Reports Related to Educational Institutions

Centenary College 

Dillard University 

Africa University 

Candler School of Theology 

Duke University Divinity School 

Lydia Patterson Institute 

Perkins School of Theology

Saint Paul School of Theology

Southern Methodist University 

United Theological Seminary



Centenary College 

Centenary College

We celebrate our connection to the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church as we work together to raise wise, caring, moral leaders for the 21st Century. Our commitment to the values of United Methodism remains strong as we develop and empower leaders to transform the world through the experiences of a quality education, meaningful and transformative internships and service to the world, and intentional connections of purpose, passion, and profession.

Accomplishments and Celebrations

Centenary continues to be recognized by the media in multiple national rankings. For the ninth year in a row, U.S. News & World Report named Centenary a Tier One National Liberal Arts College – the only college in Louisiana to receive this designation. In August 2019, the Princeton Review named Centenary as one of “The Best 385 Colleges” in the nation. Centenary also ranks #1 among baccalaureate colleges for the number of undergraduates studying abroad, according to the Open Doors Report compiled by the Institute of International Education.

Centenary remains a vibrant and welcoming community, dedicated to giving our students an outstanding liberal arts education. The Centenary magazine and other publications have thorough coverage of events, celebrations, etc. or

This report documents items of special interest to the Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Christian Leadership Center (CLC)

In 2019-2020, CLC students studied the annual theme of “Church of the Twenty-First Century”. In the fall and spring semesters, students used two textbooks: “Weird Church” by Beth Ann Estock and Paul Nixon, and “Christianity After Religion” by Diana Butler Bass to guide their discussions and experiential exercises on how the church has changed and will be changing in the future. Covid-19 added a very real context to the discussion on how to do church differently. In the spring semester, we had to postpone our 14th Annual Fundraising Dinner. Author and theologian Diana Butler Bass was to be the keynote speaker. She has agreed to speak in 2021.

As a regular requirement of their Christian Leadership Center coursework, students participate in weekly small groups, called “Temenos Groups” led by local clergy and community lay leaders. Temenos Group leaders in 2019-2020 included Rob Gilchrist and Trey Davis, Rev. Karl Klaus, Rev. Kaylan Walker, Rev. Wybra and Mrs. Judy Price, Rev. Mimi McDowell and Laura Vaughan and Rev. Dr. Dawn Young. In May, 2020 five CLC students graduated from Centenary. All CLC sophomores, juniors and seniors are required to complete 40 hours of internship work per semester. Some of our internship sponsors were Broadmoor UMC (Shreveport), Noel UMC, Common Ground, Celebration Church, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission and others. We are grateful to all these volunteer leaders and community partners.

Religious Life

Centenary is grateful for the Board of Higher Education and Ministry's support for religious life on campus. The first week of fall semester 2019, Centenary invited local churches to meet Centenary College students through “Campus Connection” so that students might enjoy worship at various churches during the school year. We had 18 local churches participate.

Centenary College utilized its campus ministry grant funds to increase chapel services on campus in 2019-2020. Chapel services were offered every Tuesday during the time period that is reserved for convocations at 11:10 a.m. 28 chapel services were held in 2019-2020 featuring homilies by Centenary president, Dr. Christopher Holoman, Rev. Kaylan Walker, director of community engagement, Rev. Dr. Wybra Price, Shreveport District Superintendent of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, and, our College chaplain, Rev. Lindy Broderick. We also introduced diverse cultural and multifaith services. The two most well attended services featured the Centenary College Choir and one led by the Black Student Union (BSU).

During the 2019-2020 academic year, we hosted 6 campus ministry groups on campus. On average, each group met once a week equaling more than 150 campus ministry meetings throughout the year.

Centenary also continues to celebrate the clergy families of the Louisiana United Methodist Conference who have entrusted the College with the education of their students. We are proud to count among our students a number of clergy dependents. Clergy dependents are eligible for up to $5,000 in annual Methodist grant funds.

Centenary president Dr. Christopher L. Holoman continues in a three-year term that began in June 2018 on the board of directors of NASCUMC (National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church).

