SMU News Feed feed contains news and information from SMU News Feed (Gary Shultz) (Aren Cambre)60Memorial Service Held A memorial service was held Thursday to honor SMU Police Officer Mark McCullers.

Mark McCullersDALLAS (SMU) — A memorial service was held Thursday, July 28, for SMU Police Officer Mark McCullers, missing since July 5 when he was swept away during a storm while working off duty at a construction site near Turtle Creek.

The service was held in SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium and was followed by a 21-gun salute.

McCullers is believed to have drowned during the flooding. He notified a dispatcher that his car was being overtaken by water. He lost contact with the dispatcher about 1:30 a.m.

McCullers served with in the U.S. Marine Corps for nine years and joined the SMU Police Department in February 2015. He is survived by his wife, Tiffany McCullers, and their blended family of six children.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Officer Mark McCullers Memorial Account at any Wells Fargo Bank (Account 9976436577) or online

The search for McCullers continues.

Among those who have taken part in the search are the SMU Police Department, Highland Park Department of Public Safety, Dallas Fire-Rescue, the Dallas Police Department, University Park Police Department and Fire Department, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Department of Public Safety, Plano Police Association, Highland Village Police Department, City of Dallas Trinity Watershed Management, Dallas Box 4 Fire Buff Association, Search One K9 Rescue Team, Cedar Valley College Law Enforcement Academy, Dallas VA Hospital Police, Civil Air Patrol and Task Force 2 Urban Search and Rescue.

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Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:11:00 GMT
Day 3 of Democratic National Convention SMU experts weigh in on the third day of the Democratic National Convention and the current state of the presidential race.

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU experts weigh in on the third day of the Democratic National Convention and the current state of the presidential race. The complete roundup of experts’ insight is offered here, and more convention experts are available here.



“Last night was both a valedictory for President Obama and Vice President Biden, but also a direct refutation of the sense of America laid out by Republicans at their Cleveland convention. Crime and poverty are down, the President said; jobs are up; the stock market is up; and hope remains. These ideas or stats weren’t present the week before during the RNC in Ohio, which laid out a stark contrast not only of style but of vision – and one with historical precedent.

“Whenever in recent American history one party has offered a vision of a better past – and another of a better future, the forward-looking candidate always wins. Just ask Bill Clinton in 1996, whose “bridge to the 21st century” stood in stark contrast to Bob Dole’s better America from his youth. Voters ultimately want to move forward, which is why the smart money coming out of this convention will increasingly be on Hillary.”

Engel is director of the SMU Center for Presidential History. He can discuss:

  • comparisons to past presidential races
  • foreign policy
  • presidential rhetoric




“Of all the Democratic luminaries, Joe Biden is perhaps the most appealing to blue collar white voters – with whom Hillary Clinton polls very weak – so I think the vice president was trying to chip away a bit from Trump’s appeal and credibility in that sector.

“The mockery on the credibility issue is an attempt to even the score on Clinton’s weakest points – that people don’t trust her. The speeches from Biden, Kaine, President Obama and others were an attempt to turn that around and say, ‘You think Donald Trump tells the truth?’ You think he’s somebody you can trust and believe?

“It will be interesting to see which party’s vision resonates more with Americans this fall: Clinton’s idea that things are pretty good, but we’ve got some more work to do – or Trump’s idea that we’re in a real mess, and we’ve got serious, serious problems.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of political science. He can discuss:

  • religion and politics
  • political psychology
  • public opinion and politics



Ben VothBEN VOTH:, @BenjaminVoth

“A family values theme is emerging for both conventions. A maternal theme emerged at the DNC while a paternal theme was clear at the RNC. In some sense America is called to pick a mother or a father for president and guide a new generation forward.

“President Obama synthesized his message of 'Yes We Can' into a message for Hillary Clinton, and tried to subdue the Trump campaign’s message of fear. His comments about demagogues, and not relying on a single person to fix problems, were paradoxical to some of his own actions that emphasize executive action against legislative dialogue and cooperation. But the president lauded the American people as a source of strength.

“Also, Vice President Biden’s remarks that, ‘We are America, second to none, and we own the finish line,’ invoked a theme of American exceptionalism that was somewhat surprising.”

