2018 Features May 2018 Main Spring 2018

Flipping a switch, igniting success: Aleena Taufiq ’18

Aleena Taufiq ’18 recently landed her dream job as a data engineer working in artificial intelligence at Verizon, a career she never imagined four years ago.
After her first semester at SMU, Taufiq knew the pre-med track she had chosen was not the right path. Now the senior majoring in mechanical engineering and math runs an afterschool enrichment program she developed to inspire middle-school students to pursue engineering, math and science in college. And none of it would have happened without people like Jim Caswell ’63, ’66, ’70 and Chuck Lingo ’90 – neither of them an engineer and neither of whom Taufiq met.
Taufiq found her major when she signed up for an immersive design challenge offered by the Lyle School of Engineering’s Deason Innovation Gym and joined a team assigned to remake the Slurpee experience for consumers.
The fusion of brainstorming, problem-solving, designing and building sparked an unexpected result. Instead of refreshing the frozen beverage industry, Taufiq reinvented her future.
“I learned my passion through the project,” she says. “I fell in love with engineering.”
To encourage the next generation of students to find the academic direction that’s right for them the way she did, Taufiq developed the afterschool program Geared Up. Her curriculum blends fun, hands-on projects with talks about engineering careers by fellow Lyle students and other guest speakers. While Taufiq hopes some youngsters follow her footsteps into engineering, she devised the educational series to catalyze unbridled learning in all areas.
She targets low-income middle-school students because “that’s an important age to engage their interest in engineering, math and science, and get them to start thinking about college.” Geared Up launched last year at Dallas’ Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School and expanded this year to Life School Oak Cliff and Edward H. Cary Middle School in northwest Dallas.
“On the first day, the kids are always excited when I tell them I’m a mechanical engineer, and they get really excited when they hear I’m from SMU,” she says. “They may not know exactly what a mechanical engineer does, but they definitely know SMU.”
Support from SMU’s Caswell Leadership Development Program has been critical to her project’s success. Offered by SMU Student Affairs’ Community Engagement and Leadership Center, the Caswell Leaders program accelerates students’ leadership skills by enabling them to discover their gifts while combining their passions for academics and public service.
“I couldn’t do Geared Up without Caswell Leaders. The program provides so much – funding, mentorship and friendship. We have monthly meetings for reflections about our project, where we think of next steps and opportunities to move it forward,” she says. “We make really personal connections in the program. It feels like we’re a Caswell family.”
SMU created the Caswell Endowment for Leadership Development and Training in 2007 as a tribute to alumnus, educator and longtime administrator Jim Caswell ’63, ’66, ’70 while he was preparing to retire. The program seeks to extend his legacy of molding “reflective and authentic leaders dedicated to improving their local communities.”
SMU’s Caswell Leadership Development Program honors the late Jim Caswell.Ask anyone who knew Caswell at SMU, and there’s a good chance they’ll tell you a story about a windmill. A four-foot version and assorted smaller models of the picturesque precursor of the wind turbine decorated his Perkins Administration Building office. Like the windmill’s agile gear system that converts a natural resource into energy to pump water or grind grain, Caswell guided students on a journey of self-discovering, harnessing their innate abilities and steering them toward successful careers and lives of purpose after graduation.
“He felt like students’ time at SMU was a unique opportunity for him to help them find their true direction and grow and develop into the people they wanted to be,” remembers his widow, Jackie Caswell Wallace.
Thomas Kincaid ’05 first got to know Caswell during his junior year when he served as student body president. He met weekly with Caswell, then vice president for student affairs but also an ordained Methodist minister, and continued to do so as a senior and student member of the SMU Board of Trustees. Then a finance major, Kincaid didn’t know that his true direction would become the ministry.
Now an Episcopalian priest and vice rector of Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, he keeps one of Caswell’s small windmills on his desk as a daily reminder to carry forward the example of a “person who really cared about others.”
“Dr. Caswell taught me what it was to never be too busy to care about someone,” Kincaid says. “He had plenty of demands on his time, but he was able to make time for a student or find a place where his support would be useful.
Roy Turner quotes lessons learned from Jim Caswell.Caswell’s wisdom continues to influence Roy Turner ’88 as well. When Turner was a junior accounting major and president of Kappa Sigma fraternity, Caswell – then dean of student life – tapped him as a member of a student leaders advisory forum convened to examine campus challenges and strategize solutions. As president of the SMU Interfraternity Council the following year, Turner relied on the high ethical standards set by Caswell when working through issues governed by the group.