Globally Engaged Leaders

Taking seriously their commitment to service, Centenary students have spent the year performing service work throughout the community. During the course of the 2019-2020 academic year, Centenary College performed a variety of service projects within three specific service events: 1) Orientation Service Day, 2) MLK Service Day, and 3) Make a Difference Service Day. Each of these events places an emphasis on community engagement with local nonprofits and homeowners in the area by participating in tasks such as visiting retirement communities, construction and upkeep of community gardens, decorating reading tote bags for underserved elementary school students, painting a veterans’ home, and general community grounds clean-up. Over the course of the year, approximately 479 persons participated in the service days, with a total of 1,452 service hours for the year completed.

Centenary continued its participation in the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program. This provision of the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 pays up to the national maximum toward Centenary’s tuition. Centenary then contributes up to 50 percent of the remaining tuition expense, and the Department of Veteran Affairs matches that amount.

Centenary College students who entered in fall 2019 were the sixth class to begin their college experience with immersive study in Paris, France during Centenary in Paris, a portion of the College’s new intensive, immersive segment of the fall semester.


Centenary's Archives and Special Collections Department supports the Louisiana Conference's ministry of memory. Since 1963, the department has served as the official repository for the records of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.

In 2019, conference archivist, Chris Brown, served the fourth year of a four-year term as a member of the General Commission on Archives and History. He is on the Archives and Library Committee and serves as the committee's secretary and one of its representatives to the Executive Committee. Brown attended through conference call the annual meeting of the General Commission which occurred September 19-22 at Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio.

Brown also assisted with planning and hosting the South Central Jurisdiction’s Convocation of Archivists at Centenary College of Louisiana on October 11-12, 2019. This event for conference archivists and conference historians provided educational break-out sessions on topics related to archival work and research. It also included tours of the Louisiana Conference Archives and local churches.

During 2019, Centenary Archives staff and student workers used Louisiana UMC records to handle 262 research requests. The Archives acquired 15 collections (31.75 linear feet) of Louisiana UMC records and created online finding aids for 2 collections (1.5 linear feet). In addition, the Archives completed a digitization project now accessible online: Louisiana Methodist conference newspapers 1925-2016 (over 23,000 pages).

The Archives worked with the Louisiana Conference Commission on Archives and History on multiple projects throughout 2019. This included assisting Asbury United Methodist Church (New Orleans, Louisiana) in registering as a United Methodist Historic Site, updating the online photo gallery titled 19th Century Methodist Pastors in Louisiana, and collecting surveys from congregations about their local church history and permanent record keeping practices.

Vision and Goals

As Centenary marks its 112th year in Shreveport this year and its bicentennial in 2025, we renew our commitment to be faithful stewards of the legacy entrusted to us by the United Methodist church, the Shreveport-Bossier community, and the Louisiana Annual Conference.

Items for Action

  1. We request the Louisiana United Methodist Conference’s endorsement of the listed membership of the Centenary College Board of Trustees listed in the Conference Nomination Report
  2. We appreciate the Louisiana United Methodist Conference’s financial support through apportionments, scholarships and campus ministry funds. This generosity affirms the churches’ dedication to higher education and to Centenary College of Louisiana.

Christopher L. Holoman, Ph.D.
President, Centenary College

Dillard University  

Dillard University

Religious Life at Dillard University

The Office of the University Chaplain (Chaplain’s office) is the center for religious life and community service at Dillard University. Based in Lawless Memorial Chapel, it is a full-service campus ministry that provides pastoral, spiritual and grief counseling as well as prayer for students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni and friends of Dillard. In December 2019, we welcomed Reverend Herbert Alexander Brisbon, III as our new university chaplain.

University Chaplain

Rev. Herbert A. Brisbon, III brings a unique set of skills to develop vision and mission as well as discern purpose. He is an ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. Chaplain Brisbon is passionate about teaching, preaching and shepherding God’s people as he challenges them to experience, engage and encounter God in a fresh, innovative, and non-dogmatic way. Along his faith journey, Chaplain Brisbon has pastored a new church in the heart of Baltimore, Md., a multi-ethnic cooperative parish in Washington, DC, and within the United Methodist Campus Ministry at Howard University, a historically Black university, in Washington, DC.


