2016 News Spring 2016

From 100, Charging Ahead


2016 News Spring 2016

Celebrating Historic Generosity

Founders’ Day 2016 marked another milestone in the history of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign. In addition to the campus campaign finale celebrating $1.15 billion raised in gifts and pledges, Founders’ Day April 15 honored more than 65,000 donors to the campaign.

Among them are 10,000 individuals whose names are now literally etched into the history of SMU. They gave funds for pavers, at $100 each, to create a new campus promenade. The pavers are engraved with the donors’ names or the names of others they wish to honor – families, friends, favorite professor or administrators. Invited to share online their stories behind the pavers, donors recalled special memories ranging from “this is where I met my wife” to “these professors changed my life.”

A 2012 gift from the Crain Foundation enabled construction of the Crain Family Centennial Promenade, which in turn offered the opportunity for others to join in with honorific pavers. The promenade makes the campus more pedestrian-friendly, linking the Hughes-Trigg Student Center on the north with the new Residential Commons complex on the southern end of the campus. It is a convenient passageway to sites including the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Moody Coliseum, Collins Executive Education Center and Blanton Student Services Building. The Crain family represents three generations of SMU alumni.

ImpactGraphisThe Crain Promenade provides the setting for other historic markers on campus – a permanent plaque wall, over 6 feet in height, honoring the highest-level donors who have made campaign history with the size and scope of their giving. They include 183 donors of $1 million and up and 601 supporters giving from $100,000 to $999,000.

“It takes donors at every level for a campaign to succeed,” says Brad E. Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. “We appreciate every gift and are pleased that our campaign finale could honor so many generous donors. These donors are paving the way into our second century of achievement.”

The Founders’ Day campaign finale celebrated the official campaign results reported to the University’s Board of Trustees at its February meeting. The $1.15 billion total represents the largest campaign amount raised by any private institution in Texas.

The campaign is providing 689 new student scholarships; raising the previous number of 62 endowed faculty positions to a new total of 116; and supporting 68 new or significantly enhanced academic programs and initiatives, including endowments for two schools. Twenty-four capital projects have been substantially funded, including new facilities for academic programs, student housing and athletics. Other gifts for campus enhancements support expanded career services and leadership programs.

SMU joins 34 private universities nationwide that have undertaken campaigns of $1 billion or more. The institutions include Columbia University, the University of Notre Dame, and Emory and Vanderbilt universities.


Among academic program enhancements, campaign resources enabled SMU to endow the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering and SMU’s newest and seventh degree-granting school, the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

AchievementsGraphic2Also endowed during the campaign was the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crime Against Women at the Dedman School of Law and other innovative legal clinics and centers. The new Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security in the Lyle School is an example of new interdisciplinary programs, joining expertise in engineering, political science and psychology.

Mirroring the importance of the arts in a thriving community, the Meadows Foundation provided the largest single gift to the campaign, $45 million, the largest in SMU history. The gift benefits SMU’s Meadows Museum and the Meadows School of the Arts, which offer collections and events that strengthen cultural programs of the region.


New funding for student scholarships will enable SMU to attract greater numbers of high-quality students. Those who remain in Dallas after graduation will strengthen the talent pool in the area, while those who leave for other cities will elevate recognition of SMU’s success in producing outstanding professionals.

“What this campaign will do for the next generation of leaders, researchers, innovators, artists and entrepreneurs is impossible to measure at this time, but the impact will be unprecedented,” says Gerald J. Ford ’66, ’69, trustee and convening co-chair of The Second Century Campaign.

New endowed scholarships created include support for undergraduates and graduate students in all seven schools of the University. New support also is being provided for SMU’s top two merit scholarship programs – the Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt Leadership Scholars and the SMU President’s Scholars.

Endowments for new faculty positions enable SMU to broaden the subjects taught and researched at the University. Faculty endowments provide support for research projects in addition to salaries, and enhanced research enables SMU scholars to make an impact on their varied disciplines and global issues.


New campaign-funded facilities include buildings for the Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Perkins School of Theology and Lyle School of Engineering, as well as a new Mustang Band Hall, new tennis center, and renovation and expansion of Moody Coliseum for athletics and academic ceremonies. In progress are the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center and Fondren Library Center renovation, parts of which were dedicated on April 15, such as the Fondren Foundation Centennial Reading Room.

Upcoming construction projects include the Gerald J. Ford Research Center and the Robson-Lindley Aquatics Center. At SMU-in-Taos, new facilities include a campus center, new and renovated housing and a chapel.

