2017 Alumni

SMU alumna wins award for public service and inspirational leadership

Elizabeth Mills Viney ’10 was named the winner of The Dallas Foundation’s eighth annual Good Works Under 40 Award. Offered in partnership withThe Dallas Morning News, Good Works Under 40 honors up-and-coming leaders who are improving the future of Dallas and inspiring their peers to make a difference.
Viney was nominated by Guy Delcambre, director of advancement at Advocates for Community Transformation (ACT). Since 2013, Viney has logged more than 400 volunteer hours with ACT, where she works with West Dallas residents, law enforcement and the civil justice system to reduce crime.
A former attorney with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Viney uses her knowledge of the legal system to empower families to restore hope and dignity to the area. In addition to her own service, Viney recruited many other attorneys to volunteer with ACT, together donating nearly 1,200 hours of pro bono legal counsel.
In inner-city areas typically pervaded by intimidation and fear, “residents live like prisoners in their homes,” said Delcambre. “For residents to stand and accept the risk of retaliation against them takes an indescribable amount of courage.”
A former attorney with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Viney uses her knowledge of the legal system to empower families to restore hope and dignity to the area. In addition to her own service, Viney recruited many other attorneys to volunteer with ACT, together donating nearly 1,200 hours of pro bono legal counsel.
“Elizabeth is a joyful, selfless and motivated leader who has given her time and talents to serve ACT in whichever way the organization has needed,” said J. Reid Porter, president of ACT. “Her service as a volunteer lawyer is unmatched.”
Viney was honored during an award ceremony hosted by The Dallas Foundation on November 8. As part of the recognition, Viney earned a $10,000 prize for ACT. In addition to the winner, four finalists received $3,500 checks for the nonprofit agencies that nominated them. The finalists were Stephanie Giddens, president and founder of Vickery Trading Company; SMU alumna Lana Harder ’00 with Dallas Court Appointed Special Advocates; SMU alumnus Dominic Lacy ’03, board president of Deaf Action Center; and Robert Taylor, founder and director of The Educator Collective. Applications were reviewed by a committee of emerging civic leaders led by Meg Boyd of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.
“Elizabeth is a shining example of the commitment, dedication and passion that Good Works Under 40 aims to spotlight,” said Boyd. “She and all our finalists prove that the future of philanthropy is bright in Dallas.”
New this year is the People’s Choice Award, a $1,000 grant to the nonprofit of the finalist who garnered the most online votes from the community. Dominic Lacy received the inaugural People’s Choice Award on behalf of the Deaf Action Center.

2017 December 2017 News

Go bowling with Mustang football on December 20!

2017 Alumni December 2017 News Spring 2018

Continuing a legacy of attracting top students

A $15 million gift from the Nancy Ann Hunt Foundation (a supporting organization of the Communities Foundation of Texas) will ensure the long-term support of the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program, which is one of SMU’s signature scholarship programs attracting academically talented student leaders from throughout the United States to SMU.In 1993, Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt and SMU announced a vision to create an annually funded leadership program to preserve the well-rounded and entrepreneurial nature of SMU’s student body while the University grew its academic standing. They believed that an SMU education fosters, and benefits from, students who exhibit demonstrated leadership skills, intellectual ability, a spirit of entrepreneurism and a strong work ethic, combined with a desire to grow these skills and apply them in service of the community.
“SMU has benefited enormously from Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt’s historic generosity,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Today SMU receives three times the number of applicants than it did in 1993 with many now having proven leadership, entrepreneurial and academic strengths. Therefore, although the Hunts feel that the original program’s objectives have been accomplished, we were delighted when they agreed to make this significant gift that will enable the University to create an endowment to insure the long-term continuation of the Leadership Scholars program and the legacy that the Hunts have created.”
With this gift, the Hunts will have contributed $65 million to the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program, a nationally recognized scholarship program for SMU, attracting the interest of academically gifted and exceptional service-driven student leaders from across the country.
Hunt Scholars span majors across all disciplines at SMU and are leaders in virtually all spheres of campus life. They have served as president, vice-president, and secretary of the Student Body, Program Council, and Student Foundation. They have been leaders across the spectrum of SMU’s hundreds of student organizations and editors for campus newspapers and publications. To date, the program has provided scholarships to 372 students who following their graduation from SMU have had a significant impact in many diverse fields ranging from medicine and law to theology, teaching and politics.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 December 2017 News Spring 2018

Investing in a data-empowered future

SMU is eager to serve and partner with Dallas, just as Northwestern University serves Chicago and Columbia University serves New York. We are ready to leverage SMU’s academic vitality and strong relationships with the Dallas region for expanded community service and impact.
Dallas is a city in a hurry, taking its place as a global business and knowledge center. Major corporations like Toyota and (perhaps) Amazon recognize that Dallas has a stake in the tech-driven future. What you need to know is that SMU has skin in that game.
We are a 21st century university, data empowered and actively seeking solutions to societal problems through interdisciplinary collaborations between the humanities, the sciences, the arts and the world of bytes and bits.
The red brick campus with a tradition of liberal arts and professional education now offers 13 graduate programs in data science, including an online master’s degree, and is powered by ManeFrame II – in the top 20 among the most powerful supercomputers in North American higher education. SMU’s high-speed supercomputer is completely accessible with no waiting to our students, faculty and our research partners outside SMU, providing us with more per capita shared computing resources (both in terms of faculty and students) than any university in Texas.
Simply put, a University that offers the ability to complete research in any discipline faster, without long wait times for processing data, has a distinct advantage. It’s like the difference between sitting in a traffic jam and whipping over into the HOV lane.
Read more at SMU: Data Empowered.

