2023 Fall/Winter 2023

Top of the class


Amber Bay Bemak

Associate Professor of Film and Media Arts, Meadows School of the Arts


Robert Gregory

Professor of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences


Heather DeShon

Department Chair and Professor of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences


Edward Glasscock

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences


Nicos Makris

Addy Family Centennial Professor in Civil Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering


Austin Baldwin

Department Chair and Professor of Psychology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences


Devin Matthews

Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences


Ruben Habito

Professor of World Religions and Spirituality, Perkins School of Theology


Barbara Hill Moore

Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Professor of Voice, Meadows School of the Arts


Rita Kirk

Professor of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs, Meadows School of the Arts

William F. May Endowed Director, SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility


“When our faculty receive high-profile
fellowships, society memberships,
leadership positions and honorifics, it
demonstrates the expanding scope of
our impact. SMU’s faculty are truly world
changers in their fields – at the local,
national and international levels.”

Elizabeth G. Loboa
SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow
2022 July 2022 News

Trailblazer Barbara Hill Moore honored for stellar career

With an SMU career spanning nearly five decades in the Meadows School of the Arts, Barbara Hill Moore has been named the recipient of the 2022 Faculty Career Achievement Award for her contributions to the teaching, scholarship and service missions of the University.
“I am truly honored to cap off my career at Meadows by accepting this wonderful award of recognition,” says Hill Moore, senior associate dean for faculty and Meadows Foundation Distinguished Professor of Voice. “SMU offered me the opportunity to teach, mentor and advise many of the University’s biggest and brightest singing talents during my nearly 50 years here at the Hilltop, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.”
Hill Moore, a world-renowned opera singer and voice teacher, began teaching at Meadows in 1974 and served as chair of the voice department from 1977 through 1992. In the summer of 2011, she founded and began directing an international study abroad program, SMU-in-South Africa, built around teaching and directing a class in musical theater hosted by the Opera School and Choral Academy (OSCA) of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, South Africa.
Hill Moore also founded SPIRITUAL VOICES in 1990, an ensemble of five soloists and accompanists who have sung throughout the U.S. and Europe, specializing in performing the earliest composed Negro spirituals and African American art song repertory.
Hill Moore is a recipient of SMU’s prestigious “M” Award. She was named Meadows Foundation Distinguished Professor of Voice in May 2005 and named SMU Distinguished University Citizen in 2009–10. In March 2010, the South Dallas Business and Professional Women’s Club honored Hill Moore as a trailblazer for her excellence in education. Through the Barbara Hill Moore and Bruce R. Foote Foundation, Hill Moore awards scholarships to underrepresented students in SMU’s graduate and artist certificate programs that are pursuing an advanced degree in classical vocal study.
Read more.

News October 2019

A gift from the heart to law and the arts

A planned gift to SMU by Anne R. Bromberg of Dallas honors a life filled with intellectual adventure and global exploration that she shared with her beloved husband, the late Alan R. Bromberg. He served as University Distinguished Professor of Law at SMU’s Dedman School of Law until his death in 2014.
The bequest includes a $2 million endowment to establish the Anne and Alan Bromberg Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts, as well as unrestricted funds to be divided among Dedman Law, the Meadows School and the Meadows Museum.
“Dr. Bromberg’s farsighted generosity reflects the dedication to scholarship and education that she and Alan shared over a lifetime,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Their passion for art and the law will live on in future generations as a result of the planned gift. It will allow SMU to direct resources toward our highest priorities in those areas, as well an endowed chair that will allow us to attract and retain faculty of distinction in the arts.”
Photo above: SMU President R. Gerald Turner (left) and Dean Jennifer Collins, Dedman School of Law (center), with Anne R. Bromberg, the Cecil and Ida Green Curator for Ancient Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.
Read more at SMU News.

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.

2017 Alumni

Choreographer Joshua L. Peugh ’06 reimagines the classics

Since graduating from SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts in 2006, Joshua L. Peugh ’06 has achieved acclaim worldwide for his unique and innovative choreography. He founded Dark Circles Contemporary Dance (DCCD)  in 2010 in Seoul, with the company’s newest branch based in Dallas. DCCD was among the performing arts groups appearing in the groundbreaking public theater production of The Tempest in March. Two new works by Peugh will have their international premiere in Seoul, just days before the company returns to Dallas to open its fifth anniversary season.
Dark Circles Contemporary Dance’s Big Bad Wolf and Les Fairies will be performed at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, 6th Floor Studio Theatre, October 19–21, just days after their international premiere in Seoul, South Korea. The company celebrates the opening of its fifth anniversary season with these two new creations by founder and artistic director Joshua L. Peugh ’06.
Big Bad Wolf is inspired by cautionary tales people worldwide use to frighten naughty children. Influenced by characters described in stories by Heinrich Hoffmann, the Grimm Brothers, Charles Perrault and others, the work will be grandly theatrical and draw from vaudeville. A brand-new score for the work has been commissioned from composer and SMU Meadows School of the Arts alumnus Brandon Carson ’16.
The second work, Les Fairies, is a modern reimagining of the classic ballet Les Sylphides, with music by Frédéric Chopin performed live by Meadows School of the Arts staff musician Richard Abrahamson.
The production will feature a lighting design by Roma Flowers, whose credits include work for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Donald Bird, Doug Elkins Dance Company, Urban Bush Women, Doug Varone, Dance Theatre of Harlem and many other distinguished dance companies and artists. Susan Austin will provide the costume design.
Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 19; and at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, October 20–21. Tickets are $25. More information about our performances can be found online at along with additional details about the company’s fifth anniversary season.