One of the most visible campaign projects is the addition of five new residence halls and a dining center as part of SMU’s new Residential Commons system, including on-site classes and faculty in residence. Six other halls have been renovated as Commons.

The Second Century Campaign was launched in 2008 with a goal of $750 million. Rapid progress toward that goal and opportunities for further advancements led SMU leaders to increase the goal to $1 billion. The last four years of the campaign, 2011-2015, coincided with SMU’s centennial era, marking the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and opening in 1915.


The multiyear centennial commemoration has provided SMU with greater opportunities to recognize its special relati
onship with Dallas. In 1911, the city fought to become the location of the new university being planned by Methodist Church leaders, who then partnered with the city in establishing SMU in and for Dallas.

“Dallas and SMU have grown up together, and both are experiencing an era of great promise and momentum,” says Michael M. Boone ’63, ’67, chair of SMU’s Board of Trustees and a campaign co-chair. “I’m thrilled that this fundraising success helps ensure that SMU will continue to play a pivotal role in advancing the growth and entrepreneurial culture of Dallas.”

The prominence of SMU now transcends regional recognition.

“All major metropolitan areas have at least one nationally competitive university that educates the area’s workforce and leadership, serves as an intellectual and cultural hub and, through its research and innovation, contributes to the broader progress of society,” says President R. Gerald Turner. “SMU is proud to be that university for Dallas, with an impact that is national and global.”

2016 News Spring 2016

Stories That Paved The Way For The New Crain Family Centennial Promenade

SMU dedicated the Crain Family Centennial Promenade during Founders’ Weekend April 15-16 and paid tribute to the long-standing support of the Crain family. A 2012 gift from the Crain Foundation enabled the family to continue advancing the beauty of the campus through the promenade. The walkway makes the campus more pedestrian-friendly, linking the Hughes-Trigg Student Center on the north with the Residential Commons complex on the southern end of the campus.

Lawson M. Crain ’11 and B. W. Crain IV ’05 attended the dedication of the Crain Family Centennial Promenade on Founders’ Day. The cousins are grandsons of the late Ann Lacy Crain ’41 and represent their family’s third generation of SMU alumni.
Lawson M. Crain ’11 and B. W. Crain IV ’05 attended the dedication of the Crain Family Centennial Promenade on Founders’ Day. The cousins are grandsons of the late Ann Lacy Crain ’41 and represent their family’s third generation of SMU alumni.

“This is a joyful day for all of us,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Not only are we celebrating a job well done by our major donors and legions of others, but we invited our friends and families to stroll this beautiful new promenade and read the inscriptions. It’s a perfect finale for The Second Century Campaign and a lasting tribute to our generous donors.”
The Crain family’s ties to SMU began with the late Ann Lacy Crain ’41. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She later became president of R. Lacy, Inc., an oil and gas production corporation founded by her father, Rogers Lacy, and based in her home community of Longview, Texas. She also was president of the Crain Foundation. Mrs. Crain served her alma mater as a member of the SMU Board of Trustees from 1984 to 1987 and as a member of the Dedman College Executive Board.
Ann Lacy married Bluford Walter “B.W.” Crain, Jr. and they had three children: Lacy Crain, B. Walter Crain, III ’72 and Rogers Lacy Crain. The Crain family comprises three generations of SMU alumni.
Crain Foundation support includes funding of the Ann Lacy Crain Fountain on the east plaza of the Blanton Student Services Building, as well as support of Meadows School of the Arts, Edwin L. Cox School of Business, the Hamon Arts Library Building Fund, the SMU Annual Fund and Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, among other areas.
As part of dedication festivities for the Crain Family Centennial Promenade, donors of engraved pavers were asked to share the stories behind the bricks. While there are thousands of stories, many reveal common themes of a passion for learning, a love of SMU and the  bonds that were formed on the Hilltop. Here are just a few of them:

JackMeredithPaverFor paver donor Jack Benage ’11, ’13, SMU is where he found the love of his life: “I donated this paver as a Valentine’s Day gift to Meredith Levine ’11, ’14, commemorating the day that we met  on campus years ago. As it turns out, months later I asked her to marry me  just steps from where the pavers [were]  placed. Our paver is now a lasting tangible reminder of SMU’s role in bringing us together!”

