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 January 2018 News

Honoring a legacy of service and sacrifice

The SMU community is invited to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by walking in the City of Dallas parade on January 15 and participating in campus events during Dream Week 2018.
Alumni, students, parents, friends and other members of the SMU community are welcome to represent the University in Dallas’ annual parade on the national holiday on January 15 honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Participants will meet at 7:50 a.m. at the Mustang Parking Center, located at 6001 Bush Avenue, to depart together to the parade site. As they follow the mile route, parade participants will hand out giveaways, hold signs and show SMU’s commitment to unity on this historic day. The bus will return to campus at 11:30 a.m.
Find more information here.
The annual MLK Unity Walk through campus will launch Dream Week 2018 on Tuesday, January 23. Other events include the MLK Day of Service on Saturday, January 27, a volunteer effort to lend a hand to a wide variety of North Texas nonprofit organizations.
Read more about Dream Week 2018 and the MLK Day of Service.

2018 Alumni January 2018 News

Mourning the loss of an extraordinary alumna

Renowned civic and philanthropic leader Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler ’48 died on December 8, 2017, leaving a legacy of leadership, friendship and generosity focused on institutions dedicated to improving lives. A memorial service was held at Highland Park United Methodist Church on December 14.
As a leader she was known for her intelligence, decisiveness, legendary fundraising skills and sense of humor. As a result, Altshuler became the first woman to lead numerous Dallas boards and organizations, including the Board of Trustees of her alma mater, SMU. Education, health and services for some of the most downtrodden members of society were areas that attracted her support, but her generosity touched nearly every Dallas civic organization. Her influence, however, went far beyond Dallas. Altshuler was recognized nationally and internationally as a dedicated civic leader and philanthropist.
“The loss of Ruth leaves a major hole in the hearts of us all,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Ruth was my dear friend as well as a tireless fighter for SMU and all causes she believed in. She didn’t do anything halfway. Her work on behalf of Dallas and SMU was legendary years ago, and yet she continued to lead and inspire us year after year. Her impact on her city and her University will live on forever.”
A Dallas native and 1948 SMU graduate, Altshuler served on the SMU Board of Trustees for 50 years. She brought knowledge and understanding of every aspect of University life to her position, along with a great love of SMU.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 January 2018 News

New gift goes to the heart of academic goals

A $1 million gift from the Moody Foundation will support renovation of Meadows School of the Arts facilities and key education research by Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
Renovation of Owen Arts Center will update existing spaces and add new space for the Divisions of Art, Art History and Creative Computation. At the Simmons School, the gift will expand cross-disciplinary research with other SMU schools as well.
“This gift goes to the heart of SMU’s academic mission and purpose and being a premier research and teaching institution,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are delighted to partner with the Moody Foundation again to achieve our academic goals.”
“We are pleased to be able to continue the Moody Foundation’s interest in the arts and our longstanding commitment to education research in Texas,” said Frances Moody-Dahlberg, Chairman and Executive Director.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 January 2018 News

Meet SMU’s first Schwarzman Scholar

SMU senior Benjamin H. Chi was named a 2019 Schwarzman Scholar, one of 140 students selected globally to receive the honor. Schwarzman Scholars are selected on the basis of academic aptitude, intellectual ability, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, ability to anticipate and act on emerging trends and opportunities, exemplary character, and desire to understand other cultures, perspectives and positions.
A native of Dallas, Chi is SMU’s first Schwarzman Scholar. The Schwarzman program provides a one-year master’s degree in global affairs from Tsinghua University in Beijing.
“It’s a validation of all the work I’ve put in so far and also the next best step for me professionally,” Chi says. “The Schwarzman scholarship talks a lot about leadership in the application and interview process, and I hope to build on that skillset. What I really want to take away also is an understanding of Chinese culture and to bolster my language skill. I want to understand how Chinese people view culture, America and policy.”
Read more at SMU News.

2018 Alumni January 2018 Spring 2018

Cyber grad’s road took a necessary detour

Michael Taylor will be the first to tell you that he was not ready for college when he graduated from Plano East High School in 2006. And he’ll also tell you that nobody was more surprised than he was when SMU admitted him in 2014, a little later than the average undergrad.
But Taylor’s disciplined approach to life, honed through five years in the Marine Corps, combined with the intelligence he learned to tap, has earned him a master’s degree from SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering that will be awarded Dec. 16.  And after proving his mettle as a student researcher in Lyle’s Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security, Taylor has been awarded the first Raytheon IIS Cyber Elite Graduate Fellowship, which will fund his Ph.D. in quantum computing at SMU and then put him to work as an employee at Raytheon.
Taylor learned to focus on the details in the Marine Corps. He had sampled community college very briefly after high school, but it didn’t stick. He knew he didn’t have skills to trade for a decent job, so joining the Marine Corps made sense to him.
“Honestly? In retrospect, I wasn’t ready for school,” Taylor acknowledged.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 Alumni January 2018

