgement is also given to Janet Stephens and Alyssa Wong for their efforts in encouraging student completion and advertising our student support sessions.  

SMU in Four

Mid-Term Progress Reports (MPRs) completed at an all-time high this semester

As part of SMU in Four, undergraduate faculty are asked to complete early and midterm progress reports each semester. During the fall semester, requests for reports from faculty occur during September
and October, and for the spring semester in February and March.

Faculty members report on any deficient grades by students and may indicate if students are failing due to attendance or assignments.

This semester we had a record-setting 80.3% of faculty report mid-term grades, with over 90% of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and Lyle School of Engineering faculty making submissions.

Submitting MPRs is a crucial step in the SMU in Four initiative, as it allows records offices, advisors, and academic support staff to identify and support students who may need additional help in certain academic areas.

Staff will now reach out to students with two or more reported deficiencies and invite them to discuss academic support options, such as peer tutoring and meeting with their professors, that can help boost their academic performance.

Thank you to all the undergraduate-serving schools and colleges for coming together in this effort and to the faculty who submitted MPRs.

SMU in Four

New Degree Planner issues and requests tracker now available

The Office of the Registrar has created an easy and convenient way for advisors to report Degree Planner issues and requests to the Academic Advisement (AA) team.

Using the Degree Planner Issues/Request Tracker makes it easy for staff to describe their issues, attach pertinent documents and alert the AA team promptly. The form also helps the AA team to process requests and document actions taken. Users can see the progress of their requests and will automatically be notified when there is any progress on their reported issues/requests.

We encourage you to bookmark Degree Planner Issues/Requests Tracker, where you can find the form and the instructions. However, the link to the Degree Planner Issues/Requests form is also available from the Registrar’s Faculty and Staff page.

Please be aware that there are now two forms: one for DPR issues and another for Degree Planner issues. Contact the AA team ( if you have any issues using either form.

Please use the Degree Planner Issues/Requests Tracker to submit any future issues/requests rather than emailing the AA team to ensure a timely response. The Office of the Registrar will no longer accept issues reported via email after today.

Office of General Education SMU in Four

LAI seats held for select undergraduate students to assist with CC student progress this fall

Thanks to the Department of World Languages & Literature and the Department of English, the Office of General Education was able to hold seats in Literary Analysis and Interpretation (LAI)-tagged courses for fall 2023.

317 students who have not satisfied this general education requirement were admitted in fall 2020, spring 2021, and fall 2022. Due to concerns for student progress through the Common Curriculum (CC) by these admit cohorts in particular, this one-time initiative hopes to assist more students in accessing LAI-tagged courses to complete the requirement.

The email below will be sent to students later today, March 27.

Questions or concerns can be directed to the Office of General Education via email at

To: LAI Students (n = 317)

From: General Education

Title: Hey Mustang, we’ve held a seat this Fall for you to complete your CC Literary Analysis and Interpretation requirement

March 27, 2023

Dear Mustang –

The Office of General Education wants to inform you that we saved you a seat this Fall in a Literary Analysis and Interpretation (LAI)-tagged course.

As of March 21, your Degree Progress Report (DPR) indicated you had not satisfied your LAI requirement. As you approach graduation, sometimes registering for the necessary courses is more challenging, so we wanted to help you fulfill this Common Curriculum (CC) requirement.

We have held a limited number of seats for LAI-tagged courses this Fall for you. The catch? They are only available during continuing student enrollment, and after this time, the held seats will be released. The following courses have held seats for you:

World Languages Department
WL 2330 – Spanish Civilization
WL 3326 – Introduction to French Cinema
WL 2333 – Italian American Cinema
WL 3371 – Latam Through Film
WL 3381 – GrecoRoman World in Lit & Film
WL 3383 – Latin American Women Writers


English Department
ENGL  1320 – Cultures of Medieval Chivalry

ENGL  1330 – The World of Shakespeare

ENGL  2311 – Poetry

ENGL  2312 – Fiction

ENGL  2313 – Drama

ENGL  2318 – Intro To Digital Literature

ENGL  3320 – Topics in Medieval Literature

ENGL  3347 – Topics in Am Lit in Age of Rev

ENGL  3355 – Transatlantic Encounters III

ENGL  3362 – African-American Literature

ENGL  3363 – Chicana/Chicano Literature

Can’t fit in an LAI course this Fall? Consider SMU Intersessions or plan to complete it in the spring.

