2018 December 2018 Main News

Uncovering a hidden world of spectacular creatures

Paleontologist Louis Jacobs calls Myria Perez ’18 “the closer” because she can chip away centuries of dirt and rock from the most delicate fossils to the highest degree. Perez and more than 100 SMU undergraduate students painstakingly cleaned and preserved the fossils now on exhibit in Sea Monsters Unearthed: Life in Angola’s Ancient Seas at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.
Dive deeper into Sea Monsters Unearthed.

2018 December 2018 News

Robert H. Dedman, Jr. ’80, ’84 to deliver December Commencement address

Robert H. Dedman, Jr. ’80, ’84 is president and CEO of DFI Management, Ltd., and the general partner of Putterboy, Ltd., the owner of the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in North Carolina. He is chair of the SMU Board of Trustees.

At SMU, Dedman is continuing the historic leadership and vision of his parents, Nancy Dedman ’50 and the late Robert H. Dedman, Sr. ’53 LLM, who served on the SMU Board of Trustees from 1976 to 2002 and as its chair from 1992 to 1996. Their major gifts to SMU have had a sweeping impact, including in the areas of humanities and sciences, law and lifetime sports.

Watch the ceremony live, beginning at 9:30 a.m., at

Read more at SMU Enrollment Services.

2018 December 2018 News

Cox reveals the Dallas area’s fastest-growing entrepreneurial companies

Revolution Retail Systems, a Carrollton-based cash automation and recycling tech provider, is the fastest-growing entrepreneurial company in the Dallas area, according to the SMU Cox School of Business’s Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship.
“Revolution has increased sales almost tenfold over the last three years, evidence of the rapid growth that made it the No. 1 company this year,” said Simon Mak, associate director of the Caruth Institute. “Often, the privately held corporations, proprietorships and partnerships we honor through Dallas 100™ don’t get a lot of recognition and yet, like Revolution, they contribute greatly to our economy.”
Mak is pictured above with Mark Levenick, president and CEO of Revolution Retail Systems.
The Institute’s annual Dallas 100™, a celebration of the fastest-growing, privately-held businesses in the Dallas area, revealed the area’s top entrepreneurial companies in rank order from 100 to one before a crowd of about 1,000 people on November 1.
The Caruth Institute, working with the accounting firm BKD LLP CPAs and Advisors examined sales from hundreds of companies for 2015 to 2017, the last year for which complete data is available. The winners represent a wide swath of Dallas-area businesses. The winning companies collectively generated $3.3 billion in sales in 2017, according to Jerry White, the Linda A. and Kenneth R. Morris Endowed Director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship at SMU Cox. Collectively, the companies grew at an average annual growth rate of 87 percent from 2015 to 2017. Together, they created 11,096 jobs in that same period.
Read more at SMU Cox.

2018 December 2018 News

Studying public policy and medicine goes hand in hand

Biological sciences major Noelle Kendall ’19 combines her interest in medicine with public policy as a Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar at SMU. “Medicine/science and public policy seem to be two very different fields, and they are, but each one heavily affects the other,” she says. “I think it is important that these two worlds find a connection so that they can better understand each other. This understanding would lead to more comprehensive science policy and a scientific community that understands and works with its government for safe, efficient progress.”
Read more at SMU Tower Center.

2018 December 2018 News

No. 2 Mustangs finish fall season undefeated

Remaining undefeated throughout the fall, the No. 2 Mustangs enjoyed an 8-6 away victory against No. 8 Delaware State on November 16.
Led by a dominant 3-1 performance by SMU’s reining squad, the Mustangs compiled a conference win over the Hornets that culminated in a perfect 6-0 season, so far. SMU is the only team in the UEC with no losses and one of only two teams in the entire NCEA that remains undefeated.
The Mustangs swept Most Outstanding Player honors at the meet with Devin Seek in equitation over fences, Vivian Yowan in equitation on the flat (her third consecutive Hunter Seat MOP), Megan Waldron in horsemanship and Aubrey Alderman in reining, earning top recognition out of all the riders.
Read more at SMU Athletics.

2018 Alumni December 2018 News

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Enjoy this roundup of interesting stories and videos highlighting some of the people and events making news on the Hilltop.

2018 News November 2018 Main

Drone research possibilities soar thanks to NSF grant

Faculty and students in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering will use an $849,839 grant from the National Science Foundation to improve unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) communications, with the potential to enable the next wave of drone applications ranging from delivery of consumer goods to supporting autonomous combat and search and rescue efforts.
The award to Joseph Camp and Dinesh Rajan in the Electrical Engineering Department begins funding their work October 1, 2018, and will extend through September 30, 2021. The objective is to build infrastructure for Multi-Dimensional Drone Communications Infrastructure (MuDDI) to address research issues related to three-dimensional connectivity, distributed antennas across a drone swarm and 3-D swarm formations that optimize the transmission to intended receivers.
The SMU team will rent and equip indoor space relatively close to campus for repeatable experimentation. “This will allow us to run our experiments in a controlled environment with the ability to precisely measure the wireless transmission characteristics,” Camp said.
The drone research could have far-reaching applications for the future of UAV communications, including increasing Internet connectivity during natural disasters as well as commercial and military applications, all of which require coordination of multiple entities across various altitudes, from in-flight to ground-based stations. Potential applications also include deploying WiFi in underserved, low-income neighborhoods.
Read more at SMU Research.

2018 News November 2018

Legal and business expert to lead new law center

Eric F. Hinton has been named director of SMU Dedman School of Law’s new Robert B. Rowling Center for Business Law and Leadership.
“We are delighted to welcome Eric Hinton as the leader of this important new center,” said Jennifer Collins, Judge James Noel Dean of SMU Dedman School of Law. “His extensive legal and business experience, combined with his professional network, will enable him to make the Rowling Center immediately impactful to our students and the business and legal community.”
Hinton has 20 years of experience as an executive in international business law. He has worked for two public Fortune 500 companies as well as two privately owned companies. Hinton began his career practicing international trade law in Washington, D.C., and has also worked in Illinois, Texas, and Brussels, Belgium. Hinton currently co-teaches a course called “Ethics and Compliance for the Global Enterprise” at Dedman Law.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 News November 2018

Celebrating campus and community vets on November 12

The Maguire Ethics Center and the SMU Student Veterans will honor members of the campus and greater community who have served our country with a special tribute on Veterans Day, November 12.
The public is invited to attend the family-friendly event on the Dallas Hall lawn from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Enjoy games, lunch and fun. New, unwrapped toys for the Toys for Tots drive will be collected during the event. The highlight of the salute will be the presentation of SMU Veteran lapel pins, awarded to student, faculty and staff veterans.
Read more and register at the Maguire Center.

2018 Alumni November 2018

Telling stories of ‘hope that change is coming’

When 17-year-old Petya Kertikova competed in the European Youth Olympic Festival in Lignano, Italy, back in 2005, she had never heard of SMU. Then the powerhouse runner for the Bulgarian national track team placed fourth in the 3,000-meter competition. That one race, filled with top athletes from all over Europe, changed the course of her life. In the stadium that day was then-SMU Track and Field Head Coach David Wollman. He sprinted over to meet her, and within days Kertikova was offered a full sports scholarship to SMU.
“It was a tough decision,” says Kertikova, who never before had thought about leaving Bulgaria. “America was an unknown country to me back then. It was another continent, something I used to hear about only in the movies.”
But an old Bulgarian saying nudged her to consider the offer. “‘The bird lands on your shoulder only once in a lifetime,’” she says. She accepted the offer.
Her first two years in America were difficult. Her biggest hurdle: understanding English.
“I did study it in my high school, but it wasn’t enough for me and my studies at SMU,” she says. “When I went to Dallas I took more English courses. There were people at SMU’s Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center [ALEC] who helped me a great deal.”
While she was meeting new friends and running track, money was another barrier. “It was really tough for me to cope with all the stress, being in a new country when I knew only a few words, starting from scratch at a brand new and really different place, having very little money,” she recalls. “My parents gave me less than $100. I struggled when ordering food, or when shopping at the store, simple things that were hard to do back then. I cried a lot. I remember looking at my suitcases under the bed in my dorm room thinking about leaving America and coming back to Bulgaria.”
Instead, she stayed. An overachiever at heart, she doubled down on her studies.
“I learned every day. My first two years at SMU were simply a test for my will. Looking back now, going to the U.S. was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, even though it was really hard for me the first few years.”
Fast forward to today: After graduating from SMU in 2011 with a degree in journalism, Kertikova worked as a news anchor for BiT TV, a Bulgarian-content station located in Chicago. She then returned to Bulgaria in late 2016 and worked for BiT in its Bulgarian studio for a year and a half. Recently, she accepted a position as a news anchor at Bulgaria On Air, a national television network located in Sofia, the country’s capital.
Of the many stories she covers every week, one topic in particular is close to her heart: stories of Bulgarians who left the country for better education or employment, but then returned. She is on fire with that topic, having walked that path herself.
Read more at SMU Meadows.

2018 Alumni November 2018

Here’s the scoop on a new sweet spot across from campus

Denver transplants Will Ammons ’16 and Schuyler Grey ’16 agree that there was one thing missing from their student experience. So they’ve teamed up with Tyler Kleinert ’14 to open a neighborhood ice cream shop. The Daily Campus shared the news about the new alumni venture on October 18, 2018.

By Catherine Neilson
The Daily Campus

When Schuyler Grey and Will Ammons moved from Denver to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University, they noticed the neighborhood around campus was missing a go-to neighborhood ice cream shop. The friends grew up grabbing scoops from the ice cream parlor down the block.

When they graduated in 2016, they teamed up with their friend Tyler Kleinert to do something about it. Their new Scoop Shop Café, Baldo’s, opens soon on Hillcrest Avenue. What started as a popular Dallas food cart with the help of local artist and chef, Aldo Sandoval, is now turning into a brick-and-mortar store in the old Goff’s space. It’s a convenient location for SMU students wanting a treat on a hot Dallas afternoon.

“After graduation, we started a company called the Tritex Group, with the goal of starting new businesses,” Grey said. “Baldo’s is our first shot at starting a business under the umbrella of the Tritex Group.”

The friends struggled with an idea first and wanted Baldo’s to be more than just ice cream.

“The idea was originally a cookie dough shop, modeled after some of the popular cookie dough shops in New York City and LA,” Kleinert said. “It has since evolved into what we call a ‘scoop shop café’—a hybrid ice cream shop and coffee shop.”

The three friends took their seedling of an idea and borrowed the best parts of other restaurant concepts, including quality coffee, European style pastry displays, homemade teas, and, of course, cookie dough to create Baldo’s. All of the ice cream is made from scratch in-store by Aldo. That homemade quality is just one of the things that makes their shop unique.

Read more at The Daily Campus.

2018 News November 2018

No argument here. SMU Debate ranks No. 1.

After earning first-place rankings in four divisions at the Mendoza Debate Tournament in Houston, SMU Debate elevated its standing in the International Public Debate Association to No. 1 in the nation.
Over the course of more than 70 debate matches, SMU’s wins included first place in the professional, team varsity, junior varsity and novice divisions, and second place team overall in sweepstakes points behind Louisiana State University. SMU defeated opponents from Drury University, University of North Texas, Texas A&M International University, Stephen F. Austin, University of Arkansas, Abilene Christian University, Lee College, East Texas Baptist University and several other regional colleges and universities.
Read more at SMU Meadows.

2018 Alumni News November 2018

Mini masterpieces and big fun at the Meadows Museum

The Meadows Museum hosted Dalí in the Dark after-hours events for alumni and students in conjunction with the Dalí: Poetics of the Small, 1929–1936 exhibit, which continues through December 9. More than 150 alumni enjoyed the paintings and Dalí-themed activities on October 24, while over 600 students participated in the interactive art experience on September 15.

With Dalí: Poetics of the Small, 1929–1936, the Meadows has organized the first in-depth exploration of the artist’s small-scale paintings — some measuring just over a foot, and others as small as 3-by-2 inches. A major part of the artist’s output during the early part of his Surrealist period (1929–1936), these small works reflect Dalí’s precise style of painting.
A second exhibit, Dalí’s Aliyah: A Moment in Jewish History, features a rare, complete set of the lithographs created by the artist to celebrate 1968 as the 20th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. That exhibit continues through January 13, 2019.
Read more at the Meadows Museum.
2018 News November 2018

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Enjoy this roundup of stories and videos highlighting some of the people and events making news on the Hilltop.

2018 Alumni Fall 2018 Features

Whitney Wolfe Herd ’11: Empowering women to make the first move

Whitney Wolfe Herd ’11, founder and CEO of Bumble Inc., became the youngest woman in the U.S. to take a company public when she celebrated the initial offering of her dating app shares in February 2021. In May 2021, the 31-year-old entrepreneur returned to the Hilltop as the featured speaker at SMU’s May Commencement Convocation. In the following profile of Wolfe Herd, which was published in the fall 2018 issue of SMU Magazine, she traces her evolution as a tech powerhouse and talks about her time on the Hilltop as an SMU student. “I think SMU has a remarkable way for charting students on the right course.”
Take a look behind the scenes at Bumble in this profile of Wolfe Herd that first appeared in the fall 2018 issue of SMU Magazine.

By Meredith McBee ’19
Whitney Wolfe Herd ’11 is inside her second-floor office at the Bumble headquarters in Austin, Texas, pacing back and forth. One hand clutches her phone, while her free hand slices the air. She buzzes around the room, navigating her way through the plush pink chairs as if she is running an obstacle course.
Herd is the founder and CEO of Bumble, a social connection app that empowers women to make the first move. In just four years, her female-centric business has grown to more than 35 million users in 160 countries.
In tech speak, her company is a unicorn, a startup valued at a billion dollars or more. Wolfe Herd is something of a mythological creature herself as one of the creative disruptors behind the digital romance revolution. She is a co-founder of the Tinder dating app and the visionary force behind Bumble, America’s fastest-growing dating app.
Drawing on her own experience as the target of cyberbullying, Wolfe Herd reinvented the dating space with Bumble. She shaped an environment where users were required to mind their manners and women felt safe, respected and in control. The app’s basic interface is familiar. Users swipe right on the profiles of potential dates in whom they are interested, and left on those they’re not. Bumble upends the archaic tradition of men making the initial contact; instead, in heterosexual matches, women must start a chat within 24 hours or the match expires.
Two vertical expansions of the original platform connect other aspects of womanhood. There is Bumble BFF for those seeking a friendly connection and Bumble Bizz for those looking for a business connection.
The young entrepreneur’s achievements have earned major accolades. In December, she appeared on the cover of Forbes’ 30 under 30 issue, after making the list for the second consecutive year. She also was named to the TIME 100, Time magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people of 2018. In July, she was tapped for the board of Imagine Entertainment, the film and television production company founded by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
Despite her success, Wolfe Herd remains humble.
“It’s not that I’m some rare breed of human,” she says. “Everybody has the ingredients to achieve what I’ve achieved.”
Her efforts are all linked to her desire to end abusive and misogynistic behavior.
“I get out of bed to reverse engineer that every day,” she says.

WATCH: ‘For any young woman, or girl, out there who has ambitions or dreams, just remember that anything is possible.’

Wolfe Herd moves fast, both in person and in her work, jumping from one conversation to another, one potential idea to another.
Back in her office, she is still pacing. The nerve center of the Bumble hive overlooks the sunny workspace below, decorated with hexagonal cushions and a fluorescent “Bee Kind” sign. The apiary theme is carried throughout the interior, from the honeycomb motif accents to the bright yellow walls. The warm, fun and feminine vibe may not be the norm for a tech company, but it intentionally reflects Bumble’s celebration of female kindness, creativity and collaboration.
Members of her core team, some of whom have been with her from the beginning, are usually nearby. They’re accustomed to reacting at lightning speed to keep up with their CEO.
“If an opportunity comes to further our mission, Whitney’s going to have it done by the time she’s off the phone,” says Samantha Fulgham, director of field marketing who has been with Bumble from the start.
Wolfe Herd reached back to her SMU roots when creating a team to launch her startup. She recruited Alex Williamson ’10, her Kappa Kappa Gamma Big Sister who now serves as Bumble’s chief brand officer, and Caroline Ellis Roche ’14, Wolfe Herd’s chief of staff.
“She was always entrepreneurial,” says Williamson. “She could figure out how to make things happen.”

SMU NETWORK Writer Meredith McBee ’19 (left), an SMU senior from Atlanta, Georgia, interviewed Whitney Wolfe Herd ’11 at Bumble headquarters.

As Wolfe Herd has demonstrated throughout her career, life’s lemons become a valuable commodity in her hands.
She arrived on the Hilltop in 2007 from Salt Lake City, Utah, intending to major in advertising, but she didn’t make the cut for admission to the Temerlin Advertising Institute for Education and Research in Meadows School of the Arts.
“Maybe the reason I failed that test is because that wasn’t the right place for me,” Wolfe Herd says.
Instead, she majored in international studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, which she says provided a solid marketing foundation that has been pivotal to her career.
“I think SMU has this remarkable way for charting students on the right course,” she says. “People will work with you to make sure you’re taking the right classes to achieve your ‘big picture’ dreams.”
While at SMU, Wolfe Herd founded two companies, each in response to a problem she saw in the world. Tender Heart was a clothing line that brought a message of fair trade. The Help Us Project was a line of grocery bags that benefited the Oceans Future Project, which was a direct response to the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
After graduating, she served as a volunteer at orphanages overseas. She returned to the U.S. determined to do something creative and philanthropic, but she wasn’t sure what that was. At the time, she had no employment possibilities lined up. She was living at home, an arrangement her parents told her had an expiration date.
So, she found a job at Cardify, a customer rewards app. During her brief tenure, she had no idea that her next career move would turn the dating world upside down and change her life forever.

BUMBLE HQ Bumble’s Austin, Texas, headquarters – affectionately known as “the hive” – exudes a warm, fun and feminine vibe that may not be the norm in the tech industry, but it intentionally reflects the company’s celebration of female creativity and collaboration.

In 2012, she co-founded the game-changing dating app Tinder. She marketed the platform at SMU and on other college campuses. That early success – with all its thrilling highs – also led to a life and career crisis. She left in 2014 and filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
She was bullied online by complete strangers during this period. While she had once viewed social networking as a conduit for connecting people and building community, she watched as online interactions became weaponized, and she became the target of misogynistic and hate-filled attacks collapsing on me,” she says.
At the time, she thought her career was over.
“It is unbelievable how that negativity can completely control your life,” she says. “There were moments when I let that fear engulf me to the core.”
The experience gave Wolfe Herd a new perspective on social media. She wondered what it looked like for younger people and what it would turn into for future generations. She soon had a new mission: to reinvent the Internet for women.
In her entrepreneurial fashion, she developed the framework for a female-only social network called Merci. On this platform, women could only give each other compliments.
This idea morphed into a dating app after her investor and business partner, Andrey Andrev, encouraged her to transfer her passion for a kind social network into the dating sphere.
“I said no, I’m never going back into the dating world, absolutely not,” Wolfe Herd says. “With a lot of convincing, we agreed to start this company together.”
Snippets of Merci remain in the Bumble DNA.
“When you think about it, women are making the first move, which is empowering,” Wolfe Herd says. “We tolerate zero abusive behavior, so that kindness piece is there, too.”
Wolfe Herd returned to her alma mater with her new idea. She bought dozens of cookies at JD’s Chippery in Snider Plaza, plastered each box with Bumble stickers and passed out the sweet rewards to students who downloaded the app.
To help spread the word, she created a network of Bumble Ambassadors, college women who live the brand’s core message of being kind and embody its stylish coolness and cheeky attitude.
A week before the woman-first app launched, Wolfe Herd called her team and told them to book a flight to Austin the next day. When they arrived, she announced they would be filming a promotional video of them skydiving. None of her colleagues questioned the idea.
“The whole point of it was that if we can jump out of an airplane, we can message a guy first,” Fulgham says.

MUSTANGS IN THE HIVE Proud SMU alumnae members of the Bumble team are (from left) Chelsea Cain Maclin ’12, Alex Williamson ’10, Caroline Ellis Roche ’14 and Whitney Wolfe Herd ’11.

Nearly four years and 500 million first moves later, Wolfe Herd is never short of new ideas.
“I think that’s part of her genius, not only coming up with ideas that resonate on a personal level and have empathy and kindness at their core, but also the ability to get everybody in the room excited and passionate about the same project” says SMU alumna Cain Maclin ’12, Bumble’s vice president of marketing.
Wolfe Herd’s genuine commitment to female empowerment has made her a role model for young women, as illustrated during a recent encounter on the streets of Austin during a company field day.
Dressed in Bumble gear, the team chalked sidewalks with “Download Bumble” and posted yellow fliers advertising the app around the downtown area. They happened upon a bachelorette party, and the honoree told Wolfe Herd that one of her dreams was to meet the Bumble founder. She had no idea that the woman standing next to her was, indeed, the “queen bee.”
When she found out, she burst into tears.
“I don’t think Whitney had ever seen a fan like that,” Fulgham says. “She has no idea how many women look up to her across the world.”
Last fall, her admirers everywhere swooned over photos of her storybook wedding in Positano, Italy, to businessman Michael Herd. They met through friends several years ago. Although she didn’t know it when they met, he is the son of one of her favorite SMU professors, Kelly Herd, a filmmaker and former lecturer in the Meadows School.
“That just goes to show the serendipitous nature of an SMU education,” Wolfe Herd says. “I looked up to her for her caring, articulate and creative abilities as a professor. She’s proof that you meet professors who will have a lifelong impact on you and stay with you long after your graduation date.
“I always say I would trade almost anything to just go back to SMU for a day,” she adds.
Wolfe Herd believes her SMU experience helped her become strong and confident enough to change the dating world.
“SMU gave me the foundation to become an adult and evolve into the woman I am today,” she says.
Today, Wolfe Herd is a very busy executive. She finally puts down her phone and collapses on a plush chair for a few seconds. Then, she gets up, arms moving as she talks to a colleague. Back to work she goes.

