Chief Diversity Officer
Dr. Maria Dixon-Hall
Senior Advisor to the President for Cultural Intelligence
Dr. Maria Dixon Hall joined SMU in 2004. She earned a Ph.D. in organizational communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia; a Th.M. in homiletics from Emory University; an M.Div. from Emory University; and a B.S. in marketing from the University of Alabama.
Recognized throughout her SMU career by students and peers alike for her passion for teaching and research, Dixon Hall has received the 2005–2006 Willis M. Tate Award for service to the student body; the 2009 Golden Mustang Award for outstanding teaching and research by junior faculty; the 2010 Rotunda Award for outstanding teaching; and the 2011 “M” Award, SMU’s highest award for outstanding service to the University.
Dixon Hall began developing SMU’s Cultural Intelligence Initiative in 2016 as a practical, effective alternative to traditional diversity training. CIQ@SMU seeks to give members of the SMU community behavioral skills needed as they work, learn and live respectfully and well with people from different cultural backgrounds. The Cultural Intelligence Initiative began offering its “Hidden Scripts” seminars focused on the language of implicit bias in Spring 2018.
COX SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
Steve Denson has provided strategic direction and coordination since 2002 to all activities that recruit and support underrepresented students for Cox programs. As assistant dean of diversity and inclusion, Denson maintains active relationships with organizations such as the National Black MBA Association, Prospanica, and Reaching Out, as well as with other local and national organizations and initiatives. Denson also is an adjunct professor in management and organizations at the Cox School.
DEDMAN COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES AND SCIENCES
Diversity Officer (faculty); Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, History
Jill Kelly researches and teaches South African history. Kelly is a recipient of the M Award, SMU’s highest honor bestowed upon students, faculty and staff who give unselfishly of their talents to better the University. SMU’s Voices of SMU oral history project is the result of an initial collaboration between Kelly and University Archivist Joan Gosnell to document the experiences of Black students at SMU. The project has since been expanded to include the experiences of Latinx, South Asian and East Asian alumni.
Diversity Officer (staff), Director of Dedman College Records and Academic Services
John Georges, who joined SMU in April 2020, has worked in higher education for more than two decades in student life, student services and enrollment management with a firm commitment to helping all students realize their potential. As a first-generation American and first-generation college graduate, his interactions and experiences with discrimination, prejudice and oppression motivated him to further his education and serve others.
DEDMAN SCHOOL OF LAW
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Erika Fadel joined SMU in 2017 as a counselor in the Office of Career Services and as director of inclusion and diversity, a role first created in 2015. In her new full-time role, she will continue her work with diverse students and organizations, and launch new programs to support first-generation students, particularly focused on increasing their academic and professional success.
LYLE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Kathy Hubbard joined the Lyle School in August 2001. As senior director of student experience and enrollment management she worked with recruitment and professional development of undergraduates, including overseeing co-ops and mentoring. She understands the SMU student experience, earning her Master’s degree in education leadership and policy from Simmons in 2015. She received the 2018-19 Volunteer-of-the Year Award for community work in education from the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement.
MEADOWS SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
Diversity Officer, Special Advisor to the Dean; Professor of the Practice (Journalism)
Karen Thomas leans on her 25 years as a daily journalist in teaching classes ranging from beginning reporting to literary journalism. She worked as a feature writer for 13 years at The Dallas Morning News, specializing in family issues, narrative writing and column writing. Prior to joining the Morning News, Thomas was a national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and also covered education on a national, state and city level.
MOODY SCHOOL OF GRADUATE AND ADVANCED STUDIES
Diversity Officer, Associate Director
Kerri Bennett joined SMU in 2016 and works with Ph.D. and Dedman College Master's students to provide administrative support for student progression, maintaining academic records and processing students for graduation. She is the main point of contact for dissertation format checks, graduate student travel grants, and similar Moody School resources. She also handles general admissions questions for Ph.D. and Dedman College Master's applicants and potential applicants. She has more than10 years of higher education experience ranging from recruiting to admissions to student finance.
PERKINS SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY
Diversity Officer, Director of Retention and Success
Herbert Coleman joined the Perkins School in 2007 as director of recruitment and admissions, transitioning in May 2018 to director of retention and student success. He arrived at SMU with several years of experience in student recruiting, as well as service as a Methodist pastor in Philadelphia and a community organizer in Washington, D.C. while pursuing his Master of divinity degree. Coleman’s undergraduate degree was in statistics and he spent ten years working for the Treasury Department at the U.S. Mint.
SIMMONS SCHOOL OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Communication
Yolette García joined SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development in 2008 as assistant dean for external affairs and outreach. She develops strategies for communications and promotion and is also responsible for identifying and prioritizing community partnerships and projects for the school. Garcia joined SMU after a lengthy career working as a public broadcasting journalist and manager for KERA television and radio, the North Texas public broadcasting station.
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Officer; Director of Strategic Initiatives
Hollie Gardner joined SMU in 2013. As director of strategic initiatives she leads projects ranging from space planning to website redesign. As EDIA officer, she serves as the confidential counsel to the dean of SMU Libraries, providing advice and advocacy for underrepresented voices and experiences. She will lead the SMU Libraries EDIA Committee to develop and implement a libraries-wide EDIA plan. She believes that her experience raising biracial children in her multicultural and neurodiverse family helps her understand advocacy on a personal level.
Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Director of Student-Athlete Development
Andre Harris directs the student-athlete development program for SMU Athletics, guiding student-athletes through personal development, career development and community service. He is an executive member of the department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council and staff advisor to the Black Student-Athlete Committee. Prior to coming to SMU he was responsible for diversity and inclusion programming for University of Wisconsin-Madison student-athletes.
BUSINESS AND FINANCE
Diversity Officer, Senior Compensation Specialist
Tracy Scott has been with SMU since 2019 as senior compensation specialist in the Human Resources Department where she works with development and administration of SMU’s compensation and classification programs. She joined SMU after several years working as a middle school math teacher, during which time she earned her Master’s degree in education, helping to strengthen her teaching skills while working with a diverse student population.
DEVELOPMENT AND EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Diversity Officer, Director for DEA Staff Development
Michelle Baehl joined SMU DEA in 2017. Her focus has been on recruitment/staffing, training, onboarding, the student internship program and overseeing the DEA Staff Advisory Committee. She arrived at SMU after a long career with academic medical centers and experience at a system level with a culturally diverse work force, serving all levels of staff and management. Previous work includes building an executive recruitment program at an academic medical center while working with the director of affirmative action for all recruitment.
OFFICE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Diversity Officer, Desktop Support Manager
Jesus Martinez is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who joined SMU in 2009. As an undergraduate he worked as an IT intern supporting the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). He has nearly 15 years of experience in the IT field. He currently oversees the desktop support team, through which he has developed a vast number of personal connections across the SMU campus.
Diversity Officer, Executive Director for Student Development
Jennifer Jones has been on staff at SMU for more than 30 years and was named a 2016 History Maker by the Black Alumni of SMU. She joined SMU in 1985, serving 16 years with Residence Life and Student Housing before becoming director of Multicultural Student Affairs and later assistant dean of student life/director of student activities and multicultural student affairs. She has advised the Student Senate and the directors of the Women & LGBT Center, family and parent programs, and the associate dean of the Caring Community Connections program.