PolySciPaverKellie P. Johnson ’95 honored Professors Brad Carter, Dennis Simon and Joe Kobylka: “I graduated with my B.S. in poli sci in 1995. I took almost every class taught by Drs. Simon, Carter and Kobylka. They were, by far, my favorite professors. I named my oldest son after Dr. Carter. I still email all three of them regularly and often stop by the Poli Sci Department when I’m on the Hilltop to just say ‘hi’ or chat as long as they’ll have me. They are great men, great teachers and great friends. I bought my paver to honor three individuals who made a lasting impact on my life.”

FontenotPaverMany multigenerational SMU families are represented on the promenade. Among them are Deva Fontenot ’88 and her son, Dustin Fontenot ’13. She donated the brick as a lasting tribute to their Mustang pride: “I completed my education at SMU in 1988 with a degree in advertising. I always felt that this great University introduced me to talented people and had the ability to attract great professionals here to share their knowledge. When my oldest son applied to SMU, it was thrilling to see him accepted and create a legacy for our family. We have commemorated that with this paver displaying both of our names. It’s an honor to be a part of this beautiful promenade for always.”


2016 News Spring 2016

Founders’ Day Weekend: Something For Every Mustang


Hundreds of SMU family members returned to the Hilltop April 15 to participate in Founders’ Day festivities, from marking the milestone of $1.15 billion raised during The Second Century Campaign to dedicating the new Crain Family Centennial Promenade.

Individuals and families enjoyed finding the engraved brick pavers that are among the 10,000 that were bought to help create the Promenade. Students celebrated Peruna’s annual birthday at Perunapalooza held on the main quad. On Saturday, participants attended Inside SMU sessions presented by faculty on topics ranging from the overuse of antibiotics to global economic challenges. SMU Athletics held its spring football game and the Meadows Museum opened its doors for Community Day. Duncan MacFarlane, the Bobby B. Lyle Centennial Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship, and sophomore Diana Cates ’18, a 2016 Tower Scholar, spoke at the campaign finale about how they have benefited from donor support. The photos on this page capture some of the high points of the fun-filled weekend.

1. President R. Gerald Turner (fourth from left) and his wife, Gail, celebrate with campaign leaders at the ribbon cutting for the dedication of the Crain Family Centennial Promenade and campaign major donor monument. 2.–5. Alumni and donors enjoyed finding their engraved bricks on  the new Promenade. 6. Former first lady and librarian Laura Bush ’68, an SMU trustee, spoke  at the celebration of donors to the renovations of Fondren Library. 7. Duncan MacFarlane, the Bobby B. Lyle Centennial Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship, and sophomore Diana Cates ’18 told their stories about the impact of donor support at the campaign finale. 8. A student sits patiently while her face is painted with her favorite running Mustang. 9. Kids of all ages enjoyed the Mustang Fan Fair at Ford Stadium, which featured an enormous bounce slide and an appearance by SMU’s mascot, Peruna. 10. Students performed in Sing Song, an annual musical competition, which featured an updated take on traditional fairy tales.


11. SMU football played its spring red-blue game in Ford Stadium, where the offense defeated the defense 45-35, on Saturday during Founders’ Day weekend. 12. Robert G. White, Jr. ’74 and his wife, Brenda G. White ’74, look at the list of major donors to The Second Century Campaign on a new campus marker on the Crain Family Centennial Promenade. 13. Campaign co-chair Caren Prothro stands next to the table that was given in honor of Cullum Clark, her son-in-law, by the Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation for the new Centennial Reading Room
in Fondren Library. 14. Debra Tippett Gibbe ’76 honored Donald F. Jackson ’63, who taught finance at the Cox School of Business, with a chair in the Centennial Reading Room. 15. Perkins School of Theology Professor Robert Hunt spoke on “Achieving Solidarity: Religion and Society During Anxious Times” at Inside SMU during Founders’ Day weekend.

16. With a flourish the Mustang Band helped inaugurate the Crain Family Centennial Promenade.

2016 News Spring 2016

One-day Challenge, Infinite Impact

More than 1,300 donors supported SMU during the Mustangs Give Back challenge March 24, providing funding for campuswide projects and other important areas that have a big impact on today’s students.
The one-day giving opportunity raised $186,119 for a wide range of student-focused programs and initiatives, including engineering research, new courses in emerging fields, tutoring and scholarships.

Thanks to Mustang generosity, the SMU engineering students are closer to helping the residents of a Bolivian village gain safe drinking water.
Thanks to Mustang generosity, SMU engineering students are closer to bringing a reliable source of clean water to a Bolivian village.