2018 News October 2018

Thanks for your support!

When Mustangs band together, we empower students filled with passion and purpose. Thanks to YOUR support, SMU’s creators, innovators and problem-solvers will push harder, dream bigger and accomplish more this year. Because tuition only covers about 70 percent of a University education, your gift fills the gap with crucial funding for scholarships, research and so much more. There’s strength in our numbers. Thank you for banding together for these world changers to shape experiences they’ll never forget!

2018 Alumni News October 2018

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Enjoy this roundup of interesting stories and videos highlighting some of the people and events making news on the Hilltop.

2018 News October 2018 Main

$5 million gift from Rich and Mary Templeton boosts engineering research

Rich and Mary Templeton, longtime supporters of SMU, have committed $5 million for research at SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. Their generous gift provides a major boost to the University’s externally sponsored research, which is critical to the University’s global academic prestige.This gift, which includes $4 million for an endowment and $1 million for operations, creates the Templeton Endowed Research Excellence Fund. The fund is flexible, allowing for support of the most pressing and important research needs in the Lyle School at any given time. It covers a range of project essentials, including postdoctoral researchers, doctoral and graduate student stipends, equipment and supplies.
Working in collaboration with SMU’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies, the Lyle School will select projects that benefit the University’s research portfolio, along with faculty who have strong track records for significant external research funding and success in recruiting elite graduate students. Metrics of success will be defined by the school and the research teams.
“This investment in research is critical to strengthening SMU’s academic quality and attracting top graduate students who will seek solutions to some of the world’s most stubborn problems,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Rich and Mary have a long history of supporting successful initiatives to advance technological innovation. They understand what is required to be a premier research university, and their generous gift will play an important role in moving our University closer to the global reputation we desire.”
“Research is essential to SMU’s ability to make an impact through technology. We’re delighted to help make that happen,” said Mr. Templeton, who is chairman, president and CEO of Texas Instruments and also serves on SMU’s Board of Trustees.
“Our family has deep connections to SMU,” said Mrs. Templeton, renowned community philanthropist and volunteer. “The University’s goals and strategies to bolster research are aligned with our vision for higher education and technology.”
Read more at SMU News.

2018 Alumni News October 2018

SMU parents’ gift supports University’s highest priorities

SMU parents Daniel M. Doyle, Jr. and Nicole Kudelko Doyle ’94 continue their long-standing commitment to expanding educational opportunities and supporting academic excellence with a $1 million gift to the University.
The Doyles are the parents of Danny Doyle, III, a business major at SMU and a member of the Class of 2021. Danny enjoyed his first year of classes, new friendships, attending football and basketball games, and looks forward to his sophomore year. Their daughter, Madeline, began her first year at SMU in the fall, and is excited to be a Mustang.
After more than a dozen years of active participation in the education of their three children, the couple has learned “that it takes donors stepping up to help a school achieve peak performance,” said Mr. Doyle, the president and CEO of Tampa, Florida-based DEX Imaging. “We realized that schools can’t survive just on tuition.”
After approaching SMU leadership to learn about the University’s needs, the Doyles decided an open-ended gift made sense. “We are grateful for the Doyles’ continued generous support of SMU, even beyond sending two of their three children here for their education,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are thankful to receive a gift that we can direct toward the University’s highest priorities.”
The couple’s SMU giving began in 2015 with the Dan and Nicole Doyle Endowed Scholarship Fund. Their support also includes the SMU Fund for Greatest Needs, the Mustang Athletic Fund and the SMU Student Foundation Fund.
Mrs. Doyle appreciated the family feeling that SMU provided when she was a student. Just like daughter Madeline, she also attended the University with her older brother. She was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority and graduated in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in English. She recalls the sense of community and the delight she felt when professors invited students to dinner.
“I’m thrilled that my children will have the opportunity to enjoy many of the same great experiences,” she said. The Doyles’ gift to SMU will have an impact across campus. “Discretionary gifts let us quickly act on emerging opportunities that directly benefit our students and faculty,” said Brad E. Cheves, SMU vice president for Development and External Affairs.
The Doyles’ philanthropic involvement encompasses their core interest in helping children and families succeed. They support The Arc Tampa Bay, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County and the local chapter of Jack and Jill of America, among others.
Mr. Doyle serves on the board of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. His other board service includes Big Brothers Big Sisters for Pinellas County, in Florida, and Lynn University, in Boca Raton. From 2014–17, he served on the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida. In 2013, he received an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the technology category. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Lynn University in 1993.

2018 News October 2018

SMU rises in U.S. News rankings

SMU is ranked 59 among the nation’s universities in the 2019 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges. The ranking represents an increase from the 2017 ranking of 61.
The new ranking again places SMU in the first tier of the guide’s 312 “best national universities.” Among Texas universities, only Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin rank higher. SMU tied with the University of Washington, Pennsylvania State University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
SMU saw key improvements in the peer assessment score, which is the rating of academic reputation by college admission deans, provosts and presidents, and in the high school counselor assessment score. In addition, SMU ranked 31 for best national universities for veterans, tied with the University of Washington.
“SMU’s national ranking is a reflection of a dedicated effort to provide our students with the opportunity to become society’s innovators and leaders,” says SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “It also reflects the contributions of high-impact research and inspired teaching by our faculty members. We are grateful for the recognition and inspired to continue SMU’s positive momentum.
“As students and parents evaluate universities, it’s important to note, however, that rankings are just one of the factors to consider in this important decision. We encourage parents and anyone considering a college education to visit institutions for firsthand evaluation of academic offerings and campus experience.”
Read more at SMU News.

2018 News October 2018

Let the countdown to Moody Magic begin!

The Mustangs open the 2018–19 basketball season in Moody Coliseum, when the men’s team hosts Northwestern State on November 8 in Moody Coliseum, and the women’s team faces Louisiana Monroe on November 9.
Men’s basketball is entering the third season under Head Coach Tim Jankovich. Under Jankovich, the Mustangs are 56-21 with a 38-5 mark at Moody Coliseum. The Mustangs won the 2017 American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles, reaching the NCAA Tournament. In the past two seasons, the Mustangs have five wins over teams ranked in the top 15 of the Associated Press Poll. See the full schedule and find ticket information.
Women’s basketball under Head Coach Travis Mays welcomes back three-time all-conference honoree Alicia Froling, returning after missing last season due to injury. The Mustangs also will have the services of Colorado transfer Makenzie Ellis after the post player sat out last season. The roster also includes seven first-years. See the full schedule and purchase tickets.

2018 News October 2018

Annual Stampede of Service to aid 10 community partners

SMU Alumni Relations and the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement are joining forces for the annual Stampede of Service on October 13. During the daylong volunteer effort, members of the SMU community will lend a hand with 10 Dallas-area nonprofits to help those in need.
Read more at SMU Student Affairs.

2018 Alumni October 2018

A 21st-century cybercrime fighter

Erin Nealy Cox ’95 is truly a crime fighter for the 21st century. The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas is an expert in prosecuting cybercrimes.
Nominated by President Trump last September, the 48-year-old magna cum laude SMU Dedman School of Law graduate oversees federal prosecutions in 100 Texas counties with a combined population of about 8 million. Nine of the state’s 20 biggest cities are under her jurisdiction. She’s in charge of roughly 100 government attorneys and a like number of support staff in five divisions.
Few lawyers in America possess her combination of training and career experience in the law, technology, business, and administration. In addition to her SMU Dedman Law degree, Nealy Cox holds a degree in finance from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. After law school, she clerked for U.S. District Judge Barefoot Sanders of the Northern District of Texas and Chief Judge Henry Politz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. She also served as a litigation associate at two prestigious law firms—Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City and Carrington Coleman Sloman & Blumenthal in Dallas.
Read more at Dedman Law.

2018 News October 2018

Beating the drum for cross-cultural music cognition research

Scholarships and the chance to double major in music and electrical engineering brought Jay Appaji ’19 to SMU. Now his music cognition research is gaining an international audience.
As a high school student, Jay Appaji was on the radar of multiple colleges.
They liked that he was an accomplished musician, having mastered the South Indian classical mridangam (“mrih-dun-gum”) by the time he was 13. They liked that he was performing in Texas and in India, and helping raise funds for music education in underprivileged communities in both countries. They noted that he received the 2013 Percussive Arts Society’s M&J Lishon/Franks Drum Shop national scholarship in his junior year, and the Texas Commission on the Arts Young Masters Award his senior year.
Then there was his interest in the sciences. He had already started doing research while still in high school, working with music cognition veteran Dr. Jay Dowling at The University of Texas at Dallas.
All of the colleges pursuing him offered him scholarships.
When Appaji thought about college, he wanted to major in music but he also wanted to study the sciences. “You can double major in music and the sciences at SMU,” he says. “A lot of other schools, especially music schools, won’t let you double major. If you’re doing music, then you’re only allowed to do music and nothing else.”
Read more at SMU Meadows.

2018 News October 2018

Starting conversations that never end

Find out how a Dedman Interdisciplinary Research Cluster created new connections between students and faculty from religious studies, art history, art and world languages and launched conversations exploring biases and inclusion.

One of the great rewards of graduate school is meeting like-minded individuals with whom one shares intellectual curiosities. These newfound relationships not only make graduate life enjoyable but also enrich one’s thinking and research work.

At SMU, we have been fortunate to find a multidisciplinary community of students and professors with whom to exchange ideas in and outside of the classroom. During the spring of 2018, we had an opportunity to bring that community together through the Dedman Interdisciplinary Research Cluster titled “On Decolonial Options and the Writing of Latin American History.”

The cluster brought together students and faculty from Religious Studies, Art History, Art, and World Languages. The conversation centered on the writing of Latin American history in the U.S academy and the ways in which we should think about the decolonial question in our future research and teaching pedagogies.

Read more at SMU Graduate Studies.

2018 News September 2018 September Main 2018

Creating a STEM-focused school in West Dallas

SMU, the Dallas Independent School District and Toyota are creating a new and innovative PreK-8 STEM school in West Dallas. The Toyota USA Foundation is granting $2 million to SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, which will develop curriculum, advise on educational practices, provide professional development for teachers, coordinate nonprofits operating in the area and monitor and evaluate the program. The new school will be operated and staffed by the DISD’s Office of Transformation & Innovation.
Read more at the Simmons School.

2018 Fall 2018 Features October 2018

Growing green, sowing hope in Dallas’ food desert

By Susan White ’05

Owen Lynch harbors a “crazy” idea – one that just might help eliminate the food deserts scattered throughout South Dallas. Driving through the impoverished area surrounding the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, Lynch points out abandoned lots and vacant dirt areas under nearby freeways that hold possibilities as future community gardens.

“One of the unexpected assets of a food desert is the large availability of property or lots for farming and food system development,” Lynch says. “These properties are at best eyesores detracting from their neighborhood’s home values, but at worst they are a breeding ground for vermin, wild dogs and other negative neighborhood effects.”
Lynch is associate professor of corporate communication and public affairs in Meadows School of the Arts and a senior research fellow in SMU’s Hunt Institute for Humanity and Engineering. But he and his Hunt Institute colleagues are looking at a bigger picture for South Dallas, advocating for something more sustainable than community gardens through an extensive food production system.
“Each lot could become part of a functioning food system by providing the city with a local, sustainable food source and creating jobs for the immediate community,” he says. “There is a large amount of unemployed or underemployed people and youth in these local communities who could gain employment and training within these urban farms.”
South Dallas is one of the largest food deserts in the country, Lynch says. Urban food deserts are short on fresh food providers, especially fruits and vegetables; instead they are rife with quick marts selling processed foods heavy in sugar and filled with fats. In South Dallas many residents live at least a mile from a grocery store and don’t always have access to ready transportation to drive farther.


Lynch, who also serves as president of the nonprofit, urban farm consulting agency Get Healthy Dallas, and the Hunt Institute took the first step toward reducing the gap in available healthy food sources by establishing the Seedling Farm, dedicated at the MLK Freedom Garden last November, in collaboration with numerous local urban farm organizations. The Seedling Farm aims to overcome some of the barriers to successful local agricultural production and help improve the health of South Dallas residents.

During a visit to the Seedling Farm on a cool but sunny April morning, manager and horticulturalist Tyrone Day shows off the seedlings that have sprouted in the recently built greenhouse and soon will be transferred to local private and community gardens and farmers markets. The greenhouse packs in up to 4,000 4-inch plants started from seedlings that will grow into a variety of vegetables ranging from asparagus to zucchini, as well as herbs such as cilantro, basil and thyme.

Plans are to produce 20,000 seedlings each year through all four seasons to sell at a discount to area residents who grow their own produce. Providing seedlings is an important factor. “The process of going from a seed to a seedling is the most vulnerable stage in a plant’s life,” Day says. “At the farm, we raise them in controlled conditions with constant monitoring, and also prepare them for transportation to community and home gardens.” Jump-starting gardens by planting viable young seedlings means the plants are more likely to survive, mature faster and produce fruits or vegetables more quickly, he adds.


Lynch involved several of his corporate communication students in the development of the Seedling Farm. Caroline Davis, a senior majoring in corporate communication and public affairs and public relations and strategic communication, knew little about food deserts until taking several courses from Lynch. She helped plan and coordinate the launch of the Seedling Farm, and asked area residents about their food knowledge and access to various foods, particularly vegetables. “The Seedling Farm is about much more than food for these communities and farmers,” Davis says. “Community members have the chance to receive the necessary education and training to co-develop a self-sustaining resource.”
Sara Langone ’17, who received degrees in political science and corporate communication and public affairs from SMU, and DeAngelo Garner ’18, who graduated in May with degrees in organizational communications and public relations with a minor in Spanish, conducted a survey with the area residents on the need for the Seedling Farm. Garner, who will begin a master’s degree in business analytics in fall 2018 at Cox School of Business, says the experience helped drive him toward his interest in data analytics.
“It was eye opening seeing the human aspect of statistical information that I had previously studied,” he says. “Having the hands-on experience humanized the very real problems that residents of South and West Dallas experience.”
Lynch, who was designated a 2018 Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Fellow, is moving to Rhode Island where his wife has a job, but will return weekly to Dallas to teach at SMU and continue to build on the Seedling Farm initiative. He emphasizes that a local food production system requires well-organized distribution systems, which includes support from community foundations, nonprofits and experts. And investment in local micro-urban farms requires upfront capital and experience to design, build and maintain, but the payoff is huge. Micro-food systems have the potential to provide innovative and economical solutions to reducing food poverty and unemployment, Lynch adds.
“Hundreds of micro-farms, community gardens, personal gardens, greenhouses or even small raised beds can be linked into a vibrant food chain providing sustainable fresh local produce to the DFW market.”
A “crazy” idea that is blooming where it’s planted.

2018 News September 2018

Don’t miss Family Weekend 2018, September 28–29

Get ready to enjoy “A Roarin’ Good Time” as the SMU Student Foundation presents Family Weekend 2018, September 28–29.
Events include:

Friday, September 28
Family Luncheon Weekend hosted by the SMU Mothers’ Club and the Student Foundation featuring student speakers and a message from the SMU Present R. Gerald Turner.
Taste of Dallas Dinner featuring entertainment by our talented students.

Saturday, September 29
Boulevard BBQ on the Clements Hall lawn before the SMU-Houston Baptist football game kickoff
Sunday, September 30
Spring Awakening student musical
See the full schedule of events here.

2018 News September 2018

Shaping world changers with cultural intelligence

In a new video, Professor Maria Dixon Hall discusses the Cultural Intelligence Initiative, or CIQ@SMU, and its mission to equip the SMU community with the skills to manage and communicate effectively in complex cultural contexts.
Read more at CIQ@SMU.

2018 Alumni News September 2018

SMU Distinguished Alumni Awards to be presented on November 1

The University community will honor Pierce M. Allman ’54, Tucker S. Bridwell ’73, ’74 and Jane Chu ’81 with Distinguished Alumni Awards and Kelvin Beachum, Jr. ’10, ’12 with the Emerging Leader Award on November 1.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony recognizes extraordinary achievement, outstanding character and good citizenship in an event hosted by President R. Gerald Turner and the SMU Alumni Board.
Read more and purchase tickets.

2018 News September 2018

A national hub for data-driven decision making in the arts

SMU announces the merger of its National Center for Arts Research (NCAR), a leading provider of evidence-based insights on the nonprofit arts and cultural industry, with DataArts, the respected Philadelphia-based resource for in-depth data about U.S. nonprofit arts, culture and humanities organizations.
The two are joining forces to strengthen the national arts and cultural community through data, the knowledge that can be generated from it, and the resources to use it.
The combined entity, SMU DataArts, will integrate the strengths and capabilities of both organizations, which have been closely collaborating since 2012. The merger will continue the core operations of both organizations and build on their existing successful programs. NCAR’s research expertise, its partnerships with other data providers, and the resources of a major research university will be combined with DataArts’ existing data collection platform and relationships with arts organizations and grantmakers. SMU DataArts aims to make data useful and accessible to all in the arts and culture field, illuminating strengths, challenges and opportunities for individual arts organizations and for the sector as a whole, to help ensure long-term stability.
Since its founding, NCAR has integrated national data on arts organizations and their communities to provide evidence-based insights and tools to arts leaders as well as groundbreaking research on the impact and viability of the nonprofit cultural industry. NCAR’s research is available free of charge to arts leaders, funders, policymakers, researchers and the general public. Its findings and tools have been accessed nearly 100,000 times by users from all 50 U.S. states and 166 countries. Its Key Intangible Performance Indicators (KIPI) Dashboard, a free online diagnostic tool launched in July 2016, has attracted more than 7,600 unique users.
Read more at SMU DataArts.

2018 News September 2018

Visakh Madathil ’21: Using technology for social development

Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar Visakh Madathil ’21 spent his summer in Washington, D.C. as a data science/software engineering intern with the Chief of Technology Officer and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He talked about his experiences for the SMU Tower Center Scholar Spotlight.
Tell us about your internship.
I worked primarily on the data portfolio with the chief data officer. Using Natural Language Processing, we worked on understanding data needs across the department and how data stewards, analysts and other users access the data so we could ultimately make data sharing more efficient, responsible and secure. I worked on building an internal data-sharing system and was involved in web prototyping, technical data architecture, researching ways innovative technologies, such as machine learning and blockchain, could be used in this platform to facilitate data-sharing.
I worked to increase the use of data across different data silos, not just in the Department of Health and Human Services, but also in the healthcare sector in general.
What was your biggest takeaway from the experience?
One thing that I really realized is that in government especially, but also in any type of issue that we have – most of these things are people-problems. Technology isn’t going to solve all of our issues. Technology is inherently neutral—it’s not good nor is it bad, but it’s very important to understand the human side and the technology side so you can build innovative technologies that can help people and minimize the harm.
So my biggest takeaway is that the human-side is just as important. To understand people, understand their issues, understand the problems people face, is more important than understanding the underlying technologies that you’re using to solve those issues.
Read more at the SMU Tower Center.

2018 News September 2018

Blending business and science for a future in medicine

Holt Garner ’19 of Decatur, Texas, designed his own multidisciplinary “dream degree plan” to master both accounting and biology. He says his dual business and science perspectives provide a competitive edge as he prepares for medical school.
“SMU’s approach to interdisciplinary study has shaped me into a more critical thinker who can approach a problem from both business and scientific perspectives,” he says. “And as I prepare for medical school, my dual degree plan gives me a competitive edge. I am able to pursue diverse internship opportunities, including those that focus on the business and clinical aspects of health care.”

2018 Alumni September 2018

Writer-director Andrew Oh ’18 rolls with the punches

Creating a feature-length film is no small feat, particularly when the project is independently written and directed by a student. With no financial backing from a major production company, no outfit of hundreds of workers, and limited time and resources, recent Meadows graduate Andrew Oh has learned why entrepreneurial skills can make or break a film.
Oh has produced numerous class film assignments, most of which run from five to ten minutes and use a crew of one to ten people, but a 90-minute feature is an entirely different animal. “This is the biggest thing I’ve worked on,” says Oh. “It’s the culmination of my four years at SMU.”
With a cast and crew of about 50, Oh’s film The Book of Job is both written and directed by the 2018 B.A. alumnus and is the fifth film to be chosen for SMU Meadows’ Summer Film Production.
The Summer Film Production is a student-run, biennial program that offers film students the opportunity to learn what it takes to make a feature film or TV series pilot.
While working on The Book of Job, Oh gained greater clarity on what it takes to make a film and the importance of entrepreneurship in the filmmaking business. Doing extensive research and having a general knowledge of film is important, says Oh.
“And preproduction is key. The more work you do in preproduction the easier it is to make the film.”
Read more at Meadows.