2017 Fall 2017 Features September 2017 Main

SMU Helps Shape Pioneering Community Production

How many people does it take to stage a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest? When you’re using it as a way to forge new relationships across Dallas neighborhoods and community organizations, you’d have as many as 200 people, of whom only a handful were professional actors. And Meadows School of the Arts at SMU played a major role in bringing the event to fruition.
In late February, only one week before this musical version of The Tempest was scheduled to open, an evening rehearsal resembled controlled chaos. Director Kevin Moriarty, also Dallas Theater Center’s artistic director, raised his voice to be heard above the din coming from the rehearsal room on the ninth floor of the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas. Children of all ages (the youngest at 4), who were playing island spirits, squirmed in the staging area while their parents, seated in chairs that lined the sides of the room, chatted with one another.
Other ensemble members were still arriving from work after slogging through Dallas commuter traffic. SMU theatre alumnus Ace Anderson ’13, a member of Dallas Theater Center’s Brierley Resident Acting Company and one of only five professional actors in the cast, rushed in and polished off a fast-food dinner he had picked up on his way in.
Moriarty told the company to start with a banquet in Scene Six. Sitting next to him was Maria Calderon Zavala ’20, a first-year SMU theatre major from Mexico City, who translated into Spanish his directions for many of the adults and children in the ensembles. When words failed him, Moriarty moved to the center of the room and pantomimed his desires for the scene, reminding everyone that time was precious and repetition was necessary to get the movement right.
Not in the room were members of seven local arts groups whose performances would be inserted into the action, including flamenco dancers, an elementary school choir, a high school drumline, a brass band, Aztec dancers, a church choir and Dark Circles Contemporary Dance Company, founded by SMU alumnus Joshua Peugh ’06.
An observer couldn’t help but wonder: With only one week left, could this become a polished performance?
‘Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On’
Seeds for the project were planted in 2015, when SMU presented the Meadows Prize to Lear deBessonet, director of Public Works – an initiative of The Public Theater that engages the citizens of New York City as theater creators as well as spectators, blurring the line between professional artists and community members.
In 2013, Public Works staged in New York’s Central Park a contemporary adaptation of The Tempest by Todd Almond, who transformed it with music and lyrics.
The Tempest is a 400-year-old play about magic, vengeance, forgiveness and redemption.
On a remote island the sorcerer Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place. Through illusion, he conjures up a storm to shipwreck on the island his usurping brother, Antonio, and the complicit King Alonso of Naples. His manipulations reveal Antonio’s treachery, the King’s redemption and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso’s son, Ferdinand.
For her Meadows Prize project, deBessonet spearheaded a new co-production of The Tempest between the Meadows School, which made a $200,000 commitment, and the Dallas Theater Center. Moriarty and Clyde Valentín – director of Meadows’ Ignite/Arts Dallas, an engagement initiative between SMU and the local arts community – had witnessed the New York performance. Moriarty said they wondered “if such a New York-specific idea could take root and flourish in Dallas.” Meadows School and SMU’s Ignite/Arts Dallas collaborated withDallas Theater Center to make Dallas the first city outside New York to develop its own version of Public Works.
Since 2015, SMU and Dallas Theater Center have built partnerships with five local organizations that support low-income and underserved populations in Dallas: Jubilee Park and Community Center, Vickery Meadow Learning Center, Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT), Bachman Lake Together and City of Dallas Park and Recreation. Local actors, including SMU theatre alumna Lydia Mackay ’08, and SMU theatre artist-in-residence Will Power led workshops and classes for the last half of 2016 to transform the five organizations’ community members into stage-ready performers.
“I knew this would be a challenging proposition for our respective institutions because it would require us to collaborate more closely than maybe we have in the past,” Valentín said. “I knew it would be a challenging proposition for the actual participants because we were going to work with people who had no real relationship or history with the Dallas Theater Center or the Arts District in general. And it would be a challenge to get our theater students involved in engaging and meaningful ways beyond performing on stage.”
Both Public Works Dallas and Valentín were committed to paying the SMU students who served as teaching artist assistants at the community centers and as production assistants and volunteer coordinators at the Dallas Theater Center. Valentín set aside Ignite/Arts Dallas funds for such a purpose and actively pursued additional gifts from SMU donors through the Mustangs Give Back one-day giving challenge.

