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Alumni Reflect On Lasting Impact Of SMU Professors

SMU faculty send off thousands of students each year after graduation, hopeful that they have prepared them to become creative thinkers and citizens of the world. And professors appreciate being remembered by alumni. So to celebrate the Year of the Faculty in 2014, SMU is inviting alumni to share memories of a beloved or favorite professor. SMU Magazine is sharing some of those recollections. To read more memories – and add your stories – visit the Year of the Faculty site.

  • AbrahamBWhile I consider Schubert Ogden my mentor at Perkins School of Theology, when he retired, he suggested that I work with Billy Abrahamas my dissertation adviser. Although I never took any courses from Billy, we spent countless hours in deep discussion, bouncing ideas off each other. One of the things he showed me was that my own position [on theology] was not as solid as I thought it to be. He forced me to consider things I had never even thought of. He possessed an infectious enthusiasm and passion for his work, as well as a fierce dedication to his students. – Allen Pomeroy ’93
  • WheelerBAdamsJeremyWe all have teachers in our pasts who made a difference in how we viewed the world. For me there were two: Jeremy Adams, history, and Bonnie Wheeler, English. I accompanied them to Oxford one summer, during which I learned a great deal about medieval history, Arthurian legend, and how to power through lengthy bus rides and castle tours. I wouldn’t trade a moment of the glories we saw and the marvels we experienced. Professors Adams and Wheeler pushed us to study hard and challenged us to think for ourselves. I became a history teacher myself, and I hope I can bring the same enthusiasm and passion to my students. – Polly Granzow Viehman ’83, ’09

BalchFranklinFranklin Balch, political science, was smart, entertaining and interested in his students’ intellectual progress and their well-being. Our freshman group seminar met in his home, where his gracious wife made incoming students from widely divergent backgrounds feel at home. Prof. Balch fanned our desire to be intellectually curious and to hone the critical thinking that should be the cornerstone of a liberal arts degree. – R. Bruce Moon ’81

  • Taking Bill Barnard’s Intro to Primal Religions opened my eyes to cultures that see the world in ways we can’t even imagine … I took every class I could with him, finishing with a minor in religious studies, which I never imagined pursuing. – Bryan Ellett ’02
  • Paul Boller’s History of American Ideas and Art Etzler in German stand out in my mind. Dr. Boller caused me to look at history with a critical mind. He inspired me to become a history teacher, and I used his notes as the bases for my own lectures. Not only was Dr. Etzler an outstanding professor, he was ever present on campus. From him I learned to appreciate every aspect of my university – the classroom, sporting events, cultural events, even bridge in the student center. – Mary Kay Overbeck Coleman ’59

When I was a first-year law student participating in a mock trial competition, Professor William Bridge patiently coached me and the other members of our team to give us a rudimentary understanding of the rules of evidence. He made the concepts interesting and clear. My practice, which involves criminal appellate litigation, requires familiarity with the rules of evidence, and I am always thankful that I received such a firm foundation from Professor Bridge. – Sarah Page Pritzlaff ’85

  • Dr. Alessandra Comini folded art history lessons so masterfully into a historical period story that every student could savor as the most spectacular explosion of heart and mind. Never before or since have I witnessed a lecturer captivate an audience so wholly as to elicit a standing ovation at the conclusion of every single session. – Mark Logan ’92
  • I enjoyed Virginia Currey’s political science classes so much that I took almost everything she taught. During the 1980s, the women’s movement was coming around to mainstream society. She discussed the ways in which women had made a difference in politics and had changed history. Dr. Currey encouraged all students to share their views without fear of intimidation. She taught me confidence. – Cindi Lambert ’85

    HamiltonKKenneth Hamilton ignited my interest in African-American history. His classes formed the foundation that I would use in writing articles on race and ethnicity. That foundation also proved helpful when I returned to graduate school and got my Master’s degree in history at the University of Nevada, Reno. – Geralda Miller ’98

  • I actually had two favorite faculty members: Dr. John Deschnerand Dr. Albert Outler, Perkins Theology. Both not only talked the talk, but they walked the walk as Christians. They were kind, true gentlemen, brilliant in terms of their subjects, but wholly present in mind and heart to their students. I will never forget the impact they made on my life. – Mary Ann Lee ’67
  • Dr. Edwin J . Foscue’s geography classes were always fun. We not only discussed the daily assignment but also current events and politics. The discussions were lively and everyone participated. I had enough hours in geography to change my major. – Walter Judge ’41

