The Dignity Endowment Campaign

The Dignity Endowment Campaign

The SMU Human Rights Program has launched The Dignity Endowment Campaign to become the first endowed undergraduate degree-granting human rights institution in the United States.




Since 2006, the majority of the Human Rights Program's operational budget has been provided by annual grants from the Embrey Family Foundation and other community funders. Now, the time has come to guarantee that the full experience of SMU human rights education will be available far into the future.

A commitment to create a partial program endowment has already been received. Opportunities exist for donors to contribute to this pooled endowment, for which an additional $10 million is needed. Endowed gifts may be pledged over several years and may be named starting at the $100,000 level. Donors may also provide operational funds; for example, a $3 million operational gift would sustain program activity for six years. Operational funding can be directed toward specific initiatives such as staff salaries, student fellowships, lecture fees, conference expenses, or trip scholarships.

This campaign could not come at a more critical moment in history. At a time when discord and conflict dominate the headlines, the need for exceptional human rights education is tremendous. The Human Rights Program is more vibrant today than ever before, having graduated its most decorated outgoing class this May and having welcomed its largest incoming class this August. You are invited to join us in building a world that reflects our motto: There is no such thing as a lesser person.

     The Dignity Endowment Campaign: Defend. Demand. Donate!     


Click here to give today!

For more information, please contact:

Mary Lynn Amoyo
Director of Development
Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences | 214-768-9202

What is the SMU Human Rights Program?

Part of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, the Human Rights Program is training a new generation of visionary changemakers to defend and demand human dignity. Serving as a hub of human rights activity for people of all backgrounds, the program facilitates a variety of initiatives for academic development, global awareness, and community innovation. It is directed by Dr. Rick Halperin, an internationally-renowned educator and activist, and staffed by a team of experienced human rights professionals.

The founding of the Human Rights Program in 2006 sent a clear message to the Dallas-Fort Worth region and across the globe: if you want to learn how to create a world where all people can not just survive, but thrive, come to SMU. Over the past twelve years, the program has become recognized as the leading voice of human rights in United States higher education.

Why is the SMU Human Rights Program unique?

Out of the more than 5000 colleges and universities in the United States, seven offer an undergraduate degree in human rights. the SMU Human Rights Program is uniquely situated as the only one of these institutions to:

  • Be located in the South.

  • Have over 200 students currently enrolled as majors and minors and touch hundreds more each year through travel opportunities, speaking engagements, and skill trainings.

  • Organize its own global human rights education trips, which have allowed more than 500 travelers to study topics like the Holocaust in Poland, environmental justice in the Peruvian Amazon, women’s empowerment in Rwanda, refugee conflict in Australia, racial inequality in South Africa, genocide in Cambodia, Indigenous rights in Brazil, the death penalty in the United States, and more.

  • Host an annual human rights summit for high school students and teachers, which has attracted over 400 participants and has sparked 13 student-led community development efforts in North Texas since 2016.

  • Bestow a major human rights award, called Triumph of the Spirit, which has honored three global and three local human rights champions since 2014.

  • Provide a human rights fellowship that enables promising undergraduate and graduate students to implement yearlong social entrepreneurship projects with in-depth mentorship from human rights professionals.

  • Boast significant diversity, with a human rights student population composed of 80% women, 50% people of color, and large percentages of students identifying as LGBTQ, religious minorities, and other underrepresented groups.

  • Author an award-winning book, titled No Resting Place: Holocaust Poland, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the annual two-week educational pilgrimage.

  • Possess a stunning collection of student-created human rights artwork spanning nearly 30 years–the largest such collection in the world.

  • Spark positive change in North Texas, by leading efforts to have Dallas County officially recognized as 2nd "Human Rights County" in the United States and to find justice for the family of Santos Rodriguez.

Learn more by reviewing the 2017-2018 Human Rights Program Annual Report or getting in touch with program leadership.

How do SMU Human Rights students impact society?


Click on the map markers to learn about the global impact of SMU Human Rights 


The SMU Human Rights Program educates people on how to implement practical, creative, and inclusive solutions to critical problems. Since 2006, hundreds of human rights alumni have found success along many career paths - as doctors, lawyers, artists, nonprofit leaders, government officials, scientists, engineers, counselors, ministers, researchers, and more. However, these individuals first gained real-world changemaking experience as students in our cutting-edge leadership training and community innovation initiatives. Here are just a few examples of how members of the SMU human rights family are defending and demanding human dignity in the world:


Dominique Earland ‘17: Working with Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Dominique created “Your Right to Health: A Maternal Child Health Toolkit,” a publication that was distributed to hundreds of at-risk mothers throughout Texas in an effort to lower the state’s maternal mortality rate. Currently a STAR-PREP Research Fellow at the University of Maryland who will enter medical school in the fall of 2019, Dominique led a team that was awarded the grand prize at the 2018 DC Public Health Case Challenge.
Greg Guggenmos ‘18: Greg founded the Community Bail Fund of North Texas, which is now the fifth largest criminal bail fund in the United States and facilitated the nation's largest single-day bailout in August 2018. Greg will complete a master's degree in applied statistics and data analytics in May 2019 and is expanding the Bail Fund's work to include applied research strategies for abolishing the money bail system with financial support from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and other organizations.
Neha Husein ‘19: Neha designed and built an incentive-based mobile app called “Just Drive” which rewards people for undistracted driving and was selected as a winner of the 2018 Red Bull Launch Institute Competition. Graduating in May 2019 with degrees in human rights and marketing, Neha won the 2018 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards competition in Dallas and was a panelist at the 2018 Texas Department of Transportation Distracted Driving Summit.
Karly Zrake ‘18: A two-year administrative director for the SMU Human Rights Council, Karly was the first recipient of the Santos Rodriguez Memorial Endowed Scholarship and was selected as SMU's 2017 Homecoming Queen and an "M" Award winner. Currently serving as a chapter consultant for Alpha Chi Omega, Karly plans to continue working in higher education to research and promote issues of women's empowerment, leadership development, and racial justice.