2021 Alumni June 2021 News

Game. Set. Match.

A $4 million gift from Mark ’87 and Jennifer Styslinger ’86 and the Altec/Styslinger Foundation will shape and sustain future tennis champions in the newly named Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex. This gift is in addition to a long history of support for the SMU tennis programs and complex.Since its opening in 2015, the 45,000-square-foot complex has quickly become recognized as a premier facility for tennis competition and training; it earned the 2019 USTA Facility Award, which was awarded during the 2019 U.S. Open.
“Jennifer and I met at SMU, and we were thrilled to have the chance to support a place that has been so important in our lives,” said Mark Styslinger, senior vice president of sales and service for Altec Inc., a manufacturing company founded in 1929 by his grandfather, Lee J. Styslinger, Sr. “Tennis was fundamental in shaping who I am, and I know this complex has already begun providing opportunities for other young student-athletes to achieve their goals as well, and will continue doing so in the future.”
Read more at SMU News.

2021 June 2021 News

Leading the way to a brighter, bolder future

Thanks to support totaling more than $145 million from Mustangs like you, SMU is celebrating the end of another record-breaking fiscal year marked by unbridled generosity, building momentum for our next comprehensive fundraising campaign.
Invest in world changers.

2021 Alumni June 2021 News

Thank you, George Killebrew ’85!

For the last two years, George Killebrew ’85 has been a voice for all alumni. As SMU Alumni Board chair, he led the charge to bring the SMU Alumni Board to prominence and give all alumni voices a conduit to University leadership. His responsibilities included serving as the alumni trustee to the SMU Board of Trustees and on the standing committees for Academic Affairs, Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Development and External Affairs and Legal Affairs.
Perhaps his favorite part of being board chair was the opportunity to speak during Commencement to each graduating class. “This weekend, you’re about to join something extraordinary,” he said at the May 2018 ceremony. “The SMU alumni community is 130,000 strong and spans the entire globe. So no matter where you go, you’ll always have family.”

Tenure highlights

In early 2020, when fears surrounding the coronavirus kept people at home, George rallied the board. He kept them connected with hybrid in-person and virtual meetings. Members worked together to hold a safe and fun Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony during the traditional Homecoming Weekend.
Official @SMUAlumniNetwork Instagram and Facebook accounts were launched. Social media and monthly newsletters highlighted the creative ways alumni and the entire Mustang community came together. Unprecedented times saw an unprecedented response as gifts poured in to support urgent needs in the SMU community.
Alumni Cary Pierce ’91 and Jack O’Neil ’90 of the band Jackopierce kicked off a new series of virtual events for alumni, by alumni, aptly titled Stampede in Place. Other alumni leveraged their unique talents and resources as well in a wide range of ways, from converting existing businesses to accommodate the demand for much needed personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer, to distributing donated personal hygiene essentials and food. Alumni gave new meaning to the term Mustang Strong.
SMU Giving Day 2021 was record-breaking. More undergraduate alumni participated than ever before, by raising awareness about the 24-hour fundraising blitz, making donations and sponsoring matching gifts. And despite having fewer students attending class on campus at the time, more students than ever before donated to Giving Day causes. More than 8,000 gifts comprised more than $2.5 million raised for 216 SMU causes in one day.

George had his sights set on elevating the board from the beginning. And, despite unprecedented times, he successfully led the charge to champion a more connected, invested and informed Mustang alumni community. His term as chair kicked off a new era in SMU alumni engagement. We are so grateful.
– Astria Smith, senior executive director for Annual Giving and Alumni Relations

A little more about George

The Honolulu native has been fiercely committed to the Mustang family since his graduation more than 35 years ago. He started as a young alumni volunteer advocate, and, since then, has volunteered on the Tate Board, Athletic Forum Board, reunion committees and in numerous other capacities. During his board tenure, George also dutifully served on SMU’s Pony Power leadership committee, where he helped advance giving for the University’s current-use needs.
George and his wife live in Dallas with their two sons. He is a collector of sports cards and sports memorabilia and enjoys running, golfing, horse racing and cooking. He is an avid Mustang sports fan and attends as many home athletic events as he can.
Currently: Commissioner, Major League Rugby
Previously: Executive vice president, Dallas Mavericks

The next chapter

Last month, George completed his two-year term as chair and will move into an ex officio capacity for one year. On May 14, during the last Alumni Board meeting of 2020–2021, George ceremoniously passed the gavel to Alumni Board Chair-elect Kristin W. Henderson ’82. Her official term started June 1 and will continue through May 31, 2023.
“You have represented alumni well,” says Brad E. Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs at SMU, expressing his gratitude to George. “Whether it was during outdoor Commencement ceremonies in 100-plus degree temperatures, at Baccalaureates, at student ring ceremonies – and everything in between.”
Visit SMU Alumni to learn more about our alumni community.

2021 Alumni June 2021 News

‘Believe in yourself … to unlock your own power’

Watch Whitney Wolfe Herd ’11, founder and CEO of Bumble, delivering the address at May Commencement, and enjoy photos of golden moments as the classes of 1970 and 1971 gathered at graduation and for their 50-year reunion.

2021 Alumni June 2021

Meet some of our newest young alums

Our newest graduates navigated uncharted waters during three school terms shaped by the pandemic, but they never let that sink their big dreams or cloud their optimism about the future.
Read more: Here we go, Mustangs!

2021 June 2021 News

Biochemistry major earns Goldwater Scholarship

Carefully nurturing the cancer cells she uses in SMU biology professor Pia Vogel’s research lab is routine for SMU junior Gabrielle Gard ’22, who has been working in sophisticated research labs since she was a junior in high school. Her dogged pursuit of hands-on research is just one of the reasons she has received a 2021–22 Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most prestigious national science awards presented to undergraduate students.
Because of Gabrielle’s interests and accomplishments in science, SMU awarded her the Provost Scholarship, the SMU Discovery Scholarship, the Dedman College Scholarship and the BRITE Scholarship. Gabrielle says the invitation to become a Dedman College Scholar was key to her decision to attend SMU.  The program provides faculty mentoring, an active community of like-minded peers and unique learning opportunities.
“Knowing that I would come to SMU with a cohort of students from a variety of disciplines that would challenge me academically and outside of the classroom was a huge pull for me,” she says.
Read more at Dedman College.

2021 June 2021

World Athletics ruling based on SMU study

A World Athletics panel ruling that Paralympic sprinter Blake Leeper cannot compete using unnaturally long, blade-like prostheses at the Tokyo Olympics was based on research led by renowned SMU human speed expert Peter Weyand.

The governing body for track and field athletes said Monday that Leeper’s disproportionately long prostheses, would give him an “overall competitive advantage.” The ruling follows testing by Weyand and University of Montana professor Matt Bundle on Leeper and his running specific prostheses (RSPs) at SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory.
Weyand is Glenn Simmons Professor of Applied Physiology and professor of biomechanics in the Department of Applied Physiology & Wellness in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. He also runs the SMU Locomotor laboratory and has done extensive analysis of many professional sprinters, including Usain Bolt and Oscar Pistorius. Bundle is the director of University of Montana’s Biomechanics Lab.
Read more at SMU Research.

2021 Alumni June 2021 News

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Check out more great stories and videos about the people, projects and events making news on the Hilltop.