On the hunt for answers to the mysteries of the universe

When scientists pour 3.0 million gallons of mineral oil into what are essentially 350,000 giant plastic tubes, the possibility of a leak can’t be overlooked, says SMU physicist Thomas E. Coan.

The oil and tubes are part of the integral structure of the world’s newest experiment to understand neutrinos — invisible fundamental particles that are so abundant they constantly bombard us and pass through us at a rate of more than 100,000 billion particles a second.

Neutrinos rarely interact with matter and so mostly pass through objects completely unnoticed. The purpose of NOvA, as the new experiment is called, is to better understand neutrinos. That knowledge may lead to a clearer picture of the origins of matter and the inner workings of the universe, Coan said.

”Neutrinos are thought to play a key but still somewhat murky role in explaining how the universe evolved to contain just the matter we see today and somehow disposing of the antimatter present at the Big Bang,” said Coan, an associate professor in the SMU Department of Physics and a member of the NOvA experiment. “Solving this riddle is likely to require many experiments to get the story correct. NOvA is a next step along what is likely to be a twisty path.”

At the heart of NOvA are its two particle detectors — gigantic machines of plastic and electronic arrays, one at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago and the other in Ash River, Minn. near the Canadian border.

Designed and engineered by about a hundred U.S. and international scientists, NOvA is managed by Fermilab. NOvA’s detectors and its particle accelerator officially start up the end of October.

“There are essentially zero leaks,” Coan said. “This was a bit of a surprise. It guarantees that critical electronics won’t be damaged by leaking oil and that the detector will be highly efficient for detecting the neutrinos we aim at it.”

One of the largest and most powerful neutrino experiments in the world, NOvA is funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. It has the world’s most powerful beam of neutrinos, is the most powerful accelerator neutrino experiment ever built in the United States, and is the longest distance neutrino experiment in the world.

Coan, a co-convener of NOvA’s calibration and alignment group, guides a crew of international scientists who handle responsibility for understanding the response of NOvA’s detector when it is struck by neutrinos.

“The detector has been behaving extremely well,” Coan said, noting NOvA scientists were delighted by the machine’s successful performance during testing after five years of construction.

Neutrino beam will travel near speed of light

Central to the detector are its rectangular plastic tubes staggered in horizontal and vertical layers. As neutrinos strike the oil-filled plastic tubes, the interaction makes the oil — liquid scintillator — faintly glow and creates various particles.

Special green fiberoptic cables in the plastic tubes transmit the faint glow from the liquid scintillator to photosensors at one end of each tube, where the light is converted to bursts of electricity which in turn are sent to nearby computers.

“We don’t actually see the neutrinos,” Coan said. “We see the particles that are the after-party — the final state particles produced by the neutrinos after they strike the detector.”

The process begins when NOvA’s underground accelerator near Chicago shoots a beam of neutrinos at nearly the speed of light to the particle detectors. Plans call for the accelerator to run for six years or more, stopping only occasionally for maintenance breaks.

“This is a long process,” Coan said. “That is uncommon in our modern culture where we tend to expect quick results. But it will take time for us to capture enough data to do all the science we want to do. It will take years. In a couple weeks Fermilab will start bringing the beam back — which is a more complicated process than just pushing a few buttons and starting it up.”

Scientists hope to discover the properties of neutrinos

NOvA’s purpose is to capture a significant volume of data to allow scientists to draw conclusions about the properties of neutrinos. Those properties may hold answers to the nature of matter, energy, space and time, and lead to understanding the origins of the universe.

Specifically, Coan said, NOvA physicists want to know how different types of neutrinos morph from one kind to another, the probability for that to occur, the relative weight of neutrinos, and the difference in behavior between neutrinos and anti-neutrinos.

NOvA’s particle detectors were both constructed within the neutrino beam sent from Fermilab in Batavia, Ill., to northern Minnesota. The 300-ton near detector observes the neutrinos as they embark on their journey through the earth, with no tunnel needed. The 14,000-ton far detector spots those neutrinos after their 500-mile trip, and allows scientists to analyze how they change over that long distance.

