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.

2017 Alumni December 2017

SMU alumnus’ research key to a Nobel for circadian rhythm discoveries

As a young researcher, Paul E. Hardin ’82 clocked innumerable hours in a pitch-dark lab to shed light on one of the keys to good health. Hardin was the first author on one of the fundamental papers from a body of circadian rhythm research to win the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
The Nobel Prize went to Hardin’s former colleagues Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey Hall of Brandeis as well as Michael Young of Rockefeller University “for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.”
“It’s a really beautiful example of basic research that has led to incredible discoveries,” Hardin commented in Quanta Magazine. “Almost every aspect of physiology and metabolism will be controlled by the circadian clock.”
Hardin earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from SMU in 1982 and a doctorate in genetics from Indiana University in 1987.
As a postdoctoral researcher in Rosbash’s lab from 1987 to 1991, Hardin demonstrated that the protein encoded by the gene that controls circadian rhythm in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) fluctuates over a 24-hour period, rising at night and falling during the day. His research over the past two decades has helped establish the fruit fly as a model organism for studying the circadian clock in humans and allowed scientists to unravel myriad ways in which that natural timekeeper affects our health. These discoveries may lead to new treatments for a wide range of afflictions – from jet lag and sleep disorders to obesity and heart disease.
Hardin, Distinguished Professor and John W. Lyons Jr. ’59 Endowed Chair in Biology at Texas A&M University, told Texas A&M Today: “A Nobel prize for ciradian clocks is great for the field. It is, indeed, exciting to have worked with two of the three winners and to see them and my field honored with such a momentous award. It is a proud moment for circadian clocks.”
His research has earned international recognition, including the 2003 Aschoff-Honma Prize from the Honma Life Science Foundation in Japan. He has served as president of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Genetics Society of America and the Society of Neuroscience. He is the author of more than 100 publications.
A previous version of this story erroneously stated that Dr. Hardin was the son of SMU President Paul Hardin III, and we apologize for the error.
Read more:

2017 Alumni December 2017 News

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

In case you missed it this month, please enjoy these interesting stories and cool videos!

2017 Alumni

SMU alumna wins multiple awards in London competition

Congratulations to soprano Michelle Alexander ’14, winner of multiple awards in the international Wagner Society Singing Competition in London on November 5.

Soprano Michelle Alexander won multiple awards in London competition.
Michelle Alexander as Magda in The Consul. Photo by Clive Barda.

Alexander, who received a Master of Music degree from SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, won second place in the overall competition as well as three additional awards: the Audience Prize; the President’s Award, which entitles her to a master class with opera legend Dame Gwyneth Jones; and a Bursaries Award to attend the Bayreuth Festival in Bayreuth, Germany, the home of the opera house that composer Richard Wagner had built specifically for the performance of his operas.
Alexander is pursuing post-graduate studies at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where she recently performed the role of Magda Sorel in Menotti’s The Consul.

2017 Alumni

SEAL Foundation honors SMU alumnus George Killebrew ’85

SMU alumnus George Killebrew ’85 will receive the SEAL Legacy Foundation Unsung Hero Award at the organization’s seventh annual benefit and gala on November 14. The Unsung Hero Award recognizes outstanding support for the United States Armed Forces.

George Killebrew ’85 will be honored by the SEAL Foundation.
George Killebrew ‘85

Killebrew serves as executive vice president of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. He earned a B.B.A. from SMU and is actively involved with his alma mater as a member of the SMU Alumni Board and volunteer.
Jerry Jones, owner, president and general manager of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and professional golfer Lexi Thompson will receive the SEAL Legacy Award, presented each year to distinguished Americans who have demonstrated a lifetime of unwavering commitment to the U.S. Armed Forces and, in particular, the U.S. Navy SEALs. Past recipients include SMU Trustees Ray Hunt ’65, David B. Miller ’72, ’73 and Paul B. Loyd, Jr. ’68, who was honored with his wife, Penny Loyd.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the SEAL Legacy Foundation, a non-profit organization established and operated by U.S. Navy SEALs that provides support to families of wounded and fallen SEALs, educational assistance for SEALs and their families, and other charitable causes benefiting the SEAL community.
The annual SEAL Legacy Foundation Benefit & Gala – featuring food, drinks, entertainment and special presentations by the U.S. Navy Seals – will begin at 6 p.m. on November 14 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Tickets may be purchased at
Read more:
George Killebrew ’85: Helping SMU students break into the big time

2017 News November 2017 Main

The next wave of athletic excellence

Mustang swimming and diving teams will make a splash on November 3 when they host LSU in the new Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium, which will be dedicated at 3 p.m. that day. Five Mustangs events are coming up in the state-of-the-art aquatics center, including the 2018 American Athletic Conference Championships in February.
The 42,000 square foot center, located on the University’s east campus at 5550 SMU Blvd., is key to preparing SMU’s Division I men’s and women’s swimmers and divers for the highest level of competition.
“For more than 70 years, SMU swimming and diving has produced Olympians, All Americans and NCAA champions,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The completion of the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center affirms SMU’s commitment to providing first-rate facilities to support our student-athletes.”
The Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center was built with the help of former SMU swimmers, divers, coaches and friends of men’s and women’s swimming and diving dedicated to supporting the future of SMU’s swimming and diving programs.
Lead donors include Bruce A. Robson ’74 and Emily K. Robson, Joe Robson ’76 and Hannah Robson and Steven J. Lindley ’74 and Shelli Mims Lindley. They are joined by Sheila Peterson Grant and Joseph (Jody) M. Grant ’60, The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, Inc. and Robert A. Wilson ’67 and Susan Cooper Wilson ’67.
The final fundraising push for the Aquatics Center received a significant boost when the Grants contributed $1.5 million while also creating the Sheila and Jody Grant Challenge, which encouraged other donors to give the remaining $1.5 million to complete the center’s $22 million funding goal. The challenge was near its goal approaching the center’s dedication.
“I am so grateful to our donors for their commitment to swimming and diving at the highest level,” said Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. “The commitment of the Robson and Lindley families and the other lead donors, the encouragement of Sheila and Jody Grant in their funding challenge and the many other donors who have supported this project at many levels, shows the impact that SMU swimming had on so many lives. Thanks to their generosity, future swimmers and divers will have the opportunity for memorable experiences as well.”
Read more at SMU News.

2017 News November 2017

Winning generosity, extraordinary impact

The Mustang Momentum Challenge is complete, and we are thrilled to announce $119,376 was raised by 516 alumni in just 14 days! Of that amount, nearly $67,000 was given to a current-use SMU Fund.
With Homecoming days away, we are raising the stakes and challenging our alumni to reach $75,000 to SMU’s current-use funds. During the past fourteen days, SMU alumni made an average gift of $171. Some quick math reveals that we need fewer than 50 alumni donors to reach our $75,000 goal.
If you want to make a difference in the education of a current SMU student, become one of these donors today.
Read more at Mustang Momentum.

2017 News November 2017

Mustangs rally on the Hilltop for Homecoming Weekend

It’s finally here – SMU Homecoming and Reunion Weekend, November 2–5, 2017! Beloved traditions, engaging events and special performances will bring Mustangs together on the Hilltop.
The exciting weekend begins with the Distinguished Alumni Awards and continues with class reunion parties, the Mustang Band Centennial Celebration and Pigskin Revue, The Boulevard, the “Homecoming of Heroes” parade and, of course, football in Ford Stadium as the Mustangs play the UCF Knights. Kickoff is at 6:15 p.m.
These are just a few highlights of the four action-packed days. Check out the events schedule and gameday guide, and map out your plan for an unforgettable weekend!
Read more at SMU Homecoming.

2017 News November 2017

Get ready for #MoodyMagic, coming November 10

A new season of Moody Magic opens on November 10 when a trio of talented returning players fronts SMU men’s basketball, the reigning American Athletic Conference champions, against UMBC, and four returning starters lead the women’s team against Nicholls State in Moody Coliseum.
SMU men’s basketball only returns three rotation players from last season’s squad that captured the conference championship, but it’s an extremely talented and experienced core for the 2017-18 team to build around. Senior Ben Emelogu II ’18, along with juniors Shake Milton ’19 and Jarrey Foster ’19, have all been through the battles and played a huge role in SMU making the NCAA Tournament.
“Even though we only have three guys (returning), they are guys you wouldn’t trade for the world,” head coach Tim Jankovich said. “They’re tremendous competitors. They’re all very bright. They help us set a tone of what this program is all about and how we’ve gotten to where we’ve gotten and what is really valued here.”
Read more.
SMU women’s basketball returns four of five starters, including all-conference honoree Alicia Froling ’18. McKenzie Adams ’18 averaged 12.2 points per game a year after leading the Mustangs in scoring with 13.4 points per game as a sophomore. Kiara Perry ’18 led the team with 58 steals and was tied for the team lead with 84 assists. Stephanie Collins ’18 started 19 games and led the Mustangs with a 52.0 shooting percentage. The Mustangs also set a program record with 187 blocks.
SMU plays 13 non-conference games, featuring road trips at Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Alabama. The Mustangs also play at UT Arlington and the University of North Texas as well as two games in a Thanksgiving tournament at Nevada.
Read more at SMU Athletics.

2017 Alumni November 2017 Spring 2018

Congressman’s gifts reflect a life of service

As venerable statesman and decorated war hero Sam Johnson ’51 prepares to leave Congress at the end of 2018, he is making two gifts to SMU that will support the education of military veterans and preserve for future study papers and materials from his distinguished life and career.
Johnson’s gift of $100,000 to SMU will establish The Hon. Sam Johnson Endowed Military Scholarship Fund, with the Collin County Business Alliance (CCBA) providing seed funding to make the scholarship operational for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Johnson’s dedication to public service spans a 29-year military career and 26 years in the U.S. Congress.  SMU’s Board of Trustees and President R. Gerald Turner will celebrate the creation of the scholarship and the donation of his historic papers and other materials to the University’s special collections repository at an on-campus reception in his honor at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 20, in Fondren Library.
“SMU helped shape me into the person I am today, and I can’t think of a better way to say thank you to my alma mater than with this scholarship and library gift,” Johnson said. “I’m grateful to join SMU in making a commitment to the military and its families by helping these deserving individuals achieve their higher education. And I’m hopeful that this library archive will help inspire future generations to build a legacy of service on behalf of others and our great nation.”
Johnson’s archive will be housed in DeGolyer Library, SMU’s special collections repository.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni News November 2017 Spring 2018

Turning a ‘big idea’ into jobs for veterans

By Kenny Ryan
SMU News
Iraq war veteran Jason Waller, 40, knows how challenging it can be for veterans to find civilian work when they leave the military. He heard it firsthand from the men and women he served with during his own deployments overseas.
Now, he’s in position to help both veterans and Americans who lost their homes in a hurricane season unlike any in living memory.
A senior at SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, Waller has launched his own company, Emergent Services LLC, to provide on-the-job training for vets to work as independent property insurance adjusters. Waller says the client base – Americans struggling to navigate insurance claims after devastating storms – is one that vets are eager to help.
“There are a lot of aspects of being an insurance adjuster that veterans can relate to,” says Waller, who will graduate with a management science degree in December. “There’s something in our nature that we want to serve Americans. When we can do it face-to-face instead of on the other side of the world, it’s therapeutic for us.”
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni November 2017

Perkins to honor 2017 Distinguished Alumnus

Michael McKee, resident bishop of the Dallas Area of The United Methodist Church, is the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He will be honored during the annual awards banquet on Monday, November 13, at 5 p.m. in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall on the SMU campus.
Bishop McKee was selected for the award by the Perkins Alumni/ae Council for his demonstrated effectiveness and integrity in service to the church, continuing support and involvement in the goals of Perkins School of Theology and SMU, distinguished service in the wider community and exemplary character.
A native of Fort Worth, Bishop McKee’s service to The United Methodist Church, to Southern Methodist University, and to Perkins School of Theology has spanned almost five decades and has influenced the denomination at the local, regional, national, and global levels.
Read more at Perkins.

2017 Alumni November 2017

Nominate outstanding alumni for 2018 awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards – the most prestigious honor the University bestows upon alumni – and the Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes an outstanding Mustang who has graduated within the past 15 years. Return completed forms by December 31, 2017.

Find nomination forms and read more at SMU Alumni.

2017 News November 2017

A game-changing golf training center

 SMU Athletics dedicated the new Payne Stewart SMU Golf Training Center at Trinity Forest Golf Club on October 13. The facility, among the finest in college golf, was made possible through the support of generous donors Ann Park Roberts Gibbs ’66 and James R. Gibbs ’66, ’70, ’72, Carolyn L. Miller and David B. Miller ’72, ’73 and the David B. Miller Family Foundation, The Dedman Foundation and family, and the Payne Stewart Family Foundation, Inc. Many additional donors also contributed generously to this initiative.

The center is named in honor of Payne Stewart ’ 79, 1989 PGA Champion, two-time U.S. Open Champion and member of five U.S. Ryder Cup teams.
The 6,700-square foot facility features team locker rooms, coaches’ offices, a conference room, a workout center and kitchen. The center also houses a hitting bay featuring premier equipment, including the Swing Catalyst, which tracks weight shift throughout the swing as well as four video motion-capture cameras and monitors to show swings. A TrackMan system uses dual radar technology to track both club movement and the ball at the moment of impact.  This equipment provides the perfect foundation for analysis, enabling the Mustang golfers to use real-time data to improve their games.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 News November 2017

Documenting a transformative learning experience

Bearing witness to Poland’s deep physical and emotional scars that linger long after World War II – when the Nazis made the country the epicenter of the Holocaust – is the focus of a new book by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, No Resting Place: Holocaust Poland (Terrace Partners, $39.95).
The large-format hardcover combines more than 200 contemporary photos of occupied Poland’s deadliest Holocaust sites with historical vignettes and poignant observations from those who have experienced one of the most comprehensive, longest-running Shoah study trips offered by a U.S. university.
Each December, the two-week Holocaust Poland trip, led for more than 20 years by SMU Professor Rick Halperin, exposes students and lifelong learners to the Third Reich’s genocidal “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Like the trip, No Resting Place visits 13 of the most notorious SS-run sites – Stutthof, Lodz, Chelmno, Warsaw, Treblinka, Jedwabne, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek, Auschwitz, Birkenau, Plaszow and Gross-Rosen – six designed solely for killing.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 News November 2017

Prestigious Academy welcomes SMU anthropologist

SMU anthropologist Caroline Brettell celebrated her election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences during a ceremony at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 7.
The 228 new fellows and foreign honorary members — representing the sciences, the humanities and the arts, business, public affairs and the nonprofit sector — were announced in April as members of one of the world’s most prestigious honorary societies. In addition to Brettell, the class of 2017 includes actress Carol Burnett, musician John Legend, playwright Lynn Nottage, immunologist James Allison and many others.
Brettell is the fourth SMU faculty member to be elected to the Academy. She joins David Meltzer, Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in Dedman College (class of 2013), Scurlock University Professor of Human Values Charles Curran (class of 2010), and the late David J. Weber, founding director of the University’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies (class of 2007).
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni News November 2017

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

In case you missed it this month, please enjoy these cool stories and interesting videos!

