SMU Simmons Professor named Poet Laureate for City of Dallas

SMU and the Simmons School of Education and Human Development are celebrating the announcement of Mag Gabbert, Ph.D. as the new Poet Laureate for the City of Dallas. Mayor Eric Johnson announced the news at an April 10th morning press conference at City Hall.  Simmons Dean Stephanie Knight and City Councilwoman Gay Donnell Willis were on hand for the ceremony.

Mag Gabbert, Ph.D. as the new Poet Laureate for the City of DallasThe Dallas native and graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, says her new role is the thrill of a lifetime. “This city has always been very important to me, so it is no exaggeration to say that becoming only the second Dallas Poet Laureate in the city’s history is the greatest honor of my life up to this point.  I’m feeling immensely grateful and humbled.”

In her official role as poet laureate Gabbert will undertake various initiatives in partnership with the Dallas public library and the city’s Office of Arts and Culture. She hopes to inspire and unite the people of Dallas. “I hope that, by taking on this role, I’ll be able to bring people from all across this vast community together; I hope to forge new connections; and I hope to inspire our residents to further enrich their own lives through art. Not everyone realizes that they, too, can gain access to and devote time to art—but art should be available for everyone, and now I have the opportunity to help make it so.”

Gabbert is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Human-Centered Interdisciplinary Studies in the Simmons School teaching doctoral and master’s courses such as Transformational Narratives;  The Art of Creativity and Expression; and Translations and Interpretations Across Art Forms.

“SMU is proud to have Dr. Gabbert on our faculty and delighted that she will be able to share her considerable talents with the City of Dallas,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “In an age where social media tends to drive us to instant reactions, poetry gives us a reason to slow down and think. It’s a great gift that she shares with us.”

Dr. Stephanie Knight, Dean of SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development, says the entire university, especially Simmons, is extremely proud and pleased about the announcement. “We are thrilled that Dr. Mag Gabbert has been named the Poet Laureate for the City of Dallas. With her many literary awards and published works in national and international reviews, we are not surprised she would achieve this impressive honor. Knight went on to say, “Dr. Gabbert’s students know her as an outstanding professor and now they have further confirmation they are being taught by the best  ̶  a poet laureate.”

Gabbert’s impressive list of accomplishments include the Pushcart Prize (2023), 92NY Discovery Award (2021),  and the Charles B. Wheeler Prize in Poetry (2021) from The Ohio State University and its literary magazine, The Journal, for her debut collection SEX DEPRESSION ANIMALS. The book was published by Mad Creek Books—trade imprint of The Ohio State University Press—in 2023​.

Learn more about Gabbert at

SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development Continues its Rise in National Rankings of Best U.S. Grad Schools

SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development has once again advanced in the U.S. News & World Report 2024-2025 national rankings. Simmons remains in the top 50 and  is now ranked #48 out of  255 participating public and private graduate schools of education around the country.  That is an improvement from #49 last year.

Simmons maintains the #11 spot among all private universities on the list.  Simmons is #1 among private universities in the Southwest and is ranked #3 among all colleges in Texas. Statewide, only the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M at College Station, both public universities, have a ranking higher than Simmons.

According to Leon Simmons Endowed Dean Stephanie L. Knight, Ph.D. who has led SMU Simmons since 2017, “We are very pleased with our continued upward trajectory and steady rise in the rankings. I am grateful to Simmons’ dedicated research faculty members who I believe are the biggest factor in our continued advancement.”

To rank schools of education, U.S. News & World Report considers many factors including research activity, academic quality, faculty resources, student selectivity, doctoral degrees granted, as well as peer assessment scores.

External funding per tenured faculty member at Simmons is $647,695 which is a dramatic increase from 2019 when $143,700 per faculty member was reported. In fact, Simmons is ranked #1 among all colleges of education in Texas in terms of funded research per faculty member.

Knight says that Simmons will continue to look for ways to further improve learning through research. “Our researchers will remain diligent in their meaningful work not for the rankings but more importantly to improve learning for students here and around the world.”