2018 Alumni

Randall Joyner ’14 is once again living his dream on the Hilltop

Randall Joyner ’14 was easy to pick out at SMU football’s first scrimmage of their August training camp. The former standout Mustang linebacker, now the assistant coach for defensive ends, was wearing his signature bright red backwards hat and bright red Nike sneakers. Bouncing up and down the sideline, Joyner was the first person to greet players coming off the field after a big defensive stop, which happened often.
“To be able to come back to the school that gave me a chance to live my dream, not once but twice, is a blessing,” Joyner said after the scrimmage, his voice slightly hoarse from yelling for two hours straight. “Now we have a great group of guys and a great staff – I’m really excited.”
Joyner grew up in nearby Carrollton, Texas where he was a two-star recruit out of Newman Smith High School as a running back and defensive back. A four-year letterwinner at linebacker at SMU, he totaled 240 tackles in 50 career games, including 10.5 tackles for loss. As a senior in 2013, he recorded a team-high 98 tackles and three forced fumbles, earning recognition as a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy.
“I have a great group of guys. They are really good kids. They do everything I ask,” Joyner said. “One thing I’ve been challenging them is to attack greatness. To grow beyond their talents. All I want them to do is play hard and play with passion and play for their brothers. I’ll coach everything else up. They’ve done an unbelievable job.”
Read more at SMU Athletics.

2018 News September 2018

Indigenous hunter-gatherers actively shaped their environments

Native American communities actively managed North American prairies for centuries before Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World, according to a new study led by SMU archaeologist Christopher I. Roos.

Fire was an important indigenous tool for shaping North American ecosystems, but the relative importance of indigenous burning versus climate on fire patterns remains controversial in scientific communities. The new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), documents the use of fire to manipulate bison herds in the northern Great Plains. Contrary to popular thinking, burning by indigenous hunters combined with climate variability to amplify the effects of climate on prairie fire patterns.

The relative importance of climate and human activities in shaping fire patterns is often debated and has implications for how we approach fire management today.

“While there is little doubt that climate plays an important top-down role in shaping fire patterns, it is far less clear whether human activities – including active burning – can override those climate influences,” said Roos. “Too often, if scientists see strong correlations between fire activity and climate, the role of humans is discounted.”

Read more at SMU Research News.

2018 Alumni News September 2018

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Enjoy this roundup of interesting videos and stories highlighting some of the people and events making news on the Hilltop.
Dalí: Poetics of the Small, 1929–1936 opens on September 9
Video: Watch as the Class of 2022 takes shape
SMU Mustangs Official App, the latest mobile must-have
OP Live Dallas to feature epic collegiate Overwatch tournament
Brigham Mosely ’10 unpacks identity crisis in Critical Darling
Register now for Perkins’ Fall Convocation
Tate Lecture Series season opens on September 25
Highlights from a great year at the Simmons School

2018 Fall 2018 Features

All in: How Candice Bledsoe ’07 shows students ‘no dream is out of reach’

A year ago, Brenda Carmona escaped an attempted assault. The experience left the Dallas high school junior determined to pursue a future in criminology or law “to fight for justice for all the people who aren’t as lucky as I was.” The teen admits she wasn’t sure about the steps she needed to take to realize her ambitions until she spent the day at the Cutting Edge Youth Summit at SMU.
“It gave me so much to think about, as far as considering which are the best colleges and programs to help me achieve my goals,” she says. “And it also made me think about the possibility of getting scholarships and what I need to do to qualify.”
Now in its seventh year, the summit brought nearly 300 students, parents and community leaders from historically underrepresented communities to campus on April 21 during SMU’s Founders’ Day Weekend. Conference sessions provided insights about college admission, scholarships, science and technology-focused careers, social entrepreneurship and more.
Candice Bledsoe ’07, founder and executive director of the Action Research Center, which conducts research in schools, communities and nonprofits to advance student and community leadership development, created the one-day event. The program is designed to help middle and high school students with big dreams visualize a future powered by higher education. Community college transfer students planning to continue their education at a four-year institution are also welcome.
During discussions and interactive programs, SMU professors, staff and alumni joined a host of community experts contributing their insights about exploring career paths, developing leadership skills and making the most of a university experience.
Students also learn about the avenues open to them for affording college. At SMU, for example, three out of four students receive scholarships and/or financial aid.
“Our message to students is that no dream is out of reach,” says Bledsoe, who teaches in SMU’s Master of Liberal Arts program in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. “We give them advice on the college application process as well as tips for seeking out scholarships. We also talk to them about channeling their passions as social innovators and leaders in their schools and the community. Perhaps equally important, students are able to ‘see’ themselves on a college campus and realize they have a rightful place here.”
The information shared at the summit “fills in the gaps,” says Saella Ware, who graduated from Mansfield High School in May. “I wasn’t sure about all the steps before I came, but the speakers provided a sort of layout of when to take the SAT and ACT, finish your application, apply for scholarships and submit financial aid information. That helps for getting things done in a timely manner and establishing helpful habits prior to attending college.”
It’s a learning opportunity for parents, too, Bledsoe says. “Parents are often overwhelmed because their children are preparing for such a different experience than they’ve had. Those parents aren’t always sure how to navigate the complexities of the system, so they’re grateful to get information and connect with people who can help them.”
James Muhammad found the grant and scholarship information particularly useful as his son, Jamaal, begins his junior year at the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy in Dallas. Muhammad has always been actively involved in his son’s education, and when a teacher sent an email about the summit, he jumped at the chance to attend.
“The sessions helped clarify the steps he needs to take this year to prepare for the future,” he says.
According to the Action Research Center, the research arm of Bledsoe’s program, the Cutting Edge Youth Summit has helped 1,903 middle, high school and community college students since it was launched in 2011. Ninety-nine percent of student participants have earned a high school diploma, and 90 percent have gone on to college.
The University offers a portfolio of opportunities like the summit that show ambitious younger students from all walks of life that a college education is attainable.
Perhaps the best-known college access program is Upward Bound. This year, SMU celebrates 50 years of graduates of the program geared for high school students from low-income families or from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. As students build the academic credentials they’ll need to succeed in a college classroom, they also develop the confidence and resilience they’ll rely on to attain goals throughout their lives.
High school students from Dallas, Garland, Lancaster and Duncanville school districts participate in SMU’s year-round Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science programs. In-school tutoring, college visits, Saturday academies and regular mentoring are designed to amp up students’ precollege scholastic performance and prepare them for postsecondary pursuits.
The proof of success is in the numbers: 90 percent of participants attend college after high school graduation.
Even a campus visit can have a huge impact on young minds. “Just being on the SMU campus is exciting to so many students attending the summit,” Bledsoe says. “It can jumpstart the process of thinking about the future and saying, ‘Yes, I can see myself here.’”
SMU welcomes hundreds of youngsters from Dallas-area schools to campus each year so they can become acquainted with college life. One recent example is a special experience created by the University for about 200 eighth-graders and their teachers from Dallas’ Rusk Middle School. When the students dramatically improved their test scores, their teachers wanted to build on that academic momentum and reward their hard work with a trip to a college campus. But school district budget challenges stalled the plan.
That’s when SMU came to the rescue by arranging a campus visit like no other. The Rusk students participated in science and engineering demonstrations, visited with Head Football Coach Sonny Dykes and tossed some footballs in Ford Stadium, explored the campus during a scavenger hunt and learned about the importance of a college education from SMU President R. Gerald Turner.
At the end of the day, many of the youngsters vowed to return – as SMU students.

“Our message to students is that no dream is out of reach. We give them advice on the college
application process as well as tips for seeking out scholarships. We also talk to them about
channeling their passions as social innovators and leaders in their schools and the community.
Perhaps equally important, students are able to ‘see’ themselves on a college campus
and realize they have a rightful place here.”

As the daughter of parents serving in the military, Bledsoe grew up primarily in Germany. She learned the language and took advantage of the European location to travel extensively on the continent. That early exposure to different cultures shaped her global perspective and belief that travel is an invaluable teaching tool. Today, family vacations with husband Horace and their children Jeremiah, 14, and Jasmine, 8, often include tours of historical sites. They’ve recently traveled the path of the civil rights movement and visited the Lincoln Home historic district in Springfield, Illinois.
Her worldview also informs an international component of each youth summit. This year the focus was on opportunities across the globe in engineering and technology fields.
Bledsoe’s aim with the summit is to get kids excited about college the way that passion was ignited in her as a youngster.
In a thought-provoking presentation at TEDxSMUWomen in 2016, Bledsoe said, “To know who I am, you must know my grandmother.” Women’s issues were the focus of the event. Bledsoe, founder of the Black Women’s Collective, a creative arts group devoted to sharing the stories of women of color, discussed the power of narrative to bring the experiences of the underrepresented to light, an academic passion inspired by the matriarch.
She describes her grandmother, Johnnie Mae “M’dear” Lucas, as “her first teacher.” Lucas grew up during segregation, with few higher education options open to her, but she never gave up on her dream of becoming a teacher. When she decided to pursue a master’s degree, her entire family relocated to Houston so that she could attend Texas Southern University, a historically black public university. The trailblazer who prized her degrees made sure her granddaughter always understood the value of an education.
When Bledsoe was living abroad, summer vacations were reserved for spending time with Lucas in Texas.
Thanks to her grandmother, she was steeped in great literature from an early age, especially the poetry of Langston Hughes. Bledsoe remembers hearing her friends playing outside while she was inside, following her grandmother’s “summer school” curriculum, which included a robust reading list and book reports. One of the books she was assigned to read was a biography of Mary McCloud Bethune, a story that became pivotal to her own story.
Bethune was “one of the most important black educators, civil and women’s rights leaders and government officials of the 20th century,” according to the National Women’s Museum. “The college she founded set educational standards for today’s black colleges, and her role as an advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave African Americans an advocate in government.”
“I was blown away when I first read about her and how she used education to open doors of opportunity for others,” Bledsoe says. “Her commitment to education, access and the community has inspired my work to this day.”
Bledsoe’s grandmother died at 97, but she lived long enough to see her favorite pupil earn three degrees: Bledsoe received a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, her MLS from SMU and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Southern California.

Candice Bledsoe and members of the SMU community shared their insights with students attending the Cutting Edge Youth Summit at SMU in April.

Her academic research explores the impact of race, gender and class in higher education contexts. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, New Leadership Academy, National Center for Institutional Diversity, University of Michigan and Boone Texas Project for Human Rights Education.
In 2013, she was honored with a Profiles of Community Leadership Award, presented by the SMU Women’s Symposium. The award celebrates the accomplishments of women who have made a significant impact on the city of Dallas and on the quality of life for women overall.
So much of what drives Bledsoe circles back to the example set by her grandmother and the wisdom she shared.
“She taught me that without a college education, my options would be limited, and that stuck with me,” she says.
It’s a message she stresses today when guiding aspiring college students.
The right mentor can make all the difference, says James Samuel ’19, a double major in political science and advertising at SMU. He’s in his thirties and met Bledsoe through her husband. Samuel had attended a Texas community college and was on the fence about pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
“I kept second-guessing myself and making excuses, like ‘I’m not ready’ or ‘I can’t afford it.’ Candice talked me through that. She told me I had to get out there and try.”
He did, and SMU has been a great fit for him.
“It’s like you become a member of the family at SMU. Everyone is so willing to help you succeed,” Samuel says. “When you show a passion for a subject, there is an army of people ready to help you pursue your goals. I never thought I’d have the opportunities I’ve had at SMU, and I’ll be forever grateful to Candice for her confidence in me.”

2018 Fall 2018 Features

Navigating the intersection of commerce and compassion

Neha Husein ’19 turned Just Drive, her mobile app that rewards users who lock their phones while driving, into a full-time career. In the summer, she’ll participate in a Women’s Business Enterprise National Council program in Washington, D.C., then return to Dallas to focus on building app usage and expanding rewards partnerships.
By Nancy Lowell George ’79
Neha Husein ’19 gripped the steering wheel as her car jolted forward, hit from behind on one of Dallas’ busiest and most dangerous freeways. Shaken, but not injured, the high school senior surveyed the significant damage to her car. The cause of the crash? The driver behind her was texting while driving.
The SMU senior admits to being “a little paranoid” on the road since that 2014 collision. That unease eventually inspired her to develop Just Drive, a mobile app that awards points to drivers who lock their phones while driving. Users redeem points for coupons and gift cards for food, drinks and merchandise.
In less than a year, Husein piloted Just Drive from a class assignment into a viable startup. Along the way, SMU’s innovation ecosystem put her on track for success. Her venture won financial awards from SMU, and faculty mentors helped steer her in the right direction. She even tapped into the Mustang alumni network to bring her idea to life.
Her enterprising spirit also shines through in her academic passions. She’s a double major in marketing in the Cox School of Business and human rights in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. “People sometimes question my combination of majors,” Husein says. “When they do, I point out that so much of my campus involvement – everything from planning and organizing cultural awareness events to serving as the social media and marketing coordinator for the Embrey Human Rights Program – demonstrates how beautifully they mesh together.”
In fact, her mobile app started out as a paper for her “Ethics and Human Rights” class, taught by Brad Klein, associate director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights program. A requirement for human rights majors, the course examines ethics as part of everyday life, work and relationships. The final project challenges students to develop something that will benefit society and create a proposal for implementation.
“Neha came to class with an embryo of an idea based on an experience that touched her deeply,” Klein says. “I encourage students to develop projects that match their skills. As a marketing major, she brought the skills to develop and market an app. By the end of the class she had everything in place – goals, timeline, funding, partnerships.”
She also had a new identity as a social entrepreneur.
Husein aims to change drivers’ behavior through positive reinforcement. Just Drive users collect points that can be redeemed for products and services, so they are rewarding themselves for resisting the temptation to use their phones.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT), one in five car crashes in 2017 was attributable to people behind the wheel not paying attention while they were driving, and cellphone use was a top reason. Distracted driving resulted in 100,687 accidents, 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries.
It is now illegal for drivers to read, write or send a text and drive in Texas, but many can’t seem to break their bad habits. The state has issued hundreds of citations and thousands of warnings since the law went into effect last fall.
TXDoT statistics show that drivers ages 16 to 34 are most likely to text while driving, but Husein is betting the app will appeal to all ages. “Expecting incentives is a generational thing, but it’s a human thing, too,” she says. “People enjoy rewards.”
Her incentive-based approach struck a chord with judges at SMU’s Big Ideas pitch contest, where she won $1,000 for her 90-second elevator speech about her app. The multi-stage competition is part of SMU’s Engaged Learning program, a campus-wide experiential learning initiative that encourages students to turn their passions into signature projects.
Her project mentor, SMU law professor Keith Robinson, a specialist in patent, intellectual property (IP) and technology law, co-directs the Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation in SMU’s Dedman School of Law. He also teaches a class for law students on designing legal apps.
I like people who show initiative and are willing to bet on themselves,” says Robinson, who met weekly with Husein to discuss IP issues and trademark application. “Neha has developed an app for a relatable problem, one that can save lives.”

VIDEO – CBS DFW: SMU Launching Business Incubator To Support Big Ideas

Husein grew up with an entrepreneurial mindset. As a child, the Carrollton, Texas, native manned a toy cash register alongside her father at his convenience store. He was on hand to see his daughter present her business plan during the second stage of the Big iDdeas competition – and win $5,000 in seed funding.
“I had the biggest smile in the room,” says her father, Malik Husein. “I am so proud of her.”
Memories of her father pulling over to offer assistance whenever he saw someone on the roadside with car trouble influenced her desire to help others, she says. Husein counts herself fortunate to have grown up in a multigenerational household, with the support and guidance of her parents and two sets of grandparents.
Her SMU activities reflect her caring spirit and the examples of community engagement she grew up with. Husein begins her third year as a resident adviser at Kathy Crow Commons this fall. She was the president of Circle K International service organization and has performed community service as a Caswell Leadership Fellow and Human Rights Community Outreach Fellow. She is also a Hilltop Scholar, which recognizes academic achievement and commitment to service, and a McNair Scholar, a University undergraduate research program.

“People sometimes question my combination of majors. When they do, I point out that so much of
my campus involvement – everything from planning and organizing cultural awareness events to serving
as the social media and marketing coordinator for the Embrey Human Rights Program – demonstrates
how beautifully they mesh together.”

In March, Husein was invited to share Just Drive on one of the world’s biggest stages for entrepreneurs, South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin. Red Bull selected Husein and seven other Texas college students to participate in its SXSW Launch Institute, a three-day workshop filled with one-on-one mentoring, idea pitching and media training.
“I was able to refine my pitch and iron out some of the details about Just Drive that I hadn’t even thought about,” she says.
She also experienced a game-changing transformation.
My mindset shifted from student to entrepreneur,” she says. “Instead of introducing myself as a college student and handing out my résumé, I began handing out my business card.”
In the spring, she focused on moving her concept into development. A mutual friend introduced her to Jayce Miller ’16, ’18, a software engineer at Toyota Connected by day and an app wizard by night. Miller, who earned undergraduate degrees in accounting and math as well as a master’s degree in computer science from SMU, has enjoyed the creative challenge.
“We’ve had to find the right balance between ease of use and control,” he explains. “Some similar apps go to the extreme, making it almost impossible to use your phone at all. Others basically give you points regardless, so that defeats the purpose. Our goal is to make something that people will use again and again, which also encourages the safe driving goal.”
He applauds Husein for laying the groundwork for a strong launch. “It could be the best piece of technology in the world, but it only matters if people know about it, and Neha has done a fine job of getting people interested.”
She credits her Cox affiliation with helping her stand out at networking events. “It’s so easy to connect with someone who has taken the same managerial accounting course, from the same professor, as you,” she says.
Over the summer, she pitched prospective restaurant and retail partners when she wasn’t working as a business systems analyst intern for global marketing giant Epsilon in Irving, Texas.
Her goal is to have a consumer-ready app before the end of the year and expand it beyond the Dallas area.
“After graduation, I hope to create an ambassadorship program at local high schools, colleges and driving schools to emphasize the importance of undistracted driving,” she says. “I also hope to continue to upgrade and promote Just Drive until distracted driving becomes a thing of the past.”

2018 Alumni August Main 2018 News

A scientist’s exhilarating expedition to the land of fire and ice

Geothermal scientist Andrés Ruzo ’09 is described as “a restless spirit” whose passions for science and adventure drive the online photo essays he creates for National Geographic. In the first of the four-part series, he talks about what sparked his interest in the rugged land of fire and ice – Iceland. Ruzo earned undergraduate degrees from SMU in finance and geology and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

I’ve always dreaded the question, “Where are you from?” For me there is no easy answer. My life has always varied among Peru, Nicaragua, and the United States. I am Peruvian on my dad’s side, Nicaraguan on my mom’s side, and I live in the U.S. My life continues to be shaped by all three countries.

My first real link to geothermal science started as a kid in Nicaragua. My big, agricultural family is from northern Nicaragua and, among other things, we grow coffee on the Casita Volcano. Some of my most vivid childhood memories happened there.

As a child, I would regularly spend my summers on the coffee farm, playing with my cousins in the jungles on the flank of the volcano. My favorite place was the Casita’s geothermal field, which is full of fumaroles (steaming openings in the ground emitting hot, volcanic gases) and hot springs. There, the intensity of earth’s heat made it impossible for trees to grow, and the area seemed barren compared to the lush jungle surrounding it. We would throw things in fumaroles and watch the steam blast them away. We’d throw hot geothermal mud at each another. Once, we even cooked eggs in a hot spring.

Read more at National Geographic

2018 August 2018 News

Gearing up for a great school year on the Hilltop

The beginning of the new school year is just around the corner, and faculty, staff and returning students are preparing to welcome the Class of 2022 to the Hilltop.
Here are some important dates to remember in the coming weeks:

2018 August 2018 News

Gala to support Meadows Museum’s educational mission

SMU’s Meadows Museum will present its first-ever gala, “The Color of Dreams,” on Saturday, October 13, to raise funds to endow a director of education position. The theme is inspired by the art of Salvador Dalí, whose paintings will be on view in Dalí: Poetics of the Small, 1929-1936, opening at the museum on September 9.The gala will be chaired by Pilar Henry, with Peggy ’72 and Carl Sewell ’66 serving as honorary chairs. With decor by Fleurt by Margaret Ryder, the black-tie event will kick off with a cocktail reception on the plaza featuring dance performances by SMU students and an exclusive musical performance, followed by a seated dinner in the Museum’s galleries catered by Cassandra Fine Catering. After dinner, the evening will continue with live music by Cuvee and dancing.
Mark Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum, said the new endowment will “ensure strong leadership of the museum’s education and outreach efforts in perpetuity, establishing a healthy financial base from which to recruit and retain the highest-quality staff and allowing the museum to direct more resources toward its exceptional programming endeavors.”
The Meadows Museum’s education director plays a significant role in the life of the museum, he said, interpreting the art to make it understood by audiences that range from scholars to children to adults. In addition, they generate all the tours, programming, lectures and educational infrastructure, and are knowledgeable about the permanent collections as well as visiting exhibitions. They also work with departments throughout the University and collaborate with institutions throughout the world.
The museum annually hosts thousands of visitors, teachers, and K-12 and SMU students through symposia, lectures, workshops, gallery talks and guided tours. “For many school students who come through the museum, it’s the first time they’ve stepped on a campus or visited a fine arts museum,” Roglán says. Additionally, it has received recognition for its accessible programming and resources that welcome audiences of all abilities, with a particular focus on adults with early stage dementia and their care partners, and visitors who are blind or have low vision.
Endowment of the director of education position, currently held by Scott Winterrowd, will liberate funds used now to cover his salary to enable us to expand and better focus our offerings for our SMU audiences,” he says. “With the allocation of resources toward campus partnerships, we can ensure that large portions of SMU students are engaging in learning at the museum and can create new initiatives that forward the mission of the museum and University.”
Find more information about the gala, including sponsorship opportunities, at the Meadows Museum.