Construction on NOvA’s two massive neutrino detectors began in 2009. The Department of Energy in September said construction of the experiment was completed, on schedule and under budget.

Scientists predict detectors will catch only a few neutrinos a day

For the next six years, Fermilab will send tens-of thousands of billions of neutrinos every second in a beam aimed at both detectors, and scientists expect to catch only a few each day in the far detector, so rarely do neutrinos interact with matter.

From this data, scientists hope to learn more about how and why neutrinos change between one type and another. The three types, called flavors, are the muon, electron and tau neutrino. Over longer distances, neutrinos can flip between these flavors.

NOvA is specifically designed to study muon neutrinos changing into electron neutrinos. Unraveling this mystery may help scientists understand why the universe is composed of matter, and why that matter was not annihilated by antimatter after the Big Bang.

Scientists also will probe the still-unknown masses of the three types of neutrinos in an attempt to determine which is the heaviest.

“Neutrino research is an important part of the worldwide particle physics program,” said Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer.

First results expected in 2015

The far detector in Minnesota is believed to be the largest free-standing plastic structure in the world, at 200 feet long, 50 feet high and 50 feet wide. Both detectors are constructed from PVC, and filled with the scintillating liquid that gives off light. The data acquisition system creates 3-D pictures of the interactions for scientists to analyze.

The NOvA far detector in Ash River saw its first long-distance neutrinos in November 2013.

“Building the NOvA detectors was a wide-ranging effort that involved hundreds of people in several countries,” said Gary Feldman, co-spokesperson of the NOvA experiment.

The NOvA collaboration comprises 208 scientists from 38 institutions in the United States, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Greece, India, Russia and the United Kingdom. The experiment receives funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies.

NOvA stands for NuMI Off-Axis Electron Neutrino Appearance. NuMI is itself an acronym, standing for Neutrinos from the Main Injector, Fermilab’s flagship accelerator.

The Department of Anthropology celebrates its Golden Jubilee

In fall 1964, professors Fred Wendorf and Ron Wetherington brought the discipline of anthropology to SMU. This year, the University celebrates the Department of Anthropology’s Golden Jubilee.

Today, the department offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees focusing on four subfields: Archaeology, Cultural/Social Anthropology, Anthropological Linguistics, and Physical Anthropology.

Its graduate programs include the Master of Arts in Medical Anthropology and doctoral programs in Anthropological Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology (with concentrations in Globalization and International Development and Global Health/Medical Anthropology).

The department also offers an undergraduate major in Health and Society and four minors: Archaeology, Biomedical Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology and Regional Ethnography.

Celebratory events began Sept. 4-6 with the arrival of geoarchaeologist Fekri Hassan ’71, ’73, from his native Egypt. Hassan, whose research brings an archaeological perspective to the contemporary challenges of global climate change and food security, was named the 2014 Wendorf Distinguished Scholar by the Department of Anthropology in SMU’s Dedman College.

Professor Ron Wetherington says that Hassan, an expert on cultural heritage management and the origins of Egyptian civilization, was the unanimous choice as this year’s speaker. The prestigious series is named for Wendorf, Professor Emeritus and Henderson-Morrison Chair in Anthropology. Fekri was one of Professor Wendorf’s first graduate students and participated in his Nile Valley project.

“I cherish those formative years when you all contributed to opening up the magic box of anthropology with all its dazzling colors, hues, and temptations in front of my eyes,” Hassan wrote to Wetherington upon receiving the invitation to deliver the Wendorf Lecture. “It was a life-changing experience, not just on a professional level, but on a profound human level, and I am indebted to you and those who showed a special caring for me during these early days.”

