Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Student Academic Engagement & Success

Welcome Jordon Smith, Our New Senior Academic Counselor!

We are thrilled to welcome Jordon Smith to the Academic Development of Student-Athletes (ADSA) team! Jordon joins us as a Senior Academic Counselor working with Football and Women’s Basketball, bringing a wealth of experience and passion for student-athlete success.

Jordon’s journey in academic support for athletes began in 2023 as an Academic Counselor at the University of Arizona. Prior to that, she served as Director of Football Academics at Abilene Christian University, demonstrating a strong commitment to the holistic development of football student-athletes.

Her dedication to the field extends further back, with experience as an Academic Graduate Assistant at the University of Arkansas. Jordon’s foundation for success was built on a strong academic background. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Sport Administration from LSU, followed by a Master of Science in Athletic Leadership from Clemson University. Jordon then went on to earn a Master of Education in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin, showcasing her commitment to continuous learning and growth.

Jordon’s passion extends beyond the walls of ADSA. She actively participates in the National Association for Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) External Partnerships Working Group and holds memberships in several committees. This involvement demonstrates her dedication to professional development and collaboration in the field.

A Dallas native, Jordon is excited to be back in her home state, supporting student-athletes and their academic achievements. When she’s not championing student success, you might find her spending time with her beloved Doberman companions, Venus and Dirk.

Please join us in welcoming Jordon to the ADSA family! We are confident her experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm will be invaluable assets to our team and the student-athletes she supports.


University Advising Center University Testing Center

New SMU Placement Tests requirement for Calculus and Chemistry

At SMU, a few courses require placement tests for students to enroll. Placement testing determines a student’s current level of skills and knowledge, ensuring that they have the best chance for success.

On May 1, enrollment in MATH 1309, MATH 1337, and CHEM 1303 requires either:

  • a passing score on a placement test (see below);
  • or the corresponding pre-requisite course:
    • MATH 1303 or 1304 for MATH 1309 and 1337.
    • CHEM 1302 for CHEM 1303.

Students with previous credit in MATH 1309, MATH 1337, or CHEM 1303 (whether AP, transfer, or SMU) will be able to enroll in these courses without taking the placement test. Although effective on May 1st, this requirement only applies to Fall 2024, not Summer 2024 classes.

Students who pass the placement exam will be put into a my.SMU Student Group that allows them to enroll.

  • Students with a score of 20 or above (out of 35) on the MATH 1309 placement test will be put into “MTH 2 – Enrollment in MATH 1309.” They can only enroll in MATH 1309.
  • Students with a score of 20 or above (out of 35) on the MATH 1337 placement test will be put into “MTH 1 – Enrollment in MATH 1337 & 1309.” These students can enroll in either MATH 1337 or 1309.
  • Students with a score of 18 or above (out of 30) on the Chemistry placement test will be put into CHM1 – “Enrollment in CHEM 1303.”

These tests can be found within a Placement Test Canvas Course; students can enroll themselves in this course, but they should start with the University Testing Center’s website ( for the link and further information. This new course will also host the language placement exams, so continuing students no longer need to contact the World Languages and Literatures department before taking the exam.

Students are given a maximum of two attempts on each exam. If they encounter technical difficulties, they should contact the University Testing Center (

Students are told within the Canvas course that these permissions to enroll will be granted within 24 hours of finishing the test, although they can see their scores immediately.

Pre-majors with questions about their test or placement can contact the University Advising Center (; declared majors can reach out to the University Testing Center (

Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success

First-Gen Spotlight: Arath Dominguez 

The Dallas Morning News recently featured Arath Dominguez, a first-generation student at SMU. In the article, Arath describes his experience as a first-generation student and explains why he chose to attend SMU. Coming from a family of seven he knew he wanted to go to a school where he could thrive while staying close to his family. He is pursuing a B.A. in computer science and a B.S. in data science. Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) has opened many doors to engage in opportunities to engage with people from diverse backgrounds which led him to switch his degree from electrical engineering. “Thanks to the contacts I made through SHPE, I interned at AT&T as a data scientist. This experience solidified my passion for pursuing a career in data science or technology consulting and reinforced my desire to work for a company that values diversity.”

He notes his strong alliance with Student Financial Services and how crucial it is to keep applying for scholarships even after high school. “I did not stop looking for scholarships during my undergraduate career. Students are not limited to not only getting scholarships during high school.” A combination of federal grants, merit scholarships, and institutional support has aided Arath in attending SMU paying for almost 95% of his tuition!

