2017 May 2017 May 2017 Main News

A slam dunk for literacy

He was seldom a starter on the SMU mens basketball team, but you’d never know it from his fans: Graduating senior guard Jonathan Wilfong made an impact every time he played at Moody Coliseum home games.
The crowd loved him, yelling out his name in overly long syllables (Wil-foooooong!) when he stepped onto the court. But as much as he’s been loved by the raucous crowds at Moody, and by the coaching staff  that admires his dedication, there’s another set of fans who mean even more to Wilfong – the kids he is helping through his “Coaching for Literacy” program.
Now that he’s graduating, he hopes to both continue his work with the program, as well as expand it to other colleges and universities.
Wilfong’s degree from the Cox School of Business helped give him the know-how to expand the charity. In fact, the degree is part of what brought Wilfong to SMU in the first place.
“I wanted to attend a school where I could play basketball and also get a business degree,” Wilfong said. “I could have gone to a smaller school and played more, but I knew what I wanted to study and I knew where my future was. SMU offered the best of both worlds.”
Read more at SMU News.

2017 May 2017 News

Prestigious academy taps professor

Noted SMU anthropologist Caroline Brettell joins actress Carol Burnett, musician John Legend, playwright Lynn Nottage, immunologist James Allison and other renowned leaders in various fields as a newly elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She and other members of the Class of 2017 will be inducted at a ceremony on October 7 at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Her research centers on ethnicity, migration and the immigrant experience. Much of her work has focused on the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex as a new immigration gateway city, especially on how immigrants practice citizenship and civic engagement as they meld into existing economic, social and political structures. She has special expertise in cross-cultural perspectives on gender, the challenges specific to women immigrants, how the technology boom affects immigration, and how the U.S.-born children of immigrants construct their identities and a sense of belonging. An immigrant herself, Brettell was born in Canada and became a U.S. citizen in 1993.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 May 2017 News

May 20: All-University Commencement

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the National Institutes of Health who may be best known for leading the Human Genome Project (HGP), will be the featured speaker during SMU’s 102nd all-University Commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 20, in Moody Coliseum.
Dr. Collins – whose own personal research efforts led to the isolation of the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome – will receive the Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa, from SMU during the ceremony. The entire event, including Collins’ address, will be streamed at and on SMU Facebook Live, beginning at 9 a.m. (CT).
SMU also will award honorary degrees to pioneering astrophysicist Francis Halzen; attorney, business leader and philanthropist Nancy Nasher; and E.P. Sanders ’62, an alumnus of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology and internationally respected New Testament scholar. The four distinguished leaders in science, the arts and theology will be celebrated during presentations and discussions in the days leading up to Commencement.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni May 2017

George Killebrew ’85: Helping SMU students break into the big time

Connor Kolodziej ’19 was so excited about his winter break externship that he was up by 5:30 a.m. so he would be early to the office of George Killebrew ’85, executive vice president with the Dallas Mavericks.

Kolodziej didn’t know what to expect going in. He just knew a chance to work in a sports organization was something he’d always dreamed about. Dallas’ five professional sports teams had attracted the Atlanta, Georgia, resident and lifelong sports lover to SMU, where he is majoring in applied physiology and sport management in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. So it made perfect sense to pursue a one-day opportunity to get an inside look at the business operations of a legendary team.

Little did he know then that it would land him a three-month summer internship with the team.

SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center connected Kolodziej with Killebrew, who’d received his BBA from the Cox School of Business. “When I found out George was with the Mavericks, I was very excited,” says Kolodziej. “The day exceeded my expectations. I understood the daily operations. Everyone was friendly and happy, and that really encouraged me about my future.”

“It’s actually a simple thing,” says Killebrew, who is also a member of the SMU Alumni Board. “Anytime someone comes in, whether it’s for a summerlong internship or a day’s externship, we want to make sure they get a full flavor of the organization and the different business roles within. A lot of people see the Mavericks and think about the basketball piece of it. But we’re over in a warehouse in Deep Ellum. We’re selling tickets and sponsorships and merchandise. Connor came in and spent pretty much the whole day with us. My whole staff took time with him. So everybody had 30 or 45 minutes with him. We’re always trying to help out – especially someone who wants to get into sports.”