The year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of anthropology’s introduction to the University curriculum will continue through summer 2015. The SMU Department of Anthropology has put together a full schedule of activities to commemorate its 50th anniversary:

Golden Jubilee Schedule

Of Note: Outstanding SMU Anthropology Faculty and Students, Past and Present

Lewis Binford’s Legacy of Change and Innovation

David Meltzer Voted Into National Academy of Sciences

SMU Anthropologist Sunday Eiselt: How Invisibility Saved New Mexico’s Jicarilla Apache

SMU Anthropologist Carolyn Smith-Morris: Tribe, Urban Poor Supply Insight Into Diabetes

Fekri Hassan ’71 ’73 Lecture Launches SMU Anthropology’s Golden Jubilee

Digging Archaeology with Fred Wendorf

Metin Eren: Archaeologist Recreates Stone-Age Technology

Outstanding Researchers Recognized

Four distinguished SMU scholars were named 2014 Ford Research Fellows at the meeting of the University’s Board of Trustees Thursday, May 8. This year’s recipients are Anthony Colangelo, Dedman School of Law; Dieter Cremer, Chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; Alexis McCrossen, History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; and Alyce McKenzie, Preaching and Worship, Perkins School of Theology.

Established in 2002 through a $1 million pledge from SMU Trustee Gerald J. Ford, the fellowships help the University retain and reward outstanding scholars. Each recipient receives a cash prize for research support during the year.

Anthony Colangelo, associate professor in Dedman School of Law, is an internationally renowned scholar in public and private international law and U.S. foreign relations law. He is a pioneer on issues of extraterritorial jurisdiction – assertions of legal power outside territorial borders. Numerous federal appellate and U.S. district courts have relied on his scholarship or adopted his theories in addressing international issues that include: extraterritorial application of U.S. law implementing the U.N. Torture Convention to the case of Chuckie Taylor, son of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor; the exercise of U.S. jurisdiction over claims by South African plaintiffs against corporations alleged to have been complicit in apartheid-era abuses by the South African government; challenges to U.S. Military Commission jurisdiction by Salim Hamdan (Osama bin Laden’s driver); claims against international financial institutions for financing terrorism in the Middle East; piracy off the coast of Somalia; U.S. jurisdiction over drug trafficking on the high seas; and choice of law regarding U.S. military contractors in Iraq. His articles have appeared in top law journals and both U.S. and foreign books on international law.

Dieter Cremer, professor of chemistry in Dedman College and director of SMU’s Computational and Theoretical Chemistry Group (CATCO), is an internationally recognized leader in the field of computational chemistry. His research ranges from the development of state-of-the-art computational methods and computer programs to their application to societal problems. His recent work focuses on computer design of new catalysts to use the greenhouse gas CO2 as chemical feedstock, as well as of cleaner molecules that can pick up toxic heavy metals such as mercury or lead from industrial waste-waters. He has published more than 350 peer-reviewed articles in high-ranking journals, more than 50 of which he published since he joined SMU four years ago. He has presented his research at nearly 200 international conferences, and 18 of the 60 graduate and postgraduate students he has supervised to date have become professors at universities around the world.

Alexis McCrossen, professor of history in the William P. Clements Department of History, is a distinguished cultural historian of 19th-century America and a specialist in temporal markers, consumer culture, and cultural institutions. She has written dozens of articles on these topics, and her most significant publications have focused on the American celebration of Sunday in Holy Day, Holiday: The American Sunday (2001, Cornell University Press), and on the development of time-consciousness in American life in Marking Modern Times: A History of Clocks, Watches, and Other Timekeepers in American Life (2013, University of Chicago Press), supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. A volume she edited, Land of Necessity: Consumer Culture in the United States-Mexico Borderlands (2009, Duke University Press), is a collection of papers produced by a Clements Center for Southwest Studies symposium she organized and to which she contributed important chapters. Her new research project explores how Americans have celebrated New Year’s Eve. McCrossen’s expertise has been recognized most recently with her selection by the Organization of American Historians as an OAH Distinguished Lecturer.

