SMU Chief Diversity Officer Maria Dixon Hall honored

Maria Dixon Hall, an SMU Altschuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, has been named the 2023 Education Champion

Dallas (SMU) – Maria Dixon Hall, an SMU Altschuler Distinguished Teaching Professor and the University’s Chief Diversity Officer, has been named the 2023 Education Champion by the Congressional Award Program.

Presented on behalf of the joint leadership of the U.S. Congress and the Congressional Award Board of Directors, the award is given to a member of the private sector who is making a difference in the lives of the young people they support.  Dixon Hall received the award in late February at a ceremony honoring young people who have completed the goals of the Congressional Award Program – voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and exploration.

The Education Champion award was presented to Dixon Hall by her former student, Mateo Magdaleno, an SMU alumnus and member of the Congressional Award Foundation Board of Directors.

“I entered the academy to teach,” said Dixon Hall. “Yes, research was incredibly important but it meant nothing to me if I could not use it to help open the world to my students. While this prestigious award is an honor, the real reward was having it presented by one of my very first students who overcame so many obstacles in his life to become a true world changer.

“I am still silly enough to believe that a teacher can have an impact on the world by teaching those who will change the world,” Dixon Hall said. “That’s why despite my role as Chief Diversity Officer, I cannot and will not ever give up being a teacher.”

Recognized throughout her SMU career for her passion for teaching and research, Dixon Hall received the 2005-2006 Willis M. Tate award for service to Student Body; the 2009 Golden Mustang 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, who joined SMU in 2004, is an associate professor of corporate communications in the Meadows School of the Arts. She was announced as Chief Diversity Officer in 2020 after developing and leading the SMU Cultural Intelligence Initiative. The Cultural Intelligence Initiative began offering its “Hidden Scripts” seminars focused on the language of implicit bias in Spring 2018.

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.