Kolodziej values how the externship helped with his longer-term career aspirations. “I got to make new connections and meet new people who didn’t go to SMU. It also helped me see new aspects – so it broadened my horizon about where I’d like to go in the future.”

He parlayed his winter externship into a summer internship by “staying in contact with George and everyone else I talked to during my winter externship. You never know what is out there unless you ask.” In assisting the Mavs’ corporate sponsorship team this summer with promotions and programs, Kolodziej hopes to gain deeper insights into sports organizations and continue to “learn as much as possible.”

Killebrew, who grew up in Hawaii, credits his SMU education and SMU connections to getting him where he is now. “I was a bit sheltered growing up on an island. When I got to SMU, I met people from all different walks of life, all 50 states and a lot of foreign countries. That really helped prepare me for the real world.”

After graduation, Killebrew worked in the SMU Alumni association for two years, then “I got a job in the Athletics department at SMU. So I was working for the Mustang Club, which opened the door to get me here to the Mavericks – because the people at SMU were helping me take the next steps.”
Killebrew encourages others to take advantage of SMU alumni connections. “There are so many resources, in the city of Dallas and within the SMU alumni community, that you can pretty much accomplish anything you want, regardless of your field. Alumni are willing to help. They just need to be asked.”

Kolodziej appreciates how SMU is helping him pursue the career of his dreams and emphatically recommends the externship experience to other SMU students. “I loved the whole day. I learned so much. SMU has a great connection with alumni, and George pushed home the importance of networking and meeting new people, especially as a student in college. And the most important thing I learned is to find a good place not just to work, but also to enjoy what you do.”

2017 Alumni Fall 2017 May 2017

Success started with a ‘no’

Dylan DeMuth ’17 started classes at the University of Texas School of Medicine in San Antonio in July. He credits a “no” from an SMU professor with changing his life and putting him on track for a career in medicine.
When DeMuth wanted to enroll Eric Bing’s global health class, the professor told the premed student that he was not yet qualified and offered a challenge: “Improve your grades and call me in a month.”
A sophomore chemistry and economics major with a 3.0 grade point average at the time, DeMuth sought tutoring before his midterm exams, instead of waiting until he was struggling with challenging science and math courses. He met with Bing, professor of global health and director of SMU’s global health program in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, a month later to report improvement on his midterm tests – the beginning of a mentorship that inspired DeMuth to re-choreograph his life.
DeMuth, determined to fulfill his passion for study and working in global health, followed Bing’s advice to develop a mission and find his strengths. He began each day with what Bing calls “10-10-10,” a daily practice of 10 minutes of reading, 10 minutes of meditating and 10 minutes of journaling.
When the opportunity to enroll in Bing’s global health class rolled around again, DeMuth was the first person admitted to the class.
With Bing’s encouragement, DeMuth has conducted his own global health research.
“Dylan is a natural. He understands people in a way he doesn’t yet realize,” Bing says. “Mentoring him is lighting a torch that someone once lit in me.”
Read more at SMU News.

2017 May 2017 News

Small device, big innovation

It’s about the size of a slice of bread, costs roughly $60 to purchase and assemble, and packs the potential to improve the lives of thousands of patients around the globe with Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases.
The portable bioelectric impedance analyzer developed by graduating SMU seniors Taylor Barg, Allison Garcia, Danya Hoban, Mar McCreary and Hyun Song measures electric current pulsing through the body to assess muscle health. For someone who otherwise might have to endure a painful needle biopsy or costly MRI to measure the progress of their disease, this small device would be a welcome improvement.
The women have been working together on the device since the beginning of the academic year as their senior design project in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering.
“Our goal was to create an affordable, accessible device that was non-invasive and non-intimidating,” says group spokesperson McCreary, a mechanical engineering major with a premedical/biomedical specialization. She recently presented their research at the 2017 HUNTALKS hosted by the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, a pipeline for student innovation with social impact at SMU.
Their research is particularly relevant now because of the increasing number of health issues and deaths attributed to neurodegeneration in the rapidly growing population of aging Americans. McCreary points out that the Parkinson’s mortality rate has jumped 330 percent over the last 40 years. In addition to the comfort factor inherent in their design, the diagnostic and monitoring applications of their device could improve the odds for older patients living in rural areas without easy access to doctors and medical services.
Each student on the team contributed ideas and expertise in her field. Hoban also is a mechanical engineering major with a premedical/biomedical specialization, while Barg is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. Garcia and Song are electrical engineering (EE) majors in the “4+1” program, which enables them to complete a master’s degree in one year after earning a bachelor’s degree.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 May 2017 News