2017 Alumni

SMU alumna on building bridges in the wake of Hurricane Harvey

Just a week before Hurricane Harvey hit, Punam Kaji ’12, an associate with Haynes and Boone, LLP, had relocated from Dallas to Houston. After the hurricane, her inbox was flooded with emails from other lawyers asking, “What should we be doing right now to help?” Kaji, a graduate of SMU’s Dedman School of Law, serves as chair of the Asian Pacific Interest Section (APIS) of the State Bar of Texas. APIS recently organized and co-sponsored hurricane relief legal training with a coalition of Bar organizations and community groups at South Texas College of Law–Houston. Above the Law, a legal news and commentary website, highlighted the pro bono initiative on October 20, 2017.

Renwei Chung
Above the Law

Punam Kaji ’12

Last week, the Asian Pacific Interest Section (APIS) of the State Bar of Texas organized and co-sponsored hurricane relief legal training with a coalition of diverse bar organizations and community groups at South Texas College of Law–Houston.

Their training focused on ways to help with Hurricane Harvey relief, specifically instructing attorneys and others in the community on how to manage the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) appeals process. But other issues, such as language access and cultural barriers, were topics of discussion as well for the 44 attendees.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to catch up with Punam Kaji, chair of APIS, associate at Haynes and Boone, LLP, and alumnus of SMU Dedman School of Law. As Harvey’s downpour was still draining, her inbox started flooding with emails from other lawyers. Even attorneys whose homes were damaged were asking, “What should we be doing right now to help?”

As the chair of APIS, Kaji felt compelled to help focus its attention on a project they could do with several other community organizations. Helping with Harvey relief was very personal for her as well. The week before Harvey hit Houston and the surrounding areas, Kaji had just relocated to Dallas from the ravaged region. This training allowed her to be there in spirit to help after the catastrophe.

Renwei Chung: Your pro-bono initiative focused on training people for the FEMA application appeals process. Why?

Punam Kaji: The local organizations and pro bono lawyers in Houston did an incredible job getting to the shelters and assisting with FEMA applications. Daniel Hu, an APIS Council Member and board member of Lone Star Legal Aid, informed us that the FEMA Appeals process would come next, and be a difficult stage for those who have been denied FEMA assistance.

We wanted to anticipate the next critical legal need for Harvey survivors trying to get their life back. We figured if we train lawyers they will be able to take on a pro bono case or even give better advice to friends, family and community members.

Read the full story.

2017 Alumni

Choreographer Joshua L. Peugh ’06 reimagines the classics

Since graduating from SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts in 2006, Joshua L. Peugh ’06 has achieved acclaim worldwide for his unique and innovative choreography. He founded Dark Circles Contemporary Dance (DCCD)  in 2010 in Seoul, with the company’s newest branch based in Dallas. DCCD was among the performing arts groups appearing in the groundbreaking public theater production of The Tempest in March. Two new works by Peugh will have their international premiere in Seoul, just days before the company returns to Dallas to open its fifth anniversary season.
Dark Circles Contemporary Dance’s Big Bad Wolf and Les Fairies will be performed at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, 6th Floor Studio Theatre, October 19–21, just days after their international premiere in Seoul, South Korea. The company celebrates the opening of its fifth anniversary season with these two new creations by founder and artistic director Joshua L. Peugh ’06.
Big Bad Wolf is inspired by cautionary tales people worldwide use to frighten naughty children. Influenced by characters described in stories by Heinrich Hoffmann, the Grimm Brothers, Charles Perrault and others, the work will be grandly theatrical and draw from vaudeville. A brand-new score for the work has been commissioned from composer and SMU Meadows School of the Arts alumnus Brandon Carson ’16.
The second work, Les Fairies, is a modern reimagining of the classic ballet Les Sylphides, with music by Frédéric Chopin performed live by Meadows School of the Arts staff musician Richard Abrahamson.
The production will feature a lighting design by Roma Flowers, whose credits include work for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Donald Bird, Doug Elkins Dance Company, Urban Bush Women, Doug Varone, Dance Theatre of Harlem and many other distinguished dance companies and artists. Susan Austin will provide the costume design.
Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 19; and at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, October 20–21. Tickets are $25. More information about our performances can be found online at along with additional details about the company’s fifth anniversary season.

2017 News October 2017 Main

A recipe for sustainable building

Maggie Inhofe, a design and innovation graduate student in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in the name of research. After receiving a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, she spent the summer learning more about compressed earth block technology and designing modular building systems for rural communities.
Here is an excerpt from one of her posts about the experience on the SMU Adventures blog:

If I were to tell you that I spent the last week using a giant mixer, a piping bag and biscuit molds, you might think that I chose to redirect my Maguire grant to study the delightful field of baking. Rest assured, I’m still researching compressed earth block technology for a rural housing project. But I did get to use all of those things, and a lot of other seemingly kitchen-related material, out in the field when I attend DwellEarth’s training session last week.

I was one of 15 attendees at DwellEarth’s semi-annual training sessions. DwellEarth is a construction firm that specializes in compressed earth block construction.

The other participants came from all over the world. Though earthen construction is certainly lagging in America more than in other parts of our world, I am happy to say that I had some fellow Texans in my company. We began the week with a brief orientation before heading out, almost immediately, into the construction site where the hands-on learning would begin.

The first day focused on material science. We learned how to identify the different components of soil to determine how viable it was for construction. These tests ranged from incredibly simple – involving nothing more than your hand and a sprinkle of water –  to more methodical – moving a mixture of soil and water through a series of test tubes to separate the different compounds.

Most soil is made of a mixture of clay, silt and sand. To prep the soil to be used in a compressed earth block, you need to know the proportion of these three components in the virgin soil, and see whether it needs any modification.

Read more at SMU Adventures.

2017 News October 2017

Mustang Momentum Challenge, October 18–31

This fall, thousands of alumni are joining together in support of Pony Power: Strengthening the Stampede. This three-year initiative will improve the academic and campus experience of SMU students at the University, right now. By focusing on current-use funds, Pony Power seeks to maximize resources available to the provost, deans and faculty to address the most pressing needs and best ideas on campus.
To get this initiative moving, SMU is introducing the Mustang Momentum Challenge. For 14 days, starting on October 18, SMU will celebrate the outstanding work of students and faculty across campus, highlighting the tangible impact current-use gifts make on the lives of students now, and leaving a lasting legacy for the future. Each day, a new student or faculty story will be featured in emails to alumni and on the web. And each day, alumni will be encouraged to make their own contribution, together gaining momentum to meet the challenge.
Read more about Pony Power to see how meaningful alumni generosity is in the lives of individual students and the community at large, and how you can contribute to the Mustang Momentum Challenge.

2017 Alumni News October 2017

Reaching the funding finish line

Former SMU swimmer Joseph M. “Jody” Grant ’60, and his wife, Sheila Peterson Grant, are providing SMU Athletics with a $1.5 million gift to help fund the University’s new Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center. With their gift, they have created the Sheila and Jody Grant Challenge, encouraging other donors to donate the remaining $1.5 million to complete the $22 million funding goal.
The 42,000-square-foot facility, soon to be home to the University’s internationally recognized men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, will be dedicated Friday, November 3, during SMU Homecoming.
“As community business and philanthropic leaders, Jody and Sheila Grant know the importance of reaching the finish line and completing worthy goals,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Their generosity is inspirational and helps get us closer to completing funding for the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and providing a place where our student athletes can continue the championship legacy of SMU swimming and diving.”
The Aquatics Center features an indoor Olympic-sized pool, which can be configured for eight 50-meter competition lanes or twenty-two 25-yard lanes. Its platform diving well boasts a 10-meter diving tower with five springboards and seating for 800 spectators is on the mezzanine level.
Jody Grant attended SMU on a swimming scholarship, earning four individual Southwest Conference swimming championships and was twice named to the All America team.
“SMU’s swimming program has been near and dear to my heart since Coach Red Barr recruited me many years ago to swim for the Mustangs,” said Dr. Grant. “I am honored to support this new facility, which will be home for the swimming program that was so meaningful to me.”

The Grants met as students at SMU and have been SMU supporters since 1979. They have provided support to the SMU Fund, the Tate Lecture Series, the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics award, the Distinguished Alumni Award, Meadows School of the Arts, Dedman College, and Cox School of Business.
“With the challenge grant, we hope to inspire the community to join us in reaching the goal for the fundraising of the Aquatics Center. We like to participate in opportunities that provide benefits for as many people as possible, profoundly enhancing their lives,” said Sheila Grant.
Read more at SMU News.
2017 Alumni News October 2017

SMU Homecoming 2017: Friends, football and fun

Come back to the Hilltop for Homecoming, November 2–5, 2017! Reconnect with your friends, reminisce where you began an important part of your life and celebrate the achievements and momentum propelling SMU toward an ever-brighter future.
This year’s celebration begins with the Distinguished Alumni Awards, a prelude to a weekend packed with activities. Choose from among a range of concerts and performances, as well as special exhibitions at SMU’s museums and libraries. Celebrate 100 years of Mustang spirit and Mustang jazz with the Mustang Band at the Pigskin Revue. And enjoy the excitement and fun of the annual parade and the Boulevard, all leading up to the Mustang football team’s game against the UCF Knights.
A highlight of the weekend for many returning Mustangs are the reunion class parties on November 3, where alumni catch up on old times, share memories and reconnect with one another at some of Dallas’ best-loved venues as well as great spots on campus with food, drinks and entertainment.
Student Foundation has been hard at work to make this the most memorable Homecoming yet. Join your Mustang family in November and experience the best of SMU.
Read more at SMU Homecoming & Reunions.

2017 Alumni News October 2017

Hubba! Saluting a century of Mustang spirit and jazz

The Mustang Band – the most visible performing ensemble at SMU – is celebrating its 100th year during SMU Homecoming 2017 with several special events, including:


Diamond M Club Mixer
9 p.m.

Old Chicago Pizza
5319 Mockingbird Station
Dallas, TX 75206


Mustang Band Mini-Reunion

Mustang Band Hall
6005 Bush Avenue
Dallas, TX 75206


Centennial Celebration
6:30–7:45 p.m.

The Martha Proctor Mack
Grand Ballroom
Register now

Read more at SMU Homecoming & Reunions.

2017 Alumni October 2017

Special Homecoming events planned for Dedman Law alumni

“Choose Your Own Adventure” CLE experience, a reunion party for classes ending in 2s and 7s, and barbecue on The Boulevard are planned for Dedman School of Law alumni during SMU Homecoming Weekend.
Read more at Dedman Law.

2017 Alumni October 2017 Spring 2018

Adding early assessment to the math education equation

A $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to researchers in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development targets the ongoing struggle of U.S. elementary and high school students with math. SMU K-12 math education experts Leanne Ketterlin Geller and Lindsey Perry ’16 will conduct research and develop an assessment system comprised of two universal screening tools to measure mathematical reasoning skills for grades K–2.
“This is an opportunity to develop an assessment system that can help teachers support students at the earliest and, arguably, one of the most critical phases of a child’s mathematical development,” said Ketterlin Geller, principal investigator for the grant.
The four-year project, Measuring Early Mathematical Reasoning Skills: Developing Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning, started on September 15, 2017. The system will contain tests for both numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning.
“I’m passionate about this research because students who can reason spatially and relationally with numbers are better equipped for future mathematics courses, STEM degrees and STEM careers,” said Perry, whose doctoral dissertation for her Ph.D. from SMU specifically focused on those two mathematical constructs.
“While these are very foundational and predictive constructs, these reasoning skills have typically not been emphasized at these grade levels, and universal screening tools focused on these topics do not yet exist,” said Perry, who is co-principal investigator.
“Since intervention in the early elementary grades can significantly improve mathematics achievement, it is critical that K-2 teachers have access to high-quality screening tools to help them with their intervention efforts,” she said. “We feel that the Measures of Mathematical Reasoning Skills system can really make a difference for K-2 teachers as they prepare the next generation of STEM leaders.”
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 News October 2017

Big data solves leaf-size conundrum

SMU paleobotanist Bonnie F. Jacobs has contributed research to a major new study by a team of global researchers that provides scientists with a new tool for understanding both ancient and future climate by looking at the size of plant leaves. The research was published September 1, 2017 as a cover story in Science.
Why is a banana leaf a million times bigger than a common heather leaf? Why are leaves generally much larger in tropical jungles than in temperate forests and deserts? The textbooks say it’s a balance between water availability and overheating.
But it’s not that simple, the researchers found.
The study was led by Associate Professor Ian Wright from Macquarie University, Australia. The study reveals that in much of the world the key factor limiting the size of a plant’s leaves is the temperature at night and the risk of frost damage to leaves.
Jacobs said the implications of the study are significant for enabling scientists to either predict modern leaf size in the distant future, or to understand the climate for a locality as it may have been in the past.
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 News October 2017

Cyber security training needs a shot in the arm

SMU’s Frederick R. Chang, executive director of the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security, recently urged a congressional subcommittee to remember the success of Cold War-era legislation that dedicated more than $1 billion to growing the “space race” workforce as a model for closing the 21st century cyber security skills gap.
Chang testified recently before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee on “Challenges of recruiting and retaining a Cybersecurity Workforce.”
The hearing fell the same day that that it was revealed that a data breach at Equifax Inc.  had potentially exposed vital information on about 143 million Americans. “Cyber attacks are growing in frequency and they are growing in sophistication – but the availability of cyber security professionals to deal with these challenges is unfortunately not keeping pace,” said subcommittee chair John Ratcliffe, R-Tx.
One estimate, Ratcliffe said, forecasts a worldwide shortage of 1.8 million cyber security workers five years from now.
“In general, the actions that are being taken now are important, valuable and are making a difference,” Chang testified.  “But given that these actions are being taken, and that the cyber skills gap continues to grow, tells me that we must do more.  In 1958 science education in America got a shot in the arm when the National Defense Education Act was passed the year after the Soviet satellite “Sputnik” was launched into outer space. This act helped launch a generation of students who would study math and science.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 News October 2017

Writing, storytelling and sharing the gospel

Hear best-selling author Anne Lamott, seminary president Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle and noted biblical scholar Rev. Dr. N.T. Wright at The Power of the Story: 2017 Fall Convocation on Creative Communication, November 13–14, at Perkins School of Theology.
Read more at Perkins School of Theology.

2017 News October 2017

‘Cities, Suburbs and the New America’ on October 26

The impact of the nation’s evolving demographics will be explored by Henry Cisneros, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and a host of urban planning and economics experts at SMU on October 26.

Register for the program.

2017 Alumni News October 2017

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

In case you missed it this month, please enjoy these cool stories and interesting videos!

