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.

March 2018 News

Bringing fresh water to a Bolivian village

Spencer Meyer ’19 was on top of the world over winter break – at least that’s what it felt like at 13,000 feet on the Bolivian altiplano. Meyer and other members of SMU’s Engineers Without Borders continued work on a multiyear effort to provide a reliable source of clean water to the  village of Llojlla Grande, Bolivia. It is among the 80 projects SMU community members can support on March 8 during Mustangs Give Back, SMU’s annual 24-hour funding challenge.
Mustangs Give Back donations in 2016 helped SMU’s Engineers Without Borders start construction on the clean water system in the small community, located about two hours south of the capital city of La Paz. The village currently relies on easily contaminated shallow wells pumping water that is high in salt, manganese and arsenic.
Donations to the project on March 8 will help the team make further progress by completing water towers, piping and a tap system.
Over winter break, Meyer and fellow student Mauricio Sifuentes ’19 spent a day supervising the well installation before they were joined be other team members and spent 10 days building a well house and footings for a water tower.
On the right is a slide show featuring some of the amazing photos he took on the work trip and posted on Instagram. “No talent is required to take sweet shots in Bolivia,” he said.
Back on campus, Meyer answered a few questions for SMU Magazine:
Your majors, class year and hometown?

Mechanical engineering and math, Class of 2019, Half Moon Bay, California

Who from SMU participated in the project?

Hebah Jafferey ’20, civil engineering and human rights major
Alec Maulding ’18, mechanical engineering major
Mauricio Sifontes ’19, computer engineering major
Sam Walker ’20, mechanical engineering major
Madison Woeltje ’18, civil engineering and math major

Who were your advisors on the trip?

We had two professional advisors travel with us. Larry Bentley, electrical engineering, and Allen Savoie, civil engineering.

What was your role in the project?

I was the senior medical officer for this trip. I am now the project lead for next year’s trip.

Was this your first trip to Bolivia for the project?

This was my first trip to Bolivia and the project’s third trip:
Trip 1 in 2015 – Assessment trip
Trip 2 in 2017 – Implementation trip: drilled one well and poured one water tower footing.
Trip 3 in 2018 – Drilled the second well, poured three water tower footings and built the well houses.
Estimated project completion date is 2020. If all goes as planned, we’ll make two more trips.

What is the village’s current water source?

Currently they pull water out of the ground with hand dug wells. Cattle is their main livestock, so they constantly must provide water for the cows, too. The average milking cow (according to Larry) drinks 22 gallons of water a day. So, as you can imagine, that’s a lot of hauling buckets of water out of a hole. We hope this system will make their lives significantly easier.

What are your favorite memories of the experience?

  • Playing soccer with the kids in the community at sunset. The kids were around 12 to 14 years old and only spoke Spanish, but that didn’t matter. They kicked our a– and won 6–1. It didn’t help that we were playing at 13,000 feet.
  • Everybody in the community came out to help us dig holes for the water tower footings. Each tower footing was 20x9x3-feet. We couldn’t find a cement mixing truck in Bolivia for rent, so we had to use hand mixers. In three days we made four cement trucks worth of cement with two hand mixers. The women, children and elderly were digging harder than we could keep up with. There was a total language barrier. They didn’t speak English, and we didn’t speak Spanish, yet we were still able to accomplish a huge amount of work together. We worked with the community from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day to dig and mix concrete. We had no problem sleeping after working that hard!
  • Seeing a new aspect of life. It might sound stereotypical, but going without electronics or showering for 10 days can really give you a new perspective on how lucky we are in America.

Will you be going back to work on the project?

We will hopefully be returning next January in 2019, but that depends if we raise enough funds for supplies. We heavily rely on our donors for support. This coming year we plan to install the water towers and wire up the pumps. We are currently deciding between running the pumps off solar panels or having a Bolivian power company install a transformer closer to the pump for us.

What have your learned through your participation in the Bolivian water project?

  • This project has allowed me to use my engineering experience I’ve developed at SMU and apply it to real-world problems.
  • Things are always easier on paper.
  • We are extremely lucky to live in America.

Read more about Mustangs Give Back.

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.