The latest national rankings were released online on April 9, 2024, and can be found at

Simmons Faculty and Students to present six papers at ISLS Conference

Congratulations to Dr. Candace Walkington and the team of SMU Simmons faculty and students who have 6 papers accepted at The International Society of the Learning Sciences (ISLS) conference which will take place in Buffalo, New York, on June 10-14, 2024.

Simmons is proud of Dr. Walkington, along with other faculty members Drs. Anthony Cuevas, Anthony Petrosino, Kelsey Schenck, Prajakt Pande, post-doc researchers Drs. LeaAnne Daughrity, and Max Sherard, as well as Simmons Ph.D. students Saki Milton, Marc Sager, Julianna Washington, and Theodora Beauchamp.

The following are the references of the accepted papers:

  1. Sager, M., Sherard, M., Milton, S., Walkington, C., & Petrosino, A. Learning math through a game-based personal excursion.
  2. Schenck, K., Kim, D., Xia, F., Swart, M., Walkington, C., & Nathan, M.J. Exploring Interactive Technology for Supporting Embodied Geometric Reasoning.
  3. Daughrity, L., Walkington, C., Sherard, M., Pande, P., Beauchamp, T., & Cuevas, A. From Abstract to Tangible: Leveraging Virtual Reality and GeoGebra for Playful Math Education.
  4. Sherard, M., Walkington, C., Daughrity, L., Pande, P., Beauchamp, T., Petrosino, A., & Cuevas, A. Pedagogical Issues in Virtual Reality Mathematics Education.
  5. Milton, S., Sager, M., & Walkington, C. Exploring STEM Identity and Belonging in Minoritized Girls at a Summer Camp.
  6. Washington, J., Darwin, T., Beauchamp, T., & Walkington, C. A Qualitative Comparison of Mathematics Teachers’ and Students’ Experiences in a Virtual Reality Algebra Application.


Simmons mourns passing of West Dallas Community partner

The SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development is mourning the death of West Dallas community leader Raul Reyes, Jr. Reyes, 50, was born and raised in the Los Altos neighborhood of Dallas and was forever devoted to serving his West Dallas community.  Reyes was passionate about the issues that impacted the people who lived there including education, housing rights, gentrification, and drug abuse prevention to name a few.

Reyes led his community in the partnership with SMU Simmons and Toyota USA Foundation in the establishment of the West Dallas STEM School  on the campus of the former Pinkston High School. Simmons Dean Stephanie Knight calls Reyes a tremendous partner and representative of the West Dallas community.  “Raul offered astute insight into the needs of the community he loved so well. His input and support were so valuable in the creation and operation of the West Dallas STEM school and feeder pattern.  I feel like I have personally lost a friend.  We at SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development send our sincere condolences to Raul’s family and friends.”

Dr. Toni Harrison-Kelly, Executive Director of Simmons’ The Budd Center:  Involving Communities in Education,  worked closely with Reyes on several community projects. “Raul was a true leader and advocate for West Dallas, and his impact will be deeply missed. We are committed to continuing to support and empower the West Dallas community, building on the foundation that Raul helped to create. Together, we will honor his legacy by working towards making West Dallas more equitable for all its residents.”


Simmons Researchers Author Book on Cutting Edge Teaching Approach to STEM

A new book that focuses on integrated project-based instruction in STEM should  help teachers make Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum more understandable for their students. That is the hope of the authors, Simmons Associate Dean Anthony Petrosino, Ph.D., Annette and Harold Simmons Centennial Chair Candace Walkington, Ph.D., and their colleague Denise Ekberg.

The new book, Frameworks for Integrated Project-Based Instruction in STEM Disciplines, takes a deep dive into a teaching method that has grown in popularity. According to Petrosino, “Project-based instruction has probably never been as popular as it is today. But with that popularity comes many different interpretations of what is meant by this type of instruction. We hope this book will help interested teachers, administrators, and researchers navigate the challenges and enjoy the benefits of project-based instruction.”

The book features deep coverage of multiple topics in PBI including supportive structures to make PBI easier to implement, student-driven inquiry, driving questions, and development of lessons based on national and state standards. There are also chapters dedicated to the history of PBI, implementation of PBI at scale, and future directions of PBI.