“Lessons from Jim that I’ve carried forward are to do the right thing, stand up for what’s right and hold everyone accountable,” says Turner, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York City and a loyal donor to the Caswell Endowment. “I’m almost 30 years away from that experience, but it still resonates with me.”
Caswell understood the SMU student experience so well because he had lived it. He first arrived on the Hilltop as an undergraduate in 1959. He was active in campus life and served as president of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in social science from Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences in 1963, he went on to earn a bachelor of divinity in 1966 and a master of sacred theology in 1970 from the Perkins School of Theology. He also received a master’s and Ph.D. in educational management from Columbia University.
His career in higher education began as a graduate residence hall director at SMU from 1964–66. A short time later, he was named an instructor in Dedman College. Over the next two decades, he held a number of pivotal administrative roles, including dean of men, dean of residential living and dean of student life. As vice president of student affairs from 1988 to 2007, he became an iconic campus leader known as a caring friend, reliable sounding board, chief cheerleader and beloved mentor. His door was always open, and one of his frequent visitors was Chuck Lingo ’90.
Lingo never really needed words to communicate his ardor for all things SMU. Although he suffered from a debilitating neurological disease that impeded his speech, he refused to allow his physical limitations to curb his enjoyment of life. His Highland Park High School friends cherish their memories of the “Super Scot” cheering on their team at football games and pep rallies.
An estate gift from Chuck Lingo helps support the Caswell Leaders program.He enrolled at SMU in 1986, determined to capture all that he could in the classroom and fully participate in the Hilltop experience. He took a job in the Student Activities Center during the summer months, helping with AARO (Academic Advising, Registration and Orientation) and other tasks to prepare new students.
Fellow students admired his enthusiasm and can-do attitude. The Student Foundation embraced Lingo, eventually honoring him with the Mike Miller Outstanding Service Award. He served as a Student Senate committee member and was recognized for outstanding service.
Often decked out in spirit gear, the “Super Mustang” became a familiar sight in Caswell’s office. The two never missed an opportunity for some friendly facetime. Their conversations hopscotched across topics, from personal news to sports to current events, and usually ended in a goodbye hug.
When the University created the Caswell Endowment for Leadership Development and Training, Lingo was among the first donors. The friends shared a huddle and hug at Caswell’s retirement dinner in May 2007.
In the following years, Lingo attended many SMU Centennial Celebration events, never missed Celebration of Lights, his favorite SMU tradition, and faithfully remembered Caswell, his dear friend who succumbed to cancer in October 2007, with an annual gift to the Caswell Endowment, hand-delivered to the Student Affairs office.
On May 24, 2016, Lingo lost his battle with the disease that had claimed his mother years earlier, but he had taken steps to ensure his connection to SMU and to Caswell would endure: He bequeathed a significant portion of his estate to the Caswell Endowment.
“The Chuck Lingo gift exponentially increases our future opportunities to support the development of student leaders at SMU and further the legacies of servant-leadership and involvement established by both Dr. Caswell and Mr. Lingo,” says Stephanie Howeth, director of SMU’s Community Engagement and Leadership Center. “Thanks to their example and foresight, students today will learn and experience the many benefits of discovering their purpose as well as develop a passion for creating a more positive global community and SMU campus.”
The influence of Caswell, Lingo and many other donors lives on through current Caswell Leaders whose projects advocate for abused women, alleviate poverty with microloans, bridge international divides through language acquisition and inspire middle-school students to pursue engineering and math.
On an October afternoon in Dallas’ Cary Middle School, 18 boys and girls seated at cafeteria tables chatter, giggle, nudge and generally act like typical seventh and eighth graders. They have no idea they are about to witness the Caswell Endowment in action.
Aleena Taufiq explains how they’ll use the tools spread out in front of them – wires, putty, tape and batteries – to craft a simple LED circuit to light up polystyrene Halloween pumpkins. They get to work, and the cacophony builds as she moves from group to group, fixing a few glitches and praising their efforts. Soon tiny candy-colored bulbs and 100-watt smiles light up the room.
John Everett, New York Life Insurance Company, and Aleena Taufiq.“When I started, I was terrified of working with kids because I hadn’t before, but once you build a small connection with them, they’re so much fun,” she says. “They are very creative and aren’t afraid to try out their ideas.”
After the buses arrive and the class breaks up, a student wanders from table to table, rescuing abandoned materials. “I want to make more lights at home to show my family,” he says proudly. Just two hours earlier, that boy had no idea he could complete a basic electrical engineering feat so easily.
