About Us

The Graduate Studies office at SMU is here to help graduate students navigate the administrative requirements of their programs of study.  We oversee school-wide initiatives for graduate students such as the University Ph.D. Fellowship and Graduate Student Travel Grants.  We also manage the academic progress and graduation of graduate students in Dedman College.  

PhD GraduatesGraduate Students will find assistance with the following issues in the Graduate Studies office:

  • General admissions questions for Dedman College applicants
  • University Ph.D. and Mustang Fellowships
  • McNair Scholar tuition waivers
  • Graduate student travel grants
  • Graduate student life initiatives
  • Changes in academic status, dropping/adding courses, and other forms for Dedman College students
  • Dissertation submission and graduation requirements for Dedman College students

Graduate Studies also hosts school-wide graduate student events such as Research Day and the Ph.D. Graduation Dinner.  

Graduate Studies is located in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies (ORGS), directed by James E. Quick, Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies.  Dean Quick has dual responsibilities of supervising research related functions at SMU and overseeing the University's non-professional graduate programs, with special emphasis on degree programs offered by Dedman College (Humanities and Sciences).

Alan Itkin, the Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies, manages the administrative functions of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies with regards to graduate admissions and recruitment; professional development and student life; graduate student fellowship and travel grant support; graduate student orientation and graduation; and the monitoring of graduate student academic progress.

Stevie Otto, the Director of Graduate Recruitment, works with departments across the institution to help promote their doctoral programs to prospective students.

Kerri Bennett, the Assistant Director of Graduate Studies, works with Dedman College graduate students to provide administrative support for student progress, maintaining academic records, and processing applications for graduation.

Dean James E. Quick

Dean James E QuickJames E. Quick is the Associate Vice President for Research, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Professor of Earth Sciences.

Dean Quick comes to SMU after a distinguished twenty-five year scientific career with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). He assumed this newly-created position at the University in August 2007 after serving as Program Coordinator for the Volcano Hazards Program with the Survey.

At the USGS he performed fundamental research on volcanic processes and was in charge of monitoring the nation's 169 volcanoes to provide critical early warning of eruptions. Threats from active volcanoes range from the dramatic destruction of property and life on the ground to eruption of volcanic-ash clouds that constitute severe risks to jet aircraft in flight. The budget for this research group was approximately $26 million per year.

Dean Quick's career with the UGSG began in 1981 after he earned his Ph.D. in geology from the California Institute of Technology. His first tour-of-duty was spent in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This six-year assignment allowed him to conduct research on some of the oldest rocks recording the formation of the oceanic crust. He also became a keen observer of the geo-political situation in this important region of the world.

Upon his return to the United States Dean Quick assembled an international team of scientists to study the magmatic evolution of deep crust, which is the birthplace of the magmas that produce the largest explosive eruptions. His research has taken him to more than 35 countries around the world, which together with experience in working with the federal government, elected officials, and academic institutions provided Dean Quick with a broad set of skills that he will bring to SMU in advancing the University's prominence in research.

Dean Quick has published widely in numerous scientific journals over the last thirty years and maintains an active research agenda on magmatic processes. Since arriving at SMU he has joined the Dallas Council on Foreign Relations and looks forward to being involved in the Dallas community. His professional affiliations include the American Geophysical Union, Geological Society of America, and the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior.

Jim Quick received his M.Sc. in petrology in 1974 from the University of Minnesota and the B.Sc. in geology in 1972 from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Alan Itkin

Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies

Alan ItkinAs Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies, Alan is responsible for oversight of Doctoral and Master’s degree candidates in collaboration with academic graduate advisors and departments in Dedman College. He oversees graduate student recruitment and matriculation; coordinates graduate student life events; administrates the University Ph.D. Fellowship and Dissertation Fellowship programs; monitors graduate student progress; provides administrative approval of dissertations; and awards Graduate Student Travel Grants.

Alan holds a Ph.D in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University, and a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of California Berkeley. Prior to joining SMU, Alan served as Assistant Dean for Graduate Education and Research in the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University. Alan also maintains an active research profile as a scholar of modern German culture and Holocaust literature. His academic monograph, Underworlds of Memory: W. G. Sebald’s Epic Journeys through the Past, was published by Northwestern University Press in 2017, and he has held the titles of Senior Lecturer in German at Vanderbilt University and Visiting Assistant Professor of Literary Cultures at New York University.

Kerri Bennett

Assistant Director of Graduate Studies

Kerri Bennett The Assistant Director of Graduate Studies works with Dedman College graduate students to provide administrative support for student progression, maintaining academic records, and processing students for graduation. Kerri is the main point of contact for dissertation format checks, Graduate Student Travel Grants, and similar resources offered by the ORGS office. She also handles general admissions questions for Dedman Grad applicants and potential applicants. Kerri has over 10 years of experience in Higher Ed from Recruiting, Admissions, to Student Finance. She joined the Office of Research & Graduate Studies in Fall of 2016. While helping motivate others to further their education, she also obtained an MBA with a concentration in Marketing. She is an avid fan of the Game of Thrones HBO series and loves to discuss shocking moments with other fans.

Stevie Otto

Director of Graduate Recruitment

The Director of Graduate Recruitment works closely with graduate departments across the institution to help promote their doctoral programs to prospective students.  She is also a valuable resource for interested students who want to learn more about the graduate student experience at SMU and who need help starting the application process.

A native of Houston, Stevie is a graduate of Southwestern University and the University of Iowa.  She has worked in higher education for several years, starting as an academic advisor and transitioning into admissions and recruitment.  Before coming to SMU, she most recently served as the Assistant Director of Admissions and Outreach for the College of Visual and Performing Arts at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.  She has worked in Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies throughout her entire professional career and enjoys being able to help students take that next step in their own professional development.  

Our Staff

James E. Quick Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies 214-768-1115
Karen Wray Assistant to the Dean 214-768-4336 
Alan Itkin Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies 214-768-4202 
Stevie Otto Director of Graduate Recruitment 214-768-4279
Kerri Bennett Assistant Director of Graduate Studies 214-768-4345