Bill Fox, who taught humanities, was my adviser, so we became friends. He was a wonderful teacher, both interesting to and interested in all of his students. He helped me navigate my first two years of college, leaving a lasting impression. I will always credit him for instilling in me a love of learning and an appreciation for the humanities. I went on to obtain a Master’s degree from the University of Dallas. – Susan Pollan ’73

  • One of the most important persons in my life of 82 years now was Professor Samuel Geiser, who was a zoologist at SMU. I now have been a university professor for 50 years at Ohio State, Rice and George Mason. I keep Dr. Geiser’s picture on my desk to remind me what a splendid teacher and scholar looks like. – David Schum, ’56, ’61
  • Dr. Mary Alice Gordon helped me discover an interest in the psychology of human/group interaction, leading me to a career in organizational development. She encouraged me to challenge myself with graduate courses while an undergraduate. My success at SMU is uniquely and distinctively entwined with her and significantly affected by having her as a mentor and a professor. – Sheryl (Sherry) Black ’80
  • This Ohio boy was struck by what good teachers he found as an English major and history minor at SMU – Ima Herron, Herbert Gambrell, Larry Perrine, John Lee Brooks and George Bond, who would hand over the creative writing baton to me. Looking back, I am moved by the interest taken in me and the encouragement given me as a student and young faculty member by these committed teachers. It was for this reason I stayed to take a Master’s degree and began to take my writing seriously as something I could do and think of teaching as a vocation. – Marshall Terry ’53, ’54

HopkinsJJim Hopkins in history is an example of the exemplary dedication of faculty to undergraduate education – one of the many things that attracted us both to SMU. As a history major, one of us (Read) recalls fondly the atmosphere of intellectual engagement and curiosity that Jim fosters in every classroom discussion. But our warmest memories are of Jim and his wife, Patti LaSalle, from Alternative Spring Break in March 1999, when they joined our group of SMU students on a service trip to San Francisco, where we served the city’s homeless. Over meals, Jim regularly led riveting discussions. Alternative Spring Break became an extension of the applied learning laboratory that Jim and others create everyday on the SMU campus. – Read ’00 and Vanessa Rusk Pierce ’01

  • In summer 1958, I had two sessions of organic chemistry with Harold Jeskey. He was a wonderful man, a great teacher and influenced my life positively in many ways. Around 1975, I was in Dallas and went back to visit him at Fondren Science; he was coming down the hall toward his office. He called me by my full name and remembered everything about my time with him. I feel really blessed to have known him. – Eugene N. Robinson ’60
  • Dr. G. William Jones ’51, ’56 had a passion for the art of cinema that was obvious from my first class, when he transformed “Citizen Kane” from a movie to a masterpiece of writing, editing, camera angles and sound. I took every class that he taught. My SMU experience with Dr. Jones led me to work in local television for many years. – Mary “Mabs” Bonnick ’76

Dr. Richard Johnson taught me, and so many others, the value of education. His pragmatic approach opened our minds and his humor and genuine concern for his students won our hearts. We all benefited from our time with Dick Johnson. – Carl Sewell ’66

  • KendrickAI once told Alice Kendrick, advertising, that I did not like, nor watch, much TV. She said I should think twice about majoring in advertising then. She was always blunt, but right. I became a publicist in New York City, where I lived for 12 years, and now have my own event production business in Los Angeles. – Nichole Wright ’98
  • I am forever grateful for the impact the late Professor Jeffery Kennington in engineering has had on my career. Not only he was a great teacher, but also one of the finest human beings you will ever meet. Professor Kennington was kind, thoughtful, and inspired his students to be the best they can be. – Bala Shetty ’85

I took six or seven classes from Don Jackson’63 in Cox School of Business. I used to sit in the back of his class and one day he asked me to come see him. He told me “it’s time to get off the back row and engage because you have great potential.” That was a turning point for me. – David Miller, ’72, ’73 (who later provided a lead gift to establish The Don Jackson Center for Financial Studies)

  • I took Barbara Kincaid’s law and taxation classes in the Cox School, and loved them! I actually took my first class with her at SMU-in-Taos, which was an interesting choice compared to most of the liberal arts and cultural courses offered in this environment. It was a challenging class, and I loved her passion for teaching. She is a role model to all business-minded and career-driven women. – Alexandra Dillard Lucie ’05
  • Dr. Lonnie Kliever really opened my eyes and mind with his religious studies classes. I was a pre-med student and took some very challenging and difficult classes. Dr. Kliever’s Philosophy of Religion was one of the toughest classes during my college tenure. I’m sure he never knew what a profound impact he had on my life, both then and now. – Joseph Newman ’83
  • Joe Kobylka in political science made Constitutional Law class so much fun. It cemented my desire to learn more about the law and attend law school after graduation. – Tracy Ware ’95
  • In Virginia Baker Long’s Office Management and Business Letter Writing classes, she included the importance of table etiquette when dining with upper management executives while being interviewed for a job. Poor table manners could make or break a job offer. All of these lessons have been helpful to me throughout life, in the business world as well as in my personal life. – Cora Sue Wootters Warren ’47