Taufiq makes sure he has everything he needs to wow his audience the way he has just impressed her.
That’s the reaction she was aiming for when she started planning Geared Up. She remembered watching bright high school classmates flounder “because they didn’t really see a pathway to college. They didn’t have parents or siblings who went to college, so they didn’t have that exposure and weren’t encouraged to continue their education.”
Her parents were both born in Pakistan, but met, married and became naturalized citizens in the Dallas area. Although higher education wasn’t an option for them, “they made it clear they wanted us to go to college,” she says.
She considers herself lucky that her mother “pushed me to make the most of every opportunity available in school.” As a high school student in her hometown of Irving, Texas, she played on the tennis team, worked on the yearbook, competed in state math, science and literary criticism competitions, and joined the National Honor Society. Because she had always excelled in math and science, well-meaning high school teachers steered her toward a medical career without introducing her to the array of disciplines where her talents could flourish.
The youngest of four children, she already had two Mustangs in the family – sister Tasmia Taufiq Noorali ’10, ’11 and brother Khurram Taufiq ’12 – and knew “SMU was a great school.” After receiving several scholarships, including the University’s academic Founders’ Scholarship and a Discovery Scholarship for students focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines, she joined the class of 2018.
After her first semester, she knew she didn’t want to go to medical school, so she became a fearless explorer, diving into unfamiliar topics and developing new competencies.
Geared Up Goes NationalShe was selected for a multiyear research project led by SMU’s Wei Tong, a mechanical engineering professor specializing in biomechanics, in partnership with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. They conducted tests on six taping methods commonly used in hospitals to secure intubation tubes, which keep airways open in acutely injured and sick patients. Preventing tube displacement can be a matter of life and death.
“There’s no standardized method, so we tested a lot of variables,” she explains. “We’re still working on the analysis, but so far, the easiest method seems to be the fastest and strongest as well.”
A Hamilton Research Scholarship allowed her to broaden the scope of her research last year through an ongoing project with mathematics professor Daniel Reynolds, whose scientific computation expertise encompasses biomedical applications. Among the skills she added to her portfolio was proficiency in a CAD (computer-aided design) program she used to create a three-dimensional rendering of a human lymph node for modeling the flow of lymphatic fluid.
“Both experiences taught me so much about different aspects of engineering, and it gave me such a good feeling to be part of research that can have real impact,” she says.
As she was in high school, Taufiq has continued to be actively engaged at SMU. She’s wrapping up her second term as a Lyle School senator in the Student Senate and participates in Theta Tau engineering fraternity and the Muslim Student Association.
Through Lyle’s “4+1” program, she will receive her bachelor’s degree in May and continue studying at SMU for another year before earning her master’s degree. She’s leaning toward a nontraditional trajectory for a mechanical engineer, “something more on the tech side of things, maybe in big data or tech consulting.”
Last summer, an internship she found through Handshake, SMU’s jobs and recruitment portal, took her to the Dallas office of New York Life Insurance Company for a taste of project management in the technology department.
After a few weeks, with a green light from her manager, she launched a weekly team-building activity dubbed “Fun Friday.” Little did her colleagues know that the gummy bear bridges they built and the edible cars they crafted with Rice Krispies treats and Life Savers candies were prototypes she was testing for Geared Up.
“It really broke the ice. People had fun and started talking to one another,” she says. “I think it created a friendlier work environment and much more of a community atmosphere.
She put those projects to good use when, in an unexpected turn, she teamed up with the STEAM Club at her alma mater, MacArthur High School in Irving, to launch a series of design challenges. Geared Up for high schoolers started before winter break and is continuing this spring. “It has been been amazing to go back to where it all started for me and inspire students who are where I was just four years ago,” she says.
Taufiq is also achieving her longstanding goal to expand Geared Up into a national program this spring. With funding from an SMU Engaged Learning Fellowship, she will travel to Harper McCaughan Elementary School in Long Beach, Mississippi, on February 16; Pioneer Middle School in DuPont, Washington, on March 2; and Shapleigh Middle School in Kittery, Maine, on March 30, where she will lead one-day, hands-on engineering extravaganzas for students and teachers.
“If the students step into the shoes of an engineer and get a taste of what it’s like to work together to create something or solve a problem, then they get excited and want to learn more,” Taufiq says. “I hope they become more excited about school, learning and challenging themselves.”
– Patricia Ward

