“I am excited to be part of the FIR tradition at SMU. Students are the reason I relish teaching, and I hope to repay all of the incredible life lessons I've learned from my students over the years. Young people are a gift. To grow and thrive, they must be nurtured and supported both inside and outside of the classroom. And, as a FIR, I am honored to be a small part of this process.”
Debra Branch is a eighth-generation Texan, born in the border town of Eagle Pass and raised in the Piney Woods of East Texas. She received her BA at the University of Texas at Austin and her MA at the University of Oklahoma, both in Sociology. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at the Ohio State University, where she specialized in gender and racial inequality in the workplace.
Dr Branch has lived and traveled extensively in the U.S.; She loves the outdoors, especially the Mountain West, and is an avid environmentalist. Her favorite hobbies include travelling, skiing, hiking, biking, and paddle-boarding. She has 25 years of college teaching experience and has won teaching awards at every university where she has taught.
Dr. Branch is a senior lecturer in Sociology for Dedman College and has been at SMU since 2007, where she teaches courses in the Sociology and Markets and Cultures majors. Her courses include Research Methods, Environmental Sociology, Constructed Social Identities, Social and Economic Development, Sport and Society, and Contemporary Issues in the American Southwest.
Dr Branch has won several campus honors at SMU, including the prestigious Provost’s Teaching Award. In addition, she teaches regularly at SMU-in-Taos, and has taken students to Cuba as part of the SMU in Havana/Miami abroad program. She is the SMU Faculty-in-Residence for Morrison-McGinnis Residential Commons.
Dr. Debra Branch and her wife, Molly, have served as the Faculty-in-Residence (FIR) family in Morrison-McGinnis Commons since 2020. The Branches are excited to share their lives and experiences with the students, and look forward to carrying on the great traditions, such as MoMac at the movies, while creating new opportunities for all in the MoMac family to connect and bond together. Is anyone up for a snowball fight? The MoMac spirit is strong with the Branches! They open up their home on Sunday nights for snacks (MoMac and cheese anyone?) and shows and love attending SMU events with their students. Go Ponies! When the Branches aren’t cheering on their students, you can often find them walking campus with their pups, Bean, Picasso, and Hank.
One of the founding symbols of MoMac is the torch, representing the development of character through helping others, and Deb and Molly believe that the best way to build lasting relationships is through community service. As a Sociologist and the MoMac FIR, Deb loves to engage students with the larger Dallas community, whether it’s environmental justice or helping homeless youth. Both Deb and Molly believe some of the best life learning opportunities happen outside of the classroom and strive to foster a sense of engagement, mentorship, and belonging among the MoMac community.
Deb and Molly consider themselves the “fun aunts” of MoMac. Whether it’s attending a MoMac-er’s dance recital, hosting dinners, or just lending a hand, hug, or ear, Deb and Molly are always right there on the first-floor. Molly loves to host and cook, and Deb loves to talk and eat! And, watch out for Deb and her camera as she loves taking and posting pictures of her MoMac family! Isn’t that what aunts are for?