2018 August 2018 News

Wanted: Talented disruptors and innovative companies

The Dallas Regional Chamber, Accenture, SMU and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas released the results of the DFW Regional Innovation Study, which provides a strategy roadmap to accelerate the growth of North Texas’ innovation economy and bolster its reputation as a hub for innovation excellence.
The study – a six-month-long research project that included stakeholder interviews and analysis of the DFW economy and other global cities — found that the region’s thriving innovation economy results from the diversity of its industries, a skilled and growing workforce, a collection of accelerators and co-working spaces, investment capital, robust academic institutions, and top-ranked arts and culture scenes. The results also suggest that there is additional opportunity to bolster the region’s reputation as a magnet for innovation into the future.
However, it notes that staying ahead of the curve in today’s digital era — with the rapid pace of change and fierce competition — requires that a successful innovation economy combine several key ingredients: growing and flooding the ecosystem with the right talent; creating areas of density for that talent to “collide” to generate creative and innovative ideas; and providing access to funding and resources to allow those ideas to flourish and scale.
Read more at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

2018 August 2018 News

Breakthrough: Physicists observe another piece of the cosmic puzzle

In a breakthrough development, SMU’s Stephen Sekula and his group of researchers in the SMU Department of Physics were part of the ATLAS Experiment team to first observe the direct interaction between the Higgs boson and the bottom quark. This major milestone is an important step toward understanding the origins of mass.
The discovery of the latest piece of the cosmic puzzle was helped along by Sekula’s recent work involving an abundance of data from the Large Hadron Collider, the most powerful particle accelerator in the world.
“At this point, taking more data wasn’t the primary issue,” explains Sekula. “This is a measurement that’s challenged by the fact that you can’t see clearly what is in the data. For the past year, we have been focused on improving the lens for this process so we really know where to look for the Higgs boson-bottom quark interaction.”
This is where SMU’s supercomputer, ManeFrame II, came into play. “In the last year, Maneframe II has been immensely helpful,” says Sekula. “It made it possible to enhance our simulation in ways that were more targeted.”
Read more at Dedman College.

2018 August 2018 News

Mild cognitive workout may be best for concussion recovery

A new pilot study by SMU scientists indicates that simple cognitive tasks performed as early as four days after a brain injury activate the region that improves memory function and may guard against developing depression or anxiety.
Currently, guidelines recommend that traumatic brain injury patients get plenty of rest and avoid physical and cognitive activity until symptoms subside.
But a new SMU study looking at athletes with concussions suggests total inactivity may not be the best way to recover after all.
“Right now, if you have a concussion the directive is to have complete physical and cognitive rest, no activities, no social interaction, to let your brain rest and recover from the energy crisis as a result of the injury,” said SMU physiologist Sushmita Purkayastha, who led the research, which was funded by the Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.
“But what we saw, the student athletes came in on approximately the third day of their concussion and the test was not stressful for them. None of the patients complained about any symptom aggravation as a result of the task. Their parasympathetic nervous system — which regulates automatic responses such as heart rate when the body is at rest — was activated, which is a good sign,” said Purkayastha, an assistant professor in the Department of Applied Physiology and Wellness.
Read more at SMU Research.

2018 August 2018 News

Student-athlete earns points for good works

Senior football player Jordan Wyatt ’19 was selected as a nominee for the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
The student-athletes nominated for the honor were announced by the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).
To qualify, nominees not only demonstrate a unique dedication to community service and desire to make a positive impact on the lives around them, but they also show tremendous perseverance as well as the ability to overcome personal struggles and come out victorious against all odds.
Wyatt has participated in various community service activities at SMU, including visits to youth clinics and participation in Habitat for Humanity projects.
The 22 finalists will be named in September. Afterward, fans will be able to vote for the Good Works Team Captain.
Read more at SMU Athletics.

2018 Alumni August 2018 News

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Enjoy this roundup of interesting videos and stories highlighting some of the people and events making news on the Hilltop.

2018 Fall 2018 July 2018 Main News

Bringing ‘Sea Monsters’ to life in D.C.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will open a new exhibition November 9,  revealing how millions of years ago, large-scale natural forces created the conditions for real-life sea monsters to thrive in the South Atlantic Ocean basin shortly after it formed. Sea Monsters Unearthed: Life in Angola’s Ancient Seas will offer visitors the opportunity to dive into Cretaceous Angola’s cool coastal waters, examine the fossils of striking marine reptiles that once lived there and learn about the forces that continue to mold life in the ocean and on land.
Over 134 million years ago, the South Atlantic Ocean basin did not yet exist. Africa and South America were one contiguous landmass on the verge of separating. As the two continents drifted apart, an entirely new marine environment — the South Atlantic — emerged in the vast space created between them. This newly formed ocean basin would soon be colonized by a dizzying array of ferocious predators and an abundance of other lifeforms seizing the opportunity presented by a new ocean habitat.
“Because of our planet’s ever-shifting geology, Angola’s coastal cliffs contain the fossil remains of marine creatures from the prehistoric South Atlantic,” said Kirk Johnson, the Sant Director of the museum. “We are honored by the generosity of the Angolan people for sharing a window into this part of the Earth’s unfolding story with our visitors.”
Read more at SMU Research

2018 Alumni Fall 2018 July 2018 News

Congratulations to the XPRIZE team!

A puzzle-solving smartphone game designed by SMU and Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) experts to teach struggling adults to read was today named one of five finalists in an international competition. Codex: The Lost Words of Atlantis is a finalist for the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
A recent pilot study at SMU found that low-literate, English-language learner adults who played the game for two or more hours a week significantly improved their literacy skills after eight weeks. Anecdotal evidence also shows their improved reading skills also have improved their lives, ranging from a grandmother who finally gained the confidence to speak with her granddaughter in English, to co-workers who praised a participant’s improved language skills.
“Clearly we are very proud to have advanced in this important competition,” says Stephanie Knight, dean of SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, which provided faculty expertise in the literacy and instructional design  of the game. “We are committed to finding a successful, accessible teaching tool for low-literacy adults. And we know we are on the right track when we hear that one of our study participants gets to hear her children clap every time her reading skills improve enough for her to advance in the game.”
Finalists were selected based on field-testing performance. The SMU-LIFT team will be recognized Saturday, June 23 at the American Library Association annual meeting in New Orleans, along with the other finalists. Each finalist will be awarded a $100,000 prize.
In January 2019, X-Prize will present the team with the most effective app with $3 million, plus $1 million apiece to the apps with the best performance among native English speakers and non-native speakers.
Read more about People ForWords in SMU Magazine.

2018 July 2018 News

Game on: Esports event debuts in September

SMU Guildhall, the top ranked graduate school for video game design in the world, in collaboration with eGency Global, one of North America’s most experienced esports production, marketing and talent management firms, have announced the launch of OP Live Dallas — a premier esports event featuring high-level professional competition, a 16-team collegiate tournament, a hackathon for high-schoolers and a showcase for the work of SMU Guildhall master’s degree candidates in interactive technology.
OP Live Dallas will run September 22-23, 2018 on the main floor of the Irving Convention Center in Irving, Texas.
“We are excited to be part of this collaborative effort with eGency Global,” said Mark Nausha, Deputy Director of GameLab at SMU Guildhall. “OP Live will be interactive, immersive, and unique from typical esports events. We look forward to bringing this awesome fan experience to the Dallas area.”
Through their collaboration, eGency Global and SMU Guildhall will offer esports fans a unique and more robust experience than traditional esports events, the collaborators say. Beyond the interactive and engaging experience, OP Live Dallas will also showcase the multitude of career opportunities available to video game and esports devotees. SMU Guildhall alumni work for the biggest names in the video gaming industry, as well as in gamification sectors in a multitude of other industries like tech, education, business and medical.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 July 2018 News

A win-win for Mustangs and local heroes

Honor those who serve our country and communities by purchasing football tickets through the 7-Eleven Seats for Heroes program, and make plans to attend the Salute to Our Heroes game on September 22 against Navy and the First Responders Appreciation game against Houston Baptist on September 29 during Family Weekend.
Read more and purchase tickets at SMU Athletics.

2018 July 2018 News

‘The universal language of kindness’

Mission trips are about leaving a place better than you found it, building relationships, appreciating a different culture and discovering a new perspective. In May, a group of student-athletes and staff did just that while helping the village of Silver Creek in Belize as Courts for Kids volunteers.
For some, it was the first time outside of the United States. For others, it was the first time without vacation plans or an athletics team jersey to compete in scheduled games or events. The trip only lasted 10 days, but the adventure will have a lifelong impact on both the people of Silver Creek and the travelers from SMU.
Swimmer Keegan Pho said about the time in Silver Creek, “Living in Silver Creek Village allowed me to experience and become immersed in a different culture. I will be forever changed. There is something special about the universal language of kindness.”
Swimmer Nathan Ciatti described the as transformative. “I am walking away from a 10-day service trip with lifelong friends that I am interconnected with on a whole different level than my teammates and other friends back home… Throughout our many nightly conversations after dinner, it was very evident that this trip heavily impacted all of us.”
Read more at SMU Athletics.

2018 July 2018 News

For some, it’s not just about the music

Higher empathy people appear to process music like a pleasurable proxy for a human encounter — in the brain regions for reward, social awareness and regulation of social emotions, according to a study by researchers at SMU and UCLA.
The researchers found that compared to low empathy people, those with higher empathy process familiar music with greater involvement of the reward system of the brain, as well as in areas responsible for processing social information.
“High-empathy and low-empathy people share a lot in common when listening to music, including roughly equivalent involvement in the regions of the brain related to auditory, emotion, and sensory-motor processing,” said lead author Zachary Wallmark, an assistant professor in the SMU Meadows School of the Arts.
But there is at least one significant difference.
Highly empathic people process familiar music with greater involvement of the brain’s social circuitry, such as the areas activated when feeling empathy for others. They also seem to experience a greater degree of pleasure in listening, as indicated by increased activation of the reward system.
Read more at SMU Research.

2018 July 2018 News

Big idea: Nanoscale surgical robots

MinJun Kim builds the type of “nanoscale transformers” that once existed only in the vivid imaginations of science fiction writers. Kim, a professor of mechanical engineering and the Robert C. Womack Chair in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, creates tiny robots “that may one day perform surgery, deliver drugs directly to tumors and help doctors see what’s happening inside the body’s hardest-to-reach spaces,” according to a story published by The Dallas Morning News on June 1, 2018.

By Anna Kuchment
Science Writer
The Dallas Morning News

MinJun Kim says he “got a shock” in graduate school when he discovered the science fiction film Fantastic Voyage.

In the movie, a submarine crew shrinks down to miniature size and travels through a scientist’s body to save him from a dangerous blood clot in his brain.

Today, Kim builds robots the size of particles, viruses and microbes that are capable of doing many of the same things as the Fantastic Voyage crew. He creates tiny devices — about 500 times thinner than a human hair — that may one day perform surgery, deliver drugs directly to tumors and help doctors see what’s happening inside the body’s hardest-to-reach spaces.

“They are kind of like nanoscale transformers,” says Kim, 46,  a professor at SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. He’s a fan of sci-fi and credits films like Fantastic VoyageInner Space and Big Hero 6 for inspiring his work. He was surprised that the makers of Fantastic Voyage, which came out in 1966, could have foreseen many of the projects he’s working on today.

Read the full story.

2018 July 2018 News

Crunching data to crush bacteria

Peng Tao, assistant professor in SMU’s Department of Chemistry, received the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award to support his research in fighting antimicrobial resistance. Tao’s innovative strategy involves developing computational methods and an advanced theoretical framework to predict protein evolution.
“There are a special group of proteins called beta-lactamases in bacteria causing infections,” explains Tao. “The main function of these proteins is destroying antibiotics. And these proteins evolve very quickly leading to so-called ‘superbugs’. We are developing theoretical models to understand how these proteins carry out their functions as machines and predict how these machines may evolve when encountering new antibiotics. If successful, our models could be used by other researchers and pharmaceutical companies to develop new generation of antibiotics with low or even no antimicrobial resistance.”
The insight this research yields will have instrumental applications in the advancement of biomedical and pharmaceutical development.
In addition, Tao and his team are equipping and encouraging future scientists by developing online educational tools and conducting social media outreach to make science education more widely available for students and general public.
Read more at the National Science Foundation.

2018 July 2018 News

Research and mentorship honored

Paleobotanist Bonnie Jacobs, professor in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, has been named a Paleontological Society Fellow for her contributions to the field of Cenozoic paleobotany as well as her stellar mentorship of students and postdoctoral researchers. She was particularly lauded for her transformative research on the Cenozoic vegetation and climate of Africa.
“The research I am working on with colleagues and students is aimed at understanding how tropical ecosystems in Africa came to be what they are today, and more specifically, how they were impacted in the past by global climate changes, first and foremost,” explains Jacobs. “I am always thrilled by the discovery of new fossils, but the most joyful, rewarding part of my work comes from friendships developed through shared experiences in the field, and through collaboration in research. There is great fun in that, and in learning from others, including postdocs and students. The work and these relationships have been and are a tremendous part of my life, I am very grateful for that, and it is what makes the honor of this award so sweet.”
The Paleontological Society selects fellows who have made significant contributions to paleontology through research, teaching, or service to the profession. Jacobs has been a member of the Paleontological Society for more than a decade and is one of three fellows to be elected this year.

2018 Alumni Fall 2018 July 2018

Plunging into green engineering

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2018 Alumni July 2018

From Big D to the Big Apple

Dancer Kelly Zitka ’15 intended to land a job in marketing, but the allure of the stage won out. SMU Meadows recently profiled the up-and-coming performer who has added acting and singing to her repertoire with an eye toward a career in musical theater on Broadway.

By Diamond Victoria

Launching from the classroom to the Big Apple, Meadows alumna Kelly Zitka knows that perseverance and a little spontaneity can help to find footing in the world of performance art.

The dance and business major now calls New York home, and is learning more about the world of dance theater through rigorous training and auditioning. Staying in New York for good, however, was never part of her original plan. But with growing insight into her art, Zitka is betting that risking uncertainty can pay off.

Zitka traveled to New York at the end of January for what she considered a temporary refresher in dance training and auditioning. “It was kind of a spontaneous decision and I thought I would only stay for a month. But now, I’m not sure if I plan on leaving,” she says.

Read more at SMU Meadows.

2018 Alumni July 2018 News

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Enjoy this roundup of interesting videos and stories highlighting some of the people and events making news on the Hilltop.

2018 June 2017 Main June Main 2018 News

Congratulations to the Class of 2018, our newest alumni!

At the all-University Commencement ceremony on May 19, featured speaker Randall L. Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, challenged members of the Class of 2018 to “make every effort not to live your life in a straight line.” The day was filled with hugs, laughter and pony ears as the new graduates looked back on their four exciting years on the Hilltop and forward to their futures as world changers.
Since rising to the position of CEO in 2007, Stephenson has guided AT&T through a number of major milestones, including the ongoing acquisition of Time Warner, the 2015 acquisition of DIRECTV, and the purchase of Mexican wireless companies to create a North American network.
Stephenson also has led AT&T’s breakthrough “It Can Wait” campaign – an awareness program educating drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. The program has amassed more than 19 million pledges of support.
“We are honored to have a pioneering business and technology leader of Mr. Stephenson’s stature as featured speaker at Commencement,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He is a striking example of what can be accomplished when someone possesses a clear vision of where they want to go. I know he will inspire each of our graduating students to form their own grand vision of what they want to accomplish in their lives with the knowledge they’ve acquired at SMU.”
AT&T contributed $2.5 million to SMU in 2016 to endow the AT&T Center for Virtualization and fund its research into the fast, reliable cloud-based telecommunications necessary for global activity. SMU and AT&T have also partnered with other organizations to create the Payne Stewart SMU Golf Training Center at the Trinity Forest Golf Club, which will become home to the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson this year and annually host NCAA invitational tournaments and additional high-profile professional and amateur events.
Stephenson began his career with Southwestern Bell Telephone in 1982 in Oklahoma. He served as the company’s senior executive vice president and chief financial officer from 2001 to 2004, and from 2004 to 2007 as chief operating officer. He was appointed to AT&T’s board of directors in 2005.
Stephenson is a member of the PGA TOUR Policy Board and National Chairman of the Boy Scouts of America. He received his B.S. in accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and his Master of Accountancy from the University of Oklahoma.
SMU awarded more than 2,500 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in the University-wide ceremony. The University’s individual schools and departments hosted diploma ceremonies throughout the day.
Related coverage:

2018 Fall 2018 June 2018 News

Preparing legal leaders for a changing world

Combined gifts of $4 million will create the new Robert B. Rowling Center for Business Law and Leadership in SMU’s Dedman School of Law to train the next generation of prominent legal and business leaders and influence national conversations surrounding business and corporate law.
At the request of an anonymous donor who made the lead gift, the center is being named in honor of Dallas businessman Robert B. Rowling, owner and Chairman of TRT Holdings, Inc., which is the holding company for the Omni Hotels and Resorts chain as well as Gold’s Gym International. He received an undergraduate degree in business before graduating from SMU’s Dedman School of Law in 1979.
The lead donor asked Mr. Rowling the favor of sharing his name with the new center to reflect that Mr. Rowling exemplifies the type of business achievement, community engagement and civic contribution that future participants in the center’s programs should strive to emulate.
“Bob Rowling is the perfect example of the combined skills that will be the focus of the new center,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Today’s law students will be navigating careers that we cannot even imagine at the moment. They need training in ethical leadership, business analytics and entrepreneurship to develop the skills they will need to be successful. The Rowling Center has a role to play in shaping the future of business and corporate law.”
The Rowling Center will enrich the School’s existing curriculum, and include new leadership training to highlight professionalism and “soft skills,” as well as empirical training to teach core business skills. The program will build on the legal and business acumen centered in Dallas, collaborating with SMU’s Cox School of Business to provide an interdisciplinary approach. The center also will enhance Dedman Law’s mentoring program and provide new opportunities for students to connect with SMU’s extensive network of highly successful alumni and supporters.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 June 2018 News

SMU continues its climb

Continuing The Ascent: Recommendations for Enhancing the Academic Quality and Stature of Southern Methodist University, a report by SMU President R. Gerald Turner and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven C. Currall, presents a set of 14 bold recommendations for further raising SMU’s standing relative to other universities.
“This is our time to rise even higher,” Turner said. “There’s more to do to strengthen our already fine academic quality, and to bolster our local, national and global impact.”
The recommendations, discussed and vetted for more than a year among the SMU community via task force work, forums and town halls, address four categories:

  • Enhancing the Quality of Undergraduates and Their Educational Experience
  • Strengthening Faculty, Research and Creative Impact at SMU
  • Enhancing the Quality of Graduate Students and Their Educational Experience
  • Deepening Innovative Community Partnerships and Engagement

Each recommendation briefly compares SMU with its peers and aspirants, and includes estimated costs.
“The SMU Community contributed extensively to, and informed the development of our recommendations,” Currall said. “This report represents our collective vision of SMU’s futureand how to further elevate SMU’s excellence in scholarship, creative activity, teaching, and societal impact.”
Read Continuing the Ascent.

2018 Fall 2018 June 2018 News

Powering achievement across the Hilltop

2018 Alumni Fall 2018 June 2018

Jasmine Liu ’18 discovers her future in the stars

Jasmine Liu ’18 came to the Hilltop from Fuzhou No. 5 High School in Fuzhou, China, to major in accounting and physics and intended to pursue a career in the corporate world. However, after joining physicist Robert Kehoe’s research team, she was star struck. Fueled by SMU’s high-performance computing power, her work helped reveal a variable star in the Pegasus constellation. Now she sees graduate school in either astrophysics or astronomy in her future.