2017 Alumni December 2017

Meet the ‘$1-billion queen bee of dating apps’

That’s SMU alumna Whitney Wolfe Herd ’11 on the cover of the Forbes 30 Under 30 issue. Herd founded Bumble, “America’s fastest-growing dating-app company,” just three years after receiving a bachelor’s degree in international studies from SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. This is her second consecutive appearance on the business magazine’s list of top “youthful visionaries” in 20 industries. In the profile that accompanies her December 12, 2017, cover, the 28-year-old entrepreneur talks about her mission to empower women via social networks devoted to dating, friendship, and business and networking. “We let our users guide our innovation. We let our users guide our brand.”

By Clare O’Connor

When Whitney Wolfe Herd started planning an October launch party for a new product at Bumble, America’s fastest-growing dating-app company, she was deliberate in her choice of venue: the Manhattan space that for 57 years hosted the Four Seasons restaurant, where regulars like Henry Kissinger, Vernon Jordan, Edgar Bronfman and Stephen Schwarzman created the ultimate power lunch.

The space now has a new name, new management and a new menu. And, as Herd insists, a new perspective on business. “The power lunch is no longer just for men,” Herd announces to the mostly young, mostly female crowd, before ceding the stage to the pop star Fergie. “We all deserve a seat at the table.”

That table surely now includes the 28-year-old Herd, who has changed the tenor of dating dynamics. By letting women make the first move, Bumble has amassed over 22 million registered users, to closest competitor Tinder’s 46 million, and at more than 70% year-over-year growth, to Tinder’s roughly 10%, it’s closing the gap quickly.

Read more at Forbes.

2017 Alumni December 2017

SMU alumnus’ research key to a Nobel for circadian rhythm discoveries

As a young researcher, Paul E. Hardin ’82 clocked innumerable hours in a pitch-dark lab to shed light on one of the keys to good health. Hardin was the first author on one of the fundamental papers from a body of circadian rhythm research to win the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
The Nobel Prize went to Hardin’s former colleagues Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey Hall of Brandeis as well as Michael Young of Rockefeller University “for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.”
“It’s a really beautiful example of basic research that has led to incredible discoveries,” Hardin commented in Quanta Magazine. “Almost every aspect of physiology and metabolism will be controlled by the circadian clock.”
Hardin earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from SMU in 1982 and a doctorate in genetics from Indiana University in 1987.
As a postdoctoral researcher in Rosbash’s lab from 1987 to 1991, Hardin demonstrated that the protein encoded by the gene that controls circadian rhythm in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) fluctuates over a 24-hour period, rising at night and falling during the day. His research over the past two decades has helped establish the fruit fly as a model organism for studying the circadian clock in humans and allowed scientists to unravel myriad ways in which that natural timekeeper affects our health. These discoveries may lead to new treatments for a wide range of afflictions – from jet lag and sleep disorders to obesity and heart disease.
Hardin, Distinguished Professor and John W. Lyons Jr. ’59 Endowed Chair in Biology at Texas A&M University, told Texas A&M Today: “A Nobel prize for ciradian clocks is great for the field. It is, indeed, exciting to have worked with two of the three winners and to see them and my field honored with such a momentous award. It is a proud moment for circadian clocks.”
His research has earned international recognition, including the 2003 Aschoff-Honma Prize from the Honma Life Science Foundation in Japan. He has served as president of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Genetics Society of America and the Society of Neuroscience. He is the author of more than 100 publications.
A previous version of this story erroneously stated that Dr. Hardin was the son of SMU President Paul Hardin III, and we apologize for the error.
Read more:

2017 Alumni October 2017 Spring 2018

Adding early assessment to the math education equation

A $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to researchers in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development targets the ongoing struggle of U.S. elementary and high school students with math. SMU K-12 math education experts Leanne Ketterlin Geller and Lindsey Perry ’16 will conduct research and develop an assessment system comprised of two universal screening tools to measure mathematical reasoning skills for grades K–2.
“This is an opportunity to develop an assessment system that can help teachers support students at the earliest and, arguably, one of the most critical phases of a child’s mathematical development,” said Ketterlin Geller, principal investigator for the grant.
The four-year project, Measuring Early Mathematical Reasoning Skills: Developing Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning, started on September 15, 2017. The system will contain tests for both numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning.
“I’m passionate about this research because students who can reason spatially and relationally with numbers are better equipped for future mathematics courses, STEM degrees and STEM careers,” said Perry, whose doctoral dissertation for her Ph.D. from SMU specifically focused on those two mathematical constructs.
“While these are very foundational and predictive constructs, these reasoning skills have typically not been emphasized at these grade levels, and universal screening tools focused on these topics do not yet exist,” said Perry, who is co-principal investigator.
“Since intervention in the early elementary grades can significantly improve mathematics achievement, it is critical that K-2 teachers have access to high-quality screening tools to help them with their intervention efforts,” she said. “We feel that the Measures of Mathematical Reasoning Skills system can really make a difference for K-2 teachers as they prepare the next generation of STEM leaders.”
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 News October 2017

Big data solves leaf-size conundrum

SMU paleobotanist Bonnie F. Jacobs has contributed research to a major new study by a team of global researchers that provides scientists with a new tool for understanding both ancient and future climate by looking at the size of plant leaves. The research was published September 1, 2017 as a cover story in Science.
Why is a banana leaf a million times bigger than a common heather leaf? Why are leaves generally much larger in tropical jungles than in temperate forests and deserts? The textbooks say it’s a balance between water availability and overheating.
But it’s not that simple, the researchers found.
The study was led by Associate Professor Ian Wright from Macquarie University, Australia. The study reveals that in much of the world the key factor limiting the size of a plant’s leaves is the temperature at night and the risk of frost damage to leaves.
Jacobs said the implications of the study are significant for enabling scientists to either predict modern leaf size in the distant future, or to understand the climate for a locality as it may have been in the past.
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 News October 2017

Cyber security training needs a shot in the arm

SMU’s Frederick R. Chang, executive director of the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security, recently urged a congressional subcommittee to remember the success of Cold War-era legislation that dedicated more than $1 billion to growing the “space race” workforce as a model for closing the 21st century cyber security skills gap.
Chang testified recently before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee on “Challenges of recruiting and retaining a Cybersecurity Workforce.”
The hearing fell the same day that that it was revealed that a data breach at Equifax Inc.  had potentially exposed vital information on about 143 million Americans. “Cyber attacks are growing in frequency and they are growing in sophistication – but the availability of cyber security professionals to deal with these challenges is unfortunately not keeping pace,” said subcommittee chair John Ratcliffe, R-Tx.
One estimate, Ratcliffe said, forecasts a worldwide shortage of 1.8 million cyber security workers five years from now.
“In general, the actions that are being taken now are important, valuable and are making a difference,” Chang testified.  “But given that these actions are being taken, and that the cyber skills gap continues to grow, tells me that we must do more.  In 1958 science education in America got a shot in the arm when the National Defense Education Act was passed the year after the Soviet satellite “Sputnik” was launched into outer space. This act helped launch a generation of students who would study math and science.
Read more at SMU News.

2017 Alumni

SMU’s Luisa del Rosal ’08 wins Latino business award

Luisa del Rosal ’08, executive director of the Tower Center and founding executive director of Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center at SMU, received the Latino Up-And-Comer Award as part of D CEO’s 2017 Latino Business Awards. The awards are designed to honor the top Latino “visionary thinkers and industry pioneers” in North Texas.
“I get to do what I love every day and it’s an honor to be selected among such a worthy group,” del Rosal said. “Each nominee and award winner is an outstanding Hispanic leader, proving that we are better together.”

September 2017

In 2004, Luisa del Rosal left Chihuahua, Mexico, to attend school at Southern Methodist University.

