Tower Center Students


Empowering students to lead and serve is a top priority of the Tower Center, which serves as a crucial resource for undergraduate students across all majors and schools.

The Center draws on the Knowledge of professors, practitioners and scholars from variety of fields, enabling students to explore politics and policy from an interdisciplinary perspective. The Tower Center offers students numerous opportunities to gain valuable out-of-classroom experience through the Student Forum, John G. Tower Center Student Fellowships and the Tower Scholars in Public Policy Minor.

Tower Center Student Forum

The Tower Center invites you to join leading political minds, share ideas with those influencing public policy today, and contribute to on-going debates. 

Membership in the Tower Center Student Forum gives you the opportunity to be on the forefront of the pressing issues of the 21st century with invitations to compelling conferences, lectures, briefings, and other events with the trendsetters shaping our world. Tower Center Student Forum members have the opportunity to publish op-eds and commentary on current events, and even submit papers to our undergraduate student journal Dialogue.

Emphasizing elevated thinking and informed discussion between individuals from diverse fields of study, the Tower Center and its Student Forum enable undergraduates to contribute an innovative voice to national and global discourses.

For membership in the Tower Center Student Forum, or for all other inquiries, please contact Bora Laci (

John G. Tower Center Student Fellowships provide a gateway for students to pursue work in politics and government. Undergraduate Fellows collaborate closely with faculty to develop research projects that either become published or presented for faculty or professional review.

The John Goodwin Tower Center Undergraduate Research Fellowships

The John G. Tower Center offers a limited number of research fellowships to SMU undergraduate students to pursue collaborative work in politics and government. The Undergraduate Fellows work closely with faculty in developing a research project resulting in a publication or final paper presented at a professional meeting or before a faculty committee. The Tower Center's Undergraduate Fellows are accepted during the second semester of their sophomore year and serve as fellows during their junior and senior years. Selection is based on merit and determined by an application and interview process emphasizing ability and interest in research. Each fellow receives a stipend of $800 per semester for a maximum of four consecutive semesters, a book allowance for documents related to the independent study project, support for research expenses approved by the Director of the Center and support for travel to appropriate academic conference(s) for presentation of their research.

There are four fellowships and each fellow is designated by the name of the donor of his fellowship:

  • Edwin L. Cox Fellowship Award
  • Al G. Hill, Jr. Fellowship Award
  • Tom Bryant Medders, Jr. Fellowship Award
  • Henry S. Miller Fellowship Award

The Jack C. and Annette K. Vaughn Foreign Service and International Affairs Internship

Every academic year, the John G. Tower Center offers one Foreign Service and International Affairs Internship which will allow a highly qualified SMU sophomore or junior student to have the opportunity to gain first hand knowledge of American foreign affairs. The selection process is based on merit and determined by an application and interview process. Additionally, students applying for the State Department Intern Program must meet the eligibility requirement of this program, which includes a background investigation necessary to obtain security clearance. Students selected by the Tower Center but not chosen by the State Department Intern Program will be placed in another international affairs center, government agency, or think tank in Washington, DC.


The Hatton Sumners Foundation Scholarships

The Tower Center also oversees and manages the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation Scholarships for undergraduates at SMU. The Hatton W. Sumners Foundation supports programs and activities that foster an increased understanding of civic and personal responsibility, and active participation by citizens in all levels of government. The scholarship selection committee evaluates applicants on their academic record, leadership abilities, participation in community and civic affairs, and potential for future leadership. The Hatton W. Sumners Foundation scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis. Hatton W. Sumners Scholars receive $2500 per semester for four consecutive semesters (junior and senior years); in addition they will have opportunities to participate in programs supported by the Foundation that will enhance the quality of the academic experience. Hatton W. Sumners Scholars will also be invited to exclusive programs sponsored by the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies.


The Kelli and Gerald J. Ford Scholarship

The Kelli and Gerald J. Ford Scholarship is awarded to highly qualified SMU undergraduates with a strong interest in international affairs. Applicants must have completed a minimum of 60 hours of coursework and have a minimum GPA of 3.3. The selection will emphasize ability and interest in research in international affairs. Merit will be determined through the application and interview processes. The amount of the award will be $5000 for the academic year. The recipient will be expected to commit approximately five to ten hours per week to the project over the course of the academic year. Additionally, scholarship winners will spend the academic year researching and writing a paper worthy of public presentation.