A special Mustangs Give Back website provided profiles of 30 featured projects and their funding goals. By the end of the challenge, each highlighted project had received contributions, and 21 projects had exceeded their goals.
“When Mustangs come together to support students and faculty, there is no limit to their potential to change the world,” says Marianne B. Piepenburg ’81, SMU’s assistant vice president for alumni and constituent giving and executive director of alumni relations.
Thanks to the generosity of the University community, the SMU student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) has cleared another hurdle toward its goal to help the village of Llohila Grande, Bolivia, obtain a reliable source of clean water.
The EWB’s “Water the World: SMU to Bolivia” raised $6,658, more than three times its original funding request. Morgan Monzingo ’16 and Andrew Timmins ’16, senior engineering majors in the Lyle School of Engineering, led the “Water the World” effort. Andrew Quicksall, J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Assistant Professor in the Lyle School, serves as faculty advisor.
“This donation puts us one step closer to providing the community of 250 residents with water that they can drink with confidence and won’t make them sick,” says project participant Rachael Rodgers ’18, a sophomore civil engineering major from Granbury, Texas.
In August 2015, Rodgers traveled to Bolivia for an initial assessment during which SMU students met with townspeople and ran field tests to collect water quality data.

Mustangs Give Back donations will not only help improve the quality of life for the people we met in Bolivia, but they also provide students like me with the opportunity to use our education to improve our local and global communities. I have always been interested in water resources, and I also have a love for the Spanish language and culture. Being able to combine these two passions into one project is an exciting privilege.” – Rachael Rodgers ’18

Residents of the South American village currently rely on shallow wells containing high levels of salt, manganese and arsenic. SMU students have designed three solutions, ranging in cost and complexity, to solve the problem effectively.
Rodgers, along with Richie Burns ’18, Michael Keya ’17, Mauricio Sifontes ’19 and Erin Walsh ’18, has planned a return trip to Bolivia in August to install a deep well as part of the project implementation.
“Mustangs Give Back donations will not only help improve the quality of life for the people we met in Bolivia, but they also provide students like me with the opportunity to use our education to improve our local and global communities,” Rodgers says. “I have always been interested in water resources, and I also have a love for the Spanish language and culture. Being able to combine these two passions into one project is an exciting privilege.”

2016 News Spring 2016

SMU Continues Expansion East Of Central Expressway

EastCampusTowerThe University’s East Campus may not reflect the same Collegiate Georgian architectural style as the main campus, but make no mistake: The SMU buildings east of Central Expressway contain a hive of University activity.
Since 2006, SMU has acquired 15 acres east of U.S. Highway 75 (Central Expressway). Many of the buildings line SMU Boulevard (formerly Yale Boulevard), the most predominant of which is the 15-story Expressway Tower, a Dallas landmark that once served as headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys.
Today Expressway Tower houses administrative offices for human resources, financial operations, and facilities planning and management. Across the street is 6200 Central Expressway, housing some units of development and external affairs, including alumni relations.
SMU’s Office of Human Resources (HR) was one of the first to relocate to Expressway Tower in 2007. “The move enabled HR to have a beautiful new space, including a full state-of-the-art training room; however, we knew we would miss being on the main campus,” says Sheri Starkey, associate vice president and chief human resource officer. “HR had to learn to reach our faculty and staff in new and different ways, and we’ve found that people enjoy coming to our offices or attending a course in our training center.”
Expressway Tower also houses Dedman College’s Department of Psychology, Lyle School of Engineering labs and its Darwin Deason Institute  for Cyber Security, and several programs of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, including Research in Mathematics Education, StemPrep and the Center on Research and Evaluation. Simmons’ Locomotor Performance Laboratory is housed in a building at 5533 Dyer, where research is conducted on the mechanics of movement, performance, metabolic energy expenditure and metabolic power.
Having psychology housed at the tower has been an adjustment, because classes are still taught on the main campus, mostly in Hyer Hall, says  George Holden, professor of psychology and department chair. Many students now prefer to contact their professors via email rather than come to the  Tower for office hours. But the move has provided more space for research labs.
Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) moved into an SMU building at 5539 SMU Boulevard. Because CAPE offers hundreds of courses and registers from 6,000 to 10,000 adult students each year, “having a permanent building has given our small unit an important identity and allowed us to provide better service,” says Kimberly Rutigliano, director of CAPE. “Having our own classrooms has allowed us to expand certificate programs, and we now have the space to offer weeklong intensive programs for working professionals.”
To ensure that the surrounding community knows of SMU’s presence in the area, a sign atop Expressway Tower features the SMU logo and the words East Campus. Added more recently is a large outline of the familiar running Mustang that lights up nightly and in red when SMU wins home football and basketball games. The cupolas atop the Blanton Student Services Building and Armstrong Commons also light up in red after wins, creating a spirit connection between the east and main campuses.
SMU’s East Campus also has become an integral part of the University Crossing Public Improvement District (UCPID), a neighborhood comprising more than 200 organizations and businesses within a 122-acre radius defined by North Central Expressway, Mockingbird Lane, Greenville Avenue and Lovers Lane. Brad Cheves, SMU  vice president for development and external affairs, and Paul Ward, SMU vice president for legal affairs, serve  on the UCPID board of directors. Improvements made to the area include beautification, lighting and brick paving.
The latest development on the East Campus was the groundbreaking in February for SMU’s new Robson-Lindley Aquatics Center. The future site of SMU’s outdoor pool is next to the center. Two new parking lots are being constructed on Dyer Street next to Central Expressway and are scheduled to open this summer.