She was a shy, doe-eyed girl who had trouble finding her way around campus. Arriving several minutes late to her first class, she entered through the wrong door and ended up at the front of the classroom. “I’m apologizing in Spanish, but I don’t notice because I’m so frazzled,” she says, only realizing the mistake when her professor responded with confusion. “I remember being just mortified.” But to del Rosal’s relief, the professor and the rest of the class laughed it off and welcomed her inside.

That first day of school has been much like the rest of her story: a series of peers, communities, and superiors who have welcomed her and her ideas.

Read more.

2017 Alumni News September 2017

When the Galápagos Islands become a science classroom

This summer, Teaching and Learning faculty members Diego Román, Ph.D., and Dara Rossi, Ph.D., invited Dallas Arboretum educators Dustin Miller and Marisol Rodriguez to help train 125 Ecuadoran teachers in the Galápagos Islands.
Román and Rossi participate in a four-year professional development program initiated by The Galápagos Conservancy and Ecuador’s Ministry of Education. They also advise The Dallas Arboretum Education Department, which focuses on life and earth science and trains 500 teachers annually. So having Miller and Rodriguez teach with them in the Galapagos was a plus. The team also included Greses Perez, a Simmons alumna, and current student Heny Agredo.
Read more at Simmons.

2017 News September 2017

Can anthropology solve the diabetes dilemma?

Carolyn Smith-Morris, associate professor of anthropology at SMU, has been studying the impact of culture and lifestyle on diabetes outcomes for over 15 years—from a decade spent among the Pima Indians in Arizona to a new study sponsored by Google aimed at preventing diabetes-related blindness. Anthropology, she says, provides the most holistic perspective of this complex problem: “Anthropology seems to me the only discipline that allows you to look both closely at disease … and from the bird’s-eye perspective.” Smith-Morris’ research was featured on Sapiens, a website that covers anthropology, on August 22, 2017.
Kate Ruder
Mary (a pseudonym) was 18 years old and halfway through her second pregnancy when anthropologist Carolyn Smith-Morris met her 10 years ago. Mary, a Pima Indian, was living with her boyfriend, brother, parents and 9-month-old baby in southern Arizona. She had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during both of her pregnancies, but she didn’t consider herself diabetic because her diabetes had gone away after her first birth. Perhaps her diagnosis was even a mistake, she felt. Mary often missed her prenatal appointments, because she didn’t have a ride to the hospital from her remote home on the reservation. She considered diabetes testing a “personal thing,” so she didn’t discuss it with her family.
As Smith-Morris’ research revealed, Mary’s story was not unique among Pima women. Many had diabetes, but they didn’t understand the risks. These women’s narratives have helped to explain, in part, why diabetes has been so prevalent in this corner of the world. An astonishing half of all adult Pimas have diabetes.
Read more at SMU Research.

2017 Fall 2017 News

To Our Readers: A Great Time To Be On The Hilltop

As the University makes final preparations for the arrival of new students and the start of fall classes August 21, I am more excited than ever about the opportunities ahead – for the Class of 2021 and for the University as a whole.
We invite you to be a critical part of all the great things that will happen on the Hilltop in the months ahead.
Our new students join peers from every U.S. state and more than 90 countries around the world. On the Hilltop, new first-year students will immediately find a home away from home in their Residential Commons. Read “Uncommon Life” to see what that experience will be like as they interact with peers who represent a cross-section of the student body and with Faculty in Residence who take an interest in their well-being, academically and socially.
The new students will be joined by new faculty members and administrators: new deans for the Cox School of Business and Simmons School of Education and Human Development, the University’s first-ever associate provost for continuing education, and new leaders for student affairs and information technology.
These outstanding leaders and their peers across SMU will enhance the abilities of our students and faculty to work together across disciplines to create new fields of knowledge and address tough problems. For examples of ways in which they change the world, read about the groundbreaking community partnerships forged by Meadows School of the Arts and the entrepreneurial alumnae who created an innovative all-girls school in Dallas.
The unique opportunities SMU offers students, faculty and alumni are only possible because of the ever-increasing generosity of donors. That is why we started the exciting three-year initiative called Pony Power: Strengthening the Stampede to inspire more people to give every year to support current initiatives.
Your annual gift to the SMU Fund – which you can direct to broad areas such as the University’s greatest needs, scholarships or faculty, or to the highest priorities of a school, the libraries, Athletics or Student Affairs – enables you to be a critical part of all the great things that will happen on the Hilltop in the months ahead.
I hope you can see for yourself the incredible things happening at the University – by coming to campus for Homecoming November 2–4 or Family Weekend September 22–24; by attending an event across the U.S. for alumni, family and friends; by seeing a game or performance on campus; or by reading the stories SMU shares online through-out the year.
It is going to be a fantastic year, and we want you to be a part of it.
R. Gerald Turner