Walkington says project-based instruction is  an important way to make STEM learning relevant to students. “Kids ask the question, ‘When am I ever going to use this?’ It was important to write this book to give teachers more tools to bring this relevance into their classrooms. When kids confront real-world problems that  matter in their lives and communities, motivation and deeper learning can be fostered.”

The book brings together more than 25 years of applied research and instruction with preservice and in-service teachers from across the country. The authors also relied on the work they and their colleagues conducted in the STEM disciplines and the learning sciences. They say they are confident readers of the book will know it was written by people who have “walked the walk” when it comes to project-based instruction.

The hope is that the book will help give more STEM teachers, especially math teachers, the tools they need to try PBI in their classrooms. And while teachers might at first find the approach a bit intimidating to implement, the authors know from experience that it can be incredibly rewarding for students and teachers. For more visit


Simmons’ reflections on MLK, Jr.

The impact of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the country and the world is truly immeasurable.  On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day , Dr. Toni-Harrison-Kelly, Dr. Magdalena Pando, and Dr. Greta Davis offer personal reflections on Dr. King and his contributions.

Dr. Toni Harrison-Kelly, Executive Director, The Budd Center: Involving Communities in Education

Dr. Toni Harrison KellyGrowing up, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the first Black person that I learned about that held the title “doctor.” His representation of educational excellence was a beacon to me, allowing me to see myself attaining the same status in a country that for centuries denied that right to people who look like me. I stand on the shoulders of Black academics throughout history who, in Dr. King’s case, died because of their thought leadership. I can dream bigger because of his legacy. My prayer is that his achievements and life of sacrificial service are seen as blueprints for many more generations to come.

Dr. Magdalena Pando, Associate Professor Bilingual Education, Dept. of Teaching & Learning

Dr. Magdalena PandoDr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact on education and people of color is most evident in his activism and instrumental role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dr. King believed in breaking down racial barriers by stressing that access to quality education was crucial for African Americans and other people of color. His extensive efforts in advocating for racial justice not only inspired change in educational policies but also serve as a catalyst for educators to create inclusive and equitable learning environments for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). In education, we honor his legacy through an unwavering commitment to social justice, by creating opportunities for a quality education for all students, and by taking equitable approaches that align with his dream of racial justice.

Dr. Greta Davis, Chair, Dept. of Counseling

Dr. Greta DavisDr. Martin Luther King bravely called out injustice and inspired change through peaceful process. He continues to inspire generations after him to advocate and fight for social justice and peace for all peoples. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King is “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy,” which is a call to action to all of us to face times of adversity with bravery and integrity.



Home is a Journey March and Symposium

SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU are partnering with WE ARE ALL HOMELESS Research Cluster of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute to host the Home is a Journey March, and the inaugural Home is a Journey Symposium on the SMU campus. Home is a Journey March and Symposium celebrates the power of collaboration and the pursuit of a more just society. SMU believes in the potential of forging connections with artists, educators, and community advocates to amplify the voices of the less fortunate, bridging the gap between lived experiences, art, education, and community impact.

This one-day free event will take place on Friday, November 3rd. 2023 kicking off with a blessing bag event from 10-11 am. The Home is a Journey March takes place from 11-12 pm starting at Doak Walker Plaza and concludes with the inaugural Home is a Journey symposium hosted in the Gene and Jerry Jones Grand Atrium of SMU’s Owen Arts Center at 1 p.m.

Symposium Highlights
Panel One: Convergence of Compassion: Art, Homelessness, and Social Justice.
(1:00 – 1:50 pm)
The panel of experts on the intersection of art and social justice is a beacon of hope, casting light on a
path forward where creativity and compassion intertwine to shape a more just and equitable world. Each panelist brings a unique blend of artistic prowess and a profound commitment to advocating societal equity. Each expert draws inspiration from interpreting struggles, triumphs, and the timeless beauty of the human experience. Their art mirrors society’s complexities, encouraging dialogue and introspection and harmonizing the pursuit of justice and dignity for all.
Panelists: Willie Baronet, M.A., M.F.A.; Rosie Frasso, PhD, SM, SM, CPH; Eddie Dunn; and Leah den