2016 Alumni Spring 2016

Alumni Share Experiences, Expertise With Students Through SMU Connection Externship Program

Tricia Linderman ’91
Tricia Linderman ’91

Tricia Linderman ’91 remembers how important mentors and business contacts were to her as a newly minted SMU graduate.
“I was very fortunate to have a lot of executives who made time for me early in my career, and I believe in paying that forward,” she says.
Linderman, executive vice president of recruiting and corporate communications at Texas Capital Bank, shared her time and expertise with psychology major Lauren Gonzalez ’16 as a volunteer with the SMU Connection externship program over winter break. A collaboration between SMU’s Alumni Relations and Engagement team and the Hegi Family Career Development Center, the program matches alumni across the country with SMU undergraduates for a one-day job-shadowing opportunity.
Matt Samler ’04
Matt Samler ’04

The externships had been offered during winter break only, but the program was recently expanded to the spring. For the first time, approximately 50 students and alumni have been matched for externships in May.
For consultant Matt Samler ’04, who hosted business major Taylor Press ’18, the volunteer experience allowed him “to give back to SMU in a more personal way and help a student in the process.” Samler serves as vice president of site selection and location economics for JLL, a commercial real estate services and investment management firm. He believes the externship program is “a great way for students to expand their professional network, which will help lead to employment opportunities when they graduate.”
Spending a day on the job can be revelatory for students as they consider career possibilities, says Sandy Speegle Nobles ’75, director of education at the Momentous Institute, which provides educational and therapeutic services for children and families. She was shadowed by psychology and sociology major Melissa Kraft ’19.
Sandy Speegle Nobles ’75
Sandy Speegle Nobles ’75

“Knowing how we are building and repairing social and emotional health in children growing up in poverty was a good fit for what she is passionate about studying at SMU,” Nobles says. “She was able to walk away with an understanding of what we do at the intersection of education and mental health.”
An externship can help students discover job options they may not have considered, Linderman says. “Initially, Lauren thought about going to law school, but had recently decided to pursue a role in human resources. I told her that employment law is a fascinating area where she could combine both her passions.”
Gonzalez says Linderman “opened my eyes to employment law. It wasn’t ever something I considered, but I am looking into now.”
Find out more about serving as an externship host and other SMU Connection alumni volunteer opportunities online or email

2016 Alumni Spring 2016

Cox School Of Business Honors Five SMU Alumni

Al Niemi, Dean of the Cox School of Business; Bryan Sheffield, BBA ’01 and 2016 SMU Cox Outstanding Young Alumnus; John Santa Maria Otazua, BBA ’79 , MBA ’81 and 2016 SMU Cox Distinguished Alumnus; Michael Merriman, BBA ’79 and 2016 SMU Cox Distinguished Alumnus; Jason Signor, MBA ’04 and 2016 SMU Cox Outstanding Young Alumnus; Billie Ida Williamson, BBA ’74 and 2016 SMU Cox Distinguished Alumna; and R. Gerald Turner, SMU President.
SMU’s Cox School of Business honored five alumni May 13. Pictured at the awards luncheon are (from left) Dean Al Niemi, Bryan Sheffield ’01, John Anthony Santa Maria Otazua ’79 , ’81, Michael Merriman ’79, Jason Signor ’04, Billie Ida Williamson ’74 and SMU President R. Gerald Turner.