‘Be Not Afeard’

Eleven SMU undergraduates worked on The Tempest. Some served as teaching assistants in the workshops that led up to the auditions for the performance. Others assisted on set, costume, hair and makeup design, and with the run crew and dance ensemble. Still others were volunteer and community coordinators. James Michael Williams ’18, who is earning an MA/MBA in Meadows’ arts management program, served as assistant to Dayron Miles, director of Public Works Dallas.
Sophomore theatre major Kassy Amoi ’19 worked with Will Power as a teaching assistant in storytelling and movement workshops at Literacy Instruction for Texas, and during the performances led the sand spirits ensemble.
“Will and Kassy gently involved every single student to bring out hidden talents that even our students didn’t know they had,” said SMU alumna Lisa Hembry ’75, LIFT president and CEO. About 98 percent of LIFT’s students are adults who have learning differences such as dyslexia and ADHD and have never learned to read, or adults who never graduated from high school and are studying to obtain their high school equivalency certificates. As a result, Hembry says, “LIFT’s students are always wary when it comes to working with new people because generally they have suffered embarrassment, ridicule and bullying their entire lives.”
Amoi, who had previously worked on reading programs with children, discovered that working with adults who have literacy issues was very different. “Many were severely shy. I had to learn how to explain things a bit better, and in a more positive and reinforced way,” he said. “I found that while many of them weren’t experienced in school, a lot were experienced in life, with inspired, powerful stories.” Amoi took pride in the fact that one of his students, Felisha Blanton, was cast in the supporting role of Sebastia. “She’s a natural comedienne, and took on the role fully and openly. She went from being unsure in the room to being completely comfortable with what she had to say while on stage. It was nice to see her blossom.”
Volunteer coordinator Kaylyn Buckley ’17, who graduated in May with a degree in theatre studies with concentrations in stage management and directing, thought working with The Tempest in a managerial capacity would provide real-world applications to her studies. She began work in November and visited each of the centers during auditions, collaborated with all department heads to evaluate their volunteer needs, communicated with Public Works Dallas as she developed the architecture of the volunteer program and recruited volunteers from the SMU community.
“I’d never participated in anything like this – I’m not sure that anyone outside of Public Works has,” Buckley said. “It’s truly a beast unlike anything else.”
Dallas Theater Center resident company actor Liz Mikel performs the role of Ariel.
Members of the Dark Circles Contemporary Dance Company, founded by SMU alumnus Joshua Peugh ’06, perform during the wedding scene.
Alex Organ as the monster Caliban plots with clowns Ace Anderson (right) and Rodney Garza against Prospero.
“It’s not just managing 200 cast members, 50-plus crew members and 100-plus volunteers, but also being acutely sensitive to how you’re saying things, the experience you’re creating and navigating a language barrier,” she explains. “You want to cultivate a positive experience for cast members who have never been involved in the arts, many of whom have learning disabilities, are not native English speakers and who are living in poverty. I’d have to be very direct, forward and efficient with 28 Junior League members simultaneously looking to volunteer, then immediately modify my tone and delivery as soon as a cast member approached.”
Theatre/theatre studies major Christina Sittser ’17, who also graduated in May, gained performing experience in her native St. Louis before coming to SMU, attracted by numerous scholarships. For The Tempest, she served as a teaching assistant for acting classes at Bachman Lake Together and at Jubilee Park and Community Center, and during the performances was captain of the water spirits. “I really loved the work. I saw kids so shy at first that they would keep their faces down. It was beautiful to watch them grow as actors and open up more. I didn’t understand that at the end of the show I would leave pieces of my heart behind with these people. It made me think more about the role of community in theater. Listen to what people in the community want and need and then incorporate that into theater.”
‘Our Revels Now Are Ended’
SMU theatre alumnus Ace Anderson ’13 played the clown role of Trinculo.
When the opening performance on March 3 began, the Wyly had been transformed into a remote island, all the performances flowed seamlessly and the production worked like magic. Audiences were astounded by a type of community performance never seen before in Dallas. Theater Jones critic David Novinski described it as “the ‘you had to be there’ theatrical event of the year.”
Valentín said the success of the show was not just in what audiences saw but also what they couldn’t see: the interactions, bonding and trust-building at the community centers. “It shows what’s possible when you take this large-scale participatory theater approach, treating it as you would any other show in the Dallas Theater Center season that requires the same level of quality, rigor and diligence. We did it! We proved that we can create exceptional, high-quality art with nonprofessionals alongside professionals in a nurturing, safe environment for all those participants, so the space and work truly will begin to feel like it’s theirs. And, it was my hope that our students were transformed by this project as well. What we were able to create for those five weeks was truly exceptional.”
SMU and Dallas Theater Center will use the same model and continue the relationship with the community centers for the next Public Works Dallas production, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, to be staged in September 2018. At that time, Sam Weber ’18 – a Dedman College Scholar majoring in biological sciences, health and society, and chemistry – will be busy applying for medical school but hopes to return as a dance assistant fellow.
“Working with Public Works Dallas is one of the best experiences I’ve had in college,” Weber said. “I’d grown up doing theater and I’ve taught dance and choreography to non-dancers before, so that wasn’t a big shock. But meeting all the extraordinary people and hearing their stories was so special. It was really motivating to work with people who had never done performance art before, but got it; they understood movement and narrative. It really reaffirms how art is truly innate in all people.” Before the final production of The Tempest, director Kevin Moriarty stepped on stage to address the audience. He noted the monumental effort from numerous entities to bring the project to fruition and thanked SMU for its collaboration and support. He said, “Shakespeare belongs to all of us, not only a select few. Our city is at its best when all of us have the opportunity to create, and we are at our strongest and most joyful when we come together.”
– Story by Susan White ’05 with photography by Kim Leeson, unless otherwise credited