Lastly, he emphasizes how important it is for first-generation students just to ask for help. “Just asking questions is crucial, especially for first-gen students like me. I struggled with this because I didn’t want to reveal that I didn’t know what was going on, even when I didn’t. In hindsight, I would’ve benefited from asking more questions.” Asking questions has allowed Arath to be successful and seek more resources to help him through his academic career.

“Failure is a natural part of the learning process, and you need to be open to it to identify areas for growth, So don’t be afraid to ask questions even if you feel like the person next to you has it all figured out. Because the truth is, they probably don’t. – Arath Dominguez

SMU in Four University Advising Center

New videos on understanding the Degree Progress Report released

The Degree Progress Report (DPR) is arguably the most essential tool for preparing for an advising meeting. Although you might think you understand the DPR, it can be tricky to read for even the most experienced advisor.

The Advising Resources Canvas Course (permission required) has a section devoted to the DPR, and SMU’s wiki pages on the subject are helpful. But if you’d rather watch the movie than read the book, the Registrar and Office of Information Technology (OIT) partnered to produce new videos on understanding the DPR and DPR Summary.

These two short videos cover a lot of ground, so you will likely learn something new, no matter how much you already know. Using the DPR and DPR Summary in new ways could make advising easier and better.

Of course, the DPR should also be an essential tool for students to independently navigate their academic requirements. Encourage your students to prepare for your meeting by visiting their DPRs to find out what requirements remain unfulfilled. Since that’s no easy task, a video for students can be found on this Student Essentials Academic Progress webpage

Please contact Josh Beaty, SMU in Four Advising Pillar Chair, at with questions. Special thanks to the Registrar and OIT teams for their efforts on these projects.

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

New room numbers at the University Testing Center

As part of the renovation of the Scholars’ Den in Clements Hall, room numbers for the University Testing Center (UTC) have changed.

Visitors will still access the UTC at the west end of the Clements Hall basement in suite G15, most directly using the side entrance facing Dallas Hall. Students and professors are to check in at the testing office (now renumbered to room G28) for test administrations and completed test pickup. Students will continue to be assigned to testing labs identified as “Peruna,” “Hilltop,” and “Varsity.”

Room number identification will be updated on the UTC website, the UTC portal for test registration, and in information handouts for both students and professors.

Please contact the UTC at 214-768-6064 or with any questions you may have.


Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Rotunda Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

First-Gen Feature: Caroline Madrid

First-generation college students must overcome unique obstacles to be successful in college. Every obstacle comes with a story worth hearing. First-Gen Feature is a chance for first-generation college students to showcase their stories. Caroline Madrid, a first-year student shares what being first-gen means to her.

Q: What was your motivation for pursuing college?

A: My motivation for pursuing college was simply just to make my grandpa proud, he was a very smart man and he always inspired me to pursue my dreams. My parents were also another motivation, my parents worked really hard my entire childhood to provide for me and my siblings, and being able to return the favor was really important for me.

Q: What are your career goals?

A: My career goal is to make it as a lawyer and ultimately raise a happy family. As a first-gen, I’ve watched my parents work tirelessly every day to provide for me and my family and even today, they continue to work hard so I can be here. I want to not only release this burden off their shoulders but work hard for my future family.

Q: What extracurricular activities are you involved In and how do you manage course load and other aspects of life?

A: I have two jobs and Rotunda scholars where I have monthly and weekly requirements. The best way I have found to manage my courseload is to maintain my priorities and remember what I came to SMU for. Every day here at SMU is a reminder of the life I want to provide for myself and my family, and that gives me the strength to focus on my studies.

Q: What achievements are you most proud of?

A: Considering I am in my first year, I am proud of myself of staying persistent on my academics and maintaining good discipline while managing my two jobs and social relationships.

Q: Advice for first-gen students?

A: Don’t fight your battles alone, for so long I always thought I had nobody to help me through my hardships but after coming to SMU I realized so many of the faculty care about you and your success and truly want to see you succeed.


Student Success & Retention

Internal applications for Director of Student Success and Retention sought

SMU Student Academic Engagement & Success (SAES) is excited to share an internal full-time staff position within Undergraduate Education & Academic Success (UEAS). The posting will be available later this week, February 19, via the Internal Applicant login in the SMU Staff Career Portal.

Please consider sharing this with your offices and posting it within your SMU professional networks.   