Rubottom Foreign Service Scholarship

The Rubottom Foreign Service Scholarship is awarded to highly qualified undergraduates majoring in Political Science, History, International Studies, Economics or World Languages at Southern Methodist University. Applicants must have completed 60 hours of coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.3. In addition to committing to a minimum of 3 years of foreign language study, the scholarship recipient, under the direction of a faculty member, will enroll in a directed readings course and produce a significant research paper suitable for public presentation during the spring semester. The objective of this scholarship is to strongly encourage students to consider careers in the U.S. Foreign Service and in international affairs, so the paper should reflect a subject or issue congruent with this objective. The recipient will be awarded a scholarship in the amount of $5000, which will be distributed in two $2500 installments at the beginning of fall/spring terms.


Marian Tower Scholarship

These scholarships were established to reflect Marion Tower’s experience as a world traveler and a student of languages and cultures; in her memory, they support Highland Capital Management (HCM) Tower Scholars who are undertaking similar endeavors. The scholarships will be awarded to HCM Tower Scholars who study abroad for a summer or semester through SMU Abroad programs.

To Apply:  

HCM Tower Scholars should submit a letter of interest to Olisa Dellas, Tower Scholar Program Specialist in the Tower Center at, describing their purpose in studying abroad, explaining how their study abroad plan fits into their overall educational and career goals, and how the scholarship funds will be utilized (maximum 750 words).

Scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit and need, and will range between $1,500-$3,500 depending on the student’s financial need as assessed by the Office of Financial Aid.  


Spring Program Deadline: November 1
Fall Program Deadline: April 1
Summer Deadline: February 1

Learn more about the Tower Center student fellowships and scholarships:

Ray Rafidi | Associate Director for Administrative and Academic Affairs | | 214-768-3665

Dialogue: Undergraduate Journal for Political Studies

The Tower Center publishes a monthly periodical with commentary on politics and international affairs, including interviews with Tower Center speakers, as well as highlights of undergraduate research. At the conclusion of each academic year, Dialogue: the Tower Center Undergraduate Journal for Political Studies will feature the best research from relevant fields at SMU. 

The Tower Center Student Forum publishes a quarterly periodical with commentary on politics and international affairs, including interviews with Tower Center speakers, as well as highlights of undergraduate research. At the conclusion of each academic year, Dialogue: the Tower Center Undergraduate Journal for Political Studies will feature the best research from relevant fields at SMU.

Dialogue welcomes undergraduate submissions on relevant political and international studies topics at all times. To send a submission or request information on submission guidelines, please email

Coming Soon: Volume 6 | Spring 2016 | Issue I

Volume 7 | Spring 2016 | Issue 1 
Volume 5 | Spring 2015 | Issue 1
Volume 4 | Fall 2014 | Issue 1
Volume 3 | Spring 2013 | Issue 1
Volume 2 | Spring 2012 | Issue 1
Volume 1 | Spring 2011 | Issue 1


Student Forum Newsletters

Open Forum | October 2017
Open Forum | September 2017 

2014 Fall Newsletter
2013 Fall Newsletter
2012 Fall Newsletter



About the minor

The Tower Scholar Program is a selective, multidisciplinary minor in Public Policy and International Affairs that enables students from a variety of academic backgrounds to combine their academic interests with experience in the real world of public policy.  In four exclusive classes, Highland Capital Management (HCM) Tower Scholars learn from experienced policy practitioners and full-time faculty about the policy-making process before putting their education into action in a directed research project on a policy issue of their choice.  Outside the classroom, HCM Tower Scholars experience policy in practice through on-campus events, private meetings with practitioners, and a fully funded trip to meet with professional policymakers in Washington D.C. At the conclusion of this experiential minor, HCM Tower Scholars will graduate prepared to transform ideas into actions and step into leadership roles in the public or private sector.

The application-only minor is open to all majors across the schools, with admission based on a competitive application process.

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