Public Works Dallas: A review and panel discussion of research findings from the pilot year

Read more:

2017 Fall 2017 News

Meadows Makeover: Joneses’ Gift To Transform Entrance, Launch Renovation of Owen Arts Center

Reflecting their passion for connecting the arts to the community through public spaces, Gene and Jerry Jones have committed $5 million to transform the east entrance to SMU’s Owen Arts Center along Bishop Boulevard, providing a new gateway and venue for student performances and community gatherings.
The Joneses’ commitment will be matched by a $5 million grant from The Meadows Foundation, Inc., generating a total of $10 million to create the Gene and Jerry Jones Grand Atrium and Plaza. The gift launches a $30 million, first-phase initiative to modernize all four floors on the north side of the largest academic structure on campus, which houses Meadows School of the Arts.
The Meadows Foundation provided a $10 million matching grant for the Owen Arts Center renovation project as part of its historic 2015 commitment of $45 million to SMU, creating an incentive to attract donors for the project.

We are proud to invest in nurturing young artists and connecting them with the broader community, both of which the Meadows School successfully achieves. – Gene Jones

Gene Jones is a civic and philanthropic leader, a supporter of the arts and the driving force behind the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Art Collection at AT&T Stadium and The Star. She serves on the Meadows School executive board and the John Goodwin Tower Center board of directors, and is a former member of the SMU Board of Trustees. Jerry Jones is owner, president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys.
“Anyone who has experienced the wonderful artworks that fill AT&T Stadium and The Star has seen that the Joneses have a personal commitment to sharing the arts,” said President R. Gerald Turner. “They are extending their generous support to the Meadows School of the Arts to provide a beautiful gathering space for those attending community events and performances of our outstand-ing students.”
The Gene and Jerry Jones Plaza will feature beautiful landscaping and walkways, and will be ideal for outdoor performances, classes and events.
The enclosure and integration of the east-side outdoor courtyard and expansion of the Bob Hope Theatre Lobby will create the 4,300-square-foot Gene and Jerry Jones Grand Atrium with lofty ceilings and expansive glass. Other features of the renovation project will create and improve academic spaces for the visual arts, art history and creative computation programs.
“Renovation of the Owen Arts Center will transform the environment in which our students and faculty study and create visual art,” said Meadows Dean Samuel S. Holland. “Our aim is to create spaces that will inspire and foster creativity, attract current and future generations of artists, and solidify the Meadows School’s place among the city’s top five arts and cultural institutions.”
For more information, contact the Meadows School of the Arts Office of Development at or 214-768-4421.

2017 Alumni July 2017

And the Tony Award goes to …

Two Meadows alumni won 2017 Tony Awards at the ceremony held June 11 in New York’s Radio City Music Hall, and two other alums are featured in winning and nominated musicals. In addition, Dallas Theater Center (DTC) won the Tony for Best Regional Theatre. Meadows has a long-standing partnership with the center, which includes alumni and faculty in its resident acting company.
Michael Aronov, who earned a B.F.A. in theatre at Meadows in 1998, won his first Tony Award as Best Actor in a Featured Role for Oslo. The play, about the secret negotiations in the early 1990s leading to the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, was also named Best Play. Aronov won for his performance as Israeli cabinet member Uri Savir, director-general of the foreign ministry. Oslo is Aronov’s second Broadway show, following his appearance in 2012’s Golden Boy. For this year’s Tony, Aronov was competing against veteran performers including Danny DeVito (for The Price), Nathan Lane (for The Front Page), Richard Thomas (for The Little Foxes) and John Douglas Thompson (for Jitney).
“Talent, practice and persistence pay off,” said Associate Professor of Theatre Michael Connolly, who taught Aronov while he was a student. “No actor I know has worked with greater focus and zeal than Michael, and no actor I know deserves this recognition more.”
Read more at Meadows School of the Arts.

