May 18, 2009
DALLAS (SMU) — SMU has announced that it will work in partnership with
community organizations in helping to rebuild the urban area of West Dallas.
Under plans currently being developed, SMU will partner with Dallas Faith
Communities Coalition and the West Dallas Education Task Force to explore the
area's needs and goals for access to high-quality K-12 schools.
"This effort is part of SMU's commitment to apply the University's resources of
intellect and involvement to make a positive impact on our city, in cooperation
with community groups," said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for
Discussions with community leaders have involved several SMU deans and other top
officials, as well as faculty with expertise in issues related to urban
University-wide involvement will be possible through SMU's seven schools: Dedman
College of Humanities and Sciences; Cox School of Business; Bobby B. Lyle School
of Engineering; Meadows School of the Arts; Perkins School of Theology, Dedman
School of Law; and the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human
Development. This latter school is particularly well suited to draw upon its
expertise, research and training programs in areas ranging from reading to
"Our multidisciplinary approach at the University will allow us to study and
deliberate on how to make the best contribution to the community," said David
Chard, the Leon Simmons dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education
and Human Development. "We have great tools at hand, such as assessment and
research, strong academic programs and a dedication to student placements and
SMU, at the recommendation of its Community Engagement Council, will undertake
further deliberations, studies and dialogue to determine how best to make an
impact. Possibilities include involvement of faculty, staff and students in
community and school activities; collecting and offering best practices for
urban redevelopment; providing learning opportunities in a number of
disciplines, both for students and for teacher training; mentoring and tutoring.
"These activities will also provide outstanding learning experiences for our
students," said Vice President for Student Affairs Lori White, who chairs SMU's
Community Engagement Council with Provost Ludden.
SMU officials took part in a breakfast and discussion May 18 at Dallas City Hall
sponsored by Mayor Tom Leppert, the West Dallas Education Task Force and the
Dallas Faith Communities Coalition.
"We don't yet know exactly what form our involvement will take in West Dallas,"
said Associate Provost Ellen Pryor, a member of SMU's Community Engagement
Council. "But we are very excited about the possibilities that will strengthen
both the campus and the West Dallas community in meaningful ways."
SMU's involvement in West Dallas will be in addition to its existing community
engagement projects with other areas of Dallas, such as Dedman College's
Academic-Community Experience program and house in East Dallas, activities in
Vickery Meadows, college readiness programs available to many DISD schools, and
pro bono legal services in South Dallas and East Dallas, among other programs.
A private university located in the heart of Dallas, SMU is building on the
vision of its founders, who imagined a distinguished center for learning
emerging from the spirit of the city. Today, 11,000 students benefit from the
national opportunities and international reach afforded by the quality of SMU's
seven degree-granting schools.
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