Voth is SMU’s director of debate and an associate professor of corporate communications and public affairs. He can discuss:

  • debate prep, strategy and effectiveness
  • comparisons between this debate season and the 2012 election’s debate season

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Media Contact: 
Denise Gee




Thu, 28 Jul 2016 12:02:00 GMT
Day Two of DNC convention skirts the Clintons’ marital woes SMU experts weigh in on the second day of the Democratic National Convention and the current state of the presidential race.

DALLAS (SMU)SMU experts weigh in on the second day of the Democratic National Convention and the current state of the presidential race. The complete roundup of experts’ insight is offered here, and more convention experts are available here.



“Bill Clinton won his audition for first spouse.The speech he gave last night was far closer to a traditional prospective ‘first lady’ speech than the gangbuster political case he made four years ago for Obama – and so often throughout his own career.He talked about Hillary, not only in the intimate ways of a spouse, but also with a point: That she found problems to solve, from her earliest life, and solved them.His contrast of her with Trump was subtle but clear – one is a doer, the other a talker. Overall Mr. Clinton was subdued and warm, just as one would expect from a first lady, or in this case, gentleman.In a night of historical firsts, his part will be equally recalled for years to come.

“The theme of the night, in effect, was that Hillary had a long history of actual governance and accomplishment.The juxtaposition of Republican and Democratic narratives of 9/11 was striking.Last week was ‘they knocked down our towers’ –with the emphasis on the evil-doing ‘they.’ This week was ‘we’ –and ‘she worked hard to build them back up,’ with repeated references and personal narratives to specifically show how Hillary worked – and yes, worked within the system – to make things better in the aftermath of tragedy.It was not a sexy night of politics, but a repeated drumbeat of competence.Expect more of the same tonight.”

Engel is director of the SMU Center for Presidential History. He can discuss:

  • comparisons to past presidential races
  • foreign policy
  • presidential rhetoric




“Bill Clinton was well received in the hall, but it’s remarkable how much the Democratic Party has changed since he was president. He signed welfare reform, enthusiastically promoted free trade, toughened criminal penalties, signed the Defense of Marriage Act, and – along with the Republican Congress – balanced the budget. Democrats today would never accept that sort of pragmatic centrism. (Just as the Republican Party has moved more to the right over the last 20 years, the Democrats have moved decidedly to the left.)

Mr. Clinton gave a good speech, but it was remarkable that, in talking about his marriage to Hillary, he barely even alluded to his serial infidelities. Ironically, the period when she was most liked by the American public was when she was cast in the role long-suffering wife in the face of Bill’s embarrassing adultery and impeachment. He could have done her a lot of good (and humanized her) by at least briefly referencing the pain that he put her through, but he apparently couldn’t bring himself to do that. It was really the elephant in the room.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of political science. He can discuss:

  • religion and politics
  • political psychology
  • public opinion and politics



Ben VothBEN VOTH:, @BenjaminVoth

“Bill Clinton’s speech was a striking personal narrative that heaped praise on his wife Hillary and displayed an uncharacteristic deference. His extended biography humanized both him and her and resurrected the family character of the Clinton family that was shattered by his sensational infidelity. Those problems had no reference but there was a reverential awe for a woman who consistently sought positive social and political change ahead of her time.His speech did little to directly attack the Republicans and he offered fresh new justifications for Hillary’s candidacy.

“The DNC appeared to overcome its initial rocky start that was challenged so vocally and vigorously by Sanders supporters. The affirmation of Hillary’s nomination seemed to bring a chapter of rebellion to a close for the convention. (Though the acts of rebellion seem to have moved beyond the convention hall and onto the streets of Philadelphia.) And the historic significance of the first woman to be nominated for the office of the American presidency provided the primary energy for the evening and many speakers extolled this point.”

Voth is SMU’s director of debate and an associate professor of corporate communications and public affairs. He can discuss:

  • debate prep, strategy and effectiveness
  • comparisons between this debate season and the 2012 election’s debate season

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Wed, 27 Jul 2016 14:51:00 GMT
Sanders & Michelle Obama unity messages end day on high note SMU experts weigh in on the first day of the Democratic National Convention and the current state of the presidential race.

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU experts weigh in on the first day of the Democratic National Convention and the current state of the presidential race. Additional convention experts
are available here.