The SMU Cox School of Business honored five alumni at the school’s annual Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni Awards Luncheon on May 13.
2016 Distinguished Alumni Honorees
Michael Merriman, BBA’79, is Chief Executive Officer of Financial Holding Corporation — FHC — a privately held financial services holding company in Kansas City, Missouri. In addition to serving on other corporate and civic boards, he is a member of the SMU Cox Executive Board. Mr. Merriman’s wife, Ellen, and their four children — Jack, Margaux, Edward and Mattie — are all SMU alumni.
John Anthony Santa Maria Otazua, BBA ’79 and MBA ’81, is the CEO of Coca-Cola FEMSA, the largest public bottler of Coca-Cola products in the world, encompassing franchise territories in 10 countries across Latin America and Asia, with over 100,000 associates operating 63 bottling plants and 327 distribution centers globally. He serves on other corporate boards and helps represent Mexico on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council. He and his family live in Mexico City.
Billie Ida Williamson, BBA ’74, served as a senior assurance partner and the Americas’ inclusiveness officer of Ernst & Young LLP until her retirement in 2011. She began her career at Ernst & Young in 1974 in the assurance practice. Ten years later, she became one of the firm’s first women partners. After 19 years with EY, she left to become chief financial officer of AMX Corp., led that company’s successful IPO, and became senior vice president of finance of Marriott International, Inc. In 1998, she rejoined Ernst & Young in its Center for Strategic Transactions and became a senior client-serving partner. Ms. Williamson serves on multiple corporate boards, is active on civic boards and is a member of the Cox Executive Board. Before earning a BBA in accounting in 1974, with highest honors, Ms. Williamson was SMU’s student body treasurer and Homecoming queen. She was honored by SMU with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015.
2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Honorees
Bryan Sheffield, BBA ’01, founded Parsley Energy in 2008 and serves as chairman, president and CEO. He led the company’s growth from a two-person contract operator to a publicly-traded company with more than 200 employees and more than 800 operated wells. In May 2014, he directed Parsley’s initial public offering — the second largest E&P IPO ever — after which the company has established a track record of drilling some of the basin’s most productive wells. Last fall, he presented SMU Cox with a gift to honor his father. The new Scott Sheffield Energy Investment lab bears the name of Bryan’s dad, the chairman and CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources.
Jason Signor, MBA ’04, is a partner and CEO of Caddis Healthcare Real Estate. He began his career designing hospitals in Nashville, Tennessee, then chose to pursue graduate school at SMU Cox, where he served as president of his MBA class. In graduate school, he co-founded the still thriving Real Estate Club at Cox with a fellow graduate student who would eventually become his business partner at Caddis. Modern Healthcare magazine named Caddis the ninth largest healthcare developer in the U.S. this year.
SMU Cox Distinguished Alumni must hold an undergraduate or graduate degree from SMU, a position of distinction in the business community; demonstrate outstanding career success, be active civic leaders and community partners, and be involved with SMU and the Cox School through activities and contributions. Those recognized as SMU Cox Outstanding Young Alumni must meet the same criteria, but can be no more than 40 years of age at the time of the awards luncheon. Nominations for either honor may be sent to Kevin Knox, assistant dean of external relations and executive director of the SMU Cox Alumni Association, at

2016 Alumni Spring 2016

SMU Alumna Michelle Merrill ’06, ’12 Receives Solti Foundation Award

Michelle Merrill ’06, ’12, assistant conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, is among 11 recipients of 2016 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards for young conductors with promising careers.

Michelle Merrill ’06, ’12, assistant conductor, Detroit Symphony
Michelle Merrill ’06, ’12, assistant conductor, Detroit Symphony