The purpose of the Chaplain’s Office at Dillard University is to provide the campus access to programs that empower community members to experience spiritual growth, spiritual development and a campus community in which each person is free to embrace and explore their individual religious, spiritual, and faith beliefs.

The Vision of The Lawless Memorial Chapel

We desire to considerably alter the Dillard University culture by helping students and others make a valuable connection between their intellectual lives and spiritual lives. We want to see this generation of college students transformed through religious experience, spiritual exploration, and faith development to the glory of God.

The Vision of Vision-Quest

The Program for Vocation and Religious Life at Dillard University seeks to encourage and assist students in choosing and achieving careers in religious institutions and as ministers, ministers of music, teachers and lay leaders. We endeavor to aid students in finding the path for their lives that is divinely intended by providing religious programming that contextualizes the student’s day-to-day religious, spiritual, or faith and life experiences. We desire to considerably impact the Dillard University community by helping students and others make a valuable connection between their intellectual and spiritual lives.


A lively worship experience is available in Lawless Memorial Chapel every Sunday at 6 p.m., while the University is in session and on special occasions. The style of worship represents an eclectic mix of the University’s two affiliations (United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ) with a unique blend of ecumenical, traditional and contemporary worship styles that reflect the heritage of Dillard and the cultural exuberance of New Orleans. Communion service is held once a month.

Prayer/Bible Study

The Chaplain’s Office provides opportunities of both prayer and Bible study. This year, the Chaplain’s Office sponsored a weekly prayer meeting on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. Student chaplains lead weekly prayer meetings and Bible studies in the residence halls and the office hosts the Tuesday Night Teaching (TNT) Bible Study every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. The Chaplain’s Office invites all to come and experience its powerful teaching ministry.

Also, on Wednesdays at noon, the community comes together for the benefit of prayer around the flagpole on the Avenue of the Oaks. The Prayer Room at Lawless Chapel is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This year a new weekly woman’s initiative was started – God’s Leading Lady Bible study was held on Wednesday nights. Attendance at this weekly Bible study has been strong, averaging 45 women weekly.

Small Group Engagement

The Chaplain’s Office hosted group talks in the Residence Halls. As a result of this form of personal engagement, students requested to have more conversations in the future. 

Meditation in the Middle is held on Wednesdays at 11 am. And Group Talks were held in a pop-up fashion weekly at 7:30 pm.

Looking forward, the Chaplain has plans to create a Religious Life Council, to organize covenant groups/class meetings, and to plan mission trips and retreats for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Our Daily Bread Food Pantry

The Chaplain’s Office re-instituted the Our Daily Bread Food Pantry (the “Food Pantry”) with Dillard University’s Staff Task Force. The goal of the of Food Pantry is to address the food needs of members of our campus community.

Students positively responded to the reinstitution of the Food Pantry. Students are informing their friends about the Food Pantry and additional services available through the Chaplain’s Office and Student Support Services.

Community Service

The purpose of community service is to connect students to service projects that will help them understand the purpose of servant leadership. We are currently in transition as we update processes and guideline for participating in community service

Our goal is to make the process easier for students to complete their community service hours before graduation. We will be working with student organizations to encourage students to complete 30 hours per school year to reach their goal of 120 hours of community service by their senior year. The plan is to have at least three, monthly events. Dillard University has cemented over 50 community service partnerships with local businesses, non-profits, churches and other civic organizations. As a result of these community partnerships, Dillard’s graduating class of 2020 logged over 26,000 community servant hours.

2020-21 Fall and Spring Goals

The Chaplain’s Office is excited about the opportunities for increased student engagement, expanded campus ministry and community outreach. In addition, the Chaplain’s Office looks forward to welcoming new and returning students in the Fall and continuing the successful campus ministry initiatives.

