December 15, 2020

SMU has taken a significant step forward in its commitment to open dialogue, diversity and inclusion with the appointment of Maria Dixon Hall as the University’s first chief diversity officer.

As Senior Advisor to the President for Cultural Intelligence and associate professor of corporate communications in the Meadows School of the Arts, Dixon Hall has been managing the Cultural Intelligence Initiative – CIQ@SMU – an innovative, grassroots strategy that she developed to infuse the principles of cultural intelligence into every aspect of SMU’s campus life. CIQ@SMU involves more than talking about diversity. It is designed to spark conversations on how people engage. By bridging the gap between traditional diversity training and real-world knowledge and skills, CIQ@SMU gives every Mustang the opportunity to learn, work and lead in diverse cultural contexts.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be appointed by President Turner to serve our University in this critical role,” Dixon Hall says. “We are at an important crossroads for our country and campus, and the challenges to reweave the fabric of civility, diversity and inclusion that binds us are daunting. However, I believe that as Mustangs, we are more than able to meet this challenge together in authentic and collaborative ways that affirm the sacred worth of every student, staff and faculty member. Every day, I hope you will walk with me on the journey to create a campus where every Mustang knows they are valued.”

The appointment of Dixon Hall, an expert on power, identity and culture in corporate, nonprofit and religious organizations, reflects SMU’s commitment to purposeful engagement and progress in overcoming the challenges to equity.

“I look forward to working with an incredible team of diverse leaders who are dedicated to the idea that diversity, inclusion and cultural intelligence are not add-ons, but essential parts of what it means to be a member of the SMU community. These leaders, some of whom I entered the University with as a new faculty member, are going to be key in working with me to create an environment in which every Mustang is visible and valued. The African American community, and indeed all of our communities, expect nothing less from me in this new role,” Dixon Hall says.

Reporting directly to President Turner, Dixon Hall will collaborate with SMU faculty, students, administrators and staff to both initiate and report the outcome of diversity initiatives, policies and programs. She will continue to coordinate the delivery of SMU’s Cultural Intelligence and antibias training for members of the SMU community.