“This is what an organized convention looks like. Yes there was rustling and grumbling from the delegates; these are Democrats after all, a party of interests rather than ideologues. But because they are a party of interests they ultimately came together when it mattered most in modern American politics, which was when the cameras were really rolling.

“Trump’s recent convention featured speakers, from the first night, off-script, unscripted, and even employing speeches the American people had previously heard. Clinton’s by comparison was on point, on message, and with a driving theme that what unites the party is stronger than what divides it – and that the other party offered a vision that was one of real division beyond mere politics. In this sense it doesn’t matter what their message was. For having, and keeping,
to a message, one has to give them an ‘A’ for the first night.”

Engel, director of the SMU Center for Presidential History, can discuss:

  • comparisons to past presidential races
  • foreign policy
  • presidential rhetoric


Matthew Wilson“Michelle Obama had the best speech of the night. It was personal and largely positive, providing much more of a tribute to Hillary Clinton than an attack on Trump. She has a devoted following, and may well contemplate a political future. Voters, though, seem wary of the idea of familial dynasties – witness Jeb Bush’s flop and Hillary Clinton’s ongoing struggles.

“Bernie Sanders did what most Republicans wanted Cruz to do – give a tribute to his supporters, talk about his key themes, but in the end endorse his bitter rival because the alternative is just too bad to contemplate. The difference, though, is that Cruz is trying to position himself for the future, whereas for Sanders there is no ‘next time.’ He will be 78 years old in 2020. By falling in line, Sanders remains beloved by the Democratic base, whereas Cruz’s perceived failure to be a ‘team player’ seems to have backfired, at least for the time being.”

Wilson, SMU associate professor of political science, can discuss:

  • religion and politics
  • political psychology
  • public opinion and politics

Ben VothBEN VOTH:, @BenjaminVoth

“Bernie Sanders supporters’ powerful resistance to Hillary Clinton appeared to surpass that of dissident delegates at the RNC. A three-hour protest along with direct shouting at Bernie Sanders by his followers when he urged them not to protest from the floor suggest there is significant anger about Hillary Clinton. The sharpest edges of that anger and resistance are fueled by WikiLeaks information that shows emails indicating much deeper plotting against Bernie Sanders by the DNC than originally expected. It’s not clear whether the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Shultz appeased Sanders delegates. The Clinton campaign decision to make Shultz an honorary chairwoman seemed a slap in the face of accountability for the grievances felt by Sanders delegates.

“By having families of immigrants speak emotionally about the risks of deportation, the DNC focused rhetorical energy on the Hispanic community of America. But the ongoing DNC rhetoric against Trump’s famous wall was an ironic contrast to the wall surrounding the entire DNC Philadelphia site. At four miles long and eight feet high, it is designed to minimize the risk of large protest disruptions at the DNC.

“It appears Trump is using Twitter to drive a wedge between Sanders supporters and Clinton. He bemoans the betrayal of Sanders supporters by the DNC and asks that they look to him for fair consideration of workers. Some Sanders supporters say they are considering this.

“Michelle Obama’s speech earned a standing ovation – an impressive feat given the mood of chaotic anger that dominated the day. The first lady spoke in glowing terms about America and was a sharp rejoinder to her 2008 concerns that she was proud of her country for the first time. The speech offered a positive vision with only indirect negative implications about the DNC rival, Trump.

“Sanders’ pleas for unity and support for Clinton do not seem to satisfy his followers thus far. It seems he has less ability to control his followers than the DNC had hoped.”

Voth, SMU’s director of debate and an associate professor of corporate communications and public affairs, can discuss:

  • debate prep, strategy and effectiveness
  • comparisons between this debate season and the 2012 election’s debate season

Rita KirkRITA KIRK, @RealTimePolitic

“After Sanders supporters were denied a petition to protest in Philadelphia – an event they anticipated would draw up to 40,000 supporters – it was expected that Bernie supporters would want their voices heard at the opening of the convention. While supporters were raucous at the beginning, they calmed down rather quickly after the report on the compromise between Sanders and Clinton, which resulted in reduction of superdelegates by two-thirds. Sanders supporters also received messages from him asking that they be considerate of the nominee.”