2017 Alumni June 2017

SMU alumnus Mark Lau ’06: Finding a perfect fit at Nike

By Karen Shoholm
“I met Michael Jordan during the first week of my internship,” says Mark Lau ’06. “Right then I knew that Nike was the place I wanted to work. Eleven years later, I haven’t looked back.”

Mark Lau ’06, global director of Nike’s EKIN Experience, sports some favorite kicks outside the Nike store in Portland, Oregon. “There’s no such thing as a typical day at Nike, and that’s why I love it,” he says.

Lau, who graduated with degrees in marketing from the Cox School of Business and in advertising design from Meadows School of the Arts, works at Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. As global director of the company’s EKIN Experience – named in 1981 for the Nike reps who “had to know the product backwards and forwards,” according to Nike – Lau leads the team responsible for curating Nike’s stories and delivering inspiration and innovation to athletes around the world through a grassroots approach.
“My internship played a huge part in getting a full-time job at Nike,” he says.
Lau also credits his SMU Abroad experiences studying in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Suzhou, China. “I believe that some of the best learning experiences take place outside the classroom. The study abroad programs provided the opportunity to interact with students from around the world and experience global cultures.”
Adapting to different kinds of people and cultures was good training for what Lau does at Nike. “There is no such thing as a typical day at Nike, and that’s why I love it. We are a consumer-driven company, and the consumer moves fast. We learn, adapt and evolve quickly to keep up with today’s fast-paced environment,” he says.
“We call Nike’s World Headquarters a campus because it is designed like a university and fosters an environment of learning and sharing. Our maxim, ‘Be a sponge,’ inspires us to constantly soak up and share information.”
From the SMU campus, Lau is grateful for what he learned in his marketing classes, especially those taught by Judy Foxman, senior lecturer of marketing at the Cox School. Lau says she made learning fun. “She merged the classroom with the real world, providing valuable insights and experiences.”
Foxman calls Lau “a fabulous student whose marketing and communication skills were enhanced in my Honors Marketing Practicum class. When you are relating academics to a real-world project, a company knows that you will be able to hit the ground running. You earn more than a marketing degree; you acquire a level of confidence and professionalism.”
Lau serves as the co-president of SMU’s Portland alumni chapter and helps organize events for fellow Mustangs who live in the area.
He adds that SMU’s location in Dallas gave him an ideal launch pad for getting to Nike and Portland. “Dallas is strategically located so it is attractive to companies. Whether you want to work for a big company or a small company – or start your own – Dallas and SMU can provide those opportunities.”

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.


SMU Alumna Kamica King ’13 Offers Help And Hope To Homeless

By Nancy George

Music therapist Kamica King ’13
Music therapist Kamica King ’13
A circle of 12 men and women shake tambourines, beat drums and rattle shakers in a corner of the cafeteria at Dallas’ The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center. They are accompanying the Otis Redding classic, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.” Music therapist Kamica King ’13 slowly dials down the volume of the audio system until just the percussion instruments fill the cafeteria, becoming their own unique rhythm. The performance ends with a flourish of drumbeats.
“We made music,“ King says.
A graduate of SMU’s music therapy program, King uses music as a tool to help individuals work on nonmusical goals. Guests at this music therapy session say it helps them deal with stress, connect with one another and feel accepted for who they are.
She created the music therapy program at The Bridge, a center designed to connect homeless individuals with resources to help them recover from homelessness. Care managers help connect homeless individuals with on-site health, mental health, veteran, substance abuse and job hunting resources. Music therapy is offered once a week as an additional resource for Bridge guests. Guests take part in the afternoon Bridge Beats program as well as morning music studio, where King gives music lessons and offers independent music making opportunities.
“We see 600 to 800 individuals each day who may be at the absolute lowest point of their life,” says David Woody, chief services officer at The Bridge. “Art and music may be a constructive part of their history that can be the beginning of a conversation about their struggle. The music in the corner of the cafeteria could be the beginning of their connectedness.”
King chose “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” for its words as well as its beat. She leads Bridge guests in a discussion of Redding’s lyrics.