2017 Alumni Fall 2017 Features

How SMU Alumnae Built A School Culture To Change The Lives Of Girls

A bouncy tune booms in the background as little girls with hair adorned in bright bows, barrettes and beads swarm the elementary school gym. It’s time for Sisterhood Circle at Solar Preparatory School for Girls. For the next 15 minutes, a lively mash-up of movement, song, patriotism and affirmation kicks off the morning.
Students direct the all-school assembly, and on this April day, a kindergarten class runs the show. Each Wednesday is College Day, and the pint-size emcee polls her classmates about their aspirations: “I want to go to SMU and become a lawyer … doctor … archaeologist … teacher … coach.”
Beaming from the sidelines is Nancy Bernardino ’01, ’04, ’05. She’s the principal leading the new single-gender campus, a unique startup developed through the Dallas Independent School District’s Choice School program, a pitch contest of sorts for educators to sell the district on their plans for new public schools.
“Everything we do here is designed to prepare our students for life,” Bernardino says. “They’re learning to write code and problem-solve. They’re learning to express themselves and support one another. We’re seeing our students blossom and become confident young girls.”

HAIR BOWS, HUGS AND HAMMERS  It’s just another day in the life of Solar Preparatory School for Girls and Principal Nancy Bernardino as she makes her morning rounds, checking in on classrooms; pitching in as parents and students build lemonade stands, where students will learn about finance as they compete to sell the most beverages; and watching light bulbs flick on as students learn new concepts in the school’s makerspace. Pictured at the top of the page are the Simmons School alumnae leading Solar Prep: (from left) Olivia Santos ’05, ’16, instructional coach; Principal Bernardino; and Jennifer Turner ’16, assistant principal.

From the girl power celebration that jumpstarts each day to the fusion of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math) curriculum with social and emotional learning (SEL), this model school equips girls with the academic abilities and daring they need to unlock their full potential.

GIRL CODE Students use Tinkercad to create basic 3D digital designs. Coding is part of the curriculum that builds tech literacy and nurtures STEAM interest.

Conversations about the “super school” started in 2014 when Bernardino, assistant principal Jennifer Turner ’16, teacher Cynthia Flores ’00, ’17 and instructional coach Ashley Toole ’16 worked together at John Quincy Adams Elementary School in Pleasant Grove, a modest neighborhood in southeast Dallas. Like any entrepreneurs seeking venture capital, the team had to formulate a viable idea, identify data to support their concept and devise a feasible plan that could withstand DISD’s rigorous vetting process.
“When we started looking at the greatest need at the elementary level, we found compelling research about girls losing their voice in the classroom by the time they reach fifth grade,” Bernardino explains. “I started thinking about my own experiences as a very shy student and how things changed for me.”
Bernardino was born in Mexico but has lived in Dallas since she was a year old. She grew up in East Dallas, not far from Solar Prep’s location on Henderson Avenue.
“Neither of my parents had a formal education,” she explains. “My mother wanted us to have career options that she never had.”
Even though they didn’t speak English, her parents regularly attended school functions – demonstrating to Bernardino the importance of parental engagement. Solar Prep sponsors both a parent-teacher association and a club for fathers and other important men in students’ lives.
Poised and self-assured with a quick wit and sunny smile, Bernardino admits she wasn’t always comfortable wearing a leadership mantle. Winning a scholarship to the The Hockaday School, the prestigious all-girls private school in Dallas, was “life-changing,” she says.
“I feel like I found my voice at Hockaday. It was an empowering environment. We learned to speak up for ourselves, and I became my own advocate.”
She used that voice as a “super involved” SMU student. She was active on the Program Council and with Mustang Corral, and she served as layout editor for The Daily Campus while studying public affairs and corporate communications at Meadows School of the Arts.
“It was a great program for me. I still rely on the research skills I developed and tools I learned to use,” she says. “Even graphic design skills, which I didn’t think I would use again, have come in really handy.”
In 2001 she became the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, a milestone that thrilled her parents. While working in SMU Student Activities, she completed a graduate certificate in dispute resolution and a master of liberal arts degree, both offered by SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. She went on to earn a master of education degree from Texas A&M–Commerce before joining DISD in 2005, where she served as a teacher, academic coordinator and assistant principal before becoming an award-winning school principal.
Currently a candidate for the Ed.D. in educational leadership at Simmons, Bernardino says, “We learn practices in class that we can then apply immediately to improve our schools.” For example, a discussion about character-building and core values sparked the idea for the backbone of Solar Prep’s social- emotional learning component: the “Solar Six.” Students explore and discuss curiosity, self-awareness, empathy, humility, leadership and grit.
Simmons School programs also profoundly influenced Solar Prep’s assistant principal Turner and instructional coach Olivia Santos ’05, ’16. Both received master’s degrees in educational leadership with a specialization in urban school leadership.

MAKERSPACE A Lego wall sparks the imagination and encourages collaborative discovery in a space dedicated to hands-on creativity and interdisciplinary learning.

“It was career changing,” Turner says. “It opened my eyes to the pivotal role school leaders can play in creating a learning environment that supports student achievement across the board.”
“Before I completed my master’s, I thought education was mainly about curriculum,” Santos says. “Now I see the importance of implementing systems and practices that create a culture where all students feel welcomed and valued and that support students of all backgrounds, helping those who need it the most get up to speed. Addressing our students’ needs as an entire school has tremendous impact.”
Bernardino embraces the Simmons mission to find evidence-based solutions and to “roll out our successes to benefit other schools.”
Solar Prep made its debut in August 2016 with 199 students in kindergarten through second grade from neighborhoods across Dallas. The school will add one grade level per year until students can complete eighth grade at Solar Prep. They will have the option of continuing their public education in an all-girls setting at DISD’s nationally ranked Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership Academy.
The new school exemplifies the district’s first attempt at a socioeconomically balanced campus, a decision informed by mounting evidence that achievement gaps can shrink when low-income children learn side-by-side with their affluent peers. By design, 50 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch and the other half do not.
The student body is also racially diverse, comprising 51 percent Hispanic, 22 percent black, 22 percent white, 2 percent Asian and 3 percent other races.
Perhaps its most unusual pioneering step is a partnership with Girl Scouts of the USA. Solar Prep is the only public school in the nation to enroll all students in the organization. Once a week, as part of the regular school day, teachers become scout leaders as students focus on activities to earn badges in such areas as financial literacy, computers, inventing and making friends. The program ties to an extended day schedule adopted so that all students can benefit from enrichment activities.
Bernardino already sees signs that Solar Prep is living up to its ambition as an incubator for postmillennial trailblazers.
When an academically gifted student who is not athletically inclined joined the track team, Bernardino cheered. “We want students to push themselves because they know that even if something doesn’t work out, all of us – teachers and students – will help them push through it and figure it out.”
By the way, that little girl exceeded expectations.
“She didn’t do well in the 100-meter race, but she placed second in the 200 meters,” Bernardino recounts. “Afterward, she said, ‘See, I knew I just needed more time, and I would get there.’”
– Story by Patricia Ward and photography by Kim Leeson

2017 Alumni

SMU’s Luisa del Rosal ’08 wins Latino business award

Luisa del Rosal ’08, executive director of the Tower Center and founding executive director of Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center at SMU, received the Latino Up-And-Comer Award as part of D CEO’s 2017 Latino Business Awards. The awards are designed to honor the top Latino “visionary thinkers and industry pioneers” in North Texas.
“I get to do what I love every day and it’s an honor to be selected among such a worthy group,” del Rosal said. “Each nominee and award winner is an outstanding Hispanic leader, proving that we are better together.”

September 2017

In 2004, Luisa del Rosal left Chihuahua, Mexico, to attend school at Southern Methodist University.

She was a shy, doe-eyed girl who had trouble finding her way around campus. Arriving several minutes late to her first class, she entered through the wrong door and ended up at the front of the classroom. “I’m apologizing in Spanish, but I don’t notice because I’m so frazzled,” she says, only realizing the mistake when her professor responded with confusion. “I remember being just mortified.” But to del Rosal’s relief, the professor and the rest of the class laughed it off and welcomed her inside.

That first day of school has been much like the rest of her story: a series of peers, communities, and superiors who have welcomed her and her ideas.

Read more.

2017 Alumni

DFW theater critics honor SMU Meadows alumni, faculty and students

2017 September 2017

Inside the world of the Residential Commons

2017 News September 2017

Mustangs kick off football season with a big win

Chad Morris mentioned several times in his Tuesday press conference that he believed his team this year was his best one yet at SMU as well as one of the better squads the Hilltop has seen in years. It’s obviously a long season, but it’s difficult to have a much better start to the season. The 58-14 win against Stephen F. Austin at the “Salute To Our Heroes” game on Saturday was SMU’s largest margin of victory since 2012 and easily the largest of the Morris Era.
“We’re building something,” he said. “It’s taking time, and we’re not done. We’re not as good a football team as we’re going to be, but we’re the best we’ve ever been since I’ve been here. I’m extremely proud to say that. As you build a program from the ground up, that’s what you ask coming into year three.”
The Mustangs scored on all three of their first offensive drives while adding two defensive scores from junior Jordan Wyatt to blow past the Lumberjacks right out of the gate. It was one of the most dominant first halves SMU has put together. The 31-point lead was the largest the Mustangs have enjoyed since 2011.
The “Salute To Our Heroes” game served as a tribute to all active military service members and veterans.
Read more at SMU Athletics.

2017 News September 2017

Home: Exploring its meaning and the impact of eviction

As new students made themselves at home, Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City inspired poetry, research and soul-searching about the meaning of home and the impact of its loss in programs presented by SMU Reads in conjunction with the common reading discussion of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book.
Desmond talked about his research and experiences at a free public program on campus on August 24.
“It’s an honor to be at SMU and an honor to have all these amazing, brilliant young minds engage in these morally urgent questions,” he said. “I love these big reads because they bring folks interested in science, the humanities, social science and everything together around this issue, and we certainly need a lot more minds around this issue.”
SMU sophomore Amit Banerjee, a public policy and engineering major, was inspired by Desmond’s book to research the issue of eviction in the Dallas area.
“I wanted to contextualize it to a place that I call home and that a lot of my peers will call home for the next several years,” he explained. “I learned that affordable housing and eviction are huge issues in Dallas.”
As a prelude to Desmond’s appearance, poet Fatima Hirsi set up her 1953 manual Smith Corona typewriter in Starbucks in Fondren Library on August 22 and talked to students about the meaning of home. Based on the interview, she crafted a short, personalized poem for each student.
Here’s an excerpt from one of her on-the-spot creations:
Read more at SMU News.

2017 News September 2017

‘Wild About SMU’: Family Weekend, September 22–24

Families from across the country will join their SMU students in celebrating Family Weekend, September 22–24, when the Student Foundation presents “Wild About SMU.”
The family luncheon, annual student talent show and Boulevard barbecue before the SMU vs. Arkansas State football game are just a few of the can’t-miss events planned.
The Student Foundation’s Family Weekend Committee is partnering with local restaurants and retailers to support the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, which provides a home away from home for families with seriously ill or injured children. Details and a list of the businesses supporting this philanthropic mission are available on the Student Foundation website.
Register for Family Weekend, buy football tickets, check out the full schedule of events and more at the Student Foundation website:

2017 News September 2017

Gift launches Owen Arts Center makeover

2017 News September 2017

Saving big cats in the Bolivian jungle

Antoine Mellon ’19, a junior studying world languages, was awarded a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship for summer 2017 from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU. As a result, he spent the summer as a volunteer at Parque Ambue Ari, a wildlife center in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, rehabilitating wild animals rescued from trafficking and taking amazing photos. He says it was an “unforgettable” experience. “Never before had I met such an open group of people, all with a common love of animals and volunteering.”
Here’s an excerpt from one of his posts for the SMU Adventures blog:
The past two months at Ambue Ari have gone by unbelievably fast. It seems like just yesterday that I arrived in the park, and listened in awe as people casually talked about walking their pumas or jaguars in the middle of the jungle. I can’t believe how quickly I took part in those conversations without realizing how crazy and amazing the work we were doing really was.
I had the opportunity to help Wayra move from a small cage into an enclosure that felt more like a small jungle surrounded by some fencing.
Read more at SMU Adventures.

2017 News September 2017

Researching a subject that’s hard to pin down

Paul Krueger, a mechanical engineering professor at SMU, joined a team of researchers studying squid locomotion in Maine over the summer. A greater grasp on the invertebrate’s impressive maneuverability may have wide-ranging applications – from understanding muscle physiology to improving remotely operated vehicles. Coverage of the project was published in the August 22, 2017, edition of the Wiscasset Newspaper.
By Linda Healy
Darling Marine Center
This summer, the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center is hosting a team of researchers for a collaborative study of squid locomotion. The goal of the project is to identify critical features of muscles that control maneuvering performances in squid.
The idea for this research was sparked five years ago, during a conversation between three scientists: Ian Bartol, Paul Krueger and Joe Thompson. The topic of conversation was the unique and amazing maneuverability of squid.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni News September 2017

When the Galápagos Islands become a science classroom

This summer, Teaching and Learning faculty members Diego Román, Ph.D., and Dara Rossi, Ph.D., invited Dallas Arboretum educators Dustin Miller and Marisol Rodriguez to help train 125 Ecuadoran teachers in the Galápagos Islands.
Román and Rossi participate in a four-year professional development program initiated by The Galápagos Conservancy and Ecuador’s Ministry of Education. They also advise The Dallas Arboretum Education Department, which focuses on life and earth science and trains 500 teachers annually. So having Miller and Rodriguez teach with them in the Galapagos was a plus. The team also included Greses Perez, a Simmons alumna, and current student Heny Agredo.
Read more at Simmons.

2017 News September 2017

Can anthropology solve the diabetes dilemma?