Rita Kirk is SMU professor of communication studies and director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility. Dr. Kirk is at the DNC with a team of SMU student interns, who will help conduct focus groups for CNN the evenings of July 27 & 28. She can discuss:

  • sound-bite substance
  • undecided voters
  • presidential debates
  • the use of second screens and social media in politics
  • political communications

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Tue, 26 Jul 2016 14:58:00 GMT
Trump's foreign policy adviser criticized SMU Law Professor Jeffrey Kahn writes about an encounter with Joseph Schmitz, Donald Trump's foreign policy adviser.

SMU Associate Law Professor Jeffrey Kahn
Jeffrey Kahn

By Jeffrey Kahn
SMU law professor

Sen. Joe McCarthy built his name, and ruined it, by destroying the reputations of others. His M.O. was to insinuate guilt by linking his victims to people he had already brought down. 

I had the misfortune to hear a practitioner of the new McCarthyism when Joseph Schmitz — foreign policy adviser to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — spoke at Southern Methodist University a year before Trump tapped him for his current position.

The encounter left me chilled. I had witnessed a ghost from McCarthy's staff.

Law students who organized Schmitz's talk had asked me to be the responding speaker for an event addressing the "impact of the communist worldview and the current state of affairs geopolitically with the west." 

In planning the match-up, I doubt the students looked past Schmitz's brightest credential: a stint as inspector general at the U.S. Department of Defense that ended with his resignation under mounting criticism led by Sen. Charles Grassley.

My scholarship, focused on American and Russian law, likely explained my invitation. Schmitz, a student organizer said, could offer "an insider's opinions" though also conceding, "this is a new topic area of presentation for him."

Despite my unfamiliarity with Schmitz, and a seemingly muddled event taking shape, I agreed to participate. The clash of ideas, after all, is the heart of a university.

I was stunned by what I heard.

Early in his rambling presentation, Schmitz held up a book, The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis — The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mentor, that would form the basis of his attack on President Obama. Soon, another book was raised: Marx and Satan. The poet Langston Hughes came in for smearing, his communist credentials duly noted. At one point, Schmitz declared that President Barack Obama was the second-most-revered person in China (after Mao, apparently).

Schmitz revealed himself an unrepentant McCarthyite. And not just in his obvious, if inarticulate, hatred of communism. His methods were similar, too. Recollecting his remarks, a single startling feature shines through. Schmitz never attacked a single specific policy advanced by Obama, nor a single presidential decision, action or statement. Only the president's connections to other people, often in the distant past, were his targets. 

Had we time-warped to the Red Scare of the 1950s? I had never seen anyone paint with as broad a brush or with as careless a hand.

When my turn came, I took time to describe the dangerous history we had just seen re-enacted. I asked the students to examine actual ideas - not accept smears of people with implied associations. And as for learning more about Langston Hughes, I suggested a good start would be to read some of his poetry (which Schmitz's talk gave no evidence that he had). 

Schmitz was all about insinuation and dark connections. He had little time for hard thinking, just cheap shots — a quality he evidently shares with his current boss. Trump has smeared Muslims and Mexicans. He has attacked Sen. John McCain and a federal judge he called a hater and falsely labeled foreign. 

Another Trump adviser, channeling McCarthy, claimed Hillary Clinton's State Department was "permeated at the highest levels" by Saudi spies and disloyal Americans, and attacked one of Clinton's aides with factless, fear-drenched defamation. Aspirants to Trump's entourage shout for return of the House Un-American Affairs Committee.

I never discuss my personal politics with students. It gets in the way of prying open difficult legal puzzles and evaluating arguments. I keep my conclusions out of view so that students can engage each other in an open forum.  

But at this turning point for our country, I want to be on record about where I stand. And who I stand against. 

I'm not surprised Trump would turn to a person like Schmitz, or that Schmitz would be attracted to Trump's obscene cult of personality.  

What foreign policy advice will Schmitz whisper into Trump's ear? I shudder to think what he might do in such a position of power.

report he co-authored declared, "The United States has been infiltrated and deeply influenced by an enemy within that is openly determined to replace the U.S. Constitution with shariah."

But for the very last word, Joe McCarthy could have penned that himself.