Fall 2017

Welcoming SMU’s Olamaie Curtiss Graney Design Lab

The Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development dedicated in March the Olamaie Curtiss Graney Design Lab in Harold Simmons Hall. Olamaie G. Fojtasek and Randall S. Fojtasek ’85, ’90 (center) made a $1 million pledge to SMU, with $500,000 directed to the Design Lab and $500,000 for M.B.A. scholarships in Cox School of Business. Also at the ceremony were (from left) SMU Provost Steve Currall, President R. Gerald Turner and Simmons Interim Dean Paige Ware. Graney, Mrs. Fojtasek’s mother, was a public school teacher in Tennessee and Mississippi. In the lab, education students use technology to develop unit and lesson plans and technology applications to support student learning.

Alumni Fall 2017

SMU To Honor 2017 Distinguished Alumni, Emerging Leader

SMU will launch Homecoming Weekend 2017 by honoring four outstanding leaders in education, business and civic life at the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony and dinner on Thursday, November 2, on the historic Main Quad. Randy L. Allen ’73, Richard H. Collins ’69 and Albon O. Head, Jr. ’68, ’71 will receive 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards, and Lacey A. Horn ’04, ’05 will receive the Emerging Leader Award.
Randy L. Allen ’73 has been the head football coach at Highland Park High School since 1999. A 1973 graduate with a bachelor of arts in social studies, Allen attended SMU on a football scholarship and lettered in football and baseball. Climbing the high school ranks an assistant coach, Mr. Allen earned his first head coaching job in 1981 at Ballinger High School. After stops at Brownwood and Abilene Cooper, he led the Scots to state championships in 2005 and 2016. Read more
Richard “Dick” H. Collins ’69, a businessman and entrepreneur, is committed to making quality education available to all children. Collins graduated from SMU in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. A chairman of two commercial banks, real estate developer, wildcatter and media investor, Collins co-founded Istation in 1998. Istation is a global leader in education technology. He has served as its chairman and CEO since 2007. Read more
Albon O. Head ’68, ’71, a partner at Jackson Walker LLP in Fort Worth, is a four-year Mustang football letter winner. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history in 1968 and his juris doctor in 1971. He helped the Mustangs to the 1966 Southwest Conference Championship, and was co-captain of the 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl win over OU. He began his studies at the Dedman School of Law while serving as a graduate assistant coach in 1969 and 1970. Read more
Lacey A. Horn ’04, ’05, treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, is noted for her ability to find optimal solutions for ideal outcomes and making a difference in the governance of organizations and lives of people. Horn earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2004 and master of science in accounting in 2005. Beginning her career with Hunt Oil and KPMG Chicago as an auditor, she has been Cherokee Nation treasurer since 2011.
Read more

2017 Alumni Fall 2017

Mustangs score with the NBA

Newly minted graduates Semi Ojeleye ’17 and Sterling Brown ’17 were selected in the NBA draft on June 22, writing a new chapter in Mustang basketball history.
Ojeleye was selected 37th overall by the Boston Celtics and Brown was picked 46th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. It was the first time multiple Mustangs were tapped in the first two rounds, and the fourth time the Mustangs have had multiple picks in the draft.
Another Mustang standout, Ben Moore ’17, has agreed to a partially-guaranteed contract with the Indiana Pacers as an undrafted free agent.
Ojeleye capped his SMU basketball career as the first player in American Athletic Conference history to garner Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors. He graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
In a Boston Herald profile, writer Mark Murphy describes Ojeleye “as precisely the kind of swing forward the NBA now demands — a player agile enough to guard multiple positions, strong enough to rebound and defend power forwards and accomplished enough offensively to space the floor.”
Brown was named an NABC Division I College All-Star, All-American Athletic Conference Second Team and AAC All-Tournament in his final season with the Mustangs. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management with a minor in sociology from SMU.
On Behind the Buck Pass, the Bucks’ news and fan site, Brown is praised as “a standout shooter who is long enough to defend well in the NBA. For the Bucks, he should provide another shooter off the bench, which is something the team definitely needs.”
Brown and Moore are the all-time leaders in wins for the Mustangs.
Moore was a four-year player at SMU, with 1,214 career points. He became the 39th player in the program’s history to reach 1,000 points, which came on a dunk in the match against Temple on January 4.
Moore, Ojeleye and another SMU alumnus, Markus Kennedy ’16, were among the exciting young players showcased in the NBA Summer League in July.
Kennedy was signed by the Detroit Pistons following a season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets G-League team). While at SMU from 2013–16, he was twice named the American Athletic Conference Sixth Man of the Year. He scored 1,003 points during his SMU career.