Carolyn Smith-Morris, associate professor of anthropology at SMU, has been studying the impact of culture and lifestyle on diabetes outcomes for over 15 years—from a decade spent among the Pima Indians in Arizona to a new study sponsored by Google aimed at preventing diabetes-related blindness. Anthropology, she says, provides the most holistic perspective of this complex problem: “Anthropology seems to me the only discipline that allows you to look both closely at disease … and from the bird’s-eye perspective.” Smith-Morris’ research was featured on Sapiens, a website that covers anthropology, on August 22, 2017.
Kate Ruder
Mary (a pseudonym) was 18 years old and halfway through her second pregnancy when anthropologist Carolyn Smith-Morris met her 10 years ago. Mary, a Pima Indian, was living with her boyfriend, brother, parents and 9-month-old baby in southern Arizona. She had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during both of her pregnancies, but she didn’t consider herself diabetic because her diabetes had gone away after her first birth. Perhaps her diagnosis was even a mistake, she felt. Mary often missed her prenatal appointments, because she didn’t have a ride to the hospital from her remote home on the reservation. She considered diabetes testing a “personal thing,” so she didn’t discuss it with her family.
As Smith-Morris’ research revealed, Mary’s story was not unique among Pima women. Many had diabetes, but they didn’t understand the risks. These women’s narratives have helped to explain, in part, why diabetes has been so prevalent in this corner of the world. An astonishing half of all adult Pimas have diabetes.
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 Fall 2017 News

To Our Readers: A Great Time To Be On The Hilltop

As the University makes final preparations for the arrival of new students and the start of fall classes August 21, I am more excited than ever about the opportunities ahead – for the Class of 2021 and for the University as a whole.
We invite you to be a critical part of all the great things that will happen on the Hilltop in the months ahead.
Our new students join peers from every U.S. state and more than 90 countries around the world. On the Hilltop, new first-year students will immediately find a home away from home in their Residential Commons. Read “Uncommon Life” to see what that experience will be like as they interact with peers who represent a cross-section of the student body and with Faculty in Residence who take an interest in their well-being, academically and socially.
The new students will be joined by new faculty members and administrators: new deans for the Cox School of Business and Simmons School of Education and Human Development, the University’s first-ever associate provost for continuing education, and new leaders for student affairs and information technology.
These outstanding leaders and their peers across SMU will enhance the abilities of our students and faculty to work together across disciplines to create new fields of knowledge and address tough problems. For examples of ways in which they change the world, read about the groundbreaking community partnerships forged by Meadows School of the Arts and the entrepreneurial alumnae who created an innovative all-girls school in Dallas.
The unique opportunities SMU offers students, faculty and alumni are only possible because of the ever-increasing generosity of donors. That is why we started the exciting three-year initiative called Pony Power: Strengthening the Stampede to inspire more people to give every year to support current initiatives.
Your annual gift to the SMU Fund – which you can direct to broad areas such as the University’s greatest needs, scholarships or faculty, or to the highest priorities of a school, the libraries, Athletics or Student Affairs – enables you to be a critical part of all the great things that will happen on the Hilltop in the months ahead.
I hope you can see for yourself the incredible things happening at the University – by coming to campus for Homecoming November 2–4 or Family Weekend September 22–24; by attending an event across the U.S. for alumni, family and friends; by seeing a game or performance on campus; or by reading the stories SMU shares online through-out the year.
It is going to be a fantastic year, and we want you to be a part of it.
R. Gerald Turner

2017 Fall 2017 Features September 2017 Main

SMU Helps Shape Pioneering Community Production

How many people does it take to stage a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest? When you’re using it as a way to forge new relationships across Dallas neighborhoods and community organizations, you’d have as many as 200 people, of whom only a handful were professional actors. And Meadows School of the Arts at SMU played a major role in bringing the event to fruition.
In late February, only one week before this musical version of The Tempest was scheduled to open, an evening rehearsal resembled controlled chaos. Director Kevin Moriarty, also Dallas Theater Center’s artistic director, raised his voice to be heard above the din coming from the rehearsal room on the ninth floor of the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas. Children of all ages (the youngest at 4), who were playing island spirits, squirmed in the staging area while their parents, seated in chairs that lined the sides of the room, chatted with one another.
Other ensemble members were still arriving from work after slogging through Dallas commuter traffic. SMU theatre alumnus Ace Anderson ’13, a member of Dallas Theater Center’s Brierley Resident Acting Company and one of only five professional actors in the cast, rushed in and polished off a fast-food dinner he had picked up on his way in.
Moriarty told the company to start with a banquet in Scene Six. Sitting next to him was Maria Calderon Zavala ’20, a first-year SMU theatre major from Mexico City, who translated into Spanish his directions for many of the adults and children in the ensembles. When words failed him, Moriarty moved to the center of the room and pantomimed his desires for the scene, reminding everyone that time was precious and repetition was necessary to get the movement right.
Not in the room were members of seven local arts groups whose performances would be inserted into the action, including flamenco dancers, an elementary school choir, a high school drumline, a brass band, Aztec dancers, a church choir and Dark Circles Contemporary Dance Company, founded by SMU alumnus Joshua Peugh ’06.
An observer couldn’t help but wonder: With only one week left, could this become a polished performance?
‘Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On’
Seeds for the project were planted in 2015, when SMU presented the Meadows Prize to Lear deBessonet, director of Public Works – an initiative of The Public Theater that engages the citizens of New York City as theater creators as well as spectators, blurring the line between professional artists and community members.
In 2013, Public Works staged in New York’s Central Park a contemporary adaptation of The Tempest by Todd Almond, who transformed it with music and lyrics.
The Tempest is a 400-year-old play about magic, vengeance, forgiveness and redemption.
On a remote island the sorcerer Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place. Through illusion, he conjures up a storm to shipwreck on the island his usurping brother, Antonio, and the complicit King Alonso of Naples. His manipulations reveal Antonio’s treachery, the King’s redemption and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso’s son, Ferdinand.
For her Meadows Prize project, deBessonet spearheaded a new co-production of The Tempest between the Meadows School, which made a $200,000 commitment, and the Dallas Theater Center. Moriarty and Clyde Valentín – director of Meadows’ Ignite/Arts Dallas, an engagement initiative between SMU and the local arts community – had witnessed the New York performance. Moriarty said they wondered “if such a New York-specific idea could take root and flourish in Dallas.” Meadows School and SMU’s Ignite/Arts Dallas collaborated withDallas Theater Center to make Dallas the first city outside New York to develop its own version of Public Works.
Since 2015, SMU and Dallas Theater Center have built partnerships with five local organizations that support low-income and underserved populations in Dallas: Jubilee Park and Community Center, Vickery Meadow Learning Center, Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT), Bachman Lake Together and City of Dallas Park and Recreation. Local actors, including SMU theatre alumna Lydia Mackay ’08, and SMU theatre artist-in-residence Will Power led workshops and classes for the last half of 2016 to transform the five organizations’ community members into stage-ready performers.
“I knew this would be a challenging proposition for our respective institutions because it would require us to collaborate more closely than maybe we have in the past,” Valentín said. “I knew it would be a challenging proposition for the actual participants because we were going to work with people who had no real relationship or history with the Dallas Theater Center or the Arts District in general. And it would be a challenge to get our theater students involved in engaging and meaningful ways beyond performing on stage.”
Both Public Works Dallas and Valentín were committed to paying the SMU students who served as teaching artist assistants at the community centers and as production assistants and volunteer coordinators at the Dallas Theater Center. Valentín set aside Ignite/Arts Dallas funds for such a purpose and actively pursued additional gifts from SMU donors through the Mustangs Give Back one-day giving challenge.

‘Be Not Afeard’

Eleven SMU undergraduates worked on The Tempest. Some served as teaching assistants in the workshops that led up to the auditions for the performance. Others assisted on set, costume, hair and makeup design, and with the run crew and dance ensemble. Still others were volunteer and community coordinators. James Michael Williams ’18, who is earning an MA/MBA in Meadows’ arts management program, served as assistant to Dayron Miles, director of Public Works Dallas.
Sophomore theatre major Kassy Amoi ’19 worked with Will Power as a teaching assistant in storytelling and movement workshops at Literacy Instruction for Texas, and during the performances led the sand spirits ensemble.
“Will and Kassy gently involved every single student to bring out hidden talents that even our students didn’t know they had,” said SMU alumna Lisa Hembry ’75, LIFT president and CEO. About 98 percent of LIFT’s students are adults who have learning differences such as dyslexia and ADHD and have never learned to read, or adults who never graduated from high school and are studying to obtain their high school equivalency certificates. As a result, Hembry says, “LIFT’s students are always wary when it comes to working with new people because generally they have suffered embarrassment, ridicule and bullying their entire lives.”
Amoi, who had previously worked on reading programs with children, discovered that working with adults who have literacy issues was very different. “Many were severely shy. I had to learn how to explain things a bit better, and in a more positive and reinforced way,” he said. “I found that while many of them weren’t experienced in school, a lot were experienced in life, with inspired, powerful stories.” Amoi took pride in the fact that one of his students, Felisha Blanton, was cast in the supporting role of Sebastia. “She’s a natural comedienne, and took on the role fully and openly. She went from being unsure in the room to being completely comfortable with what she had to say while on stage. It was nice to see her blossom.”
Volunteer coordinator Kaylyn Buckley ’17, who graduated in May with a degree in theatre studies with concentrations in stage management and directing, thought working with The Tempest in a managerial capacity would provide real-world applications to her studies. She began work in November and visited each of the centers during auditions, collaborated with all department heads to evaluate their volunteer needs, communicated with Public Works Dallas as she developed the architecture of the volunteer program and recruited volunteers from the SMU community.
“I’d never participated in anything like this – I’m not sure that anyone outside of Public Works has,” Buckley said. “It’s truly a beast unlike anything else.”
Dallas Theater Center resident company actor Liz Mikel performs the role of Ariel.
Members of the Dark Circles Contemporary Dance Company, founded by SMU alumnus Joshua Peugh ’06, perform during the wedding scene.
Alex Organ as the monster Caliban plots with clowns Ace Anderson (right) and Rodney Garza against Prospero.
“It’s not just managing 200 cast members, 50-plus crew members and 100-plus volunteers, but also being acutely sensitive to how you’re saying things, the experience you’re creating and navigating a language barrier,” she explains. “You want to cultivate a positive experience for cast members who have never been involved in the arts, many of whom have learning disabilities, are not native English speakers and who are living in poverty. I’d have to be very direct, forward and efficient with 28 Junior League members simultaneously looking to volunteer, then immediately modify my tone and delivery as soon as a cast member approached.”
Theatre/theatre studies major Christina Sittser ’17, who also graduated in May, gained performing experience in her native St. Louis before coming to SMU, attracted by numerous scholarships. For The Tempest, she served as a teaching assistant for acting classes at Bachman Lake Together and at Jubilee Park and Community Center, and during the performances was captain of the water spirits. “I really loved the work. I saw kids so shy at first that they would keep their faces down. It was beautiful to watch them grow as actors and open up more. I didn’t understand that at the end of the show I would leave pieces of my heart behind with these people. It made me think more about the role of community in theater. Listen to what people in the community want and need and then incorporate that into theater.”
‘Our Revels Now Are Ended’
SMU theatre alumnus Ace Anderson ’13 played the clown role of Trinculo.
When the opening performance on March 3 began, the Wyly had been transformed into a remote island, all the performances flowed seamlessly and the production worked like magic. Audiences were astounded by a type of community performance never seen before in Dallas. Theater Jones critic David Novinski described it as “the ‘you had to be there’ theatrical event of the year.”
Valentín said the success of the show was not just in what audiences saw but also what they couldn’t see: the interactions, bonding and trust-building at the community centers. “It shows what’s possible when you take this large-scale participatory theater approach, treating it as you would any other show in the Dallas Theater Center season that requires the same level of quality, rigor and diligence. We did it! We proved that we can create exceptional, high-quality art with nonprofessionals alongside professionals in a nurturing, safe environment for all those participants, so the space and work truly will begin to feel like it’s theirs. And, it was my hope that our students were transformed by this project as well. What we were able to create for those five weeks was truly exceptional.”
SMU and Dallas Theater Center will use the same model and continue the relationship with the community centers for the next Public Works Dallas production, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, to be staged in September 2018. At that time, Sam Weber ’18 – a Dedman College Scholar majoring in biological sciences, health and society, and chemistry – will be busy applying for medical school but hopes to return as a dance assistant fellow.
“Working with Public Works Dallas is one of the best experiences I’ve had in college,” Weber said. “I’d grown up doing theater and I’ve taught dance and choreography to non-dancers before, so that wasn’t a big shock. But meeting all the extraordinary people and hearing their stories was so special. It was really motivating to work with people who had never done performance art before, but got it; they understood movement and narrative. It really reaffirms how art is truly innate in all people.” Before the final production of The Tempest, director Kevin Moriarty stepped on stage to address the audience. He noted the monumental effort from numerous entities to bring the project to fruition and thanked SMU for its collaboration and support. He said, “Shakespeare belongs to all of us, not only a select few. Our city is at its best when all of us have the opportunity to create, and we are at our strongest and most joyful when we come together.”
– Story by Susan White ’05 with photography by Kim Leeson, unless otherwise credited

Public Works Dallas: A review and panel discussion of research findings from the pilot year

Read more:

2017 Fall 2017 Features

Inside the world of SMU’s Residential Commons

Life in the Residential Commons is never dull. Just ask David Son, professor of chemistry in Dedman College, and wife Heidi – or take a look at photos and memories from a year at Boaz Commons. In 2014, David Son was named Boaz FiR and the 61-year-old residence hall was retrofitted with an apartment that houses the couple and their children, Geoffrey, 14, and Kaylee, 11.
The Sons believe so strongly in the Residential Commons model for living and learning at SMU that they sold their home in Plano to move to campus. And they say they’ve never looked back.
Besides serving as guides to University life, the Sons have been called upon to: pull a splinter from a toe; help light the charcoal in a grill on the Boaz patio; iron a shirt for a tennis player; lend tools; and take a student with a split forehead to the emergency clinic. Basically, they serve as parental figures.
The Sons say Boaz community activities often revolve around food – from “Son-day” night snacks to weekly “family” dinners with students to Korean BBQ night and cookouts on the new Boaz patio.

Uncommon Life photos by Guy Rogers III and Hillsman S. Jackson

In The Thick Of Campus Activities

The Sons participate in many events outside of Boaz – from The Boulevard to Homecoming to intracommons competition. And they aren’t immune to visits from SMU’s famous squirrels.

Enjoying The Comforts Of Home
To help make students feel at home, the Sons host a family meal every Wednesday night in their Boaz apartment, in which a few residents are guests. David Son says that saying grace before each meal is part of the tradition. During the holidays, residents decorate with homey seasonal touches – and creative signage.
“B” Is For Boaz

Like all SMU Residential Commons, Boaz has its own crest. The stars represent the five founding Commons team members as well as the community’s five guiding values: mentorship, community, compassion, integrity and zeal. Each RC also has an official pin, which new residents receive at a special pinning ceremony. Boaz held its pinning ceremony in September.

Let The Games Begin!
With 184 residents, Boaz may be the smallest Residential Commons, but the Sons say it’s one of the tightest. To prove the point, Boaz students won the Commons Cup for 2017 by attending SMU athletic events, participating in community service and competing in the Residential Commons Olympics.

#Corral: The Res Commons Comes to Life

The new academic year is off to a great start! Watch the Hilltop spring to life as new students experience the excitement of move-in day, the tradition of Opening Convocation and all the merriment in between in this collection of videos and photos that capture the spirit of Mustang Corral, August 16–20.

SMU Campus Gets Ready!