KunovichSheri Kunovich, in her Sociology of Wealth and Consumption course, brought many things to our attention that most of us hardly ever think about. For instance, Americans are willing to work longer hours and spend less time with family just to have enough money to consume more, and buy things we don’t really need. Dr. Kunovich sheds light on how happy we could be if we all lived a little more simply. Her class was my last final before graduation, and in a way it was quite fitting, as I believe this class truly sent me off [well prepared] into the real world. – Gianna Marie Philichi ’13

  • I graduated 37 years ago and often think of what I learned in the journalism classes of David McHam and Darwin Payne ’68. I would not have succeeded in law school if I had not taken David McHam’s writing class. He taught me that every word has a particular meaning and should be used correctly and carefully. Darwin Payne used his experiences as a journalist to motivate his students to consider the ethical issues involved when covering a story. I remember the stories about his interaction with Abraham Zapruder (known for his home movie documenting the assassination of JFK) and the difficult ethical issues he faced when interviewing him. – Margaret Dawkins ’76
  • MorganRuthDr. Ruth Morgan taught a course on the American Presidency. Every class was filled with memorable information. I was amazed at how prophetic she was and that so much of the information I learned is still pertinent. She made us aware of not believing everything we read but to do the research and think for ourselves. Dr. Morgan was professional in every way and I felt that her course was one of the most valuable courses I ever took. – Gerry Brewer Hudnall ’71

Luis Martin was by far the best professor one could ever have. From the first minute of his History of Mexico class he was absurdly engaging. His class made one think about the opportunities that were presented for the simple luck of having been born American. There are few other professors I can even name from my college years. – Linda Olson (Eidsvold) ’86

  • Jack Myers, creative writing/poetry, was rigorous. I learned enough from a few semesters with him to carry me successfully through an M.A. at Johns Hopkins and Ph.D. at University of Houston. – Leslie Richardson ’88
  • Dr. Lloyd Pfautsch, choral conducting professor, had wonderful people skills, was great at making a seemingly daunting task simpler, taught us to analyze and break down complex pieces into approachable components, then rehearse properly until the expected result happened every time. His work and caring for each of us in a way that encouraged rather than belittled us was not truly appreciated until years later. – Hal Easter ’77

My mentor and huge influence on my professional life was Dr. Paul Packman – Mechanical Engineering Department chair and my M.S. and Ph.D. adviser. Not only did he teach me all about fracture and fatigue of materials, he also introduced me to the world of litigation consulting and to the world outside of Dallas through food and stories of his travels around the world. – Angela Meyer ’83, ’85, ’87

  • I came to SMU to obtain my Bilingual/ESL certification in 1987. Dr. William Pulte encouraged me to apply for a scholarship to get a Master’s degree at SMU. What a great opportunity that was! One semester was so hard – I was working full time as a public school teacher and taking nine hours at SMU. He always encouraged me to stay with the program and finish. I received my degree and went on to become a lifelong learner, getting my principal’s certification and Master Reading Teacher Certification. Dr. Pulte has remained a valued mentor throughout the years. – Lisa Dupree ’89
  • RasberryOne of the professors at Cox who made an impact on my career was Robert Rasberry. He reminded us that ethics was a critical part of business and encouraged my inquiry into ethical leadership and organizational behavior. I have been designing and delivering corporate training since 1998 and have worked with some of the largest companies in the world. When I stand in front of executives and discuss how the role of a leader is to create an environment where employees can make ethical decisions and behave in a way that promotes good communication and sustains healthy relationships, I try to honor Dr. Rasberry and all he taught me. – Martha Acosta ’96

When I was a Perkins Theology student, we had a project called the “West Dallas Work Project.” Dr. Joerg Rieger always taught that you must do theology with “dirt under your fingernails.” These were not merely words for him. On multiple Saturdays we headed to sites around West Dallas and did our best to make a difference. What a grand opportunity to work side by side with a professor, talk theology, and get our hands dirty together as we worked and lived out our calling! – Brian Minietta ’99