More specifically, the goals of the Chaplain’s Office for Fall and Spring 2020-21 are to:

  1. Increase student participation by 10% in worship
  2. Create a Chaplain In Training (C-I-T) program
  3. Create a Religious Life Council (R-L-C) to help foster greater development of covenant groups/class meetings
  4. Create spring mission trips and retreats
  5. Establish an interfaith council

Coronavirus Pandemic Response

During the Spring 2020 semester, Dillard had to respond to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our academic community. The Chaplain’s Office played a vital role in Dillard’s response. Chaplain Brisbon endeavored to provide steady ministry leadership during this unprecedented national crisis.

Kathy Taylor
Executive Assistant to the President
Dillard University

Africa University 

Africa University

Africa University continues to celebrate God’s amazing grace with thanksgiving. In 2019, Africa University’s story was one of resourcefulness, steadfast investment and ministry growth.

Thank you, Bishop Cynthia Harvey, the Cabinet and the committed lay and clergy leaders who nurture vitality in the local congregations of the Louisiana Conference, for all that you do to affirm the United Methodist connection and global mission. The gracious support of the Louisiana Conference found expression in a 90.17 percent investment of the asking to the Africa University Fund apportionment in 2019. Thank you for your ongoing prayers and gifts. They are seeds of hope and abundance sown close to home, in sub-Saharan Africa and around the world.

Your generosity helps Africa University to nurture, educate, and equip leaders who think for themselves, are contextually relevant and have a passion to serve. Since 1992, Africa University has trained more than 9,000 graduates who lead and serve across sub-Saharan Africa. These young people are equipped to be ethical, responsible and responsive leaders who can discern their calling and determine how to serve the needs of their communities.

Institutional Update:

  • Africa University has an annual student population of more than 2,800. There are 25-30 African nations represented in the student body each year.
  • The university’s three colleges operate as centers for teaching, research, innovation, community engagement and enterprise development. Africa University is still the only university in Zimbabwe accredited to offer online degree programs.
  • Students, faculty and alumni contribute ground-breaking solutions to Africa’s current challenges with interventions that include graduate programs in migrant and refugee protection, articulated by refugee students, as well as doctoral level training for military chaplains in Africa. Why military chaplains? They are among the first responders in crisis situations in Africa who tend to the immediate need for rescue, shelter and food, comfort the bereaved, and help to heal shattered dreams.
  • Infrastructure updates are continuing. Africa University is transitioning to solar energy provision on its main campus, with the support of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. A residence hall for women and a new wing of the student union building—gifted to the university by the Dallas, Texas-based Highland Park United Methodist Church—will be the first solar-powered facilities on the campus.

Africa University affirms its commitment to The United Methodist Church, its Cross and Flame, and the denomination’s global mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, in every season and despite a shifting social landscape.

Through its faithfulness, the Louisiana Conference invites and encourages new partners to join in the mission and change the world. By giving freely, Louisiana United Methodists walk with their neighbors, together in love, day after day. Thanks to your stewardship of God’s blessings, Africa University has gone beyond what some thought was impossible. “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’ Luke 18:27 NKJV

Submitted by:
James H. Salley
Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement
Africa University Development Office

Candler School of Theology

Candler School of Theology

Since our founding in 1914, Candler School of Theology at Emory University has educated more than 10,000 students, shaping thoughtful, principled, and courageous leaders who are dedicated to transforming the world in the name of Jesus Christ.

This is especially important to note amid the current shifts in our denomination. It is an honor and a privilege for Candler to be one of 13 official seminaries of The United Methodist Church. Yet true to the Methodist tradition of ecumenical openness, Candler has enthusiastically welcomed the entire Wesleyan family to our community for generations. Faculty, staff, and students from the AME Church, the AMEZ Church, the CME Church, Free Methodists, Nazarenes, and others have worked, worshiped, learned, and prayed alongside United Methodists, and have been a vital part of shaping Candler and our mission. This diversity has been a wonderful gift and a rich blessing. As we move forward, we will continue to invite and welcome those from all expressions of the Wesleyan tradition. Indeed, we will continue to welcome all those who follow Jesus Christ.