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.”



Jennifer Burr Altabef ’78, ’81: ‘Scholarships changed my life’

By Kevin Richardson
Growing up in Kansas, Jennifer Burr Altabef dreamed of going away to college as her older siblings had. She had met several SMU graduates, and had set her heart on attending the University.

Jennifer Burr Altabef (left) with Meadows Scholar Gabrielle Bear ’17 at a luncheon honoring donors of student scholarships and support as part of SMU's centennial commemoration on November 17.
Jennifer Burr Altabef (left) with Meadows Scholar Gabrielle Bear ’17 at a luncheon on November 17 honoring donors of student scholarships and support as part of SMU’s centennial commemoration.

But when she was 15, Altabef’s father called her into his office to impart some difficult news that might have shattered that dream permanently. He told her he had lost his job and would be unable to pay for her education after she graduated from high school.
Determined to earn enough money to pay for college, Altabef worked minimum-wage jobs throughout most of her high school career. She ultimately applied and earned acceptance to SMU, but with a little more than $3,000 saved, the Hilltop seemed out of reach.
Then, she received a letter from SMU informing her that she would receive scholarship support that would make her education possible.
Altabef was overwhelmed.
“I almost couldn’t believe that people who didn’t even know me had made it possible for me to attend SMU,” she says about the donors who created her scholarships. “It was life-changing. I was determined to do well because I didn’t want to let them down.”
Fascinated by the Watergate scandal and the role played by reporters, Altabef studied journalism and earned her bachelor’s degree from Meadows School of the Arts in 1978. She eventually decided to pursue a legal career and credits her Meadows professors with teaching her to write, a skill she has relied on throughout her professional life.
“The ability to write well is one of the most important and useful skills a person can have,” she says. “I am so lucky for the rigorous training that I received from my journalism professors. It’s helped me in everything I have ever done.”
When Altabef applied to law schools, she badly wanted to stay in Dallas and knew the SMU Dedman School of Law would offer the best path into the Dallas legal community. The University of Kansas offered a full scholarship that might have taken her back to Kansas. But once again, SMU scholarship support — combined with loans — helped her achieve her dream.
After Altabef graduated from Dedman School of Law in 1981, she began what became a distinguished career in labor and employment law and litigation. She never forgot what had helped enable her achieve so much success.


“Every morning that I went to the office, I was aware that someone whom I did not know had made it possible for me to stay in Dallas, made it possible for me to practice law, and made it possible for me to have the life I chose,” Altabef says.
Altabef became involved with SMU as a volunteer after a former dean of the Meadows School asked her to lunch. He told her about the exciting educational experiences students were having at Meadows and throughout SMU. Memories of her own experiences on the Hilltop and what she heard about today’s SMU inspired her to serve her alma mater.
Altabef has served as a member of the SMU Libraries Executive Board and the Meadows School of the Arts Executive Board, on which she is slated to serve as the next chair. “I feel grateful to SMU for essentially giving me my life,” she says. “So I jumped at the opportunity to be involved.”
In her work on behalf of the Meadows School, Altabef has developed a strong connection with the Meadows Scholars Program, which raises annual and endowed resources to bring top-caliber students in the arts and communications to SMU.
“The simple truth is that scholarships change lives,” Altabef says. “I know that because scholarships changed my life. For that reason, it is also true that people who receive scholarships are the people who most want to give them.”