Gigantic surprise at Hundredth on the Hilltop

Giants will make special appearances at SMU's Centennial Celebration this week.


Ten towering puppets representing giants in SMU history will make special appearances as SMU celebrates its centennial during Homecoming festivities, Sept. 23-27.

Making a Giant 

Created by Dallas Emmy Award-winning artist Gretchen Goetz, the larger-than-life SMU Giants will walk, wave, and in the case of one giant, perform a well-known cheerleader leap. See "How-To" guide further down the page.

"The giants are stylized, whimsical versions of the characters they represent, designed to make people smile and be happy," Goetz says.

Representing the accomplishments of faculty, alumni, students, staff and administrators from SMU's history, the giants were selected based on a poll of students, faculty and members of the Celebration Organizing Committee.

At 10- and 12-feet-tall, the giants will be easy to spot, photograph, greet and share the fun as SMU celebrates its centennial and Homecoming in a huge way. Watch for them in the State Fair parade, Friday, Sept. 25 and in SMU's Homecoming parade, Saturday, Sept. 26.

Meet the SMU Giants

Kathy Bates Actress Kathy Bates, '69, an SMU theatre graduate, won an Academy Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe for Misery in 1990, an Emmy Award for playing the ghost of Charlie Harper on Two and a Half Men on CBS in 2012, and has been nominated for a Tony Award for ‘night, Mother in 1983.
Adelfa Callejo Civil Rights Activist Adelfa Callejo '61, '64 was the first Hispanic woman to graduate from the Dedman School of Law and the first Hispanic woman to practice law in Dallas. She used her legal education to fight injustice, particularly for fair access to quality education.
Lawrence Herkimer SMU Cheerleader Lawrence Herkimer '48 is known as the "father of modern cheerleading." A former SMU cheerleader, Herkimer created the pom pom, spirit stick, "Herkie" jump and the National Cheerleaders Association. By providing cheerleading training and supplies, he forever changed the sidelines scene in American sports.
Zan Holmes Rev. Zan Holmes, Jr. '59, '68, a Perkins School of Theology graduate, is pastor emeritus of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas and for 24 years was adjunct professor of preaching at Perkins School of Theology. Rev. Holmes is recognized as a leader in the Civil Rights movement.
Lamar Hunt Lamar Hunt '56 was the founder of the American Football League and Major League Soccer and co-founder of World Championship Tennis. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the National Soccer Hall of Fame and the International Tennis Hall of Fame, he coined the term, "Super Bowl," for the inaugural AFL-NFL championship.
Robert Hyer SMU's First President Robert S. Hyer served from 1911 through 1920, then returned to teaching physics until his death in 1929. His original selection of a Georgian, red-brick design for Dallas Hall set the look for campus buildings constructed since then – giving the entire university a distinctive architectural unity.
Harold Jeskey Professor Harold Jeskey taught organic chemistry at SMU from 1945-79, serving as role model and mentor to hundreds of students who became physicians, dentists or chemists. He was legendary for his trademark red tie, which he replaced with black on the days he gave his notoriously challenging exams.
Ruth Morgan Provost Ruth Morgan served from 1986 to 1993 as SMU's first female provost and vice president for academic affairs. She joined the Provost's Office as assistant provost in 1978. As an expert on the presidency, she taught political science from 1966-95 and was two-time winner of SMU's outstanding professor award.
Payne Stewart Professional Golfer Payne Stewart '79 earned 11 PGA tour victories, including three majors, the 1989 PGA tournament and 1991 and 1999 U.S. Open titles, before his death at age 42. Known for his traditional golf attire in colorful knickers and a golf cap, Stewart was a Southwest Conference co-champion at SMU.
Doak Walker Football Legend Doak Walker '49 won the Heisman Trophy in 1948 for his achievements as a Mustang running back and was an NFL Hall-of-Famer. Gracing the covers of national magazines, "the Doaker" was known for his leadership and sportsmanship in addition to his athletic talents.

How to Make a Giant

When Dallas multimedia artist Gretchen Goetz agreed to create 10 walking "giants" (puppets actually) for SMU's centennial celebration, she took on the largest mixed media commission of her career. Goetz has designed and decorated sets for television programs, films and commercials and won two Emmy Awards for her work on the PBS program "Wishbone," but this is a first.

"There is more to this project than just art," Goetz says. "They can't just look good. They have to work as functioning art."

Goetz spent three months creating the giants, who represent heroes from SMU's first 100 years.  She scoured hardware stores and vintage ware shops for her unconventional supplies - plastic fencing for shaping the puppets, a small cake cover for the base of Kathy Bates' Oscar and strips of fabric she dyed for hair. 

The biggest challenge? Working in a non-air conditioned warehouse studio during the Dallas summer heat. But when Goetz joins other VIPs in the homecoming parade grandstand, she expects the rewards to be great. "As an artist, it's very gratifying to see people enjoy your work."

Here is a behind-the-scenes look at the Giant project:


An orderly and organized artist, Goetz developed a page of images for each Giant to serve as her inspiration: SMU Giant and former organic chemistry professor Harold Jeskey is depicted – right down to the black tie he wore on exam days. how-to a giant


SMU's first president, Giant Robert Hyer, is depicted in this sketch, a guide to his three-dimensional Giant. sketch


Goetz bolted together pieces of PVC pipe to create the Giant frames. Pool noodles add depth to the arms and shoulders. how-to a giant


A sturdy backpack attached to the frame enables a human handler inside the Giant to carry it while walking. A chair cushion tucked inside the backpack makes it more comfortable. how-to a giant


Giant hands start with a cardboard cutout. Layers of paper mache give the fingers their natural curve and the hand its depth.  how-to a giant


An expert at using inexpensive and recycled items to create her art, Gretchen cut up plastic tablecloths to make a pom pom for the SMU Giant who created that classic cheer accessory – Lawrence Herkimer. how-to a giant


Seamstress Scarlett Deering stitched a football jersey to fit the broad shoulders of SMU football star, Giant Doak Walker. how-to a giant


Giant heads and hands begin as paper mache creations, then are sculpted and painted for the final creation. how-to a giant


SMU Giant Kathy Bates' paper mache Oscar is supersized. One of SMU's best known alums, she won the Academy Award for her role in "Misery." how-to a giant


Nips and tucks shape the costume for SMU Giant Ruth Morgan, political science professor and SMU's first female provost.  how-to a giant


With the help of fellow artist Karen Smith, Giant Kathy Bates is topped off.  how-to a giant


With her paper mache sculpture of SMU Giant Adelfa Callejo ’61, ’64, and costumed Giants Ruth Morgan, Kathy Bates and Adelfa Callejo in the background, Goetz' giant project is almost complete. how-to a giant

For more information about Goetz and her art, visit
(Photos by Hillsman Jackson and Kim Leeson.)

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