This year, Candler has continued to strengthen our deep commitment to alleviating student debt and promoting financial literacy. In 2018-2019, we awarded $6.3 million in financial aid, with 100 percent of master of divinity (MDiv) students receiving support and financial coaching. In fall 2019, we announced a major expansion of our financial aid program to include full-tuition scholarships for all MDiv students who are certified candidates for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church, and new merit scholarships covering 75% of tuition for qualifying MDiv students who identify as pan-Wesleyan, and those pursuing chaplaincy through Candler’s new chaplaincy concentration. In addition, all incoming students in the master of divinity, master of theological studies, and master of religious leadership programs will receive awards covering at least 50% of tuition.

This year also saw the launch of two pilot “formation communities,” off-campus student housing that focuses on intentional living and spiritual formation. Students from multiple degree programs applied to take part in these pilot groups. At the start of the year, the housemates created a “rule of life” to guide their days together, emphasizing prayer, fellowship, and celebration. A house chaplain—a Candler faculty member or church leader—supports them and shares in the journey. The ten students who took part this year describe feeling a richer sense of community and deeper connections to God and one another in the midst of their busy lives. It is clear that this fulfills a need for our seminarians, and we eagerly anticipate the program’s growth in the coming years.

Candler’s student body continues to reflect the diversity and breadth of the Christian faithful, with an enrollment of 470 from 12 countries and 38 states, with 40 percent people of color (U.S.) and a median age of 27 among MDivs. Students represent 42 denominations, with 45% of all students and 50% of MDivs coming from the Methodist family.

We offer six single degrees and ten dual degrees pairing theology with bioethics, business, international development, law, public health, and social work. Our Doctor of Ministry degree is 90 percent online, so students can remain in their places of ministry while completing their degrees.

Candler draws strength and inspiration from its relationship with The United Methodist Church. Our ability to fulfill our mission of educating faithful and creative leaders for the church’s ministries throughout the world depends upon your prayers, partnership, and support. Thank you for the countless ways you advance this vital ministry in the life of our denomination. We invite you to visit us in person or online at

Jan Love
Mary Lee Hardin Dean & Professor of Christianity & World Politics
Candler School of Theology

Duke University Divinity School 

Duke University Divinity School

Dean L. Gregory Jones, Dean of the Divinity School and Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Distinguished Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry, had his term as dean extended for a full five years through 2023.

The Duke Endowment awarded Duke Divinity School a $12 million grant in support of DDS’s three core priorities and traditions: thriving communities enlivened by healthy congregations and gifted pastors, embodied wisdom through rigorous intellectual vitality, and creative institutions that inspire imaginative and transformative leadership including the Thriving Communities Fellowship program, which will provide 52 new full-tuition scholarships over the next four years.

Duke Divinity School launched the Duke Divinity: Black Pastoral Leadership Collaboration which will draw on original research in Black church traditions and historical examples of effective Black church leadership to train and build networks of effective leaders for the Black church of today and the future. The collaboration will be led by the Rev. David Emmanuel Goatley, research professor of theology and Black church studies and director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School.

In 2019, Duke Divinity School welcomed 215 new students from 33 different states and seven other countries, including Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Zimbabwe. The Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) and Master of Arts in Christian Practice (M.A.C.P.) degree programs received record enrollments of 35 students and 22 students respectively. The Master of Theology (Th.M., 14 students), Doctor of Ministry (D.Min., 20 students), and Doctor of Theology (Th.D., 4 students) all had strong enrollment. The D.Min. program was named the top online program by Duke Divinity’s new Certificate in Theology and Health Care will enroll 8 students, all of whom are fellows with the Theology, Medicine, and Culture (T.M.C.) Initiative at the school. The M.T.S. program also includes 8 students who are T.M.C. fellows, for a record year of 16 total fellows. The M.Div. degree program gained 110 new students, with minority students comprising more than 32 percent of the incoming M.Div. class, and Black students comprising 18 percent of the incoming M.Div. class. Female students made up 44 percent of incoming M.Div. students, while males were 56 percent.

Two new faculty members, Brent Strawn and Brett McCarty, joined the DDS faculty in July 2019. Strawn, Professor of Old Testament, is an ordained elder in the North Georgia Conference. Prior to joining the Duke faculty, Brent Strawn taught at Candler School of Theology at Emory University for eighteen years. Brett McCarty, Assistant Research Professor of Theological Ethics, is a theological ethicist whose work centers on questions of faithful action within health care. He is associate director of the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke Divinity School, and he holds a joint appointment in the School of Medicine’s Department of Population Health Sciences.

