Women of SMU

In celebration of Women’s History Month, learn about the women who make our campus an enterprising, vibrant and welcoming community.

Women have been a vital part of SMU’s story since the beginning, and today, the impact of women on campus – from students, faculty members and staff – is felt on the Hilltop and far beyond. Here’s just a sampling of the ways our campus and community are made better by the women who shape it.

In the classroom and in the library

Crista DeLuzio, for example, holds many roles as a faculty member – she’s an associate professor in the history department, an Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor and the director of graduate studies. For undergraduates, she teaches multiple classes on women’s history, focusing on everything from women’s rights to the emergence of “the new woman.”

“Students are eager to learn about women in the past, especially their engagement in the long – and ongoing – fight for gender equality,” says DeLuzio.

Crista DeLuzio leaning against the historical marker commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King's visit to SMU.

It is such a privilege and a pleasure to have the opportunity every semester to explore with my students the diverse and complex stories of women’s experiences, struggles and achievements over the course of U.S. history.

Crista DeLuzio, Associate Professor in the Department of History, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director of Graduate Studies

Meanwhile, the Lyle School of Engineering is forging ahead in terms of attracting women as students. About 34% of Lyle School undergraduates are women, compared to the national average of 22%.

“Lyle Engineering does an amazing job of creating an environment where women thrive,” says Solomon Professor for Global Development Kathleen Smits, who is the chair of the civil and environmental engineering department and senior fellow of the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity. “The faculty also do a great job getting students involved in groundbreaking research that typically attracts more women to engineering.”

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And it’s students like Haley Taylor Schlitz ’22 and Marillyn Seeberger ’22 who these professors hope to inspire. At 16, Schlitz was accepted into nine law schools – but chose to call SMU’s Dedman School of Law her academic home. She went on to become SMU’s youngest law graduate in history, and she hopes to increase opportunities for gifted and talented girls and students of color.

“Many girls and students of color are left out of our nation’s gifted and talented programs,” Schlitz says. “Society will lose out on the potential scientist who cures a major disease, the entrepreneur who starts the next Amazon and so much more. All because of their gender and/or skin color.”

Society will lose out on the potential scientist who cures a major disease, the entrepreneur who starts the next Amazon and so much more. All because of their gender and/or skin color.

Haley Taylor Schlitz ’22

Fellow alumna Seeberger shares Schlitz’s passion for lifelong learning. She earned her Bachelor of Art in film and media arts last year at the age of 85 after a long career in advertising and hopes to write screenplays.

“I don’t want to just take up space on the planet,” she quips.

Haley Taylot Schlitz '22 and Marillyn Seeberger '22
Joan Gosnell and people inside of the university archives center

As University archivist, Joan Gosnell touches all areas of study. She has meticulously worked on the University archives, which documents faculty, staff and student experiences at SMU. Her work supports programs including the Voices of SMU and research on the University’s history.

“Leading scholars and students to the sources of SMU history is at the forefront of everything I do,” she says.

SMU volleyball players signing autographs
Equestrian athlete standing next to a horse

On the court and on the track

Women are just as impactful on the field as in the classroom – which was on full display on National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Athletes from a myriad of different teams signed autographs, handed out shirts and met with young fans prior to the SMU Women’s Basketball game.

“I looked up to the girls that were in my position right now, so it’s nice that I’m able to be their role model,” says senior guard Jasmine Smith ’22.

Members of the SMU Equestrian team joined in the fun, too. They took part in a relay race as part of the interval entertainment.

“It’s a great thing,” says Devin Seek ’22. “This is a great opportunity just to make sure that we’re out here walking around in our gear.”

In the boardroom

SMU benefits from women in leadership, from Provost Elizabeth G. Loboa to Robin Poston, dean of the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies and Stephanie Knight, dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Since becoming provost in July 2020, Loboa has been actively working to help the University achieve Carnegie Research One (R1) status – and seeing results. Faculty research awards have increased 84% since her arrival, to name one example, and during Carnegie’s last review cycle SMU was only two positions away from the R1 designation.

“At SMU, we are seeing an increasing number of our undergraduate students express an interest in research opportunities,” Loboa adds.

Provost Loboa sitting at desk
Maria Dixon Hall honored

While this prestigious award is an honor, the real reward was having it presented by one of my very first students, who overcame so many obstacles in his life to become a true world changer.

Maria Dixon Hall, Chief Diversity Officer

The impact of female leadership is felt beyond academics, as well. Women like Chief Diversity Officer Maria Dixon Hall and Meadows Museum Director Amanda W. Dotseth are creating a rich environment for students and scholars from all walks of life to thrive on campus.

Hall became the first person to hold that role at the University in 2020, after she had begun developing SMU’s Cultural Intelligence Initiative in 2016 to help others become more respectful of different cultural backgrounds.

Most recently, she received the 2023 Education Champion Award, presented by the United States Congress. Hall is also an Altschuler Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Meadows School of the Arts.

Over in the galleries, Dotseth has been named the first female director of the Meadows Museum after serving as the director ad interim and curator following the passing of previous director Mark A. Roglán in 2021.

“To now be at the helm of the institution as the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director during the next phase of the museum's life is a great honor,” says Dotseth.

Amanda Dotseth, Director of Meadows Museum

Student perspective

Female undergraduates are leading the charge in male-dominated fields, too. Hear Megan Ferm ’23 speak about her experience studying advertising in a cohort with other women.

Resources for students

Eager to know more? SMU offers a Women’s and Gender Studies undergraduate minor, an individualized major in the liberal arts and a Women’s and Gender Studies Graduate Certificate program.

SMU also offers the Women in Leadership: Influence and Impact certificate program, a six-week course in which participants hone their leadership skills and learn how to maximize their unique contributions to teams and organizations.

There are also plenty of resources on campus, from the Women and LGBT Center to the annual Women’s Symposium. Regardless of orientation or identity, these programs aim to create a joyful, inclusive and welcoming space for all.

Ready to learn more about SMU?

See if SMU is the right place for you to make your own impact on the world – whether through academics, athletics or student life.