Move In Day 2017

Discover Dallas 2017

A Night at the Club

SMU Class of 2021 Photo

SMU Rite of Passage

SMU Opening Convocation

Typewriter Poet

SMU Solar Eclipse

“Evicted” Author Visits SMU

Move In Day

Discover Dallas

Camp Corral

Rotunda Passage and Opening Convocation


2017 August 2017 August 2017 Main News

Mega experiment to study neutrinos

SMU is one of more than 100 institutions from around the world building hardware for a massive international experiment — a particle detector — that could change our understanding of the universe.
Construction will take years and scientists expect to begin taking data in the middle of the next decade, said SMU physicist Thomas E. Coan, a professor in the SMU Department of Physics and a researcher on the experiment.
The turning of a shovelful of earth a mile underground marks a new era in particle physics research. The groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday, July 21, 2017 at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota.
The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) will house the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment. Called DUNE for short, it will be built and operated by a group of roughly 1,000 scientists and engineers from 30 countries, including Coan.
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 August 2017 News

Learning from the best

Jabari Ford ’20 spent six weeks this summer using literacy to drive self-empowerment and community engagement through the Freedom School program supported by his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He describes it as a life-changing experience. “I’ve developed a passion for these kids that I’ve never had before.” His story appeared in The Dallas Morning News on July 3, 2017.
After he finishes reading a book, Jabari Ford looks down to see seven eager faces staring back at him.
The 18-year-old SMU sophomore didn’t ever envision himself in the role of an instructor. But here he is, in a classroom at Dallas ISD’s Pease Elementary in east Oak Cliff, with a group of young boys sitting — and squirming — on a rug in front of him as he reads.
It’s a life-changing experience.
“‘I’ve developed a passion for these kids that I’ve never had before,” he said.
Ford is one of a handful of college students and recent graduates teaching at Pease’s Freedom School, part of a national program launched by the Children’s Defense Fund. The six-week program is centered on reading, using literacy to drive self-empowerment and community engagement. It’s the first of its kind in Dallas.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 August 2017 Fall 2017 News

SMU launches Pony Power initiative

Building on unprecedented accomplishments over the past decade, SMU has launched a three-year giving “stampede” focused on yearly investments that strengthen current efforts in every area of the University.
The drive, named Pony Power: Strengthening the Stampede, sets a goal to raise an average of $50 million a year in current-use gifts from June 1, 2017, to May 31, 2020, for a total of $150 million.
SMU President R. Gerald Turner provided a preview of the stampede to a gathering of the University’s key supporters during Founders’ Day weekend in April.
“The national universities with which SMU now competes have endowments two to three times the size of ours,” Turner said. “Annual fund gifts that bring immediate assistance to enhance what is happening at SMU today enable the University to ‘fight above its weight class’ as its endowment continues to grow.”
A committee of volunteer leaders representing academic schools and constituencies is leading Pony Power. The stampede is chaired by SMU trustees Caren H. Prothro and Carl Sewell ’66, with honorary chairs Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler ’48, Michael M. Boone ’63, ’67, Robert H. Dedman, Jr. ’80, ’84, Gerald J. Ford ’66, ’69, Ray L. Hunt ’65 and David B. Miller ’72, ’73.
Other representatives on the committee include Douglas Smellage ’77, chair of the SMU Alumni Board; Connie ’77 and Chris O’Neill, co-chairs of the SMU Parent Leadership Council; Paul Grindstaff ’15, president of the SMU Mustang Club; Fredrick Olness and Jennifer Jones, co-chairs of SMU Faculty and Staff Giving; SMU Student Giving representative Madison M. Zellers ’18.
Additional committee members include representatives from each school’s executive board: Kirk L. Rimer ’89, Cox School of Business; Jon J. Altschuler ’94, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; James L. Baldwin ’86, Dedman School of Law; Michael G. Sullivan ’85, ’91, Lyle School of Engineering; Marvin B. Singleton ’89, Meadows School of the Arts; Dodee F. Crockett ’03, Perkins School of Theology; and Richard H. Collins ’69, Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
Pony Power represents a fantastic opportunity for donors and non-donors alike to enhance new initiatives created in recent years – and empower the University to take advantage of new opportunities as they emerge,” Prothro said. “Increasing our investment in these areas will ensure that SMU expands its ambitions and impact.”
Sewell said, “Peggy’s and my support for scholarships to SMU is one of the most rewarding things we have ever done. Current-use gifts fuel student scholarships and fellowships, faculty research and every area of the student experience. If thousands of donors join together to give $50 million each year, SMU can outperform traditional academic powers when it comes to attracting outstanding students, charting new fields of knowledge and solving complex problems.”
To encourage others to experience for themselves the benefits of consistent, increased giving for current use, one strategy SMU will employ is the expanded SMU Fund, which provides flexible support for key priorities and emerging opportunities. SMU Fund donors will be able to designate their gifts to broad areas such as SMU’s greatest needs, scholarships and faculty; to the highest priorities of a school or the libraries; or to campus experiences through Athletics or Student Affairs.
Brad Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs, said, “Expanding the SMU culture of annual giving and encouraging donors to commit to extend their annual gifts over a three-year period helps every school and unit plan its efforts to address the University’s strategic priorities.”
To learn more about Pony Power and see a video about the impact of current-use gifts, visit

2017 August 2017 News

Team named XPRIZE semifinalist

The SMU and Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) team was named today one of eight semifinalists advancing in the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The XPRIZE is a global competition that challenges teams to develop mobile applications designed to increase literacy skills in adult learners.
SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development and Guildhall graduate video game development program are working with LIFT to design an engaging, puzzle-solving smartphone game app to help adults develop literacy skills. The SMU and LIFT team, PeopleForWords, is one of 109 teams who entered the competition in 2016.
Drawing upon the education experts at SMU’s Simmons School, game developers at Guildhall and adult literacy experts at LIFT, the team developed “Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis. ” In the game, players become archeologists hunting for relics from the imagined once-great civilization of Atlantis.  By deciphering the forgotten language of Atlantis, players develop and strengthen their own reading skills. The game targets English- and Spanish-speaking adults.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 August 2017 News Spring 2018

Does symmetry affect speed?

The New York Times reporter Jeré Longman covered the research of SMU biomechanics expert Peter Weyand and his colleagues Andrew Udofa and Laurence Ryan for a story about Usain Bolt’s apparent asymmetrical running stride.
The article, Something Strange in Usain Bolt’s Stride,” published July 20, 2017.
The researchers in the SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory reported in June that world champion sprinter Usain Bolt may have an asymmetrical running gait. While not noticeable to the naked eye, Bolt’s potential asymmetry emerged after the researchers dissected race video to assess his pattern of ground-force application — literally how hard and fast each foot hits the ground. To do so they measured the “impulse” for each foot.
Biomechanics researcher Udofa presented the findings at the 35th International Conference on Biomechanics in Sport in Cologne, Germany. His presentation, “Ground Reaction Forces During Competitive Track Events: A Motion Based Assessment Method,” was delivered June 18.
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 August 2017 News

Football Fan Day, August 26

Mustang fans are invited to Ford Stadium for SMU Football Fan Day on Saturday, Aug. 26. Gates will open at 5 p.m. Fans can pick up posters, schedule cards and other giveaways and will be able to come onto the field post-game for autographs and photos with the Mustangs before enjoying a movie on the video board. The scrimmage will kick off at 6 p.m.
SMU opens fall camp today, Aug. 1, and fans are invited to watch the Mustangs practice each of the other Saturdays in August at 10 a.m. in Ford Stadium.
SMU opens the 2017 season on Sept. 2 against Stephen F. Austin at Ford Stadium.
Season tickets are still available for as little as $99. For Mustang ticket information, call the Athletics Department Ticket Office at (214) SMU-GAME (768-4263) or purchase tickets online here.
Read more at SMU Athletics.

2017 Alumni August 2017 News

What’s in an oviraptorid name?

Live Science Senior Writer Laura Geggel covered the discovery of a new Cretaceous Period dinosaur from China that is named for paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, an SMU professor in SMU’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.
Jacobs mentored three of the authors on the article. First author on the paper was Junchang Lü, an SMU Ph.D. alum, with co-authors Yuong–Nam Lee and Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, both SMU Ph.D. alums.
The Live Science article, “Newfound dino looks like creepy love child of a turkey and ostrich,” published July 27, 2017. The dinosaur’s name, Corythoraptor jacobsi, translates to Jacobs’ helmeted thief.
The scientific article “High diversity of the Ganzhou Oviraptorid Fauna increased by a new “cassowary-like” crested species” was published July 27, 2017 in Nature’s online open access mega-journal of primary research Scientific Reports.
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 August 2017 News

Mustangs nominated for NCAA award

SMU graduates Morgan Bolton ’17 and Sylvia de Toledo ’17 have been nominated for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year award after completing their senior seasons on the Hilltop.
Bolton was a three-year starter at point guard for the Mustangs. As a senior, she led the team to the WNIT Round of 16 with postseason wins against Louisiana Tech and Abilene Christian before losing at Indiana.
As a four-year starter for the equestrian team, de Toledo finished her career with a program-best 70 career wins, and ranks second on the SMU All-time Most Outstanding Player (MOP) list with 14.
NCAA Woman of the Year nominees are submitted each year by member schools. Nine finalists from that list will be announced in September with the winner announced on Oct. 22 in Indianapolis.
Read more at SMU Athletics.

2017 Alumni August 2017 News

Geeking out at engineering camp

Parker Holloway ’17 created the curriculum and spent the summer sparking engineering interest through hands-on challenges during weekly camps for middle and high school students held in the Deason Innovation Gym at SMU. Reporter Bill Zeeble’s story on the camp aired on KERA Radio on July 20, 2017.
Throughout the summer, high school and junior high students have been gathering at Southern Methodist University for week-long engineering camps. High schoolers tackled a tough challenge. Devise – then build – one of several electronic items like an alarm clock or home burglary system.  Only make it smaller, cheaper and faster than what’s out there. And finish it in just days.
Everyone’s deadline-busy in SMU’s maker-space – the Deason Innovation Gym. With the clock ticking, Conrad High School 17 year-old Chan Hnin and his three team mates are building their own, unusual, alarm clock.
“The battery life is way longer and it’s also louder than your phone,” Chan says. “Some people are sleepy headed, you know?”
Chan’s on one of four teams of high school boys here to learn real engineering through hands-on experience.  London Morris, from Lancaster High School, explains why their clock’s an improvement.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Fall 2017 News

Meadows Makeover: Joneses’ Gift To Transform Entrance, Launch Renovation of Owen Arts Center

Reflecting their passion for connecting the arts to the community through public spaces, Gene and Jerry Jones have committed $5 million to transform the east entrance to SMU’s Owen Arts Center along Bishop Boulevard, providing a new gateway and venue for student performances and community gatherings.
The Joneses’ commitment will be matched by a $5 million grant from The Meadows Foundation, Inc., generating a total of $10 million to create the Gene and Jerry Jones Grand Atrium and Plaza. The gift launches a $30 million, first-phase initiative to modernize all four floors on the north side of the largest academic structure on campus, which houses Meadows School of the Arts.
The Meadows Foundation provided a $10 million matching grant for the Owen Arts Center renovation project as part of its historic 2015 commitment of $45 million to SMU, creating an incentive to attract donors for the project.

We are proud to invest in nurturing young artists and connecting them with the broader community, both of which the Meadows School successfully achieves. – Gene Jones

Gene Jones is a civic and philanthropic leader, a supporter of the arts and the driving force behind the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Art Collection at AT&T Stadium and The Star. She serves on the Meadows School executive board and the John Goodwin Tower Center board of directors, and is a former member of the SMU Board of Trustees. Jerry Jones is owner, president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys.
“Anyone who has experienced the wonderful artworks that fill AT&T Stadium and The Star has seen that the Joneses have a personal commitment to sharing the arts,” said President R. Gerald Turner. “They are extending their generous support to the Meadows School of the Arts to provide a beautiful gathering space for those attending community events and performances of our outstand-ing students.”
The Gene and Jerry Jones Plaza will feature beautiful landscaping and walkways, and will be ideal for outdoor performances, classes and events.
The enclosure and integration of the east-side outdoor courtyard and expansion of the Bob Hope Theatre Lobby will create the 4,300-square-foot Gene and Jerry Jones Grand Atrium with lofty ceilings and expansive glass. Other features of the renovation project will create and improve academic spaces for the visual arts, art history and creative computation programs.
“Renovation of the Owen Arts Center will transform the environment in which our students and faculty study and create visual art,” said Meadows Dean Samuel S. Holland. “Our aim is to create spaces that will inspire and foster creativity, attract current and future generations of artists, and solidify the Meadows School’s place among the city’s top five arts and cultural institutions.”
For more information, contact the Meadows School of the Arts Office of Development at or 214-768-4421.

2017 August 2017 News

Big data needs the human touch

Megan Brown, a Ph.D. student in anthropology, was awarded a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship for summer 2017 from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility. She is spending the summer studying environmental advocacy with the Trinity River Audubon Center. She wrote about her experience for SMU Adventures:
Last week before camp started I was speaking with the grandfather of one of our campers about my research and the Ph.D. program I am in. He told me that my analytic skills would be valuable when I finished because data analysts and statisticians are in high demand right now.
He wasn’t wrong. We live in the era of “big data”, a phrase which refers to the use of extremely large-scale datasets – so large that they must be analyzed with computers. Indeed, advances in computing technology, along with an increased availability of a multiplicity of data points, are a significant factor in the rise of big data. These days, those with statistical and analytic skills are prized for their ability to mine through vast quantities of data and draw meaningful, robust conclusions from it. These insights guide the decisions and tactics of corporations and governments, and provide important information about consumers, citizens, and other group members.
Read more at SMU Adventures.

2017 Alumni August 2017 News

In Case You Missed It: August 2017

In case you missed it this month, please enjoy these cool stories and interesting videos!

2017 Alumni News

Ana Rodriguez ’03 named director of Cox’s Latino Leadership Initiative

SMU Cox Executive Education welcomes a new director to take its four-year-old Latino Leadership Initiative to the next level. Ana Rodriguez, an alumna of SMU Cox, brings nearly twenty years of experience in higher education, not for profit and corporate work.
Launched in November 2013, the LLI is a national center of excellence at the Cox School of Business designed to help meet the nation’s growing need for corporate leaders as the economy grows and national demographics evolve. The LLI grew out of research that shows a gap in talent at the country’s executive leadership level.
Rodriguez will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for the LLI, which works with the university and the business community to access an important talent resource and marketplace. The LLI operates to deliver management education programs, organization development services, new research-based insights and community engagement activities.
“I am honored and overjoyed to return to my alma mater as the director of the Latino Leadership Initiative,” said Rodriguez. “While Latinos make up nearly 18 percent of the total U.S. population, only two percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are of Hispanic origin. I am humbled by the opportunity to build upon the LLI’s proven success and to work with companies to recruit, retain and develop top Latino talent.”
“The LLI is of utmost importance to SMU Cox Executive Education in our mission to serve the business community,” said Frank Lloyd, associate dean of Executive Education at SMU Cox. “Ana Rodriguez brings solid experience in establishing mutually beneficial relationships between universities and business organizations. She will strengthen the LLI’s efforts to expand the corporate leadership pipeline and accelerate top Latino talent to management and executive level positions. This will benefit our community, our country, and so SMU.”
Rodriguez will begin her new role August 1. She has held leadership positions in corporate partnerships, development, alumni relations, university advancement, and external affairs at UTD’s Naveen Jindal School of Management and UNT Dallas. In those roles, she coordinated corporate relations strategies, public relations, fund raising, and community engagement. Ana also served as the executive director for the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, a non-profit arts organization and resident company of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and she worked for Bank of America in its Global Wealth and Investments division.