Story by Kathleen Tibbetts
Invisible to the naked eye, the variable star ROTSE1 J000831.43+223154.8 flickers in the northern sky. It hides within an ancient star map formed, it was said, when the king of the gods transformed his most heroic steed into a constellation.
For Jasmine Liu ’18 – an SMU physics student and Hamilton Undergraduate Research Scholar – it represents a crowning achievement in her University career.
As a student living in Dallas, it was fitting that her work helped unveil a variable star in the Pegasus constellation. The city of Dallas long ago adopted the winged horse of Greek song and story as its own – not as a myth but as a symbol of striving, of inspiration, of looking ever upward.
It seems especially appropriate for Liu, who found her calling in the night sky after arriving in Dallas to study business.
Liu came to the Hilltop from Fuzhou No. 5 High School in Fuzhou, China to major in accounting and physics. With a degree from SMU’s Cox School of Business in hand, she planned to return home after graduation and pursue a career in the corporate world, as both her parents had.
But Liu, a math lover, soon discovered that she didn’t find the arithmetic of accounting quite challenging enough. And she was questioning the wisdom of trying to manage double majors in business and one of the natural sciences. “It just left me a little too busy,” she says.
By her second summer in Dallas, she’d made her next big discovery: the opportunity to work with SMU physicist Robert Kehoe in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences as a 2016 Hamilton Undergraduate Research Scholar. A long discussion with Dr. Kehoe about cosmology and astrophysics convinced her to take on work as his undergraduate research assistant.
“I really wanted to give it a shot,” she says. “I could have spent the summer doing nothing, but it seemed really meaningful to do this instead.”
Read more at SMU News.
2018 Fall 2018 June 2018 News

SMU names new Board officers and members

Three new officers and three new trustees were named to SMU’s Board of Trustees during the board’s spring meeting on May 4. The Board also passed a resolution to honor two former members as trustees emeriti.
Robert H. Dedman, Jr. ’80, ’84 has been elected as chair, David B. Miller ’72, ’73 was elected as vice-chair, and Kelly Hoglund Compton ’79 was elected as secretary. Officers are elected for one-year terms and are eligible for re-election up to four consecutive terms in any respective office.
The new officers will begin their one-year terms on June 1, and preside over the September 14 meeting of the Board of Trustees.
New trustee Bradley W. Brookshire ’76 will fill the vacancy left by the death of longtime SMU trustee Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler ’48. The Board’s new ex officio faculty representative is Faculty Senate President Dayna Oscherwitz, French area chair in the Department of World Languages and Literatures, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Ben Manthey ’09, ’19 will serve as ex officio student trustee.
Concluding their board service are Paul Krueger, past-president of the SMU Faculty Senate and professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering; and student trustee Andrew B. Udofa ’18.
The SMU Board of Trustees also passed a resolution naming Linda Pitts Custard ’60, ’99 and Alan D. Feld ’57, ’60 as trustees emeriti.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 Fall 2018 June 2018 News

Understanding modern research libraries from the ground up

University of Connecticut Associate Dean of Libraries Holly Jeffcoat, a leader in the use of technology in instruction and library services, has been selected as the next dean of SMU Libraries. She will assume her new duties August 1, 2018.
“Holly Jeffcoat has deep leadership skills, as well as broad administrative experience in the library system of a highly ranked research institution,” said SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven C. Currall. “She will lead SMU Libraries in forging a collective vision in line with SMU’s goals for even greater academic quality.”
SMU President R. Gerald Turner lauded Jeffcoat’s strategic vision.
“Holly is wonderfully forward thinking in her understanding of the role of technology in libraries now and in the future,” Turner said.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 Alumni June 2018

Honoring the achievements of business alumni

The SMU Cox School of Business honored four alumni at the school’s annual Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni Awards Luncheon hosted on May 11 at the Collins Executive Center on the SMU campus.
Pictured from left are Clark Hunt ’87, Kris Lowe ’04, ’14, James M. “Jim” Johnston ’70, ’71 and Jeff Owens ’01, ’02.
SMU Cox Distinguished Alumni 2018
Clark Hunt (BBA ’87) is the chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League and FC Dallas of Major League Soccer. He is a leading voice among NFL owners and a founding investor-operator in Major League Soccer. His love of soccer was evident in college, as he served as captain of what was then the Mustangs’ nationally-ranked soccer team. He was a four-year letterman, and graduated first in his class at SMU, graduating in 1987 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. Hunt has served as a member of the SMU Board of Trustees since 2004, and he’s a longtime member of the Cox Executive Board. In 2004, the Cox School honored Hunt as an Outstanding Young Alumnus. With the 2018 award as Distinguished Alumnus, Hunt becomes only the third alumnus in SMU Cox history to receive both accolades.
James M. “Jim” Johnston (BBA ’70, MBA ’71) became president of Methodist Health System Foundation in November 2016. Before joining the Methodist Foundation, Johnston was a 40-year mainstay in the Dallas banking industry. He began his career at Republic Bank of Texas, where he held various corporate executive positions. Later, he was named regional chair of Frost Bank, and subsequently, he served as board vice chair for Bank of Texas. He came to SMU on a football scholarship, and became not only a star player, but a dedicated student. Johnston completed his BBA in Marketing in 1970, and went on to earn an MBA in Finance the following year. He has served as chair of the SMU Mustang Club, the Lettermen’s Association, the Planned Giving Council and the Athletics Hall of Fame. He currently serves on the Cox Executive Board.
SMU Cox Outstanding Young Alumni 2018
Kris Lowe (BBA ’04, EMBA ’14) is a director in the Dallas office of HFF, a U.S. and European commercial real estate capital intermediary. In his four years at HFF, he’s participated in the execution of more than $5.5 billion in commercial real estate transactions. Before he went to work for HFF, Lowe served for seven years as the CFO of SMU Athletics. During that time, he got his Executive MBA degree, the second of two degrees he earned from SMU Cox. His first was his Bachelor of Business Administration in 2004. He was originally recruited to SMU to play basketball, and remained with the Mustangs through college. Today, Lowe is active with the Cox Folsom Institute for Real Estate, serving on its executive and associate boards.
Jeff Owens (BBA ’01, MSA ’02) is a partner at Armanino, the fastest growing public accounting firm and one of the top 25 largest accounting and business firms in the country. He leads the Dallas audit department and concentrates on serving the nonprofit and technology sectors. Owens started his career working with KPMG in Sydney, Australia. He earned his BBA in 2001 and the next year, graduated with his Master of Science in Accounting—both at the Cox School. He stays active with SMU and serves on the Cox School Accounting Department’s Alumni and Professional Advisory Board.

2018 June 2018 News

Mustangs come through with flying colors

More than 10,000 donors supported SMU in 2017–2018, creating extraordinary possibilities across the SMU community. Thank you for making the Horsepower Challenge such a success!

2018 Alumni Fall 2018 June 2018

Art in high gear: Julia Jalowiec ‘18

2018 January 2018 May 2018 News

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos speaks at SMU during Bush Center Forum

Jeff Bezos, chairman and CEO of Amazon, was the featured speaker at the Closing Conversation of the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Forum on Leadership, in partnership with SMU.
Described as “one of this generation’s leading visionaries,” Bezos talked about the ways in which he thinks our world will change and some of his most ambitious upcoming projects. Bush Center CEO Kenneth Hersh moderated the discussion on April 20 in Moody Coliseum.
The three-day Forum, hosted by President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, is an annual gathering to develop, recognize and celebrate leadership. This year’s Forum coincided with Founders’ Day Weekend, during which the University celebrated the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the SMU campus.

Photos of Founders’ Day Weekend 2018

2018 Fall 2018 May 2018 News

Rising to the challenge and exceeding expectations

A $400,000 challenge from longtime SMU supporters Carl Sewell ’66 and Peggy Higgins Sewell ’72 has generated more than $834,000 in gifts and pledges for merit-based scholarships combined with unique programming for academically gifted students in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
Dedman College Scholars are chosen to inspire their peers, challenge their professors and contribute to the university’s academic reputation. The new funding will allow SMU to offer 20 new four-year scholarships, effectively doubling the number available in past years.
“The Sewells’ call to action, and the response of 17 new donors and donor families who met their challenge, is giving us the opportunity to offer admission in fall 2018 to the largest group of Dedman Scholars in SMU history,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “These scholarships are a great opportunity for the recipients, but our Dedman Scholars also enrich the University as a whole.”
Carl Sewell, an SMU trustee, issued the challenge November 27, 2017, after the summer launch of the Pony Power initiative to raise more current-use funds for initiatives such as scholarships, faculty research and rewarding student experiences. The Sewells vowed to match every dollar in gifts and pledges up to $400,000 made by new donors to the Dedman College Scholars program by September 1; however new donors stepped up to meet the challenge and committed $434,614 before April 1.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 May 2018 News

Meadows Museum gala to support vital educational mission

The Meadows Museum will present its inaugural Masterpiece Gala, “The Color of Dreams,” on October 13 to establish an endowment for the museum’s director of education position. The event, presented by Sewell Automotive, will include cocktails, a seated dinner, world-class entertainment and dancing.
The endowment will ensure strong leadership of the museum’s education and outreach efforts in perpetuity, establishing a healthy financial base from which to recruit and retain the highest-quality staff and allowing the Museum to direct more resources toward its exceptional programming endeavors. The Meadows Museum annually hosts thousands of visitors, teachers and K-12 and SMU students through symposia, lectures, workshops, gallery talks, and guided tours.
Additionally, it has received recognition for its accessible programming and resources that welcome audiences of all abilities, with a particular focus on adults with early stage dementia and their care partners, and visitors who are blind or have low vision.
Underwriting opportunities are available. Please e-mail or call 214.768.4189 for information. Limited individual tickets will go on sale to the general public in September.
Read more at the Meadows Museum.

2018 Fall 2018 May 2018 News

A new campus drawing card begins to take shape

SMU celebrated the building of its new SMU Indoor Performance Center on April 14 during the annual Mustang spring football game. The 67,000-square-foot facility with its indoor practice field, training facilities and entertainment areas, slated to open in the spring of 2019, is a reflection of SMU’s commitment to a first-class and competitive athletic program.
“Opening onto Bishop Boulevard in the very heart of our campus, this facility will enhance the student-athlete experience, elevate our competitiveness and serve as an asset to the entire campus community,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.
Located at the corner of Bishop Boulevard and Binkley Avenue, the new center will be built on a site long dedicated to SMU Athletics. A basketball pavilion built in 1926 was replaced by the 1942 construction of the Perkins Gymnasium. The gymnasium was converted in 1957 to the Perkins Natatorium, home of SMU Swimming and Diving, which moved in 2017 to the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center on SMU’s East Campus. The new facility will continue the site’s historic legacy.
“The SMU Indoor Performance Center represents a tangible, visible investment in our ongoing vision to establish SMU Athletics as the best overall program in the American Athletic Conference,” said Director of Athletics Rick Hart.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 May 2018 News

Mustangs ready to kick off their NFL careers

Three teams tapped Mustang football standouts to join their rosters during the NFL Draft 2018 at AT&T Stadium, April 26–28. SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton was selected by the Denver Broncos as the eighth pick in the second round of the draft.  In the seventh round, defensive end Justin Lawler was picked by the Los Angeles Rams, and wide receiver Trey Quinn was chosen by the Washington Redskins.
The last time the Mustangs had multiple players selected in the draft was 2014, when Kenneth Acker went to the San Francisco 49ers and Garrett Gilbert to the then-St. Louis Rams. The three selections are the most since 2012 when Josh LeRibeus ’12 (Washington Redskins), Taylor Thompson ’12 (Tennessee Titans), Richard Crawford ’12 (Washington Redskins) and Kelvin Beachum ’11, ’12 (Pittsburgh Steelers) were chosen.
Sutton will  join former Mustang Emmanuel Sanders ’10 in Denver. He is the first second-round pick since Margus Hunt ’13 was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013. At No. 40 0verall, he is the highest-drafted Mustang since Rod Jones ’89 and Reggie Dupard ’99 were selected 25th and 26th, respectively, in 1986.
Sutton earned SB Nation All-America Honorable Mention accolades and was a first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection following his junior season. The Brenham, Texas, native ranked eighth nationally in receiving touchdowns with 12, while coming in at 21st in receiving yards (1,085) and 26th in receiving yards per game (83.5). He was second on the team with 68 receptions.
Read more about Sutton.
Lawler, the 244th overall pick, started all 13 games for the Mustangs at defensive end in 2017, helping SMU to seven wins and its first Bowl appearance since 2012. A first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection, Lawler was a member of the Ted Hendricks Award Final Watch List and earned a spot on Chuck Bednarik, Bronko Nagurski and Wuerffel Trophy preseason lists. Additionally, he was a nominee for the AFCA Good Works Team.
Quinn led the nation with 114 receptions and 8.8 per game en route to Pro Football Focus First-Team All-America honors. He was also a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Awards and earned first-team All-AAC accolades.
Read more at SMU Athletics.

2018 May 2018 News

Three cheers for our national champions!

SMU Cheer was awarded first place at the National Cheer Association’s national competition in Daytona, Florida, April 3–7. This is the squad’s third consecutive win.
The cheer squad competed in Division 1A against 16 college cheer teams from across the country. The first day of the event included the preliminary competition, where the six teams with the lowest scores were eliminated from the competition. On prelims day, SMU cheer performed a gameday routine, followed by a competitive routine filled with tumbling, stunts, and dancing.
Nate Williams, senior cheerleader, reminisced on his past performances on the bandshell at prelims and said that it is the most special stage he has ever performed on.
“There is something suspenseful about the elements that makes competing on the bandshell so unique,” Williams said. “In all of the major stages I have performed on throughout my cheer career, there’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of the bandshell. The ocean to your left, the hot sun beaming down on you and the sea breeze blowing. It’s an incredible experience.”
Read more at The Daily Campus.

2018 Fall 2018 May 2018 News

Faculty gift creates endowed chair in Cox

Andrew H. Chen and Elaine T. Chen have made a $2 million gift to the SMU Edwin L. Cox School of Business to establish The Andrew H. Chen Endowed Chair in Financial Investments Fund.
Andrew Chen, who retired as Professor Emeritus of Finance at SMU in 2012, said he and his wife wanted to ensure that the Cox School will continue to attract outstanding finance faculty.
The gift will include $1.5 million for the endowment of the faculty chair and $500,000 for operational support, which will enable immediate use of the position while the endowment vests.
“As a faculty member in the Finance Department, I focused much of my research and teaching in the areas of option pricing and options-related investment strategies, ” Andrew Chen said. “After retiring from my faculty position, I decided to put into practice what I had taught in the classroom and was fortunate enough to meet with some success. Elaine and I now find ourselves in the position of being able to make a useful contribution to the Cox School by setting up an endowed chair in financial investment. We hope that this new finance chair will further enhance the Cox Finance Department’s reputation and enable its holder to enjoy an excellent career at SMU, just as I did when I was a member of the Finance Department.”
Read more at SMU News.

2018 May 2018 News

New partnership amplifies economic research impact

The George W. Bush Institute and SMU are joining forces to launch the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative on June 1. This effort will combine the existing Economic Growth Initiative of the Bush Institute with the public policy-relevant work of the SMU Department of Economics. The objective is to build the initiative into a globally respected policy voice on the most pressing economic issues of our time.
“We have developed a close and successful relationship with SMU since the establishment of the Bush Institute nine years ago, and we are thrilled to partner with SMU on this joint initiative,” said Kenneth Hersh, President and CEO of the Bush Center. “Since its inception, the Bush Institute’s Economic Growth Initiative has promoted pro-growth economic policies on issues like trade and immigration. The addition of SMU will add a nationally recognized research partner to our work. Importantly, we will also be able to add expertise to broaden our scope.”
The Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative will promote policies to support domestic economic growth and strengthen our competitiveness in the global economy. The initiative will also highlight the benefits of continuing American economic leadership, global trade, immigration, and the economic vitality of cities and regions in our country. The new combined initiative will be supported by the George W. Bush Presidential Center Endowment at SMU that was established to support joint programming as well as funding from the Bush Institute, thereby enabling its work to begin immediately.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 May 2018 News

Center launches milestone study of prosecutorial charging practices

The Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at SMU Dedman School of Law is partnering with some of the nation’s leading criminal justice researchers to conduct the Prosecutorial Charging Practices Project, the center’s first data-driven criminal justice research project.
This project is an innovative, mixed-methods empirical study that is multi-jurisdictional. The Prosecutorial Charging Practices Project will provide a holistic account of prosecutors’ charging practices. Additionally, it will:

  • Produce descriptive and empirical information about the important factors that influence prosecutorial decision-making;
  • Evaluate how prosecutorial charging decisions affect cases as they progress through the criminal justice system; and
  • Provide a baseline against which to evaluate future prosecutorial practices.

“This research will represent the varied prosecutorial work of three district and/or county attorneys’ offices in discrete geographical locations, with different charging philosophies, said Pamela Metzger, director of the Deason Center and law professor at SMU . “We expect the results to be instructive in determining the relative effects of prosecutorial charging policies on case outcomes.”
Read more at Dedman School of Law.

2018 May 2018 News

NATO alliance survives through adaptability

“The main reason why NATO is the most successful alliance in history is that we have been able to change, to adapt, when the world is changing,” said Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, at a town hall on campus on April 5. The event was moderated by Provost Steven Currall and featured U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison.
During his address, Stoltenberg noted the University’s reputation as a center of academic excellence, stating “… the scientific work and the teaching which is taking place here is something really which is highly recognized and, therefore, is a special pleasure for me to visit SMU.”
In her remarks to SMU students, Hutcheson underscored NATO’s role as the cornerstone of U.S. and transatlantic security over the past 69 years. She recalled that NATO came to America’s defense following 9/11, invoking Article 5 – the collective defense clause of the Washington Treaty – for the first time in its history.
Stoltenberg and Hutcheson also met with former President George W. Bush.
During their two-day visit to Texas, they also visited the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II production plant in Fort Worth and Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, where many NATO allies participate in the Euro-NATO joint jet pilot training program.
See photos at SMU Facebook.

2018 Alumni May 2018 News

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Enjoy this roundup of interesting videos and stories highlighting some of the people and events making news on the Hilltop.

2018 April 2018 Main News

Game changer: SMU Indoor Performance Center

Come out to cheer on the Mustangs under new Head Coach Sonny Dykes at the annual spring football game in Ford Stadium on April 14 and be part of the celebration as halftime festivities kick off the construction of the SMU Indoor Performance Center, a new campus asset to enhance the student experience and elevate SMU’s competitiveness.

Gates will open at 10 a.m. The Mustang Kids’ Zone will also be set up in the south end zone, and fans can pick up 2018 schedule magnets and meet the coaches and players after the game. Parking and admission are free.

Along with on-field action at halftime, fans will be part of the celebration to mark the start of construction of the new training center. The SMU Indoor Performance Center represents a tangible, visible investment in the University’s vision to establish SMU Athletics as the best overall program in the American Athletic Conference. This facility will enhance the student experience, elevate our competitiveness and serve as an asset to the entire campus community.

More about the SMU Indoor Performance Center.

2018 April 2018

We appreciate your generosity, Mustangs!

Rest of story

2018 April 2018 News

AT&T CEO to deliver Commencement address

Randall L. Stephenson, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T, will be the featured speaker during SMU’s 103rd all-University Commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 19, in Moody Coliseum.
Since rising to the position of CEO in 2007, Stephenson has guided AT&T through a number of major milestones, including the ongoing acquisition of Time Warner, the 2015 acquisition of DIRECTV, and the purchase of Mexican wireless companies to create a North American network.
Stephenson also has led AT&T’s breakthrough “It Can Wait” campaign – an awareness program educating drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. The program has amassed more than 19 million pledges of support.
“We are honored to have a pioneering business and technology leader of Mr. Stephenson’s stature as featured speaker at Commencement,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He is a striking example of what can be accomplished when someone possesses a clear vision of where they want to go. I know he will inspire each of our graduating students to form their own grand vision of what they want to accomplish in their lives with the knowledge they’ve acquired at SMU.”
Read more at SMU News.

2018 April 2018 Fall 2018 News

A visionary approach to research and innovation

Dallas business leaders Linda Wertheimer Hart ’65 and Milledge (Mitch) A. Hart, III have committed a significant gift to the Gerald J. Ford Research and Innovation Building at SMU. The new facility will house the University’s Linda and Mitch Hart eCenter, which includes SMU Guildhall, the world’s top-ranked graduate game design program. The building will be located on SMU’s main campus at the corner of McFarlin Boulevard and Airline Road.
“Thanks to the Harts’ generosity, we are one step closer to creating a world-class center for research and innovation on our campus,” said R. Gerald Turner, president of SMU. “We are excited about the synergies we’ll derive from bringing advanced computer programs together under one roof.”
In 2000, the Harts made a generous gift to establish the Hart eCenter, currently located at SMU-in-Plano, as well as to endow the eCenter’s directorship. The Hart eCenter focuses on interdisciplinary research, education and innovation; it is the first university-wide initiative focused on interactive network technologies created at a major research university. Reporting directly to SMU’s provost, the Hart eCenter uses this freedom and flexibility to promote thought leadership at the intersections of multiple fields and disciplines.
The Hart eCenter’s most visible manifestation is SMU Guildhall. Since its founding in 2003, the program has graduated more than 700 students, who now work at more than 250 video game studios around the world. SMU Guildhall offers both a Master of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development degree and a Professional Certificate of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development, with specializations in Art, Design, Production and Programming. In 2017 and 2018, the Guildhall has been named the world’s “No. 1 Graduate Program for Game Design” by The Princeton Review, based on a survey of 150 institutions in the United States, Canada and abroad that offer game design coursework and/or degrees.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 April 2018 News

Expanding engineering know-how and possibilities

When Hamon Charitable Foundation board member Tom Souers read a Dallas Morning News article last June about an SMU Lyle School of Engineering summer camp for underrepresented students, it proved to be the spark behind a $2 million foundation gift to support expansion of the camps and create engineering scholarships for students who attend them.
The camp opportunities and scholarships are aimed at inspiring students to pursue engineering as a field of study and future career. Middle and high school students attending the Lyle School Hamon Summer Engineering Camps initially will be recruited from the KIPP DFW network of public charter schools, the STEM-focused Young Women’s Preparatory Network, and DISD’s Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy.
Teachers from the participating schools also will be allowed to attend camps to engage with Lyle students and faculty. Students attending the camps who are later accepted into the engineering program at SMU will be eligible to apply for college scholarships through the new Jake L. Hamon Scholars Program.
“We are delighted that the Hamon Charitable Foundation is making these eye-opening camps available to a larger group of students,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The foundation’s gift helps expand our impact in the community and will help build a brighter future for more young people in Dallas, particularly through the creation of the companion scholarship program.”
Read more at SMU News.