Randy Maddox, William Kellon Quick Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies, general editor of the Wesley Works Editorial Project, and elder in the Dakotas Conference, retires at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

United Methodist faculty member Brittany Wilson received tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor.

Tito Madrazo joined the administrative leadership of the Divinity School as Senior Strategist for the Hispanic House of Studies. He will also serve as a consulting faculty member. The Hispanic-Latino/a Preaching Initiative is currently in its fifth year of providing high quality theological education to current and aspiring Hispanic-Latino/a ministers. Twenty-one students from multiple denominations are taking courses with us this year.

The Lilly Endowment has also awarded grants to Duke Divinity School to coordinate initiatives on “Thriving in Ministry” and “Thriving Congregations” across the United States.

Duke Divinity School has a partnership with Huntingdon College and Virginia Wesleyan University to create streamlined admissions process and private campus events in order to better equip students from those institutions with a calling to serve the church. In an effort to expand access for quality theological formation to students, pastors, and lay leaders in the Nashville Episcopal Area, DDS is also partnering with the Turner Center at Martin Methodist College to offer theological training for innovative and entrepreneurial ministries.

Stacey Tompkins
Program Coordinator
Wesleyan Engagement
Duke Divinity School

Lydia Patterson Institute 

Lydia Patterson Institute

Lydia Patterson Institute, better known as “La Lydia”, is an institution that has encountered and survived numerous challenges throughout its 107 years of existence. In 1913, the school was established in part by Methodist ministers and missionaries fleeing from a Mexican revolution, and answering their call to ministry on the US-Mexico border. Since its origin, the school has suffered the effects of two world wars, the great depression, numerous peso devaluations, and presently, the violence and drug wars on the border. La Lydia has survived and flourished in the midst of it all.

On August 3, 2019, our faith was challenged when an outsider traveled more than 600 miles to El Paso to eradicate Mexicans in the worst massacre in modern history. El Paso is a city with a more than 80% Hispanic population; that is not to mention, the number of Mexicans that cross daily from our sister city of Juarez, Mexico. In the shooting, we lost the father of three of our former students.

For generations, Lydia Patterson has been committed to teach English to non-English speaking students – predominantly of Hispanic background. Obviously, the incident caused panic and stress in El Paso, and the Lydia Patterson Institute was no exception. We were to start school the following Monday, and parents were apprehensive and scared. For the first time in the history of La Lydia, we were forced to hire security guards to patrol our campus. It was heartbreaking, but students and parents were assured that the evil action of a demented racist would not define us. We reminded them that the power of prayer and the hand of God would not forsake us.

On a positive note, Lydia Patterson moves forward with its commitment to provide a quality education to its students, and to provide opportunities that were otherwise non-existent. My appreciation goes out to the colleges and universities of the United Methodist Church for continuing our ministry by providing scholarships, so that 100% of our students attend college. 

As the church struggles with certain identities, Lydia Patterson remains faithful to all in its principles and its journey to change lives regardless of color, national origin, economic positions, or any other God given preferences. We aim to be the bridge that unites all Methodists in ministry as mandated by our God, and to make disciples of every one of its students for the transformation of the world.

We appeal to every church in your conference, and this jurisdiction, to remain faithful to the ministry of Lydia Patterson, and continue to partner with us in doing the work of God at its best. Every day, the lives of young men and women are being changed. Perhaps in one of our classrooms is sitting that one person who will make the difference in our world.