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Tue, 26 Jul 2016 12:30:00 GMT
Keep on Learning SMU Continuing and Professional Education is offering fall and spring professional certificate programs.

guy with booksDALLAS (SMU) – SMU Continuing and Professional Education will offer 10 fall 2016 professional certificate programs. In addition, a new certificate program in digital analytics will begin in spring 2017.

Registration is open now for these fall and spring programs. These noncredit certificates classes are open to adults, and most take place in the evenings or in five-day boot camp formats, making them convenient for working professionals who want to advance – or change – their careers. The programs are offered on SMU’s main campus or at SMU-in-Plano.

Certificate programs include the following:

  • Boss Boot Camp (Certificate in Supervision Best Practices)
  • Digital Analytics - NEW SPRING 2017
  • Digital Marketing
  • Financial Planning
  • Graphic Design
  • Intelligence Analysis
  • Nonprofit Leadership
  • Paralegal Studies
  • Project Management
  • User Experience Design (UX)
  • Web Design

“Our students range from recent college graduates to experienced professionals who are positioning themselves for a career change. What they all have in common is the desire to learn new skills and earn a credential in areas that are attractive to potential employers,” said Kimberly Rutigliano, director of SMU Continuing and Professional Education. “

Registration and information is available at Other certificates are offered in an online format. Visit the website for details.

Registration for personal enrichment courses opens Wednesday, August 3.




Tue, 26 Jul 2016 12:10:00 GMT
Future SMU Facilities SMU Athletics reveals future facilities projects, including a new Indoor Performance Center and a new soccer stadium.

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU recently announced plans to construct a new Indoor Performance Center, an outdoor natural grass football practice field and a new soccer stadium, another sign of the University's commitment to competing at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. These plans come on the heels of amazing success during SMU's Second Century Campaign, when SMU Athletics secured more than $191 million in gift commitments, and after 18 months of careful planning and design.

SMU Athletics Project
Rendering of the Football Practice Field and the IPF

Related Links:

"This is a transformative plan for SMU Athletics and another tangible example of our commitment and desire to compete at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.

The Indoor Performance Center (IPC) will feature a full-sized football field and indoor 300-meter track, and will be located on the current track and soccer field site. In addition to use by the football and track programs, the IPC will also serve as a resource for other student and campus activities and events. A new outdoor natural grass football practice field will be adjacent to the IPC. The new soccer stadium, to be used by SMU's men's and women's soccer teams, will be located on Mockingbird Lane, the site of the current practice fields. These projects constitute Phase 1 of SMU Athletics' Facilities Master Plan, a $150 million comprehensive facilities investment that will serve the needs of all 17 sports and 400-plus student-athletes.

Preliminary renderings can be seen here.

"Our commitment to competing for championships and enhancing the student experience requires continued investment in student well-being and our people as well as our infrastructure," said SMU Director of Athletics Rick Hart. "SMU and its donors and fans have made huge investments in athletics in recent years, and these projects are yet another step forward for our department."

Lead and cornerstone gift pledges, representing 80% of anticipated construction costs, are actively being pursued in support of this project. The expected completion time is 16 months after construction begins.

From 1995 to 2015, SMU directed approximately $1.2 billion campus-wide toward facility construction and renovation, furnishings and equipment. New construction in support of athletics includes Gerald J. Ford Stadium, the Loyd All-Sports Center, the Crum Basketball Center, the SMU Tennis Complex, the Miller Events Center and short-game course and indoor hitting bays at the Dallas Athletic Club. Numerous facilities and spaces have been renovated as well, including Moody Coliseum, the football offices, football locker room, team meeting rooms and football player lounge. In total, since 2001, SMU has invested almost $200 million in athletics facilities.

In February, SMU broke ground on the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center/Barr-McMillion Natatorium, a new 42,000-square-foot facility that will feature an Olympic-sized, eight-lane indoor pool with a platform diving area, four springboards, a 10-meter tower, coaches offices, locker rooms and a classroom and meeting area. In partnership with AT&T and the city of Dallas, SMU is nearing completion on Trinity Forest Golf Club, an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Coore & Crenshaw, Inc., which features a world-class practice facility, clubhouse and practice academy for SMU's golf teams. In addition, current projects in progress with expected completion this summer or early fall include, replacing the Ford Stadium turf, renovation of the men's basketball locker room and team lounge and resurfacing the track.