2018 April 2018 News

Knee-deep in the business of politics

SMU junior Zach Miller’s interest in politics played out like it does for many college students his first couple years at SMU – he volunteered for political campaigns and pursued internships.
But then, in the months following Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Miller decided he wanted to kick his involvement up a notch and earn some compensation at the same time. As the 2018 election season gains momentum, Miller is working as finance director for a Texas Senate hopeful and has launched his own political consulting firm: Atlas Strategies LLC.
Miller, an economics major, is benefitting from a unique immersion experience in public policymaking for SMU undergraduates: Ten students like Miller are chosen every year as Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars, awarding them access to a specialized curriculum and a minor in public policy and international affairs. The scholars learn from global and national leaders and policy makers, take advantage of specialized study abroad opportunities and senior-year internships.
“One of the biggest reasons I launched my firm last year was the network SMU provides,” says Miller. “I felt, being here now, I could benefit from the networking connections while I have direct access to people who can help me out. When I graduate, I’ll have access to the alumni networking, which is incredible, but it doesn’t compare to a dean being willing to help.”
Read more at SMU News.

2018 April 2018 News

Giving voice to a stronger student community

HCM Tower Scholar and Student Body President David Shirzad has dedicated his time at SMU to making the school a better place. He’s been a Peruna handler, a member of the Mob (a group of high-spirited students guaranteed tickets to men’s basketball games), a student representative to the Board of Trustees and more. His latest mission is to give students more opportunities to have their voices heard.
In the Scholar Spotlight on the SMU Tower Center blog, Shirzad talked about his time at SMU and offered some advice for younger and incoming scholars.
What drove you to be so involved at SMU?
I’ve always had a drive to make the community around me as strong of a place as I possibly can. In high school I was super involved with Best Buddies. There were just awesome people in the club—everyone from the captain of the football team to all sorts of different students. So I thought that was the best avenue for me to serve and promote change and instill strong values around my high school. And at SMU I have sort of done a similar thing—it’s just been different in the topics of discussion.  I’ve tried to make SMU have as strong of a campus community as I possibly can. I’ve been doing that in ways such as school spirit, being a Peruna handler, being a part of the Mob, as well as working to increase undergraduate opportunities for research by working as Student Body President with the Provost’s office and others involved in that, or working to better the student voice so that hopefully even if there are issues that come after me students at least have the opportunity to help improve the university. I love SMU, but I value the community and want to make it as strong of a place as it can be.
What do you think makes a community strong?
I think a place that people believe in. I think a place where all people have a voice, and they believe they’re being heard, is a good indication of a strong community because people buy into that. Nothing’s perfect in that sense, but in some ways I’d say we’re working toward that.
Read more at the SMU Tower Center.

2018 April 2018 News

Couples should assume less, communicate more

How well do couples pick up on one another’s feelings? Pretty well, when the emotion is happiness, says family psychologist Chrystyna D. Kouros. But a new study finds that couples do poorly when it comes to knowing their partner is sad, lonely or feeling down.

“We found that when it comes to the normal ebb and flow of daily emotions, couples aren’t picking up on those occasional changes in ‘soft negative’ emotions like sadness or feeling down,” said Kouros, lead author on the study. “They might be missing important emotional clues.”
Even when a negative mood isn’t related to the relationship, it ultimately can be harmful to a couple, said Kouros, an associate professor in the SMU Department of Psychology. A spouse is usually the primary social supporter for a person.
“Failing to pick up on negative feelings one or two days is not a big deal,” she said. “But if this accumulates, then down the road it could become a problem for the relationship. It’s these missed opportunities to be offering support or talking it out that can compound over time to negatively affect a relationship.”
The finding is consistent with other research that has shown that couples tend to assume their partner feels the same way they are feeling, or thinks the same way they do, Kouros said.
But when it comes to sadness and loneliness, couples need to be on the look-out for tell-tale signs. Some people are better at this process of “empathic accuracy” — picking up on a partner’s emotions — than others.
Read more at SMU Research.

2018 April 2018 News

Keeping an eye on the oil patch from space

Two giant sinkholes near Wink, Texas, may be the tip of the iceberg, according to a new study that found alarming rates of new ground movement extending far beyond the infamous sinkholes.
That’s the finding of a geophysical team from SMU that previously reported the rapid rate at which the sinkholes are expanding and new ones are forming.
Now the team has discovered that various locations in large portions of four Texas counties are also sinking and uplifting.
Radar satellite images show significant movement of the ground across localities in a 4000-square-mile area — in one place, as much as 40 inches over the past two-and-a-half years, say the geophysicists.
“The ground movement we’re seeing is not normal. The ground doesn’t typically do this without some cause,” said geophysicist Zhong Lu, a professor in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences at SMU and a global expert in satellite radar imagery analysis.
“These hazards represent a danger to residents, roads, railroads, levees, dams, and oil and gas pipelines, as well as potential pollution of ground water,” Lu said. “Proactive, continuous detailed monitoring from space is critical to secure the safety of people and property.”
The scientists made the discovery with analysis of medium-resolution (15 feet to 65 feet) radar imagery taken between November 2014 and April 2017. The images cover portions of four oil-patch counties where there’s heavy production of hydrocarbons from the oil-rich West Texas Permian Basin.
The imagery, coupled with oil-well production data from the Railroad Commission of Texas, suggests the area’s unstable ground is associated with decades of oil activity and its effect on rocks below the surface of the earth.
Read more at SMU Research.

2018 Alumni April 2018

Congratulations to the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2018

Former student-athletes Janielle Dodds ’07, Denny Holman ’67, Wes Hopkins ’83, Hank Kuehne ’99, Cheril Santini ’95 and the late Clyde Carter ’35 have been named to the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame by the University and SMU Athletics, in conjunction with the SMU Lettermen’s Association. The outstanding former student-athletes will be recognized at the annual Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony on Friday, May 4 at Moody Coliseum.
An SMU women’s basketball standout, Dodds was a four-time All-Conference honoree and two time All-America Honorable Mention selection. She holds the SMU career record for points (1,861) and rebounds (974). As a senior, she led the Mustangs to the 2008 NCAA Tournament and a 24-9 record. That season, she was named the Conference USA Tournament MVP after leading SMU to a 73-57 win over No. 18 UTEP in the championship game.
Holman helped the SMU men’s basketball team to three straight Southwest Conference titles and NCAA Tournaments, including a regional final appearance as a senior in 1967. He was named SWC Player of the Year in 1967, also earning all-conference and all-district selections. The Mustangs went 54-25 during his seasons on the Hilltop with a 33-9 league record. Holman went on to play professionally for the Dallas Chaparrals.
Hopkins was an All-Southwest Conference safety on the 1981 and 1982 SMU football national championship teams. He had 14 career interceptions, including a league-leading six picks in 1982. He had an SMU-record four interceptions in a game against Houston in 1981. Hopkins was a second-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1983 NFL draft, and played 11 seasons for the franchise. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 1985 and was the 1988 Ed Block Courage Award recipient.
Golfer Kuehne was a three-time All-American from 1996 to 1999. He won the 1998 U.S. Amateur championship and was the 1996 Southwest Conference individual champion. Kuehne represented the United States as an amateur on the 1998 Eisenhower Trophy team and in the 1998 and 1999 Palmer Cups. He went on to play 11 years on the PGA tour with eight top-10 finishes, including runner-up marks at the 2003 Shell Houston Open and 2005 John Deere Classic. He also collected four career professional victories.
SMU women’s diving’s Santini was a 10-time All-American and two-time NCAA Champion in 1-meter diving, winning the national title in 1992 and 1995. She swept the Southwest Conference championship in the 1-meter during her four years at SMU, winning the 10-meter crown in 1992 and 3-meter title in 1993. Following the 1995 season, she was awarded the NCAA’s Top VII Award. Santini also was a three-time Academic All-American. In 1994, she was named one of Glamour magazine’s “Top Ten College Winners.”
Carter played football and basketball on the Hilltop, earning All-America honors on the gridiron in 1934. As a tackle, he led SMU to an 8-2-2 record as a senior in 1934. On the hardwood, Carter guided the Mustangs to a 14-3 record to capture the 1934-35 Southwest Conference Championship.
Purchase tickets for the event here.
For more information about tickets or event sponorship, please call 214-768-4314 or email Jeff Lockhart at
The SMU Athletics Hall of Fame celebrates the many extraordinary individuals in all sports who have played a role in developing the tradition and prestige of SMU Athletics, and seeks to provide future generations with a greater appreciation for the rich heritage of the Mustangs.
In 2005, the SMU Lettermen’s Association began taking steps to renew the SMU Hall of Fame, which was established in 1978 to honor both outstanding athletes and administrators who played an important part in founding the great tradition of Mustang football. Building on this strong history, the Lettermen’s Association broadened today’s SMU Athletics Hall of Fame to include all sports, past and present, sponsored by the University.

2018 April 2018 News

Sign up now for summer learning fun

No boredom allowed this summer, thanks to SMU’s wide-ranging activities for kids. They’ll learn while having fun as they create code, experience the fundamentals of engineering, express themselves artistically and fine-tune their athletic abilities at summer camps offered at SMU-in-Plano and on the main campus in Dallas.
Calling all adventurers! SMU Summer Youth Program is gearing up for a variety of educational expeditions. Weekly workshops explore coding, game design, language arts, math, robotics and visual arts. SAT and ACT test prep classes also will be available. Programs for students entering grades K–12 will be offered from June 4 to August 3 on the SMU-in-Plano campus. Extended day options are available. Find program details and registration information here.
On the Dallas campus, camps focus on engineering, 2-D, 3-D and digital art, and skill-building in basketball, equestrian competition, soccer, swimming, tennis and volleyball. Read more at SMU News.

2018 Alumni April 2018 News

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Please enjoy this roundup of interesting videos and stories highlighting some of the people and events making news on the Hilltop.

2018 March 2018 News

Football game changers: A new indoor training center and a new head coach

April 14 will be a red-letter day for football fans with the annual spring game showcasing the Mustangs under new Head Coach Sonny Dykes and halftime festivities kicking off the construction of SMU’s Indoor Performance Center. The game starting at 11 a.m. in Ford Stadium will open a new chapter in the University’s gridiron history. The Mustangs’ 2018 season starts on September 1
SMU football’s 2018 schedule includes six games at Gerald J. Ford Stadium and seven contests against teams that made a bowl appearance a season ago.
The Mustangs open the new season on Saturday, September 1 at the University of North Texas in Denton, before returning to the Hilltop for a Friday night matchup with historic rival TCU on September 7. The Battle for the Iron Skillet will also be SMU’s annual Whiteout Game.
A trip to The Big House is on the schedule for September 15 when SMU travels to Michigan, and SMU opens AAC play by hosting Navy on September. 22. The Mustangs close out the non-conference slate at home with a September 29 game against Houston Baptist during SMU Family Weekend.
See the full schedule at SMU Athletics.

2018 March 2018 News

A Founders’ Day salute to the Bush Center

Celebrate the fifth anniversary of the George W. Bush Presidential Center by joining the SMU community on the Hilltop for Founders’ Day Weekend, April 20–22. Reconnect with friends and commemorate the impact of one of the University’s unique assets. Highlights include alumni events, music, community events and an evening with Jeff Bezos, Chairman and CEO of Amazon, featured speaker at the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Forum on Leadership.
See the Founders’ Day Weekend schedule.

2018 March 2018 News

Honoring ‘awe-inspiring’ service and leadership

Dallas Women’s Foundation has named Gail O. Turner as one of four recipients of its 2018 Maura Women Helping Women Award. The winners will be honored at the Leadership Forum & Awards Dinner, presented by AT&T, on Thursday, April 19, at the Omni Dallas Hotel, 555 S. Lamar Street.
The Maura Awards recognize “leaders who have positively impacted the lives of women and girls in the North Texas area,” according to a DWF press release announcing the honors. Tickets to the dinner start at $350; sponsorships are also available. Learn more at the Dallas Women’s Foundation website.
Gail Turner, the wife of SMU President R. Gerald Turner, is a founding member and former board chair of New Friends New Life (NFNL), a Dallas organization that serves women and children who have been victimized by trafficking. She has worked with NFNL successfully to lobby the Texas Legislature on laws that help victims of human trafficking. She also serves on the board of Shelter Ministries of Dallas, comprised of Austin Street Center, which assists 400 homeless people each night, and Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support.
As “First Lady of SMU,” Gail Turner also serves on the boards of the Meadows School of the Arts and the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
“It is a great honor for Dallas Women’s Foundation to recognize … extraordinary leaders whose example and service to women and girls are literally awe-inspiring,” said Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Dallas Women’s Foundation president and chief executive officer.
Read more at SMU Forum.

2018 Fall 2018 March 2018 News

Michael Bloomberg receives Medal of Freedom

Businessman, philanthropist, author and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg received on Jan. 29, 2018, the Tower Center Medal of Freedom from SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies. The honor, presented every two years, recognizes “extraordinary contributions for the advancement of democratic ideals and to the security, prosperity and welfare of humanity.”
Bloomberg was elected the 108th mayor of New York City in 2001 and won re-election in 2005 and 2009. As the first New York mayor elected after the 9/11 attacks, he put emergency preparation, infrastructure issues, education, and environmental and health regulations at the center of his concerns. During his tenure, he balanced the city budget, raised New York teacher salaries; unveiled PlaNYC: A Greater, Greener New York to fight climate change and prepare for its impacts; and co-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns (now Everytown for Gun Safety), a nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to reducing the number of illegal guns in U.S. cities.
“In the aftermath of the worst terror attack on U.S. soil, Michael Bloomberg led New York City out of mourning and back into its place as one of the most important cities in the world. He took the city’s public education system and poverty issues head on during his terms as mayor,” said SMU Trustee Jeanne Tower Cox ’78 in her introduction. She also lauded Bloomberg’s work with his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, which focuses on five areas that echo his priorities as mayor: public health, the arts, government innovation, the environment, and education.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 Alumni March 2018

Stirring winds of change in professional hockey

Tom Dundon ’93 helped turn Topgolf into a millennial magnet, and as the new majority owner of the Carolina Hurricanes professional hockey team, he’ll apply his brand of secret sauce to fire up fans.

Karen Robinson-Jacobs
The Dallas Morning News

Dallas billionaire Tom Dundon, who may just be the busiest man in sports business, has “a way I like to see things done.”

That applied when he became the biggest investor in “a small family fun center” with a driving range called Topgolf. Dundon helped turn today’s Topgolf into a millennial magnet with an estimated 13 million guest visits across 40 venues in 2017.

And it applied with his first job after graduating with an economics degree from Southern Methodist University. With a buddy, he launched a Fort Worth burger joint, but he knew “almost instantly once it opened that that was a bad idea.”

Read the full story.

2018 March 2018 News

Meet a master of turning lemons into lemonade

SMU basketball forward Akoy Agau ’18 fled war-torn Sudan with his family and learned English with Harry Potter’s help. Despite serious shoulder injuries that quashed pro dreams, he still considers himself lucky. He’ll receive a master’s degree in business management from SMU’s Cox School of Business this summer. “I feel  like my purpose is to try and give back as much as I can,” he says.

2018 March 2018 News

Lauding the contributions of energy industry titans

The Maguire Energy Institute at SMU Cox School of Business honored Greg Armstrong, CEO of Plains All American, with the L. Frank Pitts Energy Leadership Award, and oilman and entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens, founder of Mesa Petroleum, among other successful endeavors, with the Maguire Energy Institute Pioneer Award. The presentations were made at a luncheon on February 1 on the SMU campus.
Long-term impact to the energy industry is one of the factors that the Maguire Institute’s Energy Leadership Award committee considers as it selects oil and gas leaders annually for these two awards. The Pitts Energy Leadership Award annually honors an individual who exemplifies a spirit of ethical leadership in the energy industry. The equally prestigious Pioneer Award is presented to energy industry trailblazers.
“The Institute is proud to honor Greg Armstrong,” said Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute. “Greg has demonstrated a steady record of company leadership, industry leadership and innovation throughout a distinguished career, much like Frank Pitts in his day.  We are also pleased to present our Pioneer Award to T. Boone Pickens, who is a legend in this industry.  Both of these men are making big differences not only in the petroleum industry, but in the communities in which they live and operate.”
Read more at SMU News.

2018 March 2018 News

Crunching data and crushing cancer

SMU researchers have discovered three drug-like compounds that successfully reverse chemotherapy failure in three of the most commonly aggressive cancers — ovarian, prostate and breast.

The molecules were first discovered computationally via high-performance supercomputing. Now their effectiveness against specific cancers has been confirmed via wet-lab experiments, said biochemistry professors Pia Vogel and John G. Wise, who led the study.
Wise and Vogel report the advancement in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.
The computational discovery was confirmed in the Wise-Vogel labs at SMU after aggressive micro-tumors cultured in the labs were treated with a solution carrying the molecules in combination with a classic chemotherapy drug. The chemotherapy drug by itself was not effective in treating the drug-resistant cancer.
Read more at SMU Research.

2018 March 2018 News

Building a home for Frankenstein

SMU graduate student Amelia Bransky ’18 says her professors encourage her to “make scary choices,” so she jumped at the chance to design the sets for Frankenstein, a on stage at the Kalita Humphreys Theater through March 4. The play is the first full collaboration between Meadows School of the Arts and the Dallas Theater Center and features SMU students and faculty performing alongside DTC professionals. In a Dallas Morning News story published on February 6, 2018, Branksy said she loves set design because “I get to work with the director, actors, the other designers. We all come together to solve a problem. It’s a joy.”

Nancy Churnin
Theater Critic
The Dallas Morning News

Frankenstein is an old tale, but a fresh adaptation marks the dawn of something new for the Dallas Theater Center — and Southern Methodist University students such as Amelia Bransky.

Bransky has designed a stark, encompassing set for the show — her “favorite monster story,” the graduate student says — which debuts at the Kalita Humphreys Theater on Wednesday, Feb. 7. The production marks a new collaboration between DTC and the theater division of the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, with multiple students performing alongside working professional artists.

“One of my classes was focusing on monsters through art and painting,” Bransky says on the phone from SMU. “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was my favorite part. I love that it’s written by a young woman. I love how it speaks to humanity about the constant tension of nature and nurture and asks if we’re born evil or born good or can be made good or made evil.”

Read the full story.

2018 Alumni March 2018 News

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

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

2018 Features News Spring 2018

SMU and LIFT team up to reduce adult illiteracy in Dallas

Game artist Jackie Gan-Glatz ’05 knows how confusing it can be to try to piece together unfamiliar words into an intelligible sentence. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she spoke only her parents’ native language until she started preschool. Although she mastered English quickly, she occasionally experiences linguistic hiccups. “I might use an English word a bit differently or think of a phrase in Chinese before it comes to me in English,” she explains.
She draws on her own language acquisition journey to understand the challenges faced by the adult learners testing Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis. Gan-Glatz and other SMU video game developers and education experts created the puzzle-solving app in collaboration with Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT), a nonprofit service provider for low-literate adults in Dallas.
The engaging game with an educational mission earned the SMU/LIFT team, People ForWords, a place among the eight semifinalists chosen from 109 international teams competing for the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

The People ForWords team includes (clockwise, from top left) Simmons Ph.D. candidate Dawn Woods ’09, ’18; Corey Clark, deputy director for research at SMU Guildhall and development lead for the project; Guildhall alumni Brian Rust ’15, Jackie Gan-Glatz ’05 and Victoria Rehfeld Smith ’14. Skyping in on the screen is Lauren Breeding ’18, Guildhall master’s candidate.

The first-of-its-kind global competition aims to transform the lives of adult learners reading English at or below a third-grade level. Adult illiteracy has been described as a “crisis hiding in plain sight.” Low literacy is linked to high rates of poverty, high health care costs and low labor productivity. According to the American Journal of Public Health and the National Council for Adult Learning, low-literacy skills cost the United States an estimated $225 billion in lost productivity and tax revenue each year and add an estimated $230 billion to the country’s annual health care costs.
Near SMU, the number of adults needing intervention is staggering. “There are about 600,000 adults in Dallas County who have less than a third-grade reading level,” says Corey Clark, deputy director for research in the SMU Guildhall game development program and People ForWords development lead. “If we could help 10 percent of those people, that’s 60,000 people who could learn to read proficiently. That makes a difference in a lot of people’s lives.”
SMU alumna Lisa Hembry ’75, LIFT president and CEO emerita, brought the idea of joining forces for the XPRIZE competition to SMU. Founded in 1961, LIFT spearheads the effort to mitigate the problem by delivering the educational resources, tools, teaching and support needed by struggling adults learning to read and write.
“Here we are, two years later, with a viable phonics-based app in a gamified solution that helps low-literate people learn to read the English language while having fun,” Hembry says. “In North Texas, where one in five adults cannot read, this is more than a competition,” she adds. “This is a dedicated effort by our team to tackle the growing issue of low literacy and poverty.”
SMU’s strong relationship with Dallas and the surrounding region offers myriad opportunities for students, faculty and alumni to gain meaningful experiences while strengthening the community and making a difference in the lives of others. The city provides a unique launch pad for realizing an ambition, making an impact or developing a revolutionary innovation.
“Working with LIFT and SMU Guildhall in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE competition highlights how communities and academia can collaborate to improve the public sphere,” says Paige Ware, the Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Endowed Professor in the Simmons School.
A national leader in K-12 literacy research, the Simmons School became involved with the initiative to expand its work on literacy issues. Diane Gifford, a clinical assistant professor, and Tony Cuevas, director of Instructional Design and clinical professor, both in the school’s Department of Teaching and Learning, oversee the instructional design and curriculum of the game, ensuring that it improves the literacy levels of users.
“I started my career teaching children to read, but low-literacy adults face different challenges. Just opening the door to walk into an adult literacy class can be challenging for them,” Gifford says. “We have the potential to touch millions of people who never walk through that door.”
Even though national studies show more than 36 million U.S. adults lack basic English literacy skills, “there hasn’t been as much significant research as you might expect, considering the magnitude of the problem, and there is almost no research on the use of video games to teach low-literacy adults,” Cuevas says.