In Christ,
Socorro de Anda, President

Perkins School of Theology

Perkins School of Theology 

Perkins celebrates our vital connections with the Louisiana Annual Conference of The United Methodist


  • Three (3) students affiliated with the Louisiana Annual Conference are enrolled at Perkins, including: one Master of Divinity (M.Div.) student, one Master of Sacred Music (M.S.M.) student and one Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) student.
  • Three (3) students received funding from the Louisiana Conference PACE (Perkins Annual Conference Endowment) grant, with the average overall financial aid award per student totaling $4,681.
  • One (1) Perkins student was placed as an intern within the Louisiana Annual Conference during the 2019-20 academic year.
  • The Third Annual ARKLATEX Lectures, co-sponsored by the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence at SMU and Williams Memorial United Methodist Church in Texarkana, was held Oct. 7, 2019. The keynote speaker was noted author, preacher and professor Rev. Dr. Paul Scott Wilson, who spoke on “Finding God in Divided Times: Renewing our Common Faith Amid an Uncivil Culture.” The presentation and workshops are offered annually to those in the Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana Annual Conferences.

Continued Enrollment Increase

Overall enrollment for 2019-20 at Perkins School of Theology reflects a 6.6% increase from 2018-19. The Office of Enrollment Management also reported three consecutive years of significant growth in new student totals—with 2019 reflecting a more than doubled increase over 2016—contrasting with the trend of decline in schools of theology nationally. Enrollment at Perkins for the 2019-20 academic year totaled 343 students, including 27 enrolled in the Ph.D. program. Fall 2019 statistics reflect the following: 63.3% of the entire student population are United Methodist and 37% are ethnic minority students. Master’s degree programs comprise approximately 46% male and 54% female students. The Doctor of Pastoral Music (D.P.M.) program includes students from southern Asia taking classes in Dallas.

The hybrid Houston-Galveston Extension Program, in its third year of providing a combination of online and residential classes leading to the M.Div. and M.A.M. degrees, totaled 94 students during the 2019-20 academic year.

2019-20 Highlights

  • “Reboot: The Congregation as Youth Worker,” an initiative of Perkins School of Theology designed to equip entire congregations to serve in ministry with youth, held its first retreat in September 2019 with representatives of the 18 diverse congregations selected to form its initial (starter) cohort. They include two African Methodist Episcopal churches, three Baptist churches, two Presbyterian (PC USA) churches, an Episcopal church, and 10 United Methodist churches of varying ethnic backgrounds—including First United Methodist Church of Mont Belview, Texas (Texas Annual Conference)— all without a full-time, paid youth worker and within a 300-mile radius of Dallas. The initiative codirected by the Rev. Bart Patton, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Education and Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean, Office of External Programs, is funded by a five-year, $1 million grant awarded to Perkins School of Theology in late 2018 by the Lilly Endowment Inc.
  • The Certification in Spiritual Direction Program at Perkins, launched in 2010, welcomed its largest cohort to-date in August 2019. The 26th cohort, with 17 members, includes clergy and laity from across the U.S. During the three-year, noncredit continuing education course, participants are trained in the art of accompanying and guiding others in their spiritual journeys.
  • In 2019, Perkins opened its new Baptist House of Studies (BHS) which fosters community for ministerial students, faculty and staff who identify with the Baptist and Free Church traditions. The BHS is a spiritual, rather than a physical, house that especially supports and encourages students as they pursue their academic and ecclesial training in an ecumenical and university based seminary. In October of 2019, BHS hosted Amanda Tyler, Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, for two events on the Perkins campus. And in March 2020, BHS—with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty—co-sponsored the Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State with keynote speaker and national interfaith leader Eboo Patel.
  • More than 200 theologians, artists, musicians, scholars and community members gathered for a two-day conference Sept. 20-21, 2019, entitled “The Art of Resilience – Latinx Public Witness in Troubled Times.” The sold-out event, sponsored by The Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions at Perkins, Ignite/Arts Dallas: A Center for People, Purpose, Place at SMU Meadows School of the Arts and the SMU Meadows Division of Theatre, gave participants the opportunity to interact with outstanding Latinx scholars, local artists, and religious and community leaders to reflect deeply on race, gender and immigration as matters of moral and faith concerns. As part of the program, the Meadows School of the Arts hosted an art exhibit and a performance by New York Latina playwright Jessica Carmona of her original work, “Elvira: The Immigration Play.” Special music performed during the weekend was composed by Ars lubilorum, a Latin-American collective of composers—including Marcell Silva Steuernagel, director of Perkins’ Master of Sacred Music Program—who research the intersection of Christian liturgical traditions and new music.
  • “Hong