Alyce McKenzie, LeVan Professor of Preaching and Worship in Perkins School of Theology, is renowned as a scholar not only in the theory and practice of preaching but also in the wisdom literature of the Bible. Her scholarship has contributed to reshaping the intellectual interpretations of “words to the wise” and to defining the way that homiletics can be taught. Her published works are used as standard texts in graduate preaching courses and have functioned as continuing education resources for professionals in the field. In addition, McKenzie has been elected by her peers as president of the Academy of Homiletics. In the 2013-14 academic year, she was selected for a Lilly Endowment grant that will establish a Center for Preaching Excellence at Perkins School of Theology, which will explore new ways to teach preaching effectively. In addition, McKenzie has been recruited to lead innovative continuing education programs across the country.

Commencement traditions

Commencement Weekend at SMU is a mixture of time-honored practice and modern refinements, from the custom regalia to the Rotunda Recessional. Here is a roundup of the traditions and symbols that make up the University’s 21st-century approach to these ancient ceremonies.


Baccalaureate Service for Undergraduate Candidates

The Baccalaureate Service is a religious ceremony held in McFarlin Auditorium the Friday evening before May Commencement Convocation. This is a small and intimate service that features a special sermon for undergraduate candidates and their guests.

Wearing full regalia, candidates process into McFarlin and are seated together. Weather permitting, students line up on the Main Quad in the order of their arrival.

Rotunda Recessional

The Rotunda Recessional follows the Baccalaureate Service. Undergraduate candidates, led by faculty and alumni marshals, march through the front doors of Dallas Hall, across its Rotunda and around to the University’s Main Quad. This tradition marks the new graduates’ symbolic departure from the Hilltop and welcomes them into their new phase of membership in the SMU community – their lives as alumni.

The march is a bookend to another symbolic tradition, the Rotunda Passage. Before Opening Convocation, held the day before their first day of classes as first-years, students process through the back doors of Dallas Hall, across the Rotunda and onto the Main Quad as new members of the SMU student body.

Commencement Convocation

On Saturday morning, the all-University May Commencement Convocation assembles degree candidates from all of SMU’s schools and professional programs in Moody Coliseum. Students and faculty, dressed in full academic regalia, march to the ceremony to processional music.

Doctoral candidates and honorary degree recipients are hooded, Commencement speakers address our newest class of candidates, and the University president confers degrees. At the conclusion of the ceremony, “Varsity” is played and a prayer is said for the new alumni.

Diploma Presentation Ceremonies

Wearing full academic regalia, graduates are individually recognized in school or departmental ceremonies.



The wearing of regalia during graduation is a custom that dates to the 12th century and the early universities of Europe. These universities did not have their own buildings when they were first established and conducted their studies in nearby churches. A typical scholar, whether teacher or student, had himself taken religious orders, so academic dress of the time echoed that of the clergy, including traditional black clerical robes. (Historians believe the robes and hoods may also have been needed to keep warm in these unheated and often drafty buildings.)

This apparel became more widely adopted when gowns were established as the official dress of academics in 1321. Later, universities created variations of the gowns and hoods to differentiate among various grades of scholars.

In 1895, representatives of U.S. institutions established the Intercollegiate Commission to standardize the practice of academic dress among American colleges and universities. These guidelines are called the Intercollegiate Code of Academic Costume, or the Intercollegiate Code for short. The most recent revision took place in 1986.

Bachelor’s Candidates

SMU undergraduate regalia includes a blue mortarboard cap with tassel, a blue robe and a red “Stole of Gratitude,” to be kept by the new graduate after the robe is returned, and traditionally presented to an individual who had a profound influence on his or her education. Scholars believe that the mortarboard was adapted from the biretta, a similar-looking hat worn by Roman Catholic clergy, which was used in the 14th and 15th centuries to identify students, artists and other “learned youth.” Tassels are worn on the right side of the mortarboard until students are instructed during the ceremony to move them to the left. This ritual of “turning the tassel” symbolizes the candidate’s transition from student to graduate. Tassel colors signify the disciplines in which bachelor’s degrees have been earned.

Master’s Candidates

Master’s candidate attire includes a blue mortarboard with tassel, a blue master’s robe and a hood, which the candidate either rents or purchases and wears to the ceremony. The tabbed sleeves of the master’s robe echo the square-cut tail, or liripipe, of a traditional master’s or doctoral hood. The length of the hood and the width of its velvet trim indicate the academic achievement level of the wearer, while the trim’s color indicates the discipline in which the degree was earned. The color of the hood’s satin lining signifies the institution awarding the degree.