Scholarship turns a long shot into a sure thing

Military veteran Evan Atkinson ’17 thought he would be shut out of law school until an SMU scholarship opened the door to a life-changing opportunity.
His journey started years before he ever considered college. The events of 9/11 and the aftermath shaped his profound love of country and call to duty. He enlisted in the military in 2005, straight out of high school. He was drawn to the Army by his natural affinity for its Seven Core Army Values, including loyalty, duty and selfless service.
Expecting to serve four years, Atkinson instead stayed for nine. He grew up in the Army, worked hard, married and had kids. He even took online courses to earn a bachelor’s degree from what he joked was a “fake college.” He knew and loved the Army, and it was comfortable. But it wasn’t enough.
While considering his options for the future, he took the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). Although he scored well, he looked at law school as a long shot. How would he, a soldier from “a little Podunk town outside of San Antonio,” manage law school when he hadn’t even been to a “real” college? But an even bigger question for him: How would he support his family?
One night, as he was driving home from work on base, Atkinson received a call from a “214” number. His heart rate jumped. While still driving, he answered the phone and couldn’t believe what he heard. SMU had accepted his application – and was offering him a scholarship!
He plunged into life as a Dedman School of Law student. He served as editor-in-chief of the SMU Science & Technology Law Review (2016–17), was vice president of the Veterans Law Association and the Association for Public Interest Law, volunteered with Dallas Kids public service project and excelled in legal competitions.
A 2017 cum laude graduate of Dedman School of Law, he now serves as a judicial clerk in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas. After completing the clerkship, he hopes to continue his career in bankruptcy law.
Atkinson says he left SMU with a new perspective.
“While in law school, I was very impressed by the Dallas legal community, both in the importance the community puts on pro bono work and also by SMU alums who go out of their way to help current students and to give back to the school,” he says. “I entered law school believing in the importance of giving back to the community but left with a new understanding of what that means.”
Annual gifts to SMU for current use support scholarships for students such as Evan Atkinson and power every part of the University. Read about Pony Power: Strengthening the Stampede to learn how you can make an immediate impact on today’s students.

2018 Alumni January 2018 Spring 2018

What’s in a name? Inspiration and motivation

Biko McMillan was supposed to be named “Stanley,” after his grandfather. But his father wanted a name that came with a legacy, so he named him after Steve Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist and leader of its 1960s and ’70s black consciousness movement.
“When I think of my name, it’s a lot to carry,” says McMillan.
The SMU senior biological sciences and Spanish major from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, is graduating Dec. 16. But McMillan is well on his way to living up to his name, says Creston Lynch, SMU director of multicultural affairs and a mentor to McMillan.
“Biko is an amazing example of how SMU shapes leaders,” Lynch says.
After commencement McMillan plans to earn graduate degrees in science and public health. His dream? To become a researcher and leader at the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 Fall 2018 January 2018 News

Economist wins prestigious award with bribery research

Guilt and shame play a role in reducing bribery, according to research by SMU economist Danila Serra.
As an economist who has studied bribery behavior extensively, Serra has discovered that bribery declines if potentially corrupt agents are made aware of the negative effects of corruption, and when victims can share specific information about bribe demands through online reporting systems.
An assistant professor in the SMU Department of Economics, Serra’s research methodology is unique – relying on lab experiments in which players gain and lose real money. Her work is frequently cited by other researchers studying the field of bribery.
In November the directors and officers of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics honored Serra as the inaugural recipient of the $50,000 Vernon L. Smith Ascending Scholar Prize. The Smith Prize is described by the foundation as a “budding genius” award.
Read more at SMU News.

2018 January 2018 News

Arts groups must stay on their toes to survive

The National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) at SMU released a new report on December 13, 2017, detailing the financial health of arts organizations in the United States.
The new report examines organizational bottom lines using data collected from over 4,800 organizations between 2013 and 2016. Overall, the report shows that it has become increasingly difficult for arts and cultural organizations to break even, a trend that is particularly alarming given the nation’s  current period of economic growth.
“As we all know, the arts are heavily labor intensive and salaries naturally rise over time, but the technology-driven productivity increases that drive efficiencies in many industries just don’t apply, making the cost of doing business in the arts a challenge—a phenomenon recognized for decades as ‘Baumol’s cost disease,’” said Zannie Voss, NCAR director. “As with all NCAR’s work, this report is designed to help organizations and the individuals and institutions that support them better understand the state of the field, rethink traditional operating models, and spark new strategies that advance the financial sustainability of the field.”
Read more at SMU Meadows.

2018 Alumni January 2018 News

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

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