Director, Student Success and Retention: The Director leads the Office of Student Success and Retention (SSR). The primary role is supervising three full-time staff and providing day-to-day problem-solving for students trying to remain, depart, or return to SMU. Working closely with the Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education and Academic Success and the SMU in Four initiative, the Director operationalizes processes to identify at-risk students, strategically outreaches to inspire engagement, coordinates interventions, tracks academic progress, and assesses our institutional strengths and weaknesses in these areas. Manage interventions as projects, repeating annually or each term, involving multiple offices. The Director chairs a university-wide retention and financial support committee to retrain undergraduate students. Serves as a critical partner to the Office of the Dean of Students. 

  • Deadline: 10 days following posting
  • Applicant Type: Internal Only; only current SMU employees may apply
  • Hiring point-of-contact: Dr. Dustin Grabsch (; 214-768-4887) 
Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Success & Retention

Enhancing student success: A closer look at SMU’s retention alert system

Ensuring the academic success and well-being of undergraduate students is a priority for SMU, and the Office of Student Success and Retention is taking proactive steps to address potential challenges through its innovative Retention Alert system. Faculty, staff, parents, and families are encouraged to utilize this reporting tool to share information about students who may be considering leaving SMU.

What is a Retention Alert?

The Retention Alert system serves as a valuable tool to identify and support students who may be at risk. This reporting form allows faculty, staff, and concerned individuals to communicate their retention concerns about an SMU undergraduate student. By using this tool, reporting personnel can play a crucial role in initiating timely intervention to support students facing academic or personal challenges.

How does it work?

The process is simple and user-friendly. The Retention Alert reporting form prompts the individual reporting to identify the reason for the alert and provide some details to help the SSR team. This information is then utilized by the SSR team, who will make a deliberate effort to connect with the student. This goal is to offer academic personal support services that can contribute to the student’s overall success and retention here on the Hilltop.

Encouraging Collaboration:

One of the key strengths of the Retention Alert system is its emphasis on collaboration. Faculty, staff, and other stakeholders are encouraged to continue working closely with the identified students even after submitting the alert. This collaborative approach ensures a holistic support system for students, addressing both academic and personal challenges that may hinder their progress.

When in Doubt, Report:

If there’s uncertainty about whether a situation should be reported, individuals are encouraged to err on the side of caution and report their concerns to the Caring Community Connection (CCC) program or call 214-768-4564. This proactive approach ensures that no potential issues are overlooked and appropriate support can be provided.

If you have additional questions or concerns, Contact the Office of Student Success and Retention by emailing or calling 214-768-1231.

Student Academic Engagement & Success

Verify or set up your email signature that complies with SMU Brand Standards

Here is your annual reminder to update your email signature according to the SMU Brand Center guidelines. Also, if you have new staff in your office, a resource to assist them in setting them up for the first time.

It’s quick, easy, and adds a professional touch to every email. Learn how to change your signature in Outlook on the web, desktop, and mobile apps.

If you need assistance, please contact your office’s SAES Marketing, Communication, and Digital Technology Committee representative.

Office of General Education

Modifications made to Common Curriculum Global Perspectives rubric, permitting all SMU Abroad programs to satisfy

The Council on General Education (CoGE) approved changes to the Common Curriculum (CC) Global Perspectives (GPS) Proficiency and Experience (P&E) rubric on November 11, 2023.

The CC Global Perspectives graduation requirement contains 5 experience criteria. Criteria three establishes how undergraduate students can achieve the graduation requirement via a co-curricular experience.

CoGE approved an update to the experience criteria to now read:

Student experiences must involve at least fourteen days of an immersive experience in a global culture or completion of an approved SMU Abroad program. An immersive context is one in which students live like members of the local population, following local customs, eating local food, taking local transportation, etc

This change was recommended since not all SMU Abroad programs are 14 days but may be shorter, ranging from 9 to 12 days. Since SMU Abroad programs have a curricular component or are SMU faculty-led, we believe the GPS student learning outcomes are being achieved via these vetted programs by the Education Abroad Council.

Students who do not enroll in a GPS-tagged course via the SMU Abroad program will be asked to complete the 1,000-word reflection as part of their re-entry experience. Therefore, these changes would permit SMU to say all SMU Abroad offerings achieve GPS. This change also enacts recommendations from the ACE Internationalization Steering Committee.

SMU Abroad and the Office of General Education are working to operationalize the collection of reflections beginning with the Spring 2024 abroad cohort during their re-entry experience. If you have questions about these changes, please contact the Office of General Education.