Private gifts in support of operations have been a critical component of SMU's fundraising efforts as well. Per EADA reports, SMU has the second-largest athletics budget among non-autonomy conference schools and the second-largest football budget in the American Athletic Conference. Resources impacting the health, safety and well-being of all student-athletes have been enhanced in areas such as nutrition, mental health and equipment. SMU's 17 varsity sports are provided the full complement of scholarships, up to the full cost of attendance. All of this is possible as a result of the generous support of the SMU community. Since 2012, Mustang Club annual giving has more than doubled, from $2.6 million to $5.5 million, and donor support of operations has surpassed $40 million over the last four years.

In addition to opportunities to contribute to the Indoor Performance Center and Soccer Stadium projects, gift and naming opportunities remain for Moody Coliseum, the SMU Tennis Complex featuring Turpin Stadium and the Brookshire Family Pavilion, the SMU Golf Complex at Trinity Forest and the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center/Barr-McMillion Natatorium.

Those interested in investing in SMU Athletics are invited to contact Kurt Pottkotter at 214-768-3639 or

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SMU Facilities Timeline:

2001 — Opening of Ford Stadium & Loyd All-Sports Center
2003 — Installation of turf in Ford Stadium
2004 — Addition of a new press box at Westcott Field
2006 — Installation of a new playing surface and a state-of-the-art drainage system at Westcott Field
2006 — Installation of new Daktronics videoboard at Moody Coliseum
2007 — Installation of a new court in Moody Coliseum
2008 — Opening of Crum Basketball Center
2008 — Opening of Turpin Tennis Stadium
2009 — Opening of a short course at the Dallas Athletic Club
2010 — Installation of new Daktronics videoboard at Ford Stadium
2011 — Renovation of football locker room
2011 — Replacement of the Ford Stadium turf
2012 — Installation of new Musco Sports Lighting system at Ford Stadium
2013 — Groundbreaking on the Trinity Forest Golf Club and the SMU Golf Complex
2013 — Opening of a new Hall of Champions Club and new suites at Ford Stadium
2013 — Renovation and expansion of Moody Coliseum
2013 — Opening of the Miller Event Center
2014 — Upgrades to the Stadium Club in Ford Stadium
2014 — Opening of indoor hitting bays at the Dallas Athletic Club
2014 — Hall of Fame Club enhancements & additional loge construction at Moody Coliseum
2015 — Opening of SMU Tennis Center featuring Turpin Stadium and the Brookshire Family Pavilion
2015 — Refurbishment of the football offices, team areas, meeting rooms and player lounge
2016 — Groundbreaking on the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center/Barr-McMillion Natatorium
2016 — Replacement of the Ford Stadium turf and football team area flooring
2016 — Refurbishment of the men's basketball locker room and team lounge
2016 — Resurfacing of Morrison-Bell Track



Tue, 26 Jul 2016 12:04:00 GMT
Did Trump win GOP nod because of the way he talks? Jeffrey Engel, director of SMU's Center for Presidential History, talks about Donald Trumps appeal to voters.

By Peter Grier
Staff Writer

Cleveland — Suddenly Donald Trump’s face loomed over the delegates, tanned, jaw set, and a story high.

From the giant video screen on the Republican National Convention stage Mr. Trump thanked everyone for nominating him as the GOP presidential pick. The film – shown Tuesday in Cleveland after the official roll call vote – was short. Parts were clearly ad-libbed. When Trump began to speak, his sentences were looping and repetitive.

“The party seal, I mean, what we did, getting the party’s nomination, I’ll never forget it. It’s something I will never, ever forget,” he said. . . 

Here’s a thought sparked by watching this presentation and its rapturous response: It’s not just the border proposal or the possible Muslim ban. Donald Trump’s extraordinary victory in the Republican presidential primaries was due in part to the way he communicates. His words, his gestures, his expressions, his emphasis – all are uniquely suited to the pace and attention span of our social-media saturated age. . . 

“Trump is brilliant in manipulating – and I mean ‘manipulating’ as a positive – the new media, the social media of the day,” says Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “There is no discussion on Twitter. The way you win an argument on Twitter is, you say it again, and you say it in capital letters.”

