2018 April 2018

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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.