Panel Two: Educating for Equity: Exploring Higher Education’s Role in Fostering Social
Conscience in the Classroom.
(2:00 – 2:50 pm)
In today’s rapidly changing world, higher education institutions play a pivotal role in shaping not only the academic knowledge of students but also their social conscience. This panel will examine how
universities can effectively instill empathy, ethical responsibility, and civic engagement in their students. Through innovative teaching methods, curricular initiatives, and extracurricular activities, higher education can empower students to become active, socially conscious citizens committed to addressing pressing social challenges.
Panelists: Laura Robinson-Doyle, PhD; Rick Halperin, PhD; Maria Dixon-Hall, PhD; and Sheri
Kunovich, PhD

Panel Three: Trailblazers for Change: Non-Profit Leaders Working to Eradicate Homelessness
and Inspire Social Justice.
(3:00 – 3:50 pm)
This inspiring and informative panel discussion features visionary non-profit leaders on the frontlines of the battle against homelessness. This engaging panel brings together a diverse group of dedicated experts, each with unique insights and experiences, to explore the multifaceted challenges of homelessness and its broader social justice issues.
Panelists: Bill Holston, JD; Joli Angel Robinson; Daniel Roby; David Woody, PhD & Tamika Perry

Be part of this enlightening and empowering event that seeks to harness the transformative power of creativity, scholarship, and action to create a more compassionate, educated, and just society. Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness and work towards a more equitable and compassionate world.

Register for the March + Free T-shirt
Register for the Symposium + FREE T-shirt
Speakers express their own views and not necessarily the views of the DCII or SMU.

Sport Management Alums and Intern living the dream with Texas Rangers

SMU Simmons is proud of our Sport Management alums and intern who are working for the Texas Rangers organization at this momentous time in the franchise’s history! Congratulations to the following who were/are a part of the nationally ranked Sport Management Program in the Applied Physiology & Sport Management Department in Simmons School of Education & Human Development.

These Mustangs are working in various areas of the Rangers organization from corporate partnerships, new business development, media and integrated marketing, account executives in sales, and our intern who works wherever they need him. Enjoy the ride!

Matt Nichols- MS grad
Laci Taylor- MS grad
Sydney Teske- MS grad
Louie Deckas- current SM in BS
Sam Gunning – BS alum
Kent Yamamoto- BS alum
Abby Casillas- BS alum
Parker Johnson- MS alum

SMU Simmons Sport Management Graduate Program Ranked #1 in Texas and #14 in the Nation

Dallas Area Sports Market along with SMU Program offers students exceptional opportunities

 The SMU Simmons Masters in Sport Management program earned a major seal of approval when it was ranked #1 in Texas, #3 private university in the USA,  14th in the country and #18 in the world. The rankings were conducted by the London-based intelligence service SportBusiness, a provider of data and analytics to the sports industry. The SportBusiness Post Graduate Ranking or SportBusiness PGR, is the equivalent of the U.S. News & World Report for higher education institutions. There are over 200 post graduate sport management programs throughout the world.

The outstanding rankings are the result of a first-time entry by SMU Simmons Masters in Sport Management program. The SportBusiness PGR is the most prestigious ranking of graduate sports management programs around the world. The rankings are based on a formula that assigns values to the quality of the faculty and teaching,  ability to connect with alumni and industry executives, support in finding a job in the industry, value for money provided by the master’s program, and employment in the sports industry sector.

In addition to the global recognition, the graduate surveys ranked SMU as the #5 sport management postgraduate program in North America for average salary three years after graduation with an average salary of $82,500, illustrating its success in producing graduates capable of advancing quickly in the ultracompetitive sports industry.

According to the Sports Business Journal, Dallas is the #1 city for sports business in the USA. The MS in Sport Management students participate extensively in experiential opportunities such as internships with over 175 North Texas-based sports and allied-sport enterprises as well as with SMU’s Athletics department. The opportunities range across the entire sports ecosystem and include teams, leagues, agencies, conferences, research, E-sports, media, facilities, and live events at all levels.