Ph.D. and Other Doctoral Candidates

Proper regalia for SMU’s Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Engineering (D.E.), Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) and Juris Doctor (J.D.) candidates includes a blue doctoral robe with three red velvet chevrons on each sleeve and an eight-sided red tam with a gold doctoral tassel. Hoods are placed on doctoral candidates during the ceremony when their degrees are awarded. The doctoral hood is a gift from the University to the student.

SMU Trustees

The dark red Trustees gown includes one velvet chevron on each bell sleeve and velvet panels down the front and around the neck. A Trustee’s hood with a squared bottom is attached to the gown.


The Presidential Collar and Medallion

Chains, or collars, were used as badges of office during the Middle Ages. Today, they are custom-designed metal necklaces worn by university presidents as part of their regalia during academic ceremonies.

The collar designed for President R. Gerald Turner is made of bronze, and its medallion is dominated by the University seal as it appears in the floor of the Rotunda of Dallas Hall, SMU’s historic first building. The seal represents the president’s responsibility to the sound education of each and every student.

The bail, which joins the medallion to the chain, represents the bond between the student body and the faculty. The chain and its clasp represent the joining of the desire to teach and the eagerness to learn demonstrated by SMU’s faculty and students.

The University Mace

Staffs that call groups to order are as old as civilization itself. Today’s ceremonial maces descend from the medieval armor-piercing club topped by a bludgeoning ball. These weapons swiftly acquired symbolic meaning; by the 14th century, a mace carried at the front of a formal procession required bystanders to note the authority and integrity of the event. By the 16th century, the spiked heads had evolved into decorative orbs.

The tradition evolved among European universities to present maces, which symbolized their protective power and independence, on solemn occasions. SMU’s mace-bearer, the president of the Faculty Senate, leads formal processions carrying this reminder of the university’s history and status.

The 22-pound mace currently in use at SMU is linked to the inauguration of President Willis M. Tate (1954-72) and is now known as the Tate Mace. The 57-inch staff features a 10½-inch orb that represents the University’s worldly authority and echoes its neoclassical architectural style. The orb is impressed with the SMU seal and encircled with its motto, Veritas Liberabit Vos (“The truth shall make you free”). Surmounting the orb is a cross painted in SMU red, a reminder of the University’s religious heritage.

(History based on a citation prepared by Bonnie Wheeler, associate professor of English and director of Medieval Studies)

The Howard Lantern

The Howard Lantern is dedicated to the late Professor Lorn Lambier Howard, SMU’s chief marshal emeritus from 1978-87, in honor of his role in shaping the traditions and protocol of the University’s modern-day academic ceremonies. Designed in 2008 and crafted from steel, aluminum and water glass, the lantern symbolizes the Dallas Hall Rotunda. The University’s motto is engraved around the lantern’s base; the words to “Varsity,” the SMU alma mater, encircle its top band.

Each year during the May Baccalaureate Service, this lantern is handed down by the senior class president to a representative of the junior class – a symbolic passing of the light that sustains our University.

Sections of this article were compiled from SMU’s Commencement Convocation program.

Founders’ Day Highlights Faculty

SMU’s world-changing faculty presented stimulating talks during Founders’ Day Weekend on Friday, April 11 at Inside SMU powered by TEDxSMU. SMU alumni and the wider community enjoyed compelling stories from outstanding faculty as well as SMU staff, alumni and students. Speakers ranged from scientists to artists, designers to engineers and philanthropists to economists. Founders’ Day Weekend gave alumni an opportunity to reconnect with professors, classmates and current students. This year’s event occurred during the centennial celebration of the Year of the Faculty and featured many ways to engage with SMU’s outstanding scholars.

Martin L. Camp
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Adjunct Professor, Dedman School of Law
Talk: Good News, Bad News, Who is to Say!