2017 Fall 2017 News

The Way Of The Servant Leader

Craig C. Hill joined SMU’s Perkins School of Theology as dean and professor of New Testament in July 2016 from Duke University Divinity School. Although his latest book, Servant of All: Status, Ambition, and the Way of Jesus (Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2016), is aimed at church leaders, its lessons can be readily employed by people leading institutions, corporations and even nations – and, he told SMU Magazine with a hint of irony, by him as well.
What is a servant leader?
The term “servant leader” can seem like an oxymoron because we tend to view leaders as persons who dominate and command. By contrast, servants are typically located far down on the ladder of social status and influence. Parents don’t dream of raising their children to be servants. Nevertheless, choosing to engage in a lifetime of service requires a strong sense of personal identity. Ironically, egocentrism is a position of great weakness. If we constantly look to others for affirmation – in effect, to tell us who we are – we place ourselves in a chronically servile position. True service doesn’t come from a place of weakness but rather a place of strength.
Why did you use the foot-washing story found in John 13 to reflect Jesus’ thoughts about status and serving?
Throughout the Gospels, the disciples were the egocentric ones, always worrying about their relative position, competing with each other for status. In this story, Jesus is the only one in the room who truly knows who he is, who isn’t constrained by the opinions of others and, therefore, the only one free to serve. Jesus voluntarily assumed what was then considered the lowest task – that of washing the feet of others – to set an example of true leadership and true standing. Elsewhere when the disciples bickered over rank, Jesus said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). He didn’t say they must empty themselves of meaning or value, or that it is wrong to want to have a life of significance. Instead, he turned on its head the conventional understanding of where significance was to be found: through service, not supremacy. Those who lose themselves in something greater than themselves are the very ones who find themselves.
How does this correlate to positions of authority and power in today’s world?
Researcher and author Jim Collins observed that companies that have transitioned from “good to great” shared a common factor: their leaders didn’t have “larger than life” personalities, as one would expect, but were instead remarkably humble. Their CEOs weren’t focused on drawing attention to themselves but were laser-focused on the mission of the institution. They were unselfconsciously “self-forgetful,” putting their passion for the mission of the company ahead of themselves.
How do you apply this philosophy to your leadership of Perkins Theology?
I often reflect on the story of the “widow’s mite,” about a woman who gave a gift to the temple that everyone but Jesus regarded as insignificant. Jesus saw a person invisible to others and recognized the quality and depth of her sacrifice. It reminds me that the more prominent a position you’re in, the more people will likely recognize you, but also the more tempted you might be to overlook those less noticed whom God would honor ahead of you. Universities are typically hierarchical places, where staff can feel unseen and disregarded. I don’t want Perkins to be guilty of that. Everyone here is a partner in the mission of the school; everyone has a contribution to make.
How did you handle the irony of being named dean of Perkins Theology only months before your book on status and ambition was published?
That put me in an awkward and rather humorous position. It was somewhat safer tackling this topic as a professor. Moreover, the book made a few explicit references to theological school deans. Rather than expunge these, I retained them as an inside joke at my own expense. On a more serious note, it made me all more conscious of the fact that the book contains essential lessons that I myself need to remember and to heed.

2017 Alumni Fall 2017

Mustangs score with the NBA

Newly minted graduates Semi Ojeleye ’17 and Sterling Brown ’17 were selected in the NBA draft on June 22, writing a new chapter in Mustang basketball history.
Ojeleye was selected 37th overall by the Boston Celtics and Brown was picked 46th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. It was the first time multiple Mustangs were tapped in the first two rounds, and the fourth time the Mustangs have had multiple picks in the draft.
Another Mustang standout, Ben Moore ’17, has agreed to a partially-guaranteed contract with the Indiana Pacers as an undrafted free agent.
Ojeleye capped his SMU basketball career as the first player in American Athletic Conference history to garner Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors. He graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
In a Boston Herald profile, writer Mark Murphy describes Ojeleye “as precisely the kind of swing forward the NBA now demands — a player agile enough to guard multiple positions, strong enough to rebound and defend power forwards and accomplished enough offensively to space the floor.”
Brown was named an NABC Division I College All-Star, All-American Athletic Conference Second Team and AAC All-Tournament in his final season with the Mustangs. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management with a minor in sociology from SMU.
On Behind the Buck Pass, the Bucks’ news and fan site, Brown is praised as “a standout shooter who is long enough to defend well in the NBA. For the Bucks, he should provide another shooter off the bench, which is something the team definitely needs.”
Brown and Moore are the all-time leaders in wins for the Mustangs.
Moore was a four-year player at SMU, with 1,214 career points. He became the 39th player in the program’s history to reach 1,000 points, which came on a dunk in the match against Temple on January 4.
Moore, Ojeleye and another SMU alumnus, Markus Kennedy ’16, were among the exciting young players showcased in the NBA Summer League in July.
Kennedy was signed by the Detroit Pistons following a season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets G-League team). While at SMU from 2013–16, he was twice named the American Athletic Conference Sixth Man of the Year. He scored 1,003 points during his SMU career.

2017 June 2017 News

This song’s for you, Class of 2017 Copy

Pioneering geneticist Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, delivered the 2017 SMU Commencement address “his way” and brought down the house. Watch his cheeky rendition of a Sinatra classic that has drawn almost 2 million views on SMU Facebook, see the Commencement Convocation in its entirety and take a look at more photos of the Class of 2017’s unforgettable day.

Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni July 2017

‘Empathy, adaptability and persistence’

As a newly minted SMU graduate with three degrees, Kovan Barzani not only has exceeded his Kurdish-American parents’ expectations, but also reinforced their decision to flee Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime for “peace and peace of mind” in the U.S.
While weighing three college scholarships during his last year at Liberty High School in Frisco, Kovan recalls his mother’s singular request, delivered with a smile: “Be sure to get at least two degrees – one for you and one for me.”
As it happens, Kovan chose SMU precisely because it could offer not two but the three degrees he sought – in economics, public policy and management – while helping him cultivate the three virtues most valued by his family: “empathy, adaptability and persistence.” Also a plus: His Plano-based family would be nearby as he navigated the next four years.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 July 2017 News

New aquatics center nears completion

A new chapter in the storied history of SMU’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs will begin this fall with the completion of the new $30 million Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium.
The 42,000-square-foot “Nat,” located on the University’s growing East Campus, will house modern amenities and increased space to enhance training, give student-athletes greater flexibility to balance practice and academic schedules and improve recruiting. The facility’s enhanced quality also will make SMU an ideal future site for competitions such as American Athletic Conference and NCAA championship meets, as well as events hosted by community groups.
“The facilities at the new Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium will help student-athletes continue the Mustang swimming legacy and enable fans to enjoy the highest levels of competition at a premier venue,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. The new facility will include an Olympic-size 50-meter, 8-lane indoor pool; a 10-meter diving tower with four springboards; a moveable bulkhead to maximize programming; men’s and women’s varsity team locker rooms; seating for 800 spectators; and a spacious lobby.
While construction is underway, fundraising to complete the project is a University priority, and naming opportunities remain. For more information about opportunities and to support the project, visit

2017 July 2017 News

Student earns international acclaim

SMU statistics Ph.D. student Yu Lan received the Dr. Thomas Chalmers Award May 9 in Liverpool, England, for a paper he wrote on a new, money-saving method for predicting clinical trial outcomes.
Lan, a student of SMU biostatistics program director Professor Daniel Heitjan, took a fresh look at data from the International Chronic Granulomatous Disease Study to develop his method of predicting clinical trial outcomes on the fly.
In clinical trials, it is common to conduct one or more interim analyses of the accumulating data, typically upon occurrence of pre-specified numbers of events such as heart attacks, strokes, hospitalizations or deaths.  Traditionally researchers predict the timing of these events before launching their clinical trials and then hope for the best. When predictions are inaccurate – perhaps a trial is running its course faster or slower than expected – this can lead to a waste of resources.
Lan’s method allows companies to periodically update their predictions of when a trial has run its course and adjust their budgets and expectations accordingly.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 July 2017 News

Dedman Law’s winning initiative

SMU Dedman School of Law’s Professionalism Initiative has been named one of two national recipients of this year’s E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award, bestowed annually by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professionalism.The award – established in 1991 to honor former ABA and American Bar Foundation President E. Smythe Gambrell – honors excellence and innovation in professionalism programs led by law schools, bar associations, professionalism commissions and other legal organizations. The award will be presented at the ABA’s annual meeting on August 11 in New York City.
SMU Dedman School of Law’s flagship professionalism initiative is aimed at developing practice-ready, competent and thoughtful lawyers.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni July 2017

And the Tony Award goes to …

Two Meadows alumni won 2017 Tony Awards at the ceremony held June 11 in New York’s Radio City Music Hall, and two other alums are featured in winning and nominated musicals. In addition, Dallas Theater Center (DTC) won the Tony for Best Regional Theatre. Meadows has a long-standing partnership with the center, which includes alumni and faculty in its resident acting company.
Michael Aronov, who earned a B.F.A. in theatre at Meadows in 1998, won his first Tony Award as Best Actor in a Featured Role for Oslo. The play, about the secret negotiations in the early 1990s leading to the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, was also named Best Play. Aronov won for his performance as Israeli cabinet member Uri Savir, director-general of the foreign ministry. Oslo is Aronov’s second Broadway show, following his appearance in 2012’s Golden Boy. For this year’s Tony, Aronov was competing against veteran performers including Danny DeVito (for The Price), Nathan Lane (for The Front Page), Richard Thomas (for The Little Foxes) and John Douglas Thompson (for Jitney).
“Talent, practice and persistence pay off,” said Associate Professor of Theatre Michael Connolly, who taught Aronov while he was a student. “No actor I know has worked with greater focus and zeal than Michael, and no actor I know deserves this recognition more.”
Read more at Meadows School of the Arts.

2017 Alumni July 2017 News

Hoop dreams come true

SMU’s Semi Ojeleye ’17 and Sterling Brown ’17 were selected in the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday night. Ojeleye was selected 37th overall by the Boston Celtics and Brown was picked 46th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. This is the fourth time the Mustangs have had multiple picks in the NBA Draft, but the first time with multiple selections in the first two rounds.
Ojeleye was named American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention. He was also named AAC All-Tournament Most Outstanding Player, All-AAC First Team, USBWA All-District VII and NABC All-District 25 First Team.
Brown was named an NABC Division I College All-Star, All-American Athletic Conference Second Team and AAC All-Tournament this season. As a senior, he averaged 13.4 points (13th AAC), 6.5 rebounds (16th AAC), 3.0 assists (14th AAC) and 1.4 steals (7th AAC). He led The American in 3-point percentage for the second straight season (44.9) and was eighth in free throw percentage (79.1).
Read more at SMU Athletics.

2017 July 2017 News

Scientist receives prestigious award

SMU chemist Alex Lippert has received a prestigious National Science Foundation Career Award, expected to total $611,000 over five years, to fund his research into alternative internal imaging techniques.
NSF Career Awards are given to tenure-track faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research in American colleges and universities.
Lippert, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, is an organic chemist and adviser to four doctoral students and five undergraduates who assist in his research.
“We are developing chemiluminescent imaging agents, which basically amounts to a specialized type of glow-stick chemistry,” Lippert says. “We can use this method to image the insides of animals, kind of like an MRI, but much cheaper and easier to do.”
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 News Spring 2017

Hal Brierley Helps Prepare The Next Generation Of Business Leaders

In late September, the Cox School of Business M.B.A. class on customer engagement taught by professor Marci Armstrong met for a guest lecture. The speaker related stories about working in the trenches of customer engagement for 30 years, consulting with such clients as American Airlines, Pan Am, Blockbuster and Borders. Although most of the students were too young to know many of those companies by name, they listened attentively because they knew they were hearing from a top expert in the field.
Hal Brierley has come a long way from starting a database marketing firm in 1969 in the basement of Dillon Hall at Harvard Business School. Brierley became well known as the only external consultant involved in the launch of American Airlines AAdvantage, the nation’s first frequent traveler program. He grew his firm Epsilon into an industry leader, and then spent 30 years building Brierley + Partners into a global leader in the design and management of customer loyalty programs.
After selling Brierley + Partners in 2015 to Nomura Research Institute, a leading Japanese technology services firm, the executive considered the “Father of Customer Engagement” is making a late-career segue. He recently moved his office from the Legacy area in Plano to an airy suite atop Parkland Hall on the old Parkland Hospital campus, only a few minutes away from his home in Highland Park – and from his latest venture in customer engagement at SMU’s Cox School of Business

Hal Brierley, who will serve as an executive-in-residence in Cox’s new customer engagement institute, spoke to MBA marketing students in September.
Photo by Hillsman S. Jackson.

Hal Brierley, who will serve as an executive-in-residence in Cox’s new customer engagement institute, spoke to MBA marketing students in September. Brierley first guest lectured in Armstrong’s class several years ago. From the beginning, he was particularly impressed to learn that American Airlines – extremely protective of its customer data – had given the students access to data from 10,000 anonymous AAdvantage members. As he interacted with the next generation of customer engagement marketers, Brierley wanted to ensure they were properly trained and educated in the ever-evolving field.
The seed of this hope grew into the $10 million gift that Brierley and his wife, Diane, gave to SMU in September to create the Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement in Cox, the nation’s first academic institute devoted to study of the field. The gift – among the largest in the history of the Cox School – will help students and businesses address a critical and growing business need: capturing customer attention in what Brierley describes as “a time-starved, social media-obsessed environment.” Armstrong will serve as the Harold M. Brierley Endowed Professor and Brierley himself will be an executive-in-residence.

Not what he planned

Brierley didn’t set out to become the guru of customer engagement. “Most of us who’ve been involved in direct marketing backed into it. Very few people of my generation sat down in college and said, ‘I think I’ll go into direct marketing,’” he recalls.
During his college years at the University of Maryland, he had the opportunity to work part time as a math aide at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center programming the early mega IBM computers. After earning a B.S. in chemical engineering, he was accepted at Harvard Business School, but decided to work for a year at IBM as a sales trainee. After getting his M.B.A. in 1968, he stayed on at the business school serving as a research assistant, with some outside consulting for The Boston Consulting Group and the Rand Corporation.
While working as a research assistant, Brierley’s college fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, recognizing his computer background asked him to help automate its membership records. “I naturally looked for a data processing firm that specialized in maintaining membership organizations.” Not finding one, he and a business school classmate offered to serve as consultants to automate SAE’s membership records.
They quickly realized that most other fraternities were also not yet computer savvy, and after a year, they were maintaining the membership records for 16 of the 18 national fraternity offices. “But,” Brierley adds, “we also found that our clients needed advice on how to use the computer to communicate with members, especially for fundraising, and we backed into becoming a direct marketing agency.” Over the next 10 years, Epsilon grew to work with more than 400 nonprofit organizations.

Gaining the advantage

After helping his fraternity automate its membership records, Brierley and a classmate established the Epsilon direct marketing agency.

Brierley’s collection of memorabilia includes an early American Airlines AAdvantage pass.