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

“It’s all of our song, sitting around doing nothing,” says Susan, who attends the music therapy sessions regularly.
“Is he wasting time?” King asks.
“Maybe he’s cooling off, taking time for himself,” says Richard, another Bridge Beats regular.
King was selected in 2014 by Bridge advisors, including SMU music therapy faculty members and alumni, to create the Bridge program. Her internship practicing music therapy with the homeless and those in recovery at San Diego’s Rescue Mission, YMCA and Scripps Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program coupled with her program development background and entrepreneurial spirit prepared her well for the position. King interned with with MusicWorx, Inc. and Resounding Joy, Inc. in San Diego.
A singer-songwriter and arts entrepreneur, she is founder of King Creative Arts Expressions, a music therapy and arts consulting and direct service company. She provides music therapy for cancer patients at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, performs at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the George W. Bush Presidential Center and composes music for special events. She wrote and performed “Live, Love, Dream” featured in “Signs of Humanity,” a documentary about SMU advertising professor Willie Baronet and his work to raise awareness about homelessness. King graduated from Western Connecticut State University in 2009 with a degree in music and minors in psychology and communications and is a 2013 graduate of SMU’s music therapy program.
“My mission is to help others,” King says. “I’m drawn to the overlooked and the underserved. The music and experiences I share can be a spark that helps someone else make a positive impact on the world, too.”
King is not the only SMU graduate associated with The Bridge, a national model for homeless recovery. Jay Dunn, Bridge president and CEO, is a 2000 SMU Perkins School of Theology graduate along with Sam Merten, chief operating officer and a 2007 SMU Meadows School of Arts journalism graduate. SMU students regularly volunteer at The Bridge on SMU’s Community Service Day and to fulfill service requirements for human rights and other classes. Music therapy students at SMU also complete practicums in music therapy with King. In addition to her music therapy sessions, King has launched other programs for The Bridge including the bi-monthly karaoke night. Last spring she helped Mustang Heroes, an SMU student organization devoted to community service, donate their time, talent, refreshments and door prizes to help pilot the program. Karaoke night has drawn increasingly larger crowds over the summer, attracting as many as 70 guests a night.
As the music therapy session ends, guests gather the percussion instruments and return them to King’s rolling music therapy cart. She serves them a snack, then they gather things and leave for appointments with Bridge resource staff, return to The Bridge’s shaded courtyard or go outside. King sends them off with a smile.
“Music therapy is literally the bridge for some people that propels them to seek help,” King says. “I count it as a blessing to work with them.”


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.


Artist Lionel Maunz ’01 ‘Taps Into Dark Corners Of The Mind’


Carl Pankratz: Rising Star In Business And Public Service

Carl Pankratz ’03, ’06, city councilman for the City of Rowlett, Texas, and vice president/legal counsel for Capital Title, was recently named to the Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list of the area’s top young business executives and entrepreneurs. The rising stars are recognized for their work both professionally and in the community.

Carl Pankratz ’03, ’06

Pankratz specializes in closing industrial, multi-family, office and retail properties, as a commercial escrow officer; oversees the real estate firm’s legal department; and manages more than 200 employees.
His service to the community of Rowlett, the growing city in northeast Dallas County that he calls home, is equally multidimensional.
Active in civic affairs, he was elected to the Rowlett City Council in June 2011, having previously been a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment. He has drafted several key ordinances, including an ordinance to reserve oil and gas rights for the city and a program that requires outside vendors to carry a “pink badge” when soliciting homes. Currently, he is drafting an oil and gas drilling ordinance.
He also is co-founder of the Rowlett Association of Non-Profits, a network of more than 100 arts, service and support organizations.
A passionate champion of and participant in the arts, Pankratz has starred in more than eight productions with the Amateur Community Theatre of Rowlett and has been selected for the Texas Ballet Theater’s Leadership Ballet for his commitment to the performing arts.
In addition, he has been selected as one of the “Top Five Dallasites” by the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Pankratz graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Meadows School of the Arts. He earned a Juris Doctor from Dedman School of Law, where he served on the Moot Court Team and National Mock Trial Team, and founded the SMU Dedman School of Law Sports and Entertainment Law Association.
The busy alumnus was able to “take five” recently to share some Hilltop memories with SMU Magazine.
Did you do any acting at SMU?
I only took one acting class, The Art of Acting, and I was never in a production. But I remember being blown away by the first production I saw at Meadows as a freshman, The Threepenny Opera.
What was your favorite course/professor?
Don Umphrey [professor emeritus of advertising] and his Advertising Research class. On a smaller group project before our big final project, he gave us a lower grade than I thought we deserved. He and I had a passionate discussion about it before I took the group and decamped to the library. For the next two weeks, we worked almost around the clock on that final project. When we turned it in, he said it was the best he’d seen in 20 years of teaching the class. He was the first professor to challenge me in that way, and it was really motivating.
What is your favorite SMU memory?
I’ll never forget the feeling of being part of the first Mustang football team to play in Ford Stadium. [Pankratz was a field goal kicker for two years.] Running through the tunnel, the energy, the excitement. It was amazing.
How did your undergraduate experience prepare you for the road ahead?
The advertising degree program gives you a great foundation, regardless of where you go with it. You have to present frequently, and the more you do it, the more polished and confident you become. Public speaking is a valuable asset for your toolbox in any field.
What do you value most as an SMU alumnus?
As a commercial real estate attorney, I attend a lot of networking functions, and at almost every event, the vast majority of the successful professionals there are SMU alumni. The distinction of being part of this large network of people who excel in their fields is a priceless opportunity. Success breeds success.