“The mission of the Solti Foundation U.S. is to identify, support and promote emerging young American conductors as they launch their classical careers,” says Penny Van Horn, U.S. board chair. “We nurture relationships with all our recipients, tracking their progress and offering support when it is merited. We also provide continuing support not only in the form of grants but in valuable access to mentors, door opening introductions and opera residencies.”
Merrill is in her second season as assistant conductor and Phillip and Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She was recently named one of Hour Detroit Magazine’s “3 Cultural Organization Leaders to Watch” and made her classical subscription debut with the Detroit Symphony in April 2016.
Recent and upcoming engagements include the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Toledo Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Symphoria (Syracuse), Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, Boise Philharmonic, Orlando Philharmonic, New Music Detroit, St. Augustine Music Festival and Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, where she formerly served as assistant conductor.
In March 2014, Merrill stepped in on short notice with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra for its performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4, named a Top 10 Classical Performances of 2014 by The Dallas Morning News. In 2013, she was awarded the prestigious Ansbacher Conducting Fellowship by members of the Vienna Philharmonic and the American Austrian Foundation. A strong advocate of new music, she recently collaborated with composer Gabriela Lena Frank and soprano Jessica Rivera on Frank’s La Centinela y la Paloma (The Keeper and the Dove), as a part of numerous community programs related to the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
A Dallas native, Merrill studied conducting at SMU with Paul C. Phillips, professor of music, Martha Raley Peak Endowed Centennial Chair and director of orchestral activities in Meadows School of the Arts. She earned bachelor’s degrees in music education and saxophone performance in 2006 and master’s degrees in orchestral conducting and music education in 2012.
The Solti Foundation U.S. was established in honor of Sir Georg Solti, internationally renowned orchestral and operatic conductor, by his family following his death in 1997. Over the past 12 years, the foundation has granted 46 career assistance awards to “young, exceptionally talented American musicians at the start of their professional careers,” according to Valerie Solti, honorary board chair.

2016 News Spring 2016

Smart Phones Tested For Cancer Screening In Zambia

Nicholas Saulnier ’15, ’16, a master’s degree student and graduate research assistant in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, always hoped he’d be able to solve problems and help people over the course of his career as an electrical engineer. To his surprise, that time came sooner than he expected.

An interdisciplinary research team – (from left) Eric G. Bing, Nicholas Saulnier, Dinesh Rajan and Prasanna Rangarajan – has developed a smart-phone based screening system for early cervical cancer detection that is being test in Zambia.
An interdisciplinary research team – (from left) Eric G. Bing, Nicholas Saulnier, Dinesh Rajan and Prasanna Rangarajan – has developed a smart phone-based screening system for early cervical cancer detection being tested in Zambia.

“I never thought I’d be able to make a difference while I was still a student,” says Saulnier, one of several SMU engineering students to help develop hardware and software to screen for cervical cancer with a smart phone. The technology, for use in remote regions of the globe where physicians are in short supply, is being tested in Zambia.
Department of Electrical Engineering Chair Dinesh Rajan, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Engineering, conceived of the research project in 2014 with Eric G. Bing, professor of global health in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, during a research meeting of the SMU Center for Global Health Impact, which Bing directs. Other project members include Prasanna Rangarajan, research assistant professor, and master’s student Soham Soneji.
“It’s meant to assist the person in the field, a nurse or other medical practitioner, to make better decisions,” Rajan says. “Cervical cancer is a curable cancer when detected early. But there’s a lack of experienced doctors in many countries, or people must travel far to reach a clinic to be examined.”
The smart phone technology leverages a well-known algorithm used in a wide variety of applications, Rajan says. The SMU engineers coupled the algorithm with hardware that improves performance of smart phone cameras for taking pictures in low light, where focus is difficult and impeded by scattering reflections from the speculum used in the cervical examination. The software compares the photo to pictures stored in a vast medical database. When a possible abnormality is detected, patients are referred to a clinic or specialist for further evaluation.
“Technology must and will be leveraged to improve healthcare for everyone and break the divide between the medical haves and have-nots — this is just among the early steps in that direction,” Rajan says.
Bing saw the need while a senior fellow and director of global health for the George W. Bush Institute, where he co-founded Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a public-private partnership to combat cervical cancer in Africa.
“Through innovative and interdisciplinary research like that which is being conducted at SMU, our students and faculty can help save lives throughout the world,” Bing says.
– Margaret Allen

2016 News Spring 2016

Parting Words, Lasting Memories

MagazinesPattiThis SMU Magazine represents my last issue as executive editor. It’s been 33 years since SMU recruited me from the Council for Advancement and Support  of Education in Washington, D.C., to become editor here. I had previously edited publications at The American University and Georgetown University, but I was attracted to SMU by the opportunity to make a difference at an up-and-coming institution. Today, as we all know, SMU has definitely “arrived” among the nation’s distinguished universities.