Marc P. Christensen
Dean, of the Lyle School of Engineering
Talk: Educating a New Generation of Failures

Jamie Clark-Soles
Associate Professor of New Testament, Perkins School of Theology
Talk: Dying to Live

Michael S. Harris
Associate Professor of Higher Education, Simmons School of: Education & Human Development
Talk: Why Businesses Should Work Like a University

Joshua Rovner
John Goodwin Tower Distinguished Chair of International Politics and National Security, Dedman College
Talk: The Heroes of Counterinsurgency

Dennis Simon
Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, Department of Political Science, Dedman College
Talk: Civil Rights: A Journey

Willard L. Spiegelman
Professor, Dwaine E. Hughes, Jr., Distinguished Chair in English, Dedman College
Talk: Realms of Gold

Ben Voth
Chair, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Division, Meadows School of the Arts
Talk: Ending Genocide in the 21st century

A memory submitted by Bob (Robert) Jamison, Class of 1953

I am sorry at age 82 that I can’t remember his name, my accounting instructor in 1949 and 1950. I have held accounting jobs, was Chief Financial Officer of a Corpus Christi Credit Union, have always done my own income taxes, all from taking 3 accounting courses at SMU. Accounting has been my saving talent when I needed a job after serving in ministry. From my accounting base, I have served as City Manager, International Airport Director, and Executive Director of a council of governments.

A memory submitted by James Verschoyle, Class of 1965

My wife, Kathleen Brooks, and I were students at SMU from 1959 until 1963 and we both earned our BBA degrees.

Our favorite professor was Frank A. Young in the Insurance Department. Mr. Young was a highly competent and effective professor. He taught insurance from a scholarly point of view as well as a vocational one.

Professor Young knew each student by name and kept up with all of us including our marriages, children, careers, awards, illnesses and funerals. He singlehandedly organized and maintained an Insurance Alumni Club with newsletters biannually with great detail about each former student mentioned in that particular letter. This was all done at his sole expense long before fax machines and emails became available.

None of us will ever forget Mr. Young’s fool-proof grading system. First, there was a pop quiz at the beginning of every class. Those total scores were the equivalent of one major test. In addition to the pop quizzes there were two or three other major tests. We were given an option of dropping any one of those major tests with the dangerous opposition that any course material on the final exam which pertained to the dropped test counted double on the final exam score. In other words, if you didn’t learn that material the first time you had a chance to learn it for the final exam… but at great risk! Professor Young’s system was designed to require each student to prepare daily and have a comprehensive understanding of the entire course material.

Professor Young also had a great tradition of organizing and leading an annual bus trip to visit the Insurance Department at the capital in Austin. Not only was the trip educational, it built good spirits, camaraderie and an extensive network of friends in the insurance industry.

To this day, 50 years later, the Insurance Department Alumni still look forward to receiving our Frank Young Newsletter (via email) with great anticipation and fond memories.

A memory submitted by David Schum, Class of 1956, 1961

I wish to tell you about one the most important persons in my life of 82 years now. He is Professor Samuel Geiser. I had three courses with Professor Geiser at SMU who was in the Zoology Dept. I have been a university professor myself for 50 years now at Ohio State, Rice, and George Mason. I keep Dr. Geiser’s picture on my desk to remind me what a splendid teacher and scholar looks like. I have tried my best to be as good as he was, but I have found this quite difficult. There is no way I can record my feelings about Dr. Geiser in this small box. Many thanks.

A memory submitted by Craig Campbell, Class of 1993

Jerry White — after almost 4 years, I thought I was through. I had it made; it was all too easy. Done and dusted as they say Down Under where I live. Then Jerry came along and made me realise that I hadn’t really learnt much at all up to that point. He challenged me by making me understand that nothing else matters if there’s not enough cash flow to make payroll. It’s a lesson I still carry with me today as a CEO. All of the fancy stuff I had in my head ended up completely subordinate to mundane things like a cash balance in the bank. What a lesson, and a good one at that.

I should have known that it was going to be good when in the first class he gave us a Roman history lesson that explained double entry accounting. It was, and remains to this day, the only interesting thing about accounting I have ever heard.