Pulling back the curtain

Strong academic records, writing ability and an active love of journalism translated into scholarships recently for Meadows students Jacquelyn Elias and Hannah Ellisen.
Jacquelyn, a junior pursuing degrees in journalism, creative computing and computer science, was one of seven students to win the prestigious Founders’ scholarship from the Headliners Foundation of Texas; Hannah, a junior pursuing journalism and public relations & strategic communication degrees, was the sole winner of the foundation’s Texas Associated Press Broadcasters scholarship award.
Read more at Meadows School of the Arts.

2017 May 2017 News

Global marketing expert to lead Cox

Matthew B. Myers, a global marketing and strategy expert with special expertise in cross-border business relationships and Latin American economies, has been named dean of SMU’s Cox School of Business. He will assume his new duties on August 1, at which point Albert W. Niemi Jr., who has been dean of the school since 1997, will transition to full-time teaching.
As dean and Mitchell P. Rales Chair of Business Leadership of the Farmer School of Business at Miami University of Ohio, Myers manages an $80 million budget and recently launched the first independent fund-raising campaign for a college at Miami University. The $200 million effort includes a $40 million lead gift, the largest philanthropic gift in Miami history. The Farmer School of Business is a top-10 producer of Fortune 500 CEOs and maintains undergraduate, graduate and executive programs with a student body of approximately 4,300 and more than 250 faculty and staff members.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 May 2017 News

Simmons School welcomes new dean

Stephanie L. Knight, a nationally recognized education leader, researcher and professor, has been named dean of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. The current associate dean and professor of education in the College of Education at Pennsylvania State University will assume her new duties at SMU on August 1.
Knight began her education career as a classroom teacher of Spanish and French in Texas, Saudi Arabia and Pennsylvania. She received her doctorate in Curriculum and instruction at the University of Houston before beginning a 20-year tenure at Texas A&M University, where she was professor of educational psychology and teaching, learning and culture. In addition, she held the Houston Endowment, Inc. Chair in Urban Education at Texas A&M, received the University Distinguished Teaching Award and was named a University Faculty Fellow. Knight joined Pennsylvania State University in 2009 as professor of educational psychology, where she taught courses in educational psychology and effective learning. In 2013 she became associate dean at Penn State, leading the College of Education’s undergraduate and graduate studies programs.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 May 2017 News

Practical tools for spiritual leaders

Perkins School of Theology announces two new degree concentrations – presented in partnership with SMU’s Cox School of Business and Meadows School of the Arts – designed to strengthen future clergy in the area of church management and to equip those pursuing nontraditional forms of ministry that encourage social innovation.
The Church Management and Social Innovation and Nonprofit Engagement concentrations will be available in fall 2017 to Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Arts in Ministry (M.A.M.) students.
Read more at Perkins School of Theology.

2017 May 2017 News

Summer fun, lasting learning

Calling all adventurers for a learning expedition with the SMU Summer Youth Program! Explore weekly workshops in game design, coding, robotics, visual arts, math and language arts, as well as SAT and ACT test prep. Programs are offered for students entering grades K-12 from June 5 to August 4 on the SMU-in-Plano campus. Extended day options are available. Popular classes fill early, so register today. Use the code ALUMSY17 at checkout for 20 percent off.
Read more at SMU Summer Youth Program.

2017 Alumni May 2017 News

In case you missed it: May 2017

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