Read the full story.

Mon, 25 Jul 2016 16:48:00 GMT
Cause of Quakes? SMU scientists offer possible explanation of how oil and gas activity triggers North Texas earthquakes over time.

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Mon, 25 Jul 2016 16:40:00 GMT
Join the Big 12? President Turner and SMU's AD say the Mustangs are interested in joining the Big 12 Athletic Conference.

By  Bill Nichols
Staff Writer

The Big 12's announcement that it is exploring expansion candidates has sparked a flurry of activity from colleges and media outlets nationwide.

SMU Mustang
Related Link:

As the list of candidates grows, one big-market program with numerous ties to the league has been largely overlooked.

But SMU officials are determined to change that. Athletic director Rick Hart and school President R. Gerald Turner have made presentations to the Big 12, stating SMU's case as a potential member.

"President Turner and I have communicated to the Big 12 our interest in pursuing membership along with the reasons why we would be an excellent long-term partner," Hart said by phone on Thursday. "We feel that we belong and have assets that no one else can offer."

The Big 12 is exploring the addition of either two or four members to its current 10-school roster.

SMU is one of at least seven programs to have publicly expressed interest. Five of those programs, including SMU, hail from the American Athletic Conference. The other American candidates are Houston, Memphis, Cincinnati and UCF.

Hart and Turner have provided materials they hope will sway Big 12 officials.

Among the assets that can bolster SMU's résumé are its location, academics, history and athletic facility investments.

We believe that we're a good fit," Hart said. "It seems natural. We have competed at that level before and done very well. We're on a level playing field with those institutions.

"We're in the middle of the footprint of the conference, which is anchored in the state of Texas. I understand it can be argued whether we bring, quote/unquote, the Dallas market, but what we do is solidify the Dallas market."

Although Hart stressed that SMU is happy in the American, Big 12 membership would provide dramatic improvements, particularly in revenue and program recognition.

Because of its Southwest Conference heritage (1918-1996), SMU has ties to current Big 12 members Baylor, Texas, TCU and Texas Tech.

Location is probably the strongest card in SMU's hand. The Dallas-Fort Worth TV market is the largest market in the Big 12. D-FW ranks fifth nationally among television markets and ranks fifth in media markets, according to the News Generation.

Dallas airports offer direct flights to nine of the 10 Big 12 markets. This is important to conference athletic directors trying to balance budgets and reduce time demands on athletes (thus, providing more study time, better grades and graduation rates).

SMU's academic ranking (No. 61 nationally) would rank No. 2 among current Big 12 schools, behind only Texas.

"I hope this process will strongly consider the student-athlete's well-being for all institutions," Hart said. "The last round of expansion, one of the things it could have done better was with geographical perspective as well as the student-athlete's well-being. We have the opportunity to do that here."

Among programs not in the "power five," SMU has the second largest athletic budget, according to Equity in Athletics Data Analysis.

SMU's rich sports history includes eight team national championships, more than 100 individual NCAA crowns and 156 conference titles, most of which were won in the Southwest Conference

And in looking to the future, SMU has invested almost $200 million in athletics facilities since 2000.

The basketball program, transformed over the last four years by Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, has garnered national attention with three consecutive 25-win seasons and one of the best facilities. Moody Coliseum has been mostly sold out since reopening in 2012. Brown recently resigned amid a contract dispute and was replaced by associate head coach Tim Jankovich, who arrived with Brown.

Football attendance remains the toughest obstacle, despite four straight bowl appearances during the June Jones era.

But football is trending upward, particularly in terms of recruiting, marketing and social media, since Chad Morris took over as coach before the 2015 season.

Morris, highly coveted as Clemson's offensive coordinator, turned other head coaching offers down before arriving on the Hilltop. His determination to upgrade the program has energized alums, fans and the student body.

"We understand that there are flaws in our résumé just as there are flaws in everyone's résumé," Hart said. " But one of the things that they [Big 12 officials] said was they were looking for a partner that could grow in the league and reach its potential. That speaks to a long-term partnership and that's where we feel we could address some of the perceived flaws or weaknesses that we might have now."

Mon, 25 Jul 2016 12:37:00 GMT