2019 Archives

SMU to present honorary degrees to Dallas preservationist Virginia McAlester and Chobani yogurt founder Hamdi Ulukaya

May 6, 2019

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU will present honorary degrees to Dallas historic preservationist Virginia McAlester and Chobani yogurt founder Hamdi Ulukaya at the University’s Commencement Convocation at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at Moody Coliseum.

McAlester will discuss her lifelong dedication to historic preservation at a symposium from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Friday, May 17, in O’Donnell Auditorium in Owen Arts Center, 6100 Hillcrest Ave. She will join a panel of national leaders in historic preservation including Mark Lamster, Dallas Morning News architectural critic and UTA professor of architecture; John C. Waters, former chair of the Georgia National Register Review Board; Craig Melde, architect, principal and founder of Architexas; James B. Lindberg, vice president of the Research and Policy Lab at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Rick Brettell, founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas at Dallas.

The symposium is open to the public and will be preceded by a 3 p.m. tea in Owen Arts Center’s Taubman Atrium.

Virginia McAlester

McAlester’s Dallas roots run deep. Her ancestors were among Dallas’s first settlers and her father was mayor of Dallas. She was a founder of the Historic Preservation League, now Preservation Dallas, which has helped designate and sustain more than 4,000 local landmarks. It is a model adopted by many cities for historic preservation. Virginia McAlester

In 1984 she created the advocacy group Friends of Fair Park, which successfully petitioned to protect and preserve the permanent buildings in Fair Park, site of the 1936 Texas Centennial, now home to the State Fair of Texas and a broad range of museums and cultural venues. Her many awards include receiving the key to Dallas in 2014, an AIA honorary membership, and the Friends of Fair Park Spirit of the Centennial Award in 2017.

McAlester is nationally known for her landmark 1984 book, A Field Guide to American Houses, the standard reference on American residential architecture across all eras and regions, and she has been recognized by the American Library Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for her scholarship. Her other books include Great American Houses and their Architectural Styles, A Field Guide to America’s Historic Neighborhoods and Museum Houses: The Western States, and Homes of Park Cities, Dallas: Great American Suburbs.

Hamdi Ulukaya

Hamdi UlukayaHamdi Ulukaya is founder, chair and CEO of Chobani, one of the fastest growing food companies in the last decade, and a pioneer in the natural food movement.

Raised in a Kurdish dairy-farming family in a small village in eastern Turkey, Ulukaya launched Chobani in 2007 in the United States with the mission and vision of making better food more accessible. In less than five years, Chobani became the best-selling Greek yogurt brand in the U.S. with more than $1 billion in annual sales. He implemented a profit-sharing program in 2016 with 2000 Chobani employees in New York and Idaho.

As a humanitarian, Ulukaya founded the Tent Partnership for Refugees to mobilize the private sector to improve the lives and livelihoods of refugees around the globe. He signed its Giving Pledge and committed the majority of his personal wealth to this cause. For these efforts he received the 2015 United Nations Foundation Global Leadership Award and was named an eminent advocate in 2016 by the United Nations Refugee Agency, among other recognitions. TIME Magazine in 2017 named Ulukaya one of its 100 Most Influential People.

Ulukaya serves on the board of the Pathfinder Village and the American Turkish Council. Most recently, Ulukaya became a member of the B Team, a collective of global leaders working to inspire dialogue and business action for a fairer, greener and more human economy.

About SMU

SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and nearly 12,000 students in seven degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.


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