Patricia LaSalle-Hopkins ’05

As I retire May 31, my hope is that the 92 issues I oversaw have told the story of SMU’s progress and potential in a compelling way. Yes, we reported on the institutional tragedies of the late ’80s,  but it was then even more of a joy to report SMU’s turnaround and triumphs under Presidents A. Kenneth Pye and R. Gerald Turner. President Pye showed great respect for the role of consistent communications for our alumni, parents, donors and friends, as does President Turner today.
At the same time, we’ve been fortunate to garner external recognition for SMU Magazine, including being named one of the top 10 university magazines in the nation by our professional association. In this digital age, some may consider magazines to be old school, but as one who has kept up with communication trends at colleges and universities nationwide, I can attest that the best institutions, and those striving for that status, are producing lively, colorful and frequent  (usually quarterly) university magazines. SMU Magazine is published twice yearly now, but our content is updated online.
Most SMU staff will tell you that the University is not just a place of employ-ment – it is a community that is embrac-ing and enriching, with an impact on  all areas of our lives. My work at SMU has resulted in friendships with many accomplished and caring individuals among the faculty and staff. The most notable relationship, of course, has been with beloved SMU History Professor James K. Hopkins. I interviewed him for a magazine article shortly after arriving  in 1983, and this June we celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.
I also became an SMU alumna after completing the Master of Liberal Arts degree in 2005. It has been an honor to become a Mustang, one of the more than 100,000 members of the alumni commu-nity who receive this magazine.
SMU enabled me to advance professionally as well, moving up to my current position as associate vice president for public affairs, but still watching over the magazine as executive editor, working with Susan White as editor.
I have indeed been fortunate in pursuing my career – which became my calling – at SMU, including collaboration with a remarkably talented Public Affairs staff. In telling my own SMU story, it is difficult to separate the personal from the professional, so I will end by simply, but wholeheartedly, saying thank you. And – Go Ponies!
– Patricia LaSalle-Hopkins ’05

2016 News Spring 2016

Scenes From SMU’s May Commencement Ceremony

Hats off to SMU’s 2016 graduates! The academic accomplishments of more than 2,500 students were celebrated at the University’s 101st annual Commencement ceremony May 14.
Technology and civic leaders Richard and Mary Templeton shared the delivery of the SMU Commencement address. Richard Templeton, a member of the SMU Board of Trustees, is president and CEO of Texas Instruments, and Mary Templeton is a philanthropist and community volunteer who had a 14-year career with General Electric before moving to Dallas.
SMU conferred an honorary degree on pioneering medical researcher Groesbeck Parham. Parham has saved the lives of thousands of women in Africa by developing a simple, affordable cervical cancer screening procedure using household vinegar as an indicator of abnormal cells.
The all-University Commencement ceremony can be viewed here.
Diploma presentation ceremonies were held at individual schools on Friday and Saturday afternoon.
Following are some highlights of the Saturday morning ceremony captured by SMU Photography.

Ready. Set. Pony up! Preparing for the walk.
Ready. Set. Pony up! Preparing for the walk.

Graduates gathered in Dedman Fitness Center for fun and photos before marching into Moody Coliseum.
Students gathered for pre-Commencement fun and photos.

Moody Coliseum was filled with graduates and their families and friends.
Moody Coliseum was filled with graduates and their families and friends.

Students are ready to receive their doctorates.
Students are ready to receive their doctorates.

Honorary degree recipient Groesbeck Parham (left) with SMU President R. Gerald Turner.
Honorary degree recipient Groesbeck Parham (left) with SMU President R. Gerald Turner.

Commencement speakers Mary and Richard Templeton.
Technology and civic leaders Mary and Richard Templeton delivered the Commencement address.

These smiles say it all. Happy graduation!
These smiles say it all. Happy graduation!

Looking for familiar faces among the sea of well-wishers.
Looking for familiar faces among the sea of well-wishers.

It wasn’t easy to stand out in the crowd.
It wasn’t easy to stand out in the crowd.

Congratulations to all SMU graduates!
Congratulations to all SMU graduates!

2016 News Spring 2016

SMU Commencement Weekend: Baccalaureate Service

LiningUpLargeWearing full regalia, undergraduate degree candidates lined up on the main quad and outside McFarlin Auditorium for the Baccalaureate Service May 13. Following the service, students were led by faculty and alumni marshals through the front doors of Dallas Hall for the Rotunda Recessional. This symbolic departure from campus welcomes the newest members to the SMU Alumni family. These images from SMU Photography capture the excitement and camaraderie of an unforgettable evening in the lives of SMU graduates.