SMU Sport Management Program Director and Clinical Assistant Professor Peter Carton says,”SMU draws extensively on the fact that North Texas is home to some of the biggest names in the sports industry, ranging from professional sports teams to marketing and sponsorship agencies.” That, along with faculty members’ longstanding relationships with local and national sports industry leaders, offers students the real-world skills they need to become leaders and executives.  Carton adds,“One of the advantages of our approach is that we are one of the few programs with relationships that provide students with direct access to internships and jobs in their area of interest.”

Founded in 2012, the MS in Sport Management degree in the Department of Applied Physiology and Sport Management is an interdisciplinary degree between the Simmons School of Education & Human Development and the Cox Business School at SMU. The relatively new sports management degree, compared to other well-established programs founded in the 1960’s, prepares students for multiple roles in the sports industry. Students complete a part-time, one-year academic program that is combined with a capstone internship experience.

Simmons Dean Stephanie Knight applauds the program and its Director, Professor Peter Carton. “I know they have worked tirelessly and innovatively to establish this exceptional graduate program at Simmons and with our partners in the Cox School of Business. This is certainly a proud moment for SMU, Simmons, the Applied Physiology and Sport Management department, and Cox.”  

Scott Davis, Ph.D. and Department Chair, ad interim, of the Department of Applied Physiology & Sport Management regarding the ranking states “In just over 10 years, the ascent of our graduate program in Sport Management in the Department of Applied Physiology and Sport Management is nothing short of remarkable. With the outstanding reputation of SMU, our advantageous location in Dallas and our outstanding faculty and students, it is no surprise that our graduate sport management program has been recognized as one of the top 20 in the world. I look forward to our continued ascent in the rankings as we add additional resources to this outstanding program.”

Carton appreciates the recognition of the many factors that have resulted in the premier program. He says the recognition is a testament to the outstanding full-time and adjunct faculty, SMU administration, vast industry partners, and students. “We will use this ranking to further propel our vision, initiatives, and resources as we aspire to be one of the leading programs in the world.”

For more information about the 2023 SportBusiness Postgraduate Course Ranking, visit:

Support from the Dean

Dean Stephanie Knight appreciates and supports SMU President Gerald Turner’s letter regarding the terrible violence in Israel and Gaza. Dean Knight joins in expressing concern for all those affected.

October 10, 2023
Dear SMU Community,

Although the war in Israel and Gaza is thousands of miles away from North Texas, for many of our students, faculty and staff, the pain of this conflict is personal. SMU abhors the ongoing violence, which is causing sorrow, anger, and anxiety for many who are worried about their family and the future. We all grieve for the innocent, for those who have experienced terror, for the families of the victims and for those – both Israeli and Palestinian – who can find no safe haven from the violence. On behalf of SMU’s leadership, I want to express our deep concern and support for those affected by this war and our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our campus community.

In these trying times, it is more important than ever to come together and be compassionate and understanding. We recognize that some of our community members have families in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, and we want to assure you that we are here to assist you. Our Student Affairs team has been reaching out directly to those who may have been impacted on campus.

• Counseling resources are available for students by calling 214-768-2277. Faculty and staff can contact the Employee Assistance Programthrough Magellan Health Services at 877-704-5696.

• Pastoral support can be found by contacting the Office of the Chaplain.

• Confidential reports of anyone who may need assistance can be made through SMU’s Caring Community Connections Program.

• Students struggling to keep up with academic responsibilities due to this situation should reach out to their professors and academic advisors. Similarly, for faculty and staff, please engage your supervisors.

Report bias incidents to the Bias Education Response Team.

The atrocities of war can overwhelm some with emotion. Our response should be to seek and offer support in ways that live out the core values of our University. As we mourn the lives lost and share our thoughts in class, with friends, or on social media, I am grateful that SMU is a welcoming and inclusive campus. Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have no place in our community or in debate with one another. It is important to accept and embrace our differences, approaching difficult dialogue in a respectful and thoughtful manner.
In times that seek to divide us, let us instead come together and find solace within our community.

R. Gerald Turner
SMU President