“I started my career teaching children to read, but low-literacy adults face different challenges. Just opening the door to walk into an adult literacy class can be challenging for them. We have the potential to touch millions of people who never walk through that door.”

– Diane Gifford

Teaching and technology weave together throughout Cuevas’ career. He designed SMU Guildhall’s top-rated master of interactive technology degree program and served as the program’s academic director before joining the Simmons faculty. He specializes in integrating emerging technologies into teaching and learning and serves as director of Simmons’ Teacher Development Studio, where simulated pre-K-12 classroom environments and other leading-edge technologies are used to train SMU students to become effective teachers.
For Cuevas, the long-term goals at the heart of the project strike close to home. “I have two sons with special needs who have struggled to learn to read, so I understand how children can fall through the cracks easily into adult illiteracy,” he says. His sons, ages 13 and 18, have used the app and found it engaging and helpful. Both Cuevas and Gifford see future potential in modifying the game for use in a structured K-12 classroom setting.
While struggling children and adults share some learning weaknesses, the approach for ameliorating those deficits is very different, says Gifford, which is why the app development process started with focus group sessions with more than 20 LIFT adult students. “We heard firsthand about what interested, motivated and concerned them about using a mobile app to learn to read,” Cuevas says.
Those conversations and playtesting revealed that maintaining motivation is key, meaning harried adult learners have to feel that playing the game is worth their scant free time. “They need chunks of learning, instead of small pieces, so that they feel a more immediate benefit,” Gifford says.
Codex: The Lost Words of Atlantis whisks participants to Egypt, where they play as enterprising archaeologists solving puzzles as they hunt for relics of the once-great civilization of Atlantis. Audible prompts for each letter and sound that appear on the screen teach the look and feel of written English. To minimize frustration, players learn to read very simple sentences from the beginning.
“We want them to have a sense of accomplishment immediately so they keep moving forward,” Gifford explains.
The 24/7 convenience of the app obliterates other obstacles, such as a lack of childcare, transportation and free time during the day. “Users can download it at home and play to their heart’s content when it’s most convenient for them, even if that’s at 3 a.m.,” Gifford explains.
Games also provide safe environments for learning, says the Guildhall’s Clark. “They allow you to fail in ways that aren’t overwhelming. They let you keep trying until you succeed.”
The XPRIZE project serves as one example of how research is incorporated into the curriculum at SMU Guildhall. Students explore a vast range of interests within video game development and its global implications and diverse uses. Both current students and alumni are able to apply their analytical and research skills by participating as funded research assistants on an array of Guildhall’s “games for good” projects.
LIFT adult learners tested the puzzle-solving app and provided feedback that helped the developers improve it. Gamers learn something new with every move they make. Take the app for a test drive:  Download the Codex: The Lost Words Of Atlantis app for Android at Google Play.
“All research is based on the idea that games have more purpose and value to society than just entertainment,” says Clark, whose expertise lies in finding solutions to large-scale problems by combining several areas of study, such as gaming, distributed computing, analytics and artificial intelligence. His recent work in reverse engineering gene regulatory networks and integrating gaming techniques into cancer research led to his appointment as adjunct research associate professor of biological sciences in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
Out of the gate, the Guildhall team had to grapple with the vexing issues of designing an adventure for gamers who can barely read and write and have likely never touched a computer. “This was the first time some participants had used a desktop computer,” Clark says. “Registering was a challenge for them, clicking and dragging was a challenge. So we had to think about how to make a game that’s fun and interactive, yet simple and intuitive enough to be a first experience with technology.”
He and his colleagues collected and analyzed data on game elements such as the amount of time players stuck with a task, how many times they repeated moves, how quickly they progressed and whether performing the game actions translated into the desired learning outcomes.
“First, games have to be fun,” Clark says. “From story to characters, you want to engage people enough for them to play over and over again. And this is the same process that reinforces learning.” And at its core, every game is about learning. “You learn something new with every move you make,” Clark says.

Out of the gate, the Guildhall team had to grapple with the vexing issues of designing an adventure for gamers who can barely read and write and have likely never touched a computer.
People ForWords takes players from Egypt to Sydney, Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef for its next learn-as-you-go adventure. The Guildhall team includes Gan-Glatz, programmer Brian Rust ’15, artist Victoria Rehfeld Smith ’14 and research assistant Lauren Breeding ’18, a level designer working on her thesis for a Master of Interactive Technology degree from SMU Guildhall. They are joined by Dawn Woods ’09, ’18, a Simmons Ph.D. candidate, for weekly meetings where they dive into the nitty-gritty of development. Nuance matters for beauty, function and efficacy, so the conversation zigzags from topic to topic: Should an orb be recolored to look like an empty crystal? Where should punctuation marks appear? How should the capitalization of words be introduced?
They also discuss supplemental mini games that will synthesize skills and guide players to test themselves in real-life situations, such as reading street signs and a bus route map, within the safe haven of the app.
Meanwhile, Clark, Gifford and Cuevas meet periodically to deliberate progress and strategy. People ForWords has until April 2018 to complete additions and modifications.
Testing of the literacy software created by the semifinalists began in July 2017, with the participation of 12,000 adults who read English at a third-grade level or lower in Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Postgame evaluation of the literacy gains among test subjects will help determine up to five finalists, to be announced in June 2018. The winner will be named in 2019.
Two years into the project, all involved admit that maintaining momentum over the protracted timeline has been a challenge, but they believe this critical experiment in improving adult literacy will be world-changing.
“I’ve volunteered with nonprofits that help people who have fallen on hard times for a number of reasons. I feel like this project would give some of them a second chance in life,” says Gan-Glatz. “Literacy would open doors of opportunity and allow them to contribute to society in ways they never thought possible.”

2018 Features May 2018 Main Spring 2018

Flipping a switch, igniting success: Aleena Taufiq ’18

Aleena Taufiq ’18 recently landed her dream job as a data engineer working in artificial intelligence at Verizon, a career she never imagined four years ago.
After her first semester at SMU, Taufiq knew the pre-med track she had chosen was not the right path. Now the senior majoring in mechanical engineering and math runs an afterschool enrichment program she developed to inspire middle-school students to pursue engineering, math and science in college. And none of it would have happened without people like Jim Caswell ’63, ’66, ’70 and Chuck Lingo ’90 – neither of them an engineer and neither of whom Taufiq met.
Taufiq found her major when she signed up for an immersive design challenge offered by the Lyle School of Engineering’s Deason Innovation Gym and joined a team assigned to remake the Slurpee experience for consumers.
The fusion of brainstorming, problem-solving, designing and building sparked an unexpected result. Instead of refreshing the frozen beverage industry, Taufiq reinvented her future.
“I learned my passion through the project,” she says. “I fell in love with engineering.”
To encourage the next generation of students to find the academic direction that’s right for them the way she did, Taufiq developed the afterschool program Geared Up. Her curriculum blends fun, hands-on projects with talks about engineering careers by fellow Lyle students and other guest speakers. While Taufiq hopes some youngsters follow her footsteps into engineering, she devised the educational series to catalyze unbridled learning in all areas.
She targets low-income middle-school students because “that’s an important age to engage their interest in engineering, math and science, and get them to start thinking about college.” Geared Up launched last year at Dallas’ Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School and expanded this year to Life School Oak Cliff and Edward H. Cary Middle School in northwest Dallas.
“On the first day, the kids are always excited when I tell them I’m a mechanical engineer, and they get really excited when they hear I’m from SMU,” she says. “They may not know exactly what a mechanical engineer does, but they definitely know SMU.”
Support from SMU’s Caswell Leadership Development Program has been critical to her project’s success. Offered by SMU Student Affairs’ Community Engagement and Leadership Center, the Caswell Leaders program accelerates students’ leadership skills by enabling them to discover their gifts while combining their passions for academics and public service.
“I couldn’t do Geared Up without Caswell Leaders. The program provides so much – funding, mentorship and friendship. We have monthly meetings for reflections about our project, where we think of next steps and opportunities to move it forward,” she says. “We make really personal connections in the program. It feels like we’re a Caswell family.”
SMU created the Caswell Endowment for Leadership Development and Training in 2007 as a tribute to alumnus, educator and longtime administrator Jim Caswell ’63, ’66, ’70 while he was preparing to retire. The program seeks to extend his legacy of molding “reflective and authentic leaders dedicated to improving their local communities.”
SMU’s Caswell Leadership Development Program honors the late Jim Caswell.Ask anyone who knew Caswell at SMU, and there’s a good chance they’ll tell you a story about a windmill. A four-foot version and assorted smaller models of the picturesque precursor of the wind turbine decorated his Perkins Administration Building office. Like the windmill’s agile gear system that converts a natural resource into energy to pump water or grind grain, Caswell guided students on a journey of self-discovering, harnessing their innate abilities and steering them toward successful careers and lives of purpose after graduation.
“He felt like students’ time at SMU was a unique opportunity for him to help them find their true direction and grow and develop into the people they wanted to be,” remembers his widow, Jackie Caswell Wallace.
Thomas Kincaid ’05 first got to know Caswell during his junior year when he served as student body president. He met weekly with Caswell, then vice president for student affairs but also an ordained Methodist minister, and continued to do so as a senior and student member of the SMU Board of Trustees. Then a finance major, Kincaid didn’t know that his true direction would become the ministry.
Now an Episcopalian priest and vice rector of Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, he keeps one of Caswell’s small windmills on his desk as a daily reminder to carry forward the example of a “person who really cared about others.”
“Dr. Caswell taught me what it was to never be too busy to care about someone,” Kincaid says. “He had plenty of demands on his time, but he was able to make time for a student or find a place where his support would be useful.
Roy Turner quotes lessons learned from Jim Caswell.Caswell’s wisdom continues to influence Roy Turner ’88 as well. When Turner was a junior accounting major and president of Kappa Sigma fraternity, Caswell – then dean of student life – tapped him as a member of a student leaders advisory forum convened to examine campus challenges and strategize solutions. As president of the SMU Interfraternity Council the following year, Turner relied on the high ethical standards set by Caswell when working through issues governed by the group.
“Lessons from Jim that I’ve carried forward are to do the right thing, stand up for what’s right and hold everyone accountable,” says Turner, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York City and a loyal donor to the Caswell Endowment. “I’m almost 30 years away from that experience, but it still resonates with me.”
Caswell understood the SMU student experience so well because he had lived it. He first arrived on the Hilltop as an undergraduate in 1959. He was active in campus life and served as president of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in social science from Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences in 1963, he went on to earn a bachelor of divinity in 1966 and a master of sacred theology in 1970 from the Perkins School of Theology. He also received a master’s and Ph.D. in educational management from Columbia University.
His career in higher education began as a graduate residence hall director at SMU from 1964–66. A short time later, he was named an instructor in Dedman College. Over the next two decades, he held a number of pivotal administrative roles, including dean of men, dean of residential living and dean of student life. As vice president of student affairs from 1988 to 2007, he became an iconic campus leader known as a caring friend, reliable sounding board, chief cheerleader and beloved mentor. His door was always open, and one of his frequent visitors was Chuck Lingo ’90.
Lingo never really needed words to communicate his ardor for all things SMU. Although he suffered from a debilitating neurological disease that impeded his speech, he refused to allow his physical limitations to curb his enjoyment of life. His Highland Park High School friends cherish their memories of the “Super Scot” cheering on their team at football games and pep rallies.
An estate gift from Chuck Lingo helps support the Caswell Leaders program.He enrolled at SMU in 1986, determined to capture all that he could in the classroom and fully participate in the Hilltop experience. He took a job in the Student Activities Center during the summer months, helping with AARO (Academic Advising, Registration and Orientation) and other tasks to prepare new students.
Fellow students admired his enthusiasm and can-do attitude. The Student Foundation embraced Lingo, eventually honoring him with the Mike Miller Outstanding Service Award. He served as a Student Senate committee member and was recognized for outstanding service.
Often decked out in spirit gear, the “Super Mustang” became a familiar sight in Caswell’s office. The two never missed an opportunity for some friendly facetime. Their conversations hopscotched across topics, from personal news to sports to current events, and usually ended in a goodbye hug.
When the University created the Caswell Endowment for Leadership Development and Training, Lingo was among the first donors. The friends shared a huddle and hug at Caswell’s retirement dinner in May 2007.
In the following years, Lingo attended many SMU Centennial Celebration events, never missed Celebration of Lights, his favorite SMU tradition, and faithfully remembered Caswell, his dear friend who succumbed to cancer in October 2007, with an annual gift to the Caswell Endowment, hand-delivered to the Student Affairs office.
On May 24, 2016, Lingo lost his battle with the disease that had claimed his mother years earlier, but he had taken steps to ensure his connection to SMU and to Caswell would endure: He bequeathed a significant portion of his estate to the Caswell Endowment.
“The Chuck Lingo gift exponentially increases our future opportunities to support the development of student leaders at SMU and further the legacies of servant-leadership and involvement established by both Dr. Caswell and Mr. Lingo,” says Stephanie Howeth, director of SMU’s Community Engagement and Leadership Center. “Thanks to their example and foresight, students today will learn and experience the many benefits of discovering their purpose as well as develop a passion for creating a more positive global community and SMU campus.”
The influence of Caswell, Lingo and many other donors lives on through current Caswell Leaders whose projects advocate for abused women, alleviate poverty with microloans, bridge international divides through language acquisition and inspire middle-school students to pursue engineering and math.
On an October afternoon in Dallas’ Cary Middle School, 18 boys and girls seated at cafeteria tables chatter, giggle, nudge and generally act like typical seventh and eighth graders. They have no idea they are about to witness the Caswell Endowment in action.
Aleena Taufiq explains how they’ll use the tools spread out in front of them – wires, putty, tape and batteries – to craft a simple LED circuit to light up polystyrene Halloween pumpkins. They get to work, and the cacophony builds as she moves from group to group, fixing a few glitches and praising their efforts. Soon tiny candy-colored bulbs and 100-watt smiles light up the room.
John Everett, New York Life Insurance Company, and Aleena Taufiq.“When I started, I was terrified of working with kids because I hadn’t before, but once you build a small connection with them, they’re so much fun,” she says. “They are very creative and aren’t afraid to try out their ideas.”
After the buses arrive and the class breaks up, a student wanders from table to table, rescuing abandoned materials. “I want to make more lights at home to show my family,” he says proudly. Just two hours earlier, that boy had no idea he could complete a basic electrical engineering feat so easily.
Taufiq makes sure he has everything he needs to wow his audience the way he has just impressed her.
That’s the reaction she was aiming for when she started planning Geared Up. She remembered watching bright high school classmates flounder “because they didn’t really see a pathway to college. They didn’t have parents or siblings who went to college, so they didn’t have that exposure and weren’t encouraged to continue their education.”
Her parents were both born in Pakistan, but met, married and became naturalized citizens in the Dallas area. Although higher education wasn’t an option for them, “they made it clear they wanted us to go to college,” she says.
She considers herself lucky that her mother “pushed me to make the most of every opportunity available in school.” As a high school student in her hometown of Irving, Texas, she played on the tennis team, worked on the yearbook, competed in state math, science and literary criticism competitions, and joined the National Honor Society. Because she had always excelled in math and science, well-meaning high school teachers steered her toward a medical career without introducing her to the array of disciplines where her talents could flourish.
The youngest of four children, she already had two Mustangs in the family – sister Tasmia Taufiq Noorali ’10, ’11 and brother Khurram Taufiq ’12 – and knew “SMU was a great school.” After receiving several scholarships, including the University’s academic Founders’ Scholarship and a Discovery Scholarship for students focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines, she joined the class of 2018.
After her first semester, she knew she didn’t want to go to medical school, so she became a fearless explorer, diving into unfamiliar topics and developing new competencies.
Geared Up Goes NationalShe was selected for a multiyear research project led by SMU’s Wei Tong, a mechanical engineering professor specializing in biomechanics, in partnership with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. They conducted tests on six taping methods commonly used in hospitals to secure intubation tubes, which keep airways open in acutely injured and sick patients. Preventing tube displacement can be a matter of life and death.
“There’s no standardized method, so we tested a lot of variables,” she explains. “We’re still working on the analysis, but so far, the easiest method seems to be the fastest and strongest as well.”
A Hamilton Research Scholarship allowed her to broaden the scope of her research last year through an ongoing project with mathematics professor Daniel Reynolds, whose scientific computation expertise encompasses biomedical applications. Among the skills she added to her portfolio was proficiency in a CAD (computer-aided design) program she used to create a three-dimensional rendering of a human lymph node for modeling the flow of lymphatic fluid.
“Both experiences taught me so much about different aspects of engineering, and it gave me such a good feeling to be part of research that can have real impact,” she says.
As she was in high school, Taufiq has continued to be actively engaged at SMU. She’s wrapping up her second term as a Lyle School senator in the Student Senate and participates in Theta Tau engineering fraternity and the Muslim Student Association.
Through Lyle’s “4+1” program, she will receive her bachelor’s degree in May and continue studying at SMU for another year before earning her master’s degree. She’s leaning toward a nontraditional trajectory for a mechanical engineer, “something more on the tech side of things, maybe in big data or tech consulting.”
Last summer, an internship she found through Handshake, SMU’s jobs and recruitment portal, took her to the Dallas office of New York Life Insurance Company for a taste of project management in the technology department.
After a few weeks, with a green light from her manager, she launched a weekly team-building activity dubbed “Fun Friday.” Little did her colleagues know that the gummy bear bridges they built and the edible cars they crafted with Rice Krispies treats and Life Savers candies were prototypes she was testing for Geared Up.
“It really broke the ice. People had fun and started talking to one another,” she says. “I think it created a friendlier work environment and much more of a community atmosphere.
She put those projects to good use when, in an unexpected turn, she teamed up with the STEAM Club at her alma mater, MacArthur High School in Irving, to launch a series of design challenges. Geared Up for high schoolers started before winter break and is continuing this spring. “It has been been amazing to go back to where it all started for me and inspire students who are where I was just four years ago,” she says.
Taufiq is also achieving her longstanding goal to expand Geared Up into a national program this spring. With funding from an SMU Engaged Learning Fellowship, she will travel to Harper McCaughan Elementary School in Long Beach, Mississippi, on February 16; Pioneer Middle School in DuPont, Washington, on March 2; and Shapleigh Middle School in Kittery, Maine, on March 30, where she will lead one-day, hands-on engineering extravaganzas for students and teachers.
“If the students step into the shoes of an engineer and get a taste of what it’s like to work together to create something or solve a problem, then they get excited and want to learn more,” Taufiq says. “I hope they become more excited about school, learning and challenging themselves.”
– Patricia Ward