SMU Alumni’s Stylish Start-up Connects Content To Commerce


The following story about SMU alumna Amber Venz ’08 and Baxter Box ’11, who holds an M.B.A. from SMU’s Cox School of Business, is from the September 2, 2013, edition of The Dallas Morning News.

Dallas start-up puts together fashion bloggers, shoppers and retailers

By Hanah Cho

Personal stylist Amy Wells Havins dishes on her latest fashion picks and catalogs her outfits on her blog Dallas Wardrobe.
With a few clicks, her readers can purchase those Gap shorts or that Marc Jacobs bag featured on the blog. With every online sale, Havins gets a commission.
“Maybe someone doesn’t hire me to take them shopping. [But] they shop with me online,” said Havins, 27.
Driving the sales engine behind thousands of fashion and lifestyle bloggers like Havins is Dallas-based rewardStyle.
The 2-year-old start-up provides the back-end platform that not only helps bloggers make money from their content but also drives sales to retailers.

RewardStyle expects to drive nearly $150 million in sales to its retail partners by the end of the year, said Amber Venz, co-founder and president. The projection is two to three times the revenue its style publishers generated for retailers a year ago, Venz said.
“As the numbers show, these content creators are driving a lot of commerce,” said Venz, 26. “Retailers understand that. That’s why they’re willing to pay for it.”
The startup has attracted 2,500 U.S. and international retailers. They include well-known brands such as Neiman Marcus, Fossil and Shopbop. …
> Read the full story and see a related photo.
> Read an interview with Amber Venz from Meadows School of the Arts.


Reaching 100, Staying Young

“Universities do not grow old; but yearly they renew their
strength and live from age to age in immortal youth.”

With that statement in 1913, SMU’s first president, Robert Stewart Hyer, made a commitment for SMU in his time, but affirmed that we would be a university for all time.

President R. Gerald Turner
Reflecting that vision, SMU has built upon its initial offerings in the liberal arts as the core of the University along with programs in theology and music. We have remained young and nimble in developing professional education to serve a changing region, nation and world, adding programs in the sciences, business, engineering, law, communications and other applied areas of learning. Today, part of SMU’s uniqueness comes from the fusion of our liberal arts core with pre-professional and professional programs through our seven schools.
We celebrated this tradition of looking forward as we marked the 100th anniversary of SMU’s founding April 15. At a briefing that day, I shared a wealth of good news with our alumni and friends:

You’ll read in this magazine the many ways in which we are saying Happy Birthday, SMU. We pledge to remain “in eternal youth” as we move into our second century of achievement.
R. Gerald Turner

News Uncategorized

Programs, Professors Cultivate Next-Generation Entrepreneurs

A thread of entrepreneurship weaves through the history of SMU from the beginning. In asking “What is our duty to all the coming generations of Texans until the end of time? … ,” members of the Commission of Education, Methodist Episcopal Church, South of Texas demonstrated game-changing foresight in 1911. They spotted an opportunity in a growing city and joined forces with like-minded civic leaders to bring the University to life.

Jerry White, director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship in the Cox School of Business
Fast forward six decades: When the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship opened in August 1970, “we could identify only a handful of universities that even taught a course in entrepreneurship,” says Jerry White, director of the institute in the Cox School of Business. “Today, if you don’t have a substantial entrepreneurship education program, then you won’t have a business school.”
The institute was established with the support of W.W. Caruth Jr., son of W.W. Caruth Sr., who donated land to SMU in 1911. “W.W. Caruth Jr. felt that universities were training students to be employees of large organizations, and that’s not what he chose to be,” White says. “He was ahead of the curve in recognizing that business schools needed to address entrepreneurship education.”
While White says there’s no hard and fast definition of “entrepreneurship,” he boils it down to “building a business where none existed before and pursuing the opportunity without regard to resources you currently control.”
“Innovation is not entrepreneurship,” he adds. “Entrepreneurs take innovation and do something with it.”

Do You Fit The Profile?

Growing up in Carthage, Miss., Jerry White says he was “one of those kids who always had a business.” Among his most successful ventures was a snow cone stand. Within weeks of opening, his operation was doing such brisk business that his adult-run competition folded.
White seemed to know instinctively that by offering a superior product at the right price, he would thrive in the marketplace. So, are some people born entrepreneurs? While an actual gene linked to entrepreneurship has not been identified, people who bring their ideas to life do seem to share some attitudinal DNA, according to White.
Read more …

The Caruth Institute offers four undergraduate and 20 graduate courses – from venture financing to financial transactions law – to provide students with a solid foundation for launching and managing successful ventures. Through the institute students can pursue a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, as well as a noncredit Starting A Business certificate.
Also within Cox, the Executive M.B.A. program was ranked by Financial Times as No. 6 in the world for entrepreneurship last fall.
 Andy Nguyen ’11 says the Master of Entrepreneurship program provided him with a solid handle on the mechanics of business ownership. Nguyen owns WSI Search, a North Dallas marketing firm that specializes in web development and Internet marketing strategies, and calls himself a “serial entrepreneur with a laundry list of ideas.” The nine-year Marine veteran, who has served in Afghanistan and Asia, is now mapping out “a nonprofit organization to help veterans transition into entrepreneurship.”
“The MSE program has given me the tools and resources to build, run and exit a business in the most effective and efficient manner,” says Nguyen.