Living in Boston, with all of Epsilon’s clients in the Midwest, Brierley became an early frequent flyer. One day, he stopped by United Airlines’ Chicago offices to visit the executive running its club for frequent fliers to talk about its membership record keeping. “While he politely told me he didn’t need help, a month later he called to tell me that the government was going to make United charge for access to the Red Carpet Club and that he may need help.”
Over the next several years as Epsilon helped maintain the records for United’s Red Carpet Club, Brierley recalls, “I became intrigued with the concept of customer loyalty. As we served as the vendor maintaining the Club’s records, we started wondering if we could use the Red Carpet Club as the vehicle to motivate flyers to concentrate their flying with United, offering unanticipated rewards and more personalized communications.”
Later, United introduced them to Pan Am and Epsilon started maintaining Pan Am’s Clipper Club records. With the advent of airline deregulation, airlines were freed from pricing restrictions and allowed to become more creative, he says. “So, I proposed to Pan Am that Epsilon could develop and operate a turnkey program to reward passengers for flying its new transcontinental routes from New York to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Our proposed ‘multi-trip discount program’ would offer passengers who flew three round trips on Pan Am’s transcontinental flights a free coach trip to Europe. Pan Am said it would never work, that no one would ever go out of their way to fly one airline rather than another simply to earn a reward.”
Later, after he had left Epsilon, one of Brierley’s business school classmates became senior vice president of marketing for American Airlines. Brierley recalls, “When we met, I told him what I had proposed to do at Pan Am and he said, ‘We’ve got a secret program we’re thinking about that would reward passengers for flying on American.’ It ended up with me as the one outside adviser on the design and launch of the AAdvantage program.
“American wanted frequent travelers to give the airline their names and addresses so it could communicate directly with them and provide their member numbers when they flew, thus allowing American to accurately identify their best customers. By offering a small incentive for participation and working the database, American thought they could gain a larger share of the customer’s travel.”
A pioneer in database marketing and loyalty programs, Brierley has counseled scores of iconic brands.

He adds, “It’s important to remember that the original AAdvantage program had a one-year term – you had to fly 50,000 miles in one year to earn a free ticket.”
Brierley proposed several key innovations, including entry-level awards starting at 12,000 miles, an unanticipated gift (a bag tag) after a member’s first flight, a monthly mileage statement, and a Gold program for members flying at least 25,000 miles each year. While he is still proud of his contribution, he always likes to point out that the work was done “by a very talented team of AA employees, and Bob Crandall was the visionary who said they needed the program.”
Brierley laughs as he recalls that American thought it had a one year head start against its competitors when it launched AAdvantage, since the technology and planning had been a year in the making. To American’s surprise, United Airlines matched it “literally over the weekend, improvising the initial program support. Obviously when a big competitor launches a major initiative, you should respond. But United made one big change,” Brierley adds. “They said, ‘If it makes sense to give people miles when they fly, why not let them earn miles for more than just year-to-year?’ So, United made the term for earning miles open-ended, and eventually, millions of travelers would earn a free trip.
“That totally changed the economics of the program, and led to these programs becoming much bigger and more expensive than planned,” he says. “However, offsetting the added cost, no one anticipated that someone would decide that letting travelers earn miles for using a credit card could change the credit card industry. So today, billions of dollars are spent by credit card companies to reward their cardholders with airline miles, making the sale of airline miles a major profit center for the airlines.”

Retaining customer attention

Over the more than 30 years since the launch of the first airline loyalty program, Brierley has worked with clients “to define what behavior change they want their customers to make – such as to sign up for a program or purchase something they might not otherwise have bought – the economic value of the change, and how much they want to spend to motivate the behavior change. In addition to the tangible incentives, I’m convinced providing emotional benefits and understanding the psychology of loyalty have become critical in designing a successful program,” he says.

An ad featuring a Brierley + Partners brochure on “The Art of Relationship Management.”

Brierley believes that the next generation of loyalty programs will reward people for their time and attention. “We’re in a time-starved world today and the biggest problem for a brand is getting and keeping the consumer’s attention,” he says. “I think share of attention is going to be as important as share of wallet. And that’s where the focus on customer engagement becomes important.
“Talk about loyalty and a lot of CFOs think about a big, cumbersome reward program that offers trips to Hawaii. However, everyone has pretty well agreed that if we can get customers to engage more frequently with the brand, they will buy more.”
In Brierley’s view, customer engagement centers on having a conversation with customers and prospects. “Most marketers preach rather than converse. Conversation says I talk to you, I ask you a question, you tell me something.”
To emphasize this point, Brierley recalls when rental car company Hertz sat in focus groups with customers nearly 30 years ago and asked what kind of benefits Hertz could extend to them that would cause them to prefer Hertz. “What people said was, ‘I want a faster way to rent the car.’ They had their airline miles, and they didn’t want points or golf balls from Hertz, but they didn’t want to stand in line.” And, to Hertz’s credit, it listened and created the Hertz #1 Club Gold program.
The explosion of the internet and digital marketing has made it faster and cheaper to engage with customers. Brierley says that the idea of rewarding people for their time, for opening an email and for sharing their opinions by completing a survey, led him to launch e-Rewards, now known as Research Now, the world’s largest online market research panel. It monthly rewards over a million consumers for completing market opinion surveys for some 2,500 research firms.
“I’m firm believer that a well-crafted incentive can profitably change behavior. We’re an incentive-based society today.”

The next level of engagement

Cox faculty member Marci Armstrong will serve as the Harold M. Brierley Endowed Professor in the customer engagement institute.

Brierley sees SMU’s new institute as a way to move to the next level of customer engagement. “I would like to think we’ll have a generation who actually knows how to profitably drive consumer engagement,” he says. “Since it’s a bit of a science and a bit of an art, there are a lot of nuances that make programs successful.”
His relationship with SMU actually began with the arts, which he and Diane have supported generously across Dallas for decades. Having earlier served on the executive board of Meadows School of the Arts, he was attracted to the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) program in Meadows and Cox. “It struck me as a very innovative program; SMU was taking the initiative in a very entrepreneurial endeavor – building a database of best practices in the arts community. There was a fundraising opportunity to support NCAR that had a matching grant, and we gave $100,000.”
When it came time to make a major investment in developing the field of customer engagement, Brierley felt that SMU would be the best academic home.
“It could take years for Harvard to identify a professor interested in building a course around loyalty or engagement, much less establish an M.B.A. concentration,” he says. “SMU already had been teaching a class on customer loyalty, and working innovatively with American Airlines to let students work with real customer data and address loyalty issues. We have a professor who already had a love for customer engagement, we have an innovative school in Cox, and a superlative brand in SMU. I think we can make SMU and Dallas a center of excellence in this critical part of marketing. When you think of all the Fortune 500 corporate headquarters here, we have a tremendous laboratory for advancing loyalty.”

2017 Alumni July 2017

Mapping Mustang entrepreneurship

For Josh Thomas, an engineer by training, every new version of an idea brings a chance to discover something new. And the gift he’ll leave with SMU – an interactive map of the University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem – encapsulates both his work as an Engaged Learning Fellow and his hopes for future students.
“I wanted to let the undergraduate population know how many resources are available here on campus,” says Thomas, who will graduate May 20, from SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. “At SMU, we pride ourselves on our startup spirit – but you don’t get a more entrepreneurial campus unless you create more entrepreneurs.”
Read more at SMU News.

2017 July 2017 News

Evicted author to visit campus

As incoming SMU students prepare to settle into their on-campus homes, they will examine the life experiences of those who can’t afford to stay in theirs. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, is the 2017 SMU Reads selection and first reading assignment for the class of 2021.
Community members, alumni, book lovers and book clubs are encouraged to join students in reading the book, and come to campus to hear the author discuss it at a free public forum at 6 p.m. Thursday, August 24 at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium. Register for the event at Reads.
Author Desmond, an associate professor of social sciences at Harvard University, knows firsthand the trauma of eviction. The bank foreclosed on his family’s Arizona home while he was attending college on scholarship. Since then, he has devoted his research to the intersection of poverty, race and gender in American life.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni July 2017 News

In case you missed it: July 2017

In case you missed it this month, please enjoy these quick links to cool stories and interesting videos!

2017 Alumni Fall 2017

SMU Hispanic Alumni honor alumnus, award scholarships

Jorge Baldor ’93 was honored with the 2017 Distinguished Hispanic Alumni Award presented by SMU Hispanic Alumni at the chapter’s annual awards celebration on April 27. SMU Hispanic Alumni also presented undergraduate scholarships to Carlos “Alex” Negrete ’18 and Victor Sanchez ’19. Guest speakers included SMU President R. Gerald Turner and Thomas DiPiero, dean and professor of World Languages and Literatures and English, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
Baldor, pictured at the top of the page with Elizabeth Zamora ’12 (left), chair of SMU Hispanic Alumni, and Cynthia Villanueva ’00, past chair, graduated from SMU with a bachelor’s degree in history. He is co-founder of ResidentCheck, a national tenant background screening service.
An award-winning leader in business and civic affairs, Baldor was named Outstanding Latino Advocate in 2016 by D CEO magazine. He also has been recognized for his support of the Innocence Project and was named an “Amigo de Centroamerica” by Fundación Esquipulas, a nonprofit organization led by Vinicio Cerezo, the former president of Guatamala.
In 2015 Baldor co-founded the Latino Center for Leadership Development (Latino CLD), which strives to develop the next generation of leaders driven by thoughts, values and experiences that will improve the Latino community. Earlier this year, Latino CLD and SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies awarded nine research grants to support meaningful research geared to promoting a stronger understanding of the Latino community and creating a dialogue about key societal issues.
He serves on the executive board of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and as a commissioner-at-large on the City of Dallas’ Cultural Affairs Commission. He also serves on the boards of the Cisneros Center for New Americans, the World Affairs Council and the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce.
SMU Hispanic Alumni also honored scholarship recipients Carlos “Alex” Negrete ’18 of Carrollton, Texas, a business administration major in the Cox School of Business, and Cox finance major Victor Sanchez ’19 of San Antonio, Texas.

2017 June 2017 News

Paying her mom’s love forward

When award-winning scholar Dominique Earland ’17 crossed the stage at Commencement, she could track her academic accomplishments and the life path she has chosen directly back to the lessons about love, nurturing and vulnerability that she learned from her mother.
After Texas’ maternal mortality rate spike last year made international headlines, and the state’s family-planning resources continued to decline, Dominique focused her Community Outreach Fellowship, funded by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, to create a 36-page life-saving toolkit for women facing motherhood. “Your Right to Health,” completed with input from Dallas County’s Fetal-Infant Mortality Review program at Parkland Hospital, is filled with medical advice and community resources.
Also, her 2016 research on anemia in pregnancy in western Jamaica has been accepted for peer-reviewed publication – a remarkable achievement for an undergraduate student.
Dominique says her ongoing efforts to strengthen women’s health rights and education will forever be linked to “the unbreakable bond that exists between mother and child.”
Read more at SMU News.

2017 June 2017 News

Meet SMU’s new VP for Student Affairs

Kenechukwu (K.C.) Mmeje, assistant vice president and dean of students at Loyola University Chicago, has been named Vice President for Student Affairs at SMU effective July 17, 2017.
“Strength of character and a commitment to students shines through in interactions with Dr. Mmeje,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His experience at urban, private universities in Chicago and Los Angeles also set him apart as a candidate for this important position at SMU. We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Mmeje to the Hilltop in Dallas.”
In his new duties, Mmeje (pronounced MAY-jay) will oversee areas including the Office of the Dean of Student Life; Residence Life; women’s, LGBT, multicultural, volunteer and leadership programs; student activities; student conduct; the Hegi Family Career Development Center; campus ministries; health and wellness programs, including the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center; the Hughes-Trigg Student Center and the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 June 2017 News

Cox recognizes outstanding alumni

The SMU Cox School of Business honored six alumni at the school’s annual Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni Awards Luncheon on Friday, May 19.
Three Distinguished Alumni Awards and three Outstanding Young Alumni Awards were presented at a luncheon ceremony in the Collins Executive Center on the SMU campus. Award nominations are submitted to the SMU Cox Alumni Association for consideration by a selection committee.
This year’s Distinguished Alumni honorees are, in alphabetical order: Peter T. Dameris, BBA ’82; Kirk L. Rimer, MBA ’89; and Liz Youngblood, MBA ’05. Outstanding Young Alumni honorees are: Amber Venz Box, BA ’09; Baxter Box, MBA ’11; and Vik Thapar, MBA ’09.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 June 2017 News

Like grandfather, like grandson

Graduating senior Arya McCarthy has been a frequent presence on SMU’s campus practically since the day he could walk.
As a child, he would stroll across verdant lawns, his tiny hand held firmly in his grandfather’s gentle one, as his grandpa, John McCarthy, checked his mail.John McCarthy was a biology professor at SMU, where he taught Mustangs and researched endocrine physiology from the 1950s up to his retirement in 1999.
Neither knew then just how grand a role SMU would play in Arya’s life.
Fast forward to the summer of 2016. Arya was a President’s Scholar at SMU, three years into his pursuit of bachelor’s degrees in both math and computer science, and a master of computer science. With the presidential race well underway, people were describing the American electorate as being more partisan than ever, and Arya wanted to know: Was it?
Read more at SMU News.

2017 June 2017 June 2017 Main News

Crowdsourcing to beat cancer

Biochemistry professors Pia Vogel and John Wise in the SMU Department of Biological Sciences and Corey Clark, deputy director of research at SMU Guildhall, are leading the SMU assault on cancer in partnership with fans of the best-selling video game Minecraft.
Vogel and Wise expect deep inroads in their quest to narrow the search for chemical compounds that improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.
“Crowdsourcing as well as computational power may help us narrow down our search and give us better chances at selecting a drug that will be successful,” said Vogel. “And gamers can take pride in knowing they’ve helped find answers to an important medical problem.”
Up to now, Wise and Vogel have tapped the high performance computing power of SMU’s ManeFrame, one of the most powerful academic supercomputers in the nation, to sort through millions of compounds that have the potential to work. Now, the biochemists say, it’s time to take that research to the next level — crowdsourced computing.
A network of gamers can crunch massive amounts of data during routine gameplay by pairing two powerful weapons: the best of human intuition combined with the massive computing power of networked gaming machine processors.
Taking their research to the gaming community will more than double the amount of machine processing power attacking their research problem.
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 June 2017 News

Building a musical bridge

Lawson Malnory’s fascination with music began not with a musical instrument but with a cowboy hat. The 22-year-old senior, who graduated May 20 from the Meadows School of the Arts, tagged along as a child with his McKinney family to SMU’s football and basketball games — both parents and a brother are SMU grads.
Those games set the course for Malnory’s future. “There was this one guy in the Mustang Band who always wore a cowboy hat on the field,” says the Meadows Scholar. “I thought he was the just coolest guy ever, and I decided I wanted to be like him. … I was going into sixth grade, so I tried out for band and got in, and I stuck with it. This year, the band director (at SMU) started letting me wear a cowboy hat, so it’s come full circle.”
Clearly Malnory likes doing things a little bit differently.  Take, for example, his work with the Bridge the Gap Chamber Players: His positive experiences with music and the joy that it brings him led him to join the nonprofit student group whose mission is to bring music to those who might not get regular exposure.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni June 2017

SMU alumnus Mark Lau ’06: Finding a perfect fit at Nike

By Karen Shoholm
“I met Michael Jordan during the first week of my internship,” says Mark Lau ’06. “Right then I knew that Nike was the place I wanted to work. Eleven years later, I haven’t looked back.”

Mark Lau ’06, global director of Nike’s EKIN Experience, sports some favorite kicks outside the Nike store in Portland, Oregon. “There’s no such thing as a typical day at Nike, and that’s why I love it,” he says.

