Once a Mustang: Alumni Return to Meadows as Faculty and Staff Members

More than 20 Meadows alumni are currently employed in the school; hear about what drew them back to Meadows and their experience as an alum-turned-faculty member.

Meadows alumni throw their caps into the air at graduation.
Meadows students embark on many career paths after they graduate, with some alumni even returning as faculty members.

Meadows prides itself on providing its students with world-class education and experiences, and we love watching our alumni in their life and career journeys after their time on the Hilltop comes to an end. After graduation our alumni often find ways to give back to the school in varying capacities, and sometimes they’ll even return as faculty members!


Hear from three of our current faculty members on their experience as an alum employed at Meadows and what encouraged them to return to their alma mater in a professional capacity.



Headshot of alum and faculty member Lane Harder.


Lane Harder, B.M. ’99

Senior Lecturer in Music Theory and Composition


While Lane Harder was a student at Meadows pursuing a degree in composition, he put his musical abilities to work and performed regularly with both the Meadows Wind Ensemble and the Meadows Percussion Ensemble.


During his time as an undergraduate, he performed at the 1997 WASBE Conference (Schladming, Austria) and the 1997 CBDNA Convention (Athens, GA) with the Meadows Wind Ensemble and the Midwest Band & Orchestra Directors Convention (Chicago, IL) and at TMEA with the Meadows Percussion Ensemble. Harder graduated in 1999 and became a freelance percussionist, pianist, private teacher, and classroom teacher, jumpstarting his journey as an educator.


“Even as an undergrad, I always wanted to come back to SMU and have some affiliation with the Meadows School,” says Harder. “It has such tremendous reach into the Dallas arts community in which I had been so active for so long before leaving Texas for grad school.”


During his time away earning his master’s and doctorate degrees, Harder missed the sense of community in Dallas and the mutual support that the arts community offers to its participants. Though he performed with numerous local regional orchestras, chamber groups, and musical theater companies as a percussionist and keyboardist in other areas, in addition to publishing award-winning work, he knew there was something special about the musical community in Dallas.


Harder continued teaching in various capacities while in other places, including a stint as the Program Coordinator and faculty member of the European American Musical Alliance Summer Institute in Paris, France. But shortly after he returned to Dallas after completing his D.M.A., Harder found himself interviewing for an adjunct position in Meadows’ Division of Music.


“I still believe, more than ever, in the Meadows mission of advancing excellence in education, scholarship, and artistic expression while holding to the charge of the Division of Music of devotion to service in the artistic life of our community, our nation and the world,” says Harder. “Serving your community is the most important thing we can do as musicians.”



Headshot of alum and faculty member Charlotte Huffman.


Charlotte Huffman, B.A. ’03

Adjunct Professor of Journalism


After graduating from SMU in 2003, Charlotte Huffman spent nearly two decades working on TV in markets across the US, including eight years working as an investigative reporter in top five markets. Throughout her career, she has worked in the journalism industry as an investigative reporter, anchor, general assignment reporter, host and producer. 


Most recently, Huffman worked as the Lead Investigative Reporter for WFAA-TV (ABC) here in Dallas and often returned to SMU as a guest lecturer. After six years at WFAA, Huffman was presented with the chance to exit the industry and become the Interim Broadcast Executive-in-Residence in Meadows’ Division of Journalism in 2022. Knowing she would get to work alongside the professors who inspired her to become a journalist and guide students through the same program she had graduated from, Huffman jumped at the opportunity.


“Equipping the next generation of journalists with the tools they need to achieve their own versions of success is extremely fulfilling,” says Huffman, who is now an Adjunct Professor in the Division of Journalism. “Watching my students grow and set their own careers in motion has been every bit as exciting as breaking the next big story.”


Since her collegiate time on the Hilltop, Huffman has had an exciting career ride. Not only has she had both the privilege and responsibility of telling stories that have changed laws and lives, Huffman has also earned two Emmys and three Edward R. Murrow awards, among others, for her work. And now she gets to impart her vast amounts of industry knowledge on to her students, sitting in the same classrooms she sat in just two decades ago.


“SMU's journalism division is like home to me and returning to the place where my journey began has truly been a full circle move.”



Headshot of alum and faculty member Carter Alexander.


Carter Alexander, B.F.A. ’21

Artist-in-Residence in Dance


While some faculty members returned to the Hilltop years after their time as students, some actually earned their degree while simultaneously teaching at Meadows. Soon after Carter Alexander had begun working towards a degree in art and art history at Clark University in 2005, he received a faculty position at the Miami City Ballet School. The time commitment of his faculty position limited his ability to continue pursuing a degree and he decided to focus on his career in the dance industry.


Following his time at Miami City Ballet school, Alexander transitioned into the role of Artistic Director at both Chamberlain Performing Arts and Ballet Dallas for many years. In 2018, when he accepted the position of Artist-in-Residence at SMU Meadows and resumed teaching full-time, he made the decision to embark on his own educational experience as well.


“I knew that having a degree would enhance my credentials and complement my twenty years of teaching in the ballet field, providing a solid foundation for continuing my career in a university setting,” Alexander explains of his decision to enroll in the B.F.A. program.


During his time in the program, he was able to broaden his understanding of dance by collaborating with his fellow dance faculty members at Meadows. His dynamic with the dance students was enhanced as well, since he would teach dance majors in the morning and then participate in classes with them later in the day. This dichotomy provided a fascinating experience for Alexander in his dual pursuit of teaching and learning, and he gained valuable insights into the challenges that students face on their own academic journeys.


“Getting my B.F.A. at Meadows increased my ability to develop robust connections with the students,” he says. “They recognize that I understand what they’re going through.”




Whether they returned to campus after years away from the Hilltop, joined the faculty in a part-time position, or even pursued their degree after coming to SMU to teach, it’s clear that the community built at Meadows inspires alumni to continue to engage with their alma mater.