  • I came to SMU as a junior in 1947 with hundreds of other World War II veterans. The director of both the band and the orchestra was A. Clyde Roller, who also was a WWII vet. I had known Mr. Roller from pre-war days in the Oklahoma Symphony, where he was the first oboe player. We all had tremendous respect for his musicianship and the genuineness of his personality. He left a year after I arrived, and the person who followed him was my high school director from Oklahoma City, Oakley Pittman. Mr. Pittman was a great band director, and we remained friends after graduation. I became the commander and conductor of the U.S. Army Field Band with the rank of full colonel. Mr. Pittman felt that he had played a major role in my success. – Hal Gibson ’50
  • Dr. Bill Stallcup was a gifted teacher – and also such a kind person. He helped me with private tutoring in genetics and had endless patience with my mistakes! He was respected by faculty and students, and it was a blessing to learn from him. – Carol Hay (Caton) ’71
  • Without the help of Walter Steele, Herb Kendrick, Larry Lee, Harvey Wingo,Bill Flitte,Joe McKnight and several others in the Law School, this country lawyer might not have been able to practice 44+ years. – William McGowan II ’70
  • [I remember] the mentorship, leadership, friendship and professional career guidance provided by Dr. Jerrell Stracener’69, ’73, systems engineering program director. Without a doubt, this was the very best educational experience that has had a direct impact on my achieving a variety of career goals. – Keith Castleberry ’05

Marshall Terry’s creative writing classes were inspirational and downright fun! Marsh always encouraged us to find our own voices and to never give up. To this day, some of my best SMU memories are from his class. And one final icing on the cake was that he presented me my diploma at graduation. – Amy Cardin (Patterson) ’81

  • The professor of whom I have shared the most memories over the years is the great Lon Tinkle in comparative literature. His look recalled that of Mark Twain. He was an author, scholar and reviewer of the highest regard, but it was his spellbinding speaking that made him unforgettable. He would, in his marvelous one-of-a-kind, part Texas, part British accent, take us on 80-minute literary journeys. He would always start from a launching point premised on the book that we were reading, but soon the storytelling would lead onto apparently disconnected yet mesmerizing avenues, only to have him tie it all up a second or two before the bell rang. Had it been in a theatre, he would have received a standing ovation. – Chris Rentzel ’72
  • I took two or three semesters of Mary Vernon’s art history classes. Not only did I gain a deep appreciation for fine art, I also learned so much about design and color, and how artists hold the viewers’ eyes. This enlightenment fed my career in overseeing the production and design of several vertical market magazines and a newspaper. The insights I gained from Mary Vernon’s courses have permeated and enhanced my life culturally, also. – Suzanna Penn ’75

WeberDavidThe late David Weber was a brilliant professor of history, and he had a way that made you want to learn. He wrote many books, and besides his knowledge of the Southwest, he truly loved the Southwest. He was kind, laid back and patient, and such a wonderful mentor to so many. He became my friend for life, and we kept in touch until he passed away. He had a profound impact on my SMU experience, and I will be forever grateful I was his student. – Katie Gordon ’86

  • After almost four years, I thought I was through, “done and dusted” as they say Down Under, where I live. Then Jerry White [Entrepreneurship, Cox School] challenged me by helping me understand that nothing else matters if there’s not enough cash flow to make payroll. It’s a lesson I still carry with me today as a CEO. I should have known that it was going to be good when in the first class he gave us a Roman history lesson that explained double-entry accounting. It is the only interesting thing about accounting I have ever heard. I almost failed his class, but it was the best education I ever had. – Craig Campbell ’93
  • I had some great teachers and, regrettably, two have passed away, including Dan Wingren, who was fabulous in his knowledge of art and art history, and Dr. Karl Kilinski, who was tops in his field of Greco-Roman art history. I was lucky to have taken one of his tours to Greece in 1976. Dr. Annemarie Carr was another facet to my education. But I owe a lot to Larry Scholder, who encouraged me to be a printmaker and guided me through the basics of etching. (I am still a printmaker, by the way.) It is very important to give positive as well as negative comments without stomping on a student’s ambitions. – Sandra Douglas ’83
  • My wife, Kathleen Brooks ’63, and I earned our B.B.A. degrees from SMU, and our favorite professor was Frank A. Young in the Insurance Department. He taught insurance from a scholarly point of view as well as a vocational one. None of us will ever forget Mr. Young’s foolproof grading system, which was designed to require each student to prepare daily and have a comprehensive understanding of the entire course material. Professor Young knew each student by name and kept up with all of us. To this day, 50 years later, the Insurance Department alumni still look forward to receiving our Frank Young Newsletter (via email) with great anticipation and fond memories. – James Verschoyle ’63

Share memories of your favorite SMU faculty members here.

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