Lau, who graduated with degrees in marketing from the Cox School of Business and in advertising design from Meadows School of the Arts, works at Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. As global director of the company’s EKIN Experience – named in 1981 for the Nike reps who “had to know the product backwards and forwards,” according to Nike – Lau leads the team responsible for curating Nike’s stories and delivering inspiration and innovation to athletes around the world through a grassroots approach.
“My internship played a huge part in getting a full-time job at Nike,” he says.
Lau also credits his SMU Abroad experiences studying in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Suzhou, China. “I believe that some of the best learning experiences take place outside the classroom. The study abroad programs provided the opportunity to interact with students from around the world and experience global cultures.”
Adapting to different kinds of people and cultures was good training for what Lau does at Nike. “There is no such thing as a typical day at Nike, and that’s why I love it. We are a consumer-driven company, and the consumer moves fast. We learn, adapt and evolve quickly to keep up with today’s fast-paced environment,” he says.
“We call Nike’s World Headquarters a campus because it is designed like a university and fosters an environment of learning and sharing. Our maxim, ‘Be a sponge,’ inspires us to constantly soak up and share information.”
From the SMU campus, Lau is grateful for what he learned in his marketing classes, especially those taught by Judy Foxman, senior lecturer of marketing at the Cox School. Lau says she made learning fun. “She merged the classroom with the real world, providing valuable insights and experiences.”
Foxman calls Lau “a fabulous student whose marketing and communication skills were enhanced in my Honors Marketing Practicum class. When you are relating academics to a real-world project, a company knows that you will be able to hit the ground running. You earn more than a marketing degree; you acquire a level of confidence and professionalism.”
Lau serves as the co-president of SMU’s Portland alumni chapter and helps organize events for fellow Mustangs who live in the area.
He adds that SMU’s location in Dallas gave him an ideal launch pad for getting to Nike and Portland. “Dallas is strategically located so it is attractive to companies. Whether you want to work for a big company or a small company – or start your own – Dallas and SMU can provide those opportunities.”

2017 June 2017 News

Tuning in to plants’ 24-hour rhythm

Findings of a new study solve a key mystery about the chemistry of how plants tell time so they can flower and metabolize nutrients. The process — a subtle chemical event — takes place in the cells of every plant every second of every day.
The new understanding means farmers may someday grow crops under conditions or in climates where they currently can’t grow, said chemist Brian D. Zoltowski of SMU, who led the study.
“We now understand the chemistry allowing plants to maintain a natural 24-hour rhythm in sync with their environment. This allows us to tune the chemistry, like turning a dimmer switch up or down, to alter the organism’s ability to keep time,” Zoltowski said. “So we can either make the plant’s clock run faster, or make it run slower. By altering these subtle chemical events we might be able to rationally redesign a plant’s photochemistry to allow it to adapt to a new climate.”
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 June 2017 News

Making the numbers add up

Under Texas and Federal law, individuals convicted of domestic abuse are required to surrender any firearms they possess – but it rarely happens.
A team of SMU law students who spent the past year studying Dallas County’s gun-surrender efforts presented their recommendations for improving the program during a press conference at the 12th annual Conference on Crimes Against Women, presented on May 24 by the Dallas Police Department with the Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support and other collaborating agencies.
“It is estimated that between 7,000 and 8,000 cases of domestic violence go through the courts each year in Dallas County, and yet only 60 guns have been turned in over the past two years,” says SMU Law professor Natalie Nanasi, director of the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women. Nanasie advised law students Laura Choi, Rachel Elkin and Monica Harasim in assembling the report.
“Statistics show that the presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the likelihood of death by 500 percent,” Elkin says. “We hope that this report can be a tool for Dallas County leaders to use to expand and improve the Gun Surrender Program.”
Read more at SMU News.

2017 June 2017 News

Fed data center to open in 2018

A consortium of institutions led by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and the University of Texas at Dallas will partner with the U.S. Census Bureau to establish the Dallas-Fort Worth Federal Statistical Research Data Center.
The DFW center is the result of an extensive grant application process involving contributions from each consortium member and a review by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Census Bureau. One of several planned Federal Statistical Research Data Center locations across the country, the center will be housed at the Dallas Fed and will provide approved researchers with secure access to restricted micro-level data.
The center will advance scientific knowledge, improve data quality and inform policy in fields spanning the social, behavioral and economic sciences and the health professions, and extending to urban planning, and engineering. The cutting-edge research opportunities afforded by the center will raise the profile of participating institutions and assist in attracting and retaining top research talent to the region.
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 Alumni June 2017 News

Taos Cultural Institute, July 20–23

Reflect. Refresh. Renew. We invite you to an enriching weekend at the SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute, July 20–23.
Whether you choose an engaging course for intellectual growth or a Taos adventure, you’ll enjoy your experience in this inspiring setting. Taos Cultural Institute courses give you two-and-a-half days of in-depth, hands-on exploration of topics that reflect the unique cultural richness of Northern New Mexico. Field trips enable you to experience your topic even more vividly, with time to discover and sightsee on your own.
Register now at SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute.

2017 Alumni June 2017 News

In case you missed it: June 2017

In case you missed it this month, please enjoy these quick links to cool stories and interesting videos!

2017 May 2017 May 2017 Main News

A slam dunk for literacy

He was seldom a starter on the SMU mens basketball team, but you’d never know it from his fans: Graduating senior guard Jonathan Wilfong made an impact every time he played at Moody Coliseum home games.
The crowd loved him, yelling out his name in overly long syllables (Wil-foooooong!) when he stepped onto the court. But as much as he’s been loved by the raucous crowds at Moody, and by the coaching staff  that admires his dedication, there’s another set of fans who mean even more to Wilfong – the kids he is helping through his “Coaching for Literacy” program.
Now that he’s graduating, he hopes to both continue his work with the program, as well as expand it to other colleges and universities.
Wilfong’s degree from the Cox School of Business helped give him the know-how to expand the charity. In fact, the degree is part of what brought Wilfong to SMU in the first place.
“I wanted to attend a school where I could play basketball and also get a business degree,” Wilfong said. “I could have gone to a smaller school and played more, but I knew what I wanted to study and I knew where my future was. SMU offered the best of both worlds.”
Read more at SMU News.

2017 May 2017 News

Prestigious academy taps professor

Noted SMU anthropologist Caroline Brettell joins actress Carol Burnett, musician John Legend, playwright Lynn Nottage, immunologist James Allison and other renowned leaders in various fields as a newly elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She and other members of the Class of 2017 will be inducted at a ceremony on October 7 at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Her research centers on ethnicity, migration and the immigrant experience. Much of her work has focused on the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex as a new immigration gateway city, especially on how immigrants practice citizenship and civic engagement as they meld into existing economic, social and political structures. She has special expertise in cross-cultural perspectives on gender, the challenges specific to women immigrants, how the technology boom affects immigration, and how the U.S.-born children of immigrants construct their identities and a sense of belonging. An immigrant herself, Brettell was born in Canada and became a U.S. citizen in 1993.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 May 2017 News

May 20: All-University Commencement

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the National Institutes of Health who may be best known for leading the Human Genome Project (HGP), will be the featured speaker during SMU’s 102nd all-University Commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 20, in Moody Coliseum.
Dr. Collins – whose own personal research efforts led to the isolation of the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome – will receive the Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa, from SMU during the ceremony. The entire event, including Collins’ address, will be streamed at and on SMU Facebook Live, beginning at 9 a.m. (CT).
SMU also will award honorary degrees to pioneering astrophysicist Francis Halzen; attorney, business leader and philanthropist Nancy Nasher; and E.P. Sanders ’62, an alumnus of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology and internationally respected New Testament scholar. The four distinguished leaders in science, the arts and theology will be celebrated during presentations and discussions in the days leading up to Commencement.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni May 2017

George Killebrew ’85: Helping SMU students break into the big time

Connor Kolodziej ’19 was so excited about his winter break externship that he was up by 5:30 a.m. so he would be early to the office of George Killebrew ’85, executive vice president with the Dallas Mavericks.

Kolodziej didn’t know what to expect going in. He just knew a chance to work in a sports organization was something he’d always dreamed about. Dallas’ five professional sports teams had attracted the Atlanta, Georgia, resident and lifelong sports lover to SMU, where he is majoring in applied physiology and sport management in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. So it made perfect sense to pursue a one-day opportunity to get an inside look at the business operations of a legendary team.

Little did he know then that it would land him a three-month summer internship with the team.

SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center connected Kolodziej with Killebrew, who’d received his BBA from the Cox School of Business. “When I found out George was with the Mavericks, I was very excited,” says Kolodziej. “The day exceeded my expectations. I understood the daily operations. Everyone was friendly and happy, and that really encouraged me about my future.”

“It’s actually a simple thing,” says Killebrew, who is also a member of the SMU Alumni Board. “Anytime someone comes in, whether it’s for a summerlong internship or a day’s externship, we want to make sure they get a full flavor of the organization and the different business roles within. A lot of people see the Mavericks and think about the basketball piece of it. But we’re over in a warehouse in Deep Ellum. We’re selling tickets and sponsorships and merchandise. Connor came in and spent pretty much the whole day with us. My whole staff took time with him. So everybody had 30 or 45 minutes with him. We’re always trying to help out – especially someone who wants to get into sports.”

Kolodziej values how the externship helped with his longer-term career aspirations. “I got to make new connections and meet new people who didn’t go to SMU. It also helped me see new aspects – so it broadened my horizon about where I’d like to go in the future.”

He parlayed his winter externship into a summer internship by “staying in contact with George and everyone else I talked to during my winter externship. You never know what is out there unless you ask.” In assisting the Mavs’ corporate sponsorship team this summer with promotions and programs, Kolodziej hopes to gain deeper insights into sports organizations and continue to “learn as much as possible.”

Killebrew, who grew up in Hawaii, credits his SMU education and SMU connections to getting him where he is now. “I was a bit sheltered growing up on an island. When I got to SMU, I met people from all different walks of life, all 50 states and a lot of foreign countries. That really helped prepare me for the real world.”

After graduation, Killebrew worked in the SMU Alumni association for two years, then “I got a job in the Athletics department at SMU. So I was working for the Mustang Club, which opened the door to get me here to the Mavericks – because the people at SMU were helping me take the next steps.”
Killebrew encourages others to take advantage of SMU alumni connections. “There are so many resources, in the city of Dallas and within the SMU alumni community, that you can pretty much accomplish anything you want, regardless of your field. Alumni are willing to help. They just need to be asked.”

Kolodziej appreciates how SMU is helping him pursue the career of his dreams and emphatically recommends the externship experience to other SMU students. “I loved the whole day. I learned so much. SMU has a great connection with alumni, and George pushed home the importance of networking and meeting new people, especially as a student in college. And the most important thing I learned is to find a good place not just to work, but also to enjoy what you do.”

2017 Alumni Fall 2017 May 2017

Success started with a ‘no’

Dylan DeMuth ’17 started classes at the University of Texas School of Medicine in San Antonio in July. He credits a “no” from an SMU professor with changing his life and putting him on track for a career in medicine.
When DeMuth wanted to enroll Eric Bing’s global health class, the professor told the premed student that he was not yet qualified and offered a challenge: “Improve your grades and call me in a month.”
A sophomore chemistry and economics major with a 3.0 grade point average at the time, DeMuth sought tutoring before his midterm exams, instead of waiting until he was struggling with challenging science and math courses. He met with Bing, professor of global health and director of SMU’s global health program in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, a month later to report improvement on his midterm tests – the beginning of a mentorship that inspired DeMuth to re-choreograph his life.
DeMuth, determined to fulfill his passion for study and working in global health, followed Bing’s advice to develop a mission and find his strengths. He began each day with what Bing calls “10-10-10,” a daily practice of 10 minutes of reading, 10 minutes of meditating and 10 minutes of journaling.
When the opportunity to enroll in Bing’s global health class rolled around again, DeMuth was the first person admitted to the class.
With Bing’s encouragement, DeMuth has conducted his own global health research.
“Dylan is a natural. He understands people in a way he doesn’t yet realize,” Bing says. “Mentoring him is lighting a torch that someone once lit in me.”
Read more at SMU News.

2017 May 2017 News

Small device, big innovation

It’s about the size of a slice of bread, costs roughly $60 to purchase and assemble, and packs the potential to improve the lives of thousands of patients around the globe with Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases.
The portable bioelectric impedance analyzer developed by graduating SMU seniors Taylor Barg, Allison Garcia, Danya Hoban, Mar McCreary and Hyun Song measures electric current pulsing through the body to assess muscle health. For someone who otherwise might have to endure a painful needle biopsy or costly MRI to measure the progress of their disease, this small device would be a welcome improvement.
The women have been working together on the device since the beginning of the academic year as their senior design project in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering.
“Our goal was to create an affordable, accessible device that was non-invasive and non-intimidating,” says group spokesperson McCreary, a mechanical engineering major with a premedical/biomedical specialization. She recently presented their research at the 2017 HUNTALKS hosted by the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, a pipeline for student innovation with social impact at SMU.
Their research is particularly relevant now because of the increasing number of health issues and deaths attributed to neurodegeneration in the rapidly growing population of aging Americans. McCreary points out that the Parkinson’s mortality rate has jumped 330 percent over the last 40 years. In addition to the comfort factor inherent in their design, the diagnostic and monitoring applications of their device could improve the odds for older patients living in rural areas without easy access to doctors and medical services.
Each student on the team contributed ideas and expertise in her field. Hoban also is a mechanical engineering major with a premedical/biomedical specialization, while Barg is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. Garcia and Song are electrical engineering (EE) majors in the “4+1” program, which enables them to complete a master’s degree in one year after earning a bachelor’s degree.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 May 2017 News

Pulling back the curtain

Strong academic records, writing ability and an active love of journalism translated into scholarships recently for Meadows students Jacquelyn Elias and Hannah Ellisen.
Jacquelyn, a junior pursuing degrees in journalism, creative computing and computer science, was one of seven students to win the prestigious Founders’ scholarship from the Headliners Foundation of Texas; Hannah, a junior pursuing journalism and public relations & strategic communication degrees, was the sole winner of the foundation’s Texas Associated Press Broadcasters scholarship award.
Read more at Meadows School of the Arts.

2017 May 2017 News

Global marketing expert to lead Cox

Matthew B. Myers, a global marketing and strategy expert with special expertise in cross-border business relationships and Latin American economies, has been named dean of SMU’s Cox School of Business. He will assume his new duties on August 1, at which point Albert W. Niemi Jr., who has been dean of the school since 1997, will transition to full-time teaching.
As dean and Mitchell P. Rales Chair of Business Leadership of the Farmer School of Business at Miami University of Ohio, Myers manages an $80 million budget and recently launched the first independent fund-raising campaign for a college at Miami University. The $200 million effort includes a $40 million lead gift, the largest philanthropic gift in Miami history. The Farmer School of Business is a top-10 producer of Fortune 500 CEOs and maintains undergraduate, graduate and executive programs with a student body of approximately 4,300 and more than 250 faculty and staff members.
Read more at SMU News.