Special thanks to the Department of World Languages & Literature and the Department of English for working with us to hold seats.

We know enrollment can be stressful, and registering for classes you need to graduate may add to this. We hope these saved seats can help you fulfill your general education requirements.


Dustin K. Grabsch,  PhD
Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education & Academic Success


Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success

SMU in Four announces final Degree Planner raffle winners

Let’s give a big round of applause to all 758 students who completed Degree Planner before the final raffle deadline! 

For your Degree Planner to be considered complete:  

 Fifty winners were randomly selected to receive prizes courtesy of SMU in Four: 

Amazon Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Target Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Starbucks Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Visa Gift Card 

($25 value) 

SMU Flex Dollars  

($25 value)    

SMU Swag Bag 

($50 value) 

 Skyler H.  Michael G.  Breanna S.  Aaliyah A.  Grace B.  Steven B. 
Sarah B.  Spencer B.   Maya C.  Ria D.  Humberto O.  Daniele D. 
Mirana E.  Sofia G.  Jack G.   Arin J.  Eden C.  Annabelle L. 
Jack L.  Karen L.  Anna M.   Mason M.   Lily L.  Lucy M.  
Regina N.   Abby R.  Riley T.   Carina K.  Ava S.   
Alexander B.  Katie F.  Emma G.  Gracie H.   Tulsi L.   
Karis P.  Megan R.  De’Anna W.  Jaena Z.     
Oscar C.  Braden C.  Ella D.  Savannah H.     
Alexa L.  Matthew M.  Lily S.  Jess S.     
Natalya T.  Owen T.  Sydney B.  Remonda H.     

 Winners can come and pick up their prizes from the Office of General Education, Laura Lee Blanton Suite 100, from Monday, March 20th– Monday, March 27th.   

All Common Curriculum (CC) undergraduate students must complete Degree Planner by March 20.   

Visit for help getting started. 

SMU in Four

Adding Degree Planner to-do item on the my.SMU Student Dashboard

SMU in Four added a to-do item on the my.SMU student dashboard to improve the adoption of the academic planning tool Degree Planner. SMU in Four aspires to have all Common Curriculum undergraduates, approximately 5,200 students, have a complete degree plan on file.

Below is a message sent to all declared and pre-major Common Curriculum students with incomplete degree plans. The message was sent in Message Center within the my.SMU platform.

The Complete Degree Planner button will take students to their to-do items via a deep link. The to-do item text varies slightly based on a student being a declared or pre-major student.

An example of a declared major’s to-do item is below:

An example of a pre-major student’s to-do item is below:

The SMU in Four team will manually update individual students’ to-do item statuses every Monday. Once complete, the to-do item will disappear from the student dashboard.

The status field will not be automatic or instantaneous, and we expect this might cause some student and advisor concerns. If a to-do item remains after the subsequent Monday night, please reach out for assistance.

For questions related to Degree Planner, please visit or email

Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success University Advising Center

SMU in Four announces 2nd-round winners of the Degree Planner completion raffle  

Forty winners were randomly selected from the one-hundred and eighty students who have fully completed Degree Planner.   

 In order for your Degree Planner to be considered complete, you must have:  

 2nd-Round Winners are: 

Amazon Gift Card 

($25 value) 

SMU Flex Dollars 

($25 value) 

Starbucks Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Visa Gift Card 

($25 value) 


Winners can come and pick up their prizes from the Office of General Education, Laura Lee Blanton Suite 100, from Tuesday, February 14th – Friday, February 17th.  

Still, working on your Degree Planner? No need for FOMO! You have one more chance to win some fantastic prizes! Prizes include $25-50 Starbucks, Amazon, Uber, Target, and Visa gift cards. You can also win Flex Dollars and SMU swag, such as baseball caps, sweatshirts, hoodies, and more!  

The deadline for the final raffle is March 10th at 11:59 pm! 

All undergraduate students on the Common Curriculum (CC) are required to complete Degree Planner by March 20.   

Visit for help getting started.