I almost failed his class (entrepreneurship), but it was the best education I ever had. Good on ya, Jerry.

A memory submitted by Anthony Indelicato, Class of 1995

My favorite SMU professor was my printmaking professor, Laurence Scholder. He let us learn and pursue our artistic interests within the context of the class. He gave guidance and examples without taking control of our art. He was a mentor and always there to help. His continues to have an impact on my art and me as a person and I was privileged to be a student in his printmaking classes.

A memory submitted by Randy Krone, Class of 1983

Took a 1982/1983 two-week interterm trip with about a dozen other students to Hollywood with Professors Jay Swartz (advertising/public relations) and Bill Jones (film). We were given the chance to spend the first week visiting movie studios (Warner Brothers, Columbia, Universal, Fox) as well as publicity/advertising agencies that were involved in the film industry. The second week we did a five-day internship at the location of our choice.

The opportunity to be involved in a trip like this and to establish contacts that would benefit me in years to come was amazing. Having Jay Swartz and Bill Jones arrange these incredible opportunities was something that really didn’t sink in totally until years later.

SMU has always had a track record of offering these type of “off campus/real world” classes that are often once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

That trip, and what I took from it, is something I’ll never forget.

A memory submitted by William Fisher, Class of 1954

Joe Harris was my professor in embryology & anatomy. He wrote on the chalkboard with both hands so it was hard to keep up with my notes.

On final exam darned if I didn’t pull a blank on a question so I wrote down for the answer “Bird, capable of flight & reproduction.”

Amazing that he kept a file of ridiculous answers. He pulled out a card one time and darned if it wasn’t mine! We both had a good laugh!

A memory submitted by Dale Coco, M.D., Class of 1968

Two professors at SMU shaped my life and career. Jack Strange and Harold Jeskey are greatly responsible for who I am and what type of physician I became.

I can still see Dr. Strange rushing into class, a stack of books and papers in one hand and the ever present cigar in the other. He did not teach subject matter. He taught you how to think and evaluate, and then inspired you to learn everying you could about anything you wanted to know about.

I will never forget Dr. Jeskey standing in front of the class rocking on those huge feet, addressing us as men (no matter how many girls were in the class) and making it tough on us by demanding excellence and perfection in everything we did. He prepared us for medical school and what it takes to be a physician. How glad  were we to see him wearing his SMU tie or a red tie and how devastated were we to see a black tie on test day. “It’s a black tie day” is still part of my vocabulary. How proud were we when he was at our med school graduation to give us all (his boys) a red tie that I still have and cherish today over 40 years later.

The value of those types of teachers cannot be calculated in any other way than the human terms of the lives they influence.

A memory submitted by Dana Cope, Class of 1991

Without a doubt Dr. Virginia Curry.

It was always exciting to see Dr. Curry arrive at the classroom having just ridden her motorcycle to campus and wearing her boots, cowboy hat with yellow rose attached and a cigarette between her lips.

Her real life stories about national and state politics were amazing. From the stories of the 1968 Democratic convention when she and a nun made the Chicago road trip to raise hell, to the time our class attended the 1988 Democratic and Republican conventions — those were the days.

Dr. Curry was extremely provocative, knew it, and didn’t care. Exactly what we SMU students needed to experience.

A memory submitted by Dr. Robert Esch, Class of 1961

Dr. Ima Herron was my favorite professor. She kept up with me as my career launched.

One day in class a wag asked, “Miss Herron, how long are we supposed to be reading Moby Dick?” She promptly replied, “Why Mr. Pierce, I’ve been reading Moby Dick all my life!” He said to those listening, but quietly, “Well, I hope it doesn’t take me that long.”

A memory submitted by Amy Cardin (Patterson), Class of 1981

Hands down, my favorite professor was Marshall Terry. His Creative Writing classes were inspirational and downright FUN!

Marsh always encouraged us to find our own voice and to never give up. To this day, some of my best SMU memories are from his class.

And one final icing on the cake was that he presented me my diploma at graduation. It doesn’t get any better than that!