‘Be Ready To Jump’

Engineer Bobby B. Lyle ’67 proves that inventive go-getters populate all disciplines. He served as a professor and administrator at the University before making his mark in the petroleum and natural gas industry. Lyle, an SMU trustee for more than 20 years, provided gifts that established the Bobby B. Lyle Chair in Entrepreneurship in Cox – held by Professor Maria Minniti – and laid the foundation for leadership and entrepreneurship education in the Lyle School of Engineering, which was named for him in 2008.
The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with an Engineering Management and Entrepreneurship Specialization. In addition courses such as “Technical Entrepreneurship” encapsulate the challenges of technology start-ups through “on-the-job learning,” says Professor Stephen A. Szygenda.

Brian Tannous (left) and Amir Ghadiry, creators of the SeekDroid smartphone app

Divided into company teams, students have to decide on a hypothetical venture and develop a five-year strategy. As the semester unfolds, Szygenda bombards the groups “with different situations, like an unanticipated natural disaster. They have to come up with solutions and document how they’ve redirected the company to successfully deal
with the issue.”
The course’s emphasis on team dynamics and innovative problem-solving complements initiatives of the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, which was funded by a
gift from Linda ’65 and Mitch Hart and opened in October 2010.
In the lightning-fast technology sector, “there’s a very small window for success, so when it opens, you have to be ready to jump,” Szygenda says.
New engineering graduates Amir Ghadiry ’11 and Brian Tannous ’11 took a leap into the marketplace with SeekDroid, an application (“app”) for smartphones that run the Android mobile operating system. The multifunction app serves as a locator – through a secure website, a user can pinpoint the device’s location – as well as a security system.
“If your phone is stolen, you can lock and wipe it [erase data] remotely,” Ghadiry explains.
After five months on the market, the application has been downloaded more than 16,000 times from at a price of 99 cents per download.
They began tinkering with apps in an electrical engineering special topics course taught by Joseph Camp, the J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. “For students with an entrepreneurial flair, the mobile phone applications market is an emerging avenue,” Camp says.

It’s Not Business As Usual

Some new SMU programs borrow from the B-school toolkit for courses tailored to a challenging climate.
In June the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development will launch a Master’s program with a specialization in urban school leadership. The 45-hour program was developed by the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy in concert with the school’s new Education Entrepreneur Center (EEC).
The EEC coalesces efforts of the Simmons School and the Teaching Trust, a nonprofit organization established by entrepreneurs Rosemary Perlmeter, founder of Uplift Education charter schools, and Ellen Wood, a financial and social investment consultant, to offer high-quality professional preparation for emerging school leaders as well as development opportunities for seasoned principals.
Lee Alvoid, clinical associate professor and department chair, believes some of the business approaches used to turn around ailing companies can be modified and applied to low-performing urban schools.
“Entrepreneurial educators can find and deploy resources in a creative and nontraditional manner,” she explains. “They are able to create an organizational culture focused on the students and have the ability to develop policies that support change that’s important in urban schools with low performance.”

Zannie Voss, chair of Meadows' Division of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Much like the Simmons program aims to prepare school leaders to achieve under difficult conditions, a new Meadows School of the Arts initiative merges a business perspective with classical training as an intellectual gyroscope for a shifting arts landscape.
“Our students are incredibly proficient and expert with their talent as performers and artists. We don’t want them to wait for the phone to ring; we want them to take a proactive role in sculpting their post-SMU futures now,” says Zannie Voss, chair of the Division of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship in Meadows and professor with a dual appointment in Meadows and Cox.
Beginning in the fall, Meadows will offer an undergraduate minor in arts entrepreneurship open to students from any major on campus who want to develop their ideas for new arts – or entertainment-related ventures. The six-course minor focuses on such skills as arts budgeting and financial management, attracting capital (donors, investors and public funds) and generating an arts venture plan.
As they home in on how to monetize their ideas, students may redefine success in terms of personal fulfillment rather than fame. And even those who have their sights set on stardom need to be able to interpret a financial statement.
“The reality is that it’s in our students’ best interests to not only create their own art and films but also to understand how to sustain themselves,” Voss says. “This initiative emphasizes Meadows’ encouragement of students to ‘start a movement.’”
Patricia Ward