2017 Alumni December 2017 Main

Community change agent Kovan Barzani ’17

As the son of refugees, Kovan Barzani ’17 wanted to make the most of his University experience. While a triple major at SMU, he managed a Texas House campaign, started a program to teach refugees job skills and turned a finance internship into a full-time job.
“My mother didn’t know how to read,” says Barzani. War kept her from completing elementary school, and eventually Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime forced Barzani’s parents to flee for a new life in the United States.
In middle school, Barzani helped his mother learn English and pass her U.S. citizenship test. By the time he graduated from high school, he had scholarship offers from three schools. He says, “When I realized there were more opportunities to double or triple major at SMU, that was a huge factor in my decision to come to the Hilltop.”
Read more about Kovan Barzani ’17 and other SMU World Changers.

2017 December 2017 News

Powering chain reactions of achievement

This has been a year of creative triumphs, game-changing collaborations and unforgettable campus experiences, all made possible by your generosity. There’s still time to make an instant impact this year.
Find out how current-use gifts strengthen every part of the University and join the Pony Power stampede today!

2017 December 2017 News

SEC taps Cox professor for advisory committee

Kumar Venkataraman, James M. Collins Chair in Finance at the Cox School, has been appointed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to serve on its newly formed Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee. The committee, with an initial focus on the corporate bond and municipal securities markets, will provide advice to the Commission on the efficiency and resiliency of these markets and identify opportunities for regulatory improvements.
“Fixed income markets are larger in size and scope than stock markets,” said Venkataraman. “Yet, for a variety of reasons, trading in bonds continues to be dominated by old methods that do not exploit technology. I am honored to be part of a working group that plans to review bond market structure, and suggest ways to improve the market for bond investors.”
The SEC’s Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee consists of a diverse group of 23 outside experts, including individuals representing the views of retail and institutional investors, small and large issuers, trading venues, dealers, self-regulatory organizations and more. Venkataraman is one of only two academics named to the committee.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 December 2017 News

Reading fossil leaves to predict the future

Fossil leaves from Africa have resolved a prehistoric climate puzzle — and also confirm the link between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming.
Research until now has produced a variety of results and conflicting data that have cast doubt on the link between high carbon dioxide levels and climate change for a time interval about 22 million years ago.
But a new study has found the link does indeed exist for that prehistoric time period, say SMU researchers. The finding will help scientists understand how recent and future increases in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide may impact the future of our planets.
The new analyses confirm research about modern climate — that global temperatures rise and fall with increases and decreases in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere — but in this case even in prehistoric times, according to the SMU-led international research team.
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 December 2017 News

Growing community, one seedling at a time

On November 21, local Dallas urban farm organizations and residents of South Dallas gathered for the grand opening of the new Seedling Farm at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center’s Freedom Garden. The Seedling Farm, one of several urban farm initiatives that have sprouted in Dallas over the past five years, is the latest addition to ongoing efforts to transform South Dallas from a “food desert” to a vibrant source of fresh vegetables and fruits.

According to SMU Meadows Associate Professor Owen Lynch, one of the principal event organizers, a food desert is a community without close access to fresh, healthy foods at grocery stores or other retail outlets. In South Dallas, many residents live at least a mile away from a grocery store.
“South Dallas is one of the largest food deserts in the country,” says Lynch, president and founding board member of the nonprofit, urban farm consulting agency Get Healthy Dallas.
Read more at SMU Meadows.

2017 Alumni December 2017

Meet the ‘$1-billion queen bee of dating apps’

That’s SMU alumna Whitney Wolfe Herd ’11 on the cover of the Forbes 30 Under 30 issue. Herd founded Bumble, “America’s fastest-growing dating-app company,” just three years after receiving a bachelor’s degree in international studies from SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. This is her second consecutive appearance on the business magazine’s list of top “youthful visionaries” in 20 industries. In the profile that accompanies her December 12, 2017, cover, the 28-year-old entrepreneur talks about her mission to empower women via social networks devoted to dating, friendship, and business and networking. “We let our users guide our innovation. We let our users guide our brand.”

By Clare O’Connor

When Whitney Wolfe Herd started planning an October launch party for a new product at Bumble, America’s fastest-growing dating-app company, she was deliberate in her choice of venue: the Manhattan space that for 57 years hosted the Four Seasons restaurant, where regulars like Henry Kissinger, Vernon Jordan, Edgar Bronfman and Stephen Schwarzman created the ultimate power lunch.

The space now has a new name, new management and a new menu. And, as Herd insists, a new perspective on business. “The power lunch is no longer just for men,” Herd announces to the mostly young, mostly female crowd, before ceding the stage to the pop star Fergie. “We all deserve a seat at the table.”

That table surely now includes the 28-year-old Herd, who has changed the tenor of dating dynamics. By letting women make the first move, Bumble has amassed over 22 million registered users, to closest competitor Tinder’s 46 million, and at more than 70% year-over-year growth, to Tinder’s roughly 10%, it’s closing the gap quickly.

Read more at Forbes.