2018 Features March 2018 Main Spring 2018

An education mixologist’s bold blend of science and the arts

Sam Weber ’18 says he’s the “type of person who likes to stay busy.” That’s an understatement. As a student researcher, he trains others working on cell biology experiments and explores the use of the performing arts in public health education. And this spring he is directing his second 24-Hour Musical, Heathers the Musical. The Dedman College Scholar and University honors student will graduate in May with B.S. degrees in biological sciences, and health and society, and a B.A. in chemistry, with minors in Latin, classical studies, musical theatre, history and human rights. The senior dynamo is currently weighing several post-SMU academic opportunities that will lead to his ultimate goal: medical school.
Growing up in Overland Park, Kansas, Weber became fascinated with science by watching Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. The 2001 film, the first 3-D animated feature made outside Hollywood, was directed by SMU alumnus John Davis ’84. Weber, whose mother is a nurse, imagined being Jimmy while playing with his junior chemistry set. Later, when he stumbled upon the Harry Potter novels and films, he says his interest in science became intertwined with magic.
In seventh grade, after Weber heard a neurologist speak to his class about the wonders of the brain, he began to make the connection between science and medicine. While his fellow students were enthralled with the brain-shaped gummies she passed around the class, Weber locked onto the floating pink blob in a jar she had brought for show and tell. “She said the brain was ‘the last true frontier of science,’” he recalls.
In high school he straddled the two worlds of science and art – taking AP biology and chemistry courses and working downtown at a neurology lab, while participating in theatre, rehearsing for plays and musicals nightly. He thought that when he got to college he would have to keep his two loves – the sciences and the arts – separate.
But when he got to the Hilltop, he says he realized he could successfully combine those seemingly disparate worlds. As a University honors student in on the pre-med track and through numerous campus opportunities, SMU has enabled him to explore his interests in the performing arts. In his senior year, he has even found interesting ways to fuse his interests.
Patience With The Process
As a first-year student in his general chemistry course, Weber made such an impression that Associate Professor Brian Zoltowski considered him a natural to work in his lab.
Before enrolling at SMU, Weber had already gained lab experience at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Zoltowski says Weber “displayed a unique combination of creativity, passion and deductive reasoning that is, frankly, atypical anywhere. His ability to devote himself to any task, and complete it at the highest possible level, made me trust him right away.”
Nearly four years later, Weber runs the entire cell biology focus of Zoltowski’s lab, which conducts research on circadian clocks and the molecular mechanisms of blue-light photoreceptors. The senior trains graduate and undergraduate students who work with cell culture and drug discovery projects. He is instrumental to the research group’s mission as he leads and directs multiple projects, which has enabled Zoltowski to greatly expand their research scope.
On a Thursday afternoon in November, Weber is working in the tissue lab at Dedman Life Sciences Building on what he calls the “downstream biological application of manipulating proteins.” His project focuses on a protein complex that is responsive to light “much like the rest of our circadian biology; our rhythms are linked to the sun and the light we have available,” Weber says. During a process called transfection, he forces some human cells to take up and incorporate foreign DNA into their own. Once that DNA is incorporated, the cells start to express that altered form of the protein, “so we can see how the overall complex functions with these changes in response to light.”
The transfecting process is precise and time-intensive, requiring a lot of tedious work, Weber says while adding one of 2,112 pipette strokes to different wells. After this step, he puts the cells under a blue LED lamp to simulate an “awake” state. The next day he treats these cells with a solution that causes them to glow in varying intensities.
On this particular day, the experiment doesn’t generate any usable data. The blank wells show the same or higher luminescence than some samples, which shouldn’t be physically possible, he says. “This tells me something was wrong. In this case, one critical reagent, a substance or compound added to a system to cause a chemical reaction, was running low.” So he orders a new bottle and repeats the experiment, troubleshooting until it doesn’t have an error.
The setback doesn’t bother Weber. “So many things can go wrong in biochemistry – the temperature in the room, the humidity, how bright the room is, how much air the AC is moving, shelf life of reagents and more can all contribute, just like human error, to poor results. Things don’t work all the time; science is slow and crawling,” he adds.
Finding The Magic
“I’m the type of person who needs to stay busy and wants to be involved,” Weber says, adding that SMU enabled him to engage in many different activities, take on several majors and sample numerous minors because it accepted all 46 hours of his AP credits, allowing him to get ahead in his biology degree plan. “There are lots of opportunities to get involved at SMU,” pointing out that funding often is made available through Program Council or Student Senate for events like SMU’s 24-Hour Musical.
Outside his classroom and lab work, Weber joined the student-run Program Council, overseeing campus concerts and entertainment events and directing Sing Song, the annual competition among student organizations that perform musical revues. He also served as a resident assistant in Virginia-Snider Commons for two years, providing resources and programming on mental health, career planning and handling social stressors. And he’s president of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honor Society and on the Embrey Human Rights Program Student Leadership Board, to name only a few of his numerous roles.
He’s studied abroad with SMU in Oxford, Rome and Paris, and went on SMU’s most recent human rights trip to Poland over the winter break. All the while, he also applied to medical schools, a time-consuming and demanding task in itself.
Scenes from Into the Woods
With the 24-Hour Musical, Weber is following in the footsteps of his older brother, Charlie Weber ’16, who along with Ally Van Deuren ’15 began the musical in spring 2015 to provide nontheatre majors an opportunity to perform on campus. The production is choreographed, blocked and rehearsed during 24 hours spread over three days. Last fall, Weber directed Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, staged on the quad in front of Dallas Hall in September during Family Weekend. This was his fifth 24-Hour Musical.
During the first year of the SMU 24-Hour Musical, Van Deuren recalls, “Sam, then a freshman, walked in the first day ready to work. He took partial or total lead in choreography, tech, production and costume design, graphic design and many more day-of tasks that no one else had the headspace to handle. He was a much-needed source of organization, whether he was lending a hand with heavy lifting, maintaining order with a cast of 40 students after a long day of rehearsing or finding quick solutions for any last-minute costume mishaps.”
Weber also is recognized for maintaining a cool head in the face of possible disaster. During rehearsal and the staging of Into the Woods, the sprinklers came on in the flowerbeds where the orchestra sat. Weber was unflappable.
Sam Weber says art is innate in all people.During the chaos that a tightly developed production engenders, Weber found time to mentor the next generation of 24-Hour Musical leaders. Sophomore theatre major Stevie Keese ’20 assisted Weber with Into the Woods and found him generous and approachable. “Sam helped me articulate my artistic thoughts through our late-night passionate debates on the future of theatre and the arts,” she says. He also taught her about ambition and “how to ask for exactly what you want with no apologies, while continuing to be gracious and grateful.”
Weber has found working on 24-Hour Musical to be invaluable in developing skills that will carry over into his post- SMU life. “It is some of the best training students can get working in professional environments. We hold the project to a very high standard, and I’d like to think that learning on the fly, making bold choices and the time management that are required for 24-Hour to be successful are the same kinds of skills professional theatre artists develop,” he says.
He’s also been grateful to his professors, who have given him leeway with his classes and studies to spend time cultivating and following his theatrical interests. Last year, Weber worked as a choreography fellow for the Public Works Dallas musical production of The Tempest, co-produced by Meadows School of the Arts and the Dallas Theater Center. The community outreach production used local community groups and 200 nonprofessionals to stage Shakespeare’s play. Weber found it “motivating to work with people who had never done performance art before, but still got it; they understood movement and narrative. It really reaffirms how art is truly innate in all people.”
Putting It All Together
As a capstone to his four years at SMU, Weber is merging his love of science and the arts through a research project that explores the relationship between performing arts and public health from a medical anthropology angle. He is studying how theatre performance can help engage the public in a discussion of mental illness, thereby reducing the stigma it often creates. His research is supported by a Mayer Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship.
Brian Zoltowski says creativy is a key part of the scientific process.Weber says that everything he’s done or achieved at SMU has helped prepare him for medical school and a life in the profession. As an undergraduate, he didn’t want to be what is called a “gunner,” a term applied to pre-med students who adhere solely to a regimen of science courses and, while making high GPAs, explore little else outside that regimen.
As his passions for pure science and performance have intersected, he’s come to understand that “medicine is an art. Physicians perform for and with their patients, seeking to achieve an honest and productive outcome,” Weber says.
Zoltowski, who has observed how Weber has grown in multiple ways, regards him more as a colleague than as a mentee. “Sam as a student is unique. In the sciences people often forget that you need to be extremely creative, have excellent abilities in deductive reasoning and be skilled in computational methods,” he says. “Creativity is a key part of the scientific process, as we have to find unique ways to combine disparate concepts or new approaches to tackle complex problems. Often young scientists will be unable to combine the deductive and computational approaches with creative insight. Sam is different – he excels in all three capacities, even in this early stage of his career. Most important, his strength is in creativity and thinking outside the box. That is why he will have tremendous success in anything he pursues.”
Susan White ’05

2018 Features Spring 2018

Army chaplain Jeff Matsler ’93 helps veterans work through ‘moral injury’

Near the military base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.ear the military base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina – the Army’s largest – there are several dozen Army-Navy stores. They sell the usual used military equipment and also T-shirts with the logos of the various forces. But to Perkins School of Theology alumnus and U.S. Army Major Jeff Matsler ’93, another shirt stands out. It’s popular with soldiers returning from deployment in Afghanistan. Black T-shirt. White Gothic letters. One word: “Guilty.”
Matsler says choosing the “Guilty” shirt reflects the shame and alienation many soldiers returning from combat areas bear because they took actions “that can violate their moral code, their paradigm of what is right.”
A chaplain and the Army’s Bioethicist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Matsler says, “It’s a volunteer Army. Most young soldiers in the infantry units and on the front lines will tell you they signed up to serve God and country. They are very patriotic.” But to succeed as soldiers, they are trained to follow orders, and that can mean taking lives, sometimes those of unintended targets such as civilians.
For more than a decade, Matsler has made it his mission to study “moral injury,” a condition associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in which combat soldiers understand themselves to be morally deficient. They return not only psychologically and emotionally battered but also spiritually injured.
Soldiers need forgiveness and redemption.
In light of the 2016 Veterans Affairs report that on average more than 20 veterans died daily from suicide in 2014, Matsler’s work is extremely important. In November 2017, the PBS series POV debuted “Almost Sunrise” focusing on the issue of “moral injury,” defining it as “a wound to the soul inflicted by violating one’s own ethical code.”
Matsler grew up working on his family’s farm in Floydada, a small rural community in West Texas. As a high school freshman, he attended a United Methodist Church summer camp where he first encountered Connie Nelson, then a youth counselor and now Perkins School director of public affairs and alumni/ae relations.
“I had the opportunity to watch Jeff grow in size, stature, maturity and faith,” Nelson says. “I remember particularly a workshop that I led one summer on discernment, listening for God’s voice and Christian vocation. At the conclusion of the workshop, Jeff came up to my co-leader and me to tell us he felt called to ministry. He was only 17 or 18, but it was clear that he had heard God’s ‘still small voice.’”
Jeff Matsler outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he serves a a chaplain and the Army’s bioethicist.He graduated from high school and set off for McMurry University, a Methodist institution in Abilene, Texas, where he was first exposed to the field of bioethics by his philosophy professor and mentor, Joseph Stamey, who received his Ph.D. in medical ethics. Matsler recalls thinking as an undergraduate, “What on earth would be debatable about medical ethics?!”
After earning a B.A. degree in history and religious studies with a minor in philosophy in 1989 from McMurry, Matsler attended Perkins Theology, where he encountered professors such as Joseph L. Allen, now professor emeritus of ethics, and the late Frederick S. Carney, professor emeritus of moral theology and Christian ethics whose background also was in medical ethics. “The theological training I received at Perkins has grounded me to this day,” he says.
Matsler represents the third generation of his family to graduate from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. His grandfathers, the late Dr. Charles E. Lutrick ’49 and Cyrus Barcus ’27, ’33 (also founding director of the Mustang Band), both attended Perkins and became Methodist ministers. His uncle, the Rev. Dr. Robert C. Monk ’54, is one of many SMU and Perkins alumni who taught at McMurry.
After graduating from Perkins in 1993, Matsler entered the ministry as an associate pastor at Polk Street United Methodist Church in Amarillo. During his three years there, he also served as a staff clinician for the substance abuse unit at the Amarillo Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His time at the VA convinced Matsler he could provide much-needed ministry in service to his country with the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps.
In 1995, while Matsler waited to go on active duty, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed. Matsler went to participate in rescue efforts, provide stress debriefings and minister to victims of the tragedy and to teams searching for survivors. The emotional wreckage he encountered in Oklahoma sparked his interest in and thinking about how traumatic events can wreck the soul.
Matsler says there were two issues in Oklahoma City that made it a significant magnet for moral injury among those involved in the rescue effort: The first was the overwhelming sense of horror that accompanies any disaster relief effort – particularly if it is man-made. “My first day at OKC consisted of helping the team searching for survivors, realizing that we had entered the building’s nursery and debriefing the team afterward. No young soldier – not even a seasoned veteran – is ever emotionally prepared to deal with that type of carnage.”
One of the key elements of moral injury is a sense of betrayal felt by the individual or group members involved in such an event. “The significant issue at OKC became clear on day five when we learned that those responsible were not only Americans (Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier) but also veterans – a feeling of betrayal that grew as we also learned they were combat vets. Moral injury isn’t just over things done, but also things observed – things you didn’t or couldn’t prevent,” Matsler says.
He went on active duty in 1996 as a battalion chaplain with the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and served until 2000, when an injury led to a medical discharge. After serving as Senior Chaplain at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch and then pastor at First United Methodist Church in Panhandle, Texas, Matsler returned to active duty in 2007.
During the past 10 years Matsler has served several tours of duty in Afghanistan as brigade chaplain. While one duty included presiding over liturgical services in Bagram (2008–09) and another in Kandahar (2013), the main effort of his ministry consisted of traveling around the country counseling with soldiers and providing mentoring and oversight for the battalion chaplains in his unit’s footprint. It was while ministering to soldiers in combat zones that Matsler began to understand what “moral injury” truly meant.
Doctors ask, “Soldiers on the front line need to hear the message of forgiveness and redemption,” he says. “More than anything, they need to hear that no matter what you’ve done, where you’ve been, what you’ve done in the service of your country, whatever act you had to do – whether it was right or wrong – God still loves you. There is nothing we can do that can separate us from the love of Christ and restoring us to who he intended us to be.”
Between postings to Afghanistan, Matsler’s commander at Fort Bragg asked him to gain advanced education to support his chaplaincy duties. He enrolled in the Master of Theological Studies program at Duke University Divinity School in nearby Durham and focused on ethics. He continued to study combat trauma and its effect on rebuild-ing character when he earned a Master of Sacred Theology degree in bioethics in 2015 from Yale Divinity School.
His 2012 thesis, “Post Traumatic Saint,” looks at the life of Saint Francis of Assisi and his experiences as a combat veteran and prisoner of war during the early 13th century. Francesco Bernardone was born into a wealthy family in Assisi, and, as did so many of his childhood friends, he became a seasoned professional soldier and officer. By his 22nd birthday, he had gained over six years of grueling combat experience. In 1202, he helped lead a military expedition against the neighboring city-state of Perugia. One of only 12 survivors, he became a prisoner of war and spent a year in captivity. After his release, Francis had a spiritual conversion and began experiencing visions. He eventually rejected his wealthy family and embraced a life of poverty and isolation, and he made it his mission to restore the chapel at San Damiano, where the icon of the crucified Christ told him to repair the ruined church.
Matsler argues that Francis’ actions – hearing voices, seeing visions, isolating himself from family and avoiding community – constitute behaviors that when encountered today would be symptomatic of post-traumatic stress disorder. Looking for release from his pain, Francis eventually found it in the community of fellow veterans, he says.
Although his research on Francis informs Matsler’s approach to moral injury, it was his training at Perkins that taught Matsler to find in stories the truth being shared. “What does it mean when Jesus walked on water? I try to apply that same understanding when a veteran comes in and tells me something that sounds far-fetched. What do you do with that guy who claims that a cross came to life or that God spoke to him in the middle of the night? Initially I just listen and affirm what I hear them saying. It’s way too easy to discount their stories. My goal is to get nonveterans to take seriously what they hear veterans say,” Matsler adds.
Jeff Matsler teaching medical ethics at Walter Reed in 2016.Speaking to conferences throughout the country about aspects of moral injury and spiritual recovery, Matsler distinguishes between the standard approach to healing and the early Franciscan model he advocates. “The way we deal with PTSD now is through talk therapy and pharmacology. It can eliminate the physical pain but it cannot restore joy.”
In contrast, the early Franciscans sat in the community of other veterans and talked about their experiences and how their actions harmed others and them-selves. Matsler says of soldiers, “By owning their actions they can move to a stage of forgiveness, and restore joy.”
As the Army’s bioethicist, he works with Walter Reed’s medical personnel to help determine what decisions are best for a patient. He says, “Doctors ask, ‘What can we do?’ A bioethicist asks, ‘What should we do?’”
Matsler also provides insights on medical experimentation conducted by the Department of Defense involving human subjects, such as the testing of Ebola and Zika vaccines before any public use.
The medical center also works with amputees and researches new methods for improving prosthetics. “After soldiers have sustained injuries in service to their country, we want to ensure that they don’t just exist but have a quality of life,” Matsler says. “My job is to advise in such a way that we not do something that might cause undue harm now while trying to find a better way for them in the future.”
Matsler also teaches medical ethics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the Department of Defense’s medical school in Bethesda. He says this connects him back to his time at SMU: “I am now seeking to do for others what professors Allen and Carney did for me at Perkins.”
Susan White ’05 

2018 Features Spring 2018

Wearing many hats – and a crown

It’s hard to keep up with Averie Bishop ’19. The reigning Miss Asian American Texas and SMU junior has her hands full as a double major in human rights and political science, vice president of Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity and co-founder of a humanitarian charity. She segued from the Hilltop to Capitol Hill as a Congressional Fellow last summer and participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University annual meeting in October. Senior Alexis Kopp ’18, a double major in English and education with a journalism minor, recently convinced the dynamo to take five for a chat about her academic and philanthropic passions and her fairy tale Family Weekend.
Have you always done pageants?
No! It was the very first pageant I’d ever competed in. This pageant circuit is very different. Instead of a bathing suit competition, it had a cultural attire competition, where you wear clothing that represents your ethnicity; in my case, that’s Filipino on my mother’s side. It also emphasized the interview portion more than other pageants usually do.

Averie Bishop as Cinderella.
Averie Bishop played Cinderella in Into The Woods, the Family Weekend Musical presented in the fall.

What are some of your duties as Miss Asian American Texas?
I’ve been hosting community events, volunteering with many organizations and doing a lot of work with my nonprofit organization. I was also a part of the opening State Fair parade. That was a lot of fun!
What did you do as a Congressional Fellow, and what did you take away from the experience?
I worked in the U.S. House of Representatives, primarily with Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, organizing committee hearings and briefings and writing talking points. I also helped draft bills. I think a lot of people assume that the government is in shambles, and everything is chaotic and hectic and polarized. I found that people were willing to have candid conversations and listen to other opinions. That experience made me realize that I should listen more closely and think about what people are really saying.
What’s new with your nonprofit, The Tulong Foundation?
My mother, Marevi, grew up in a poverty-stricken community in the Philippines, where access to education was limited by your ability to pay for it. We started the foundation in 2015 as The Bishop Outreach Fund but have changed the name to better reflect our mission. “Tulong” means “help” in the Filipino language. We are currently helping impoverished children in the southern Philippines get an education. We also built a water well in the Banga, South Cotabato province – where my mother’s from – to provide easier access to clean water. I represented our organization at the Clinton Global Initiative conference, and I learned a lot. It made me rethink our efforts and expand our focus. We want to reach other countries in Southeast Asia and broaden our efforts to teach sustainable farming skills.
You transferred to SMU from Texas State. Describe that experience.
Both of my parents work two jobs, so it was very important that I received additional financial support. I was awarded an Honor Transfer Scholarship, which covers half of my tuition. Had I not received that assistance, I would not have been able to attend SMU, so I’m very grateful for that. Transferring here, finding a place to live and finding a good community and friends were much easier than I expected. I’m so glad I’m here!
Why did you choose your majors?
Prof. Rick Halperin, the compelling classes and my mother’s story. She struggled to get to the United States and become a citizen. I feel like the political science-human rights combination is good preparation for my future. I hope to become a lawyer with a focus on immi-gration or civil rights.
What was it like to play Cinderella in the Family Weekend Musical, Into the Woods?
It was hectic, to say the least, because we learned everything in 24 hours. Sam Weber was an incredible director!  I got to meet so many different people, and I think I really found a sort of family on campus. Before I transferred to SMU, I majored in acting, so it was great to get back into the arts. While academics are very important, I think it is important for people to have their niche or hobby, something they really enjoy doing, to go back to when they need a creative release.
What do you like best about SMU?
The community of students. The univer- sity I previously attended was very large. The classes averaged about 100 students, so people weren’t as motivated to speak to one another or contribute in class. But SMU is a good size – it’s not too big and not too small – and people are so willing to exchange ideas and listen to one another. The community is very understanding, open and accepting.

2018 February 2018 Main News

Primed for data-driven innovation

Dallas made Amazon’s shortlist of potential locations for its second headquarters. With its investment in supercomputing infrastructure and data-driven research, SMU is ready to take advantage of new opportunities and ambitious challenges.
A story in the Chronicle of Higher Education notes that SMU and other universities have been key players in cities’ bids to host the coveted HQ2. SMU President R. Gerald Turner was interviewed for the story and issued this comment on the Amazon announcement:
“Dallas is a global city ripe with opportunities for research partnerships, mentoring and internships – value added for countless students and faculty members at Dallas universities. It’s particularly true at SMU, where we are a hub for talent. We connect the dots between every discipline we teach with innovation and business acumen. SMU’s investment in one of the nation’s most powerful academic supercomputers is aimed at dramatically expanding our research and supporting federally funded research partnerships with community and business. To add Amazon’s reach, resources and leadership to our real-world classroom would be like capturing lightning in a bottle, and our students are primed to take advantage of it.”
Read more at SMU News.

2018 Alumni February 2018 News Spring 2018

Gift honors alumnus’ business acumen and love of sports

More than $5 million in contributions to his alma mater from a consortium of donors will honor SMU alumnus and energy industry leader Kyle D. Miller ’01. SMU Trustee Tucker S. Bridwell ’73, ’74 led the effort to assemble tribute gifts in recognition of Miller’s extraordinary success in the energy industry. Bridwell and his wife, Gina, personally contributed to the effort, along with other SMU alumni and industry colleagues.
In recognizing Miller’s expertise and accomplishment in the energy finance arena, the majority of the tribute will establish the Kyle D. Miller Energy Management Program and the Kyle D. Miller Energy Scholarship Fund in the Edwin L. Cox School of Business. Both initiatives will receive endowment and current-use funding. The gift also will include a naming opportunity honoring Miller and his love of athletics within SMU’s planned Indoor Performance Center.
“It’s a fitting tribute that Kyle’s colleagues have chosen to honor him by supporting both academic and athletic programs,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Kyle was named outstanding young alumnus for the Cox School of Business in May 2015, and these contributions will help position other students to find the kind of success he has achieved in energy finance.”
Read more at SMU News.

2018 February 2018 News

Technology, innovation and the law converge in new apps

In a new tech-focused class, three Dedman School of Law student teams developed consumer-friendly mobile apps designed to help legal aid organizations improve client services and streamline processes.

One app focuses on helping women who are survivors of gender-based harm, while another assists defendants in debt-claim cases who fall into the “justice gap.” A third app provides immigrants with information about their legal rights during encounters with law enforcement.
“The initiative and its valuable partnerships “benefit everyone involved,” said Jennifer Collins, Dean of SMU Dedman School of Law. “Students learn how to use technology in innovative ways to solve complex legal problems, legal aid groups can reduce cost and improve outcomes, and the law school can help underserved communities access the legal assistance they so desperately need.”
Read more at Dedman Law.

2018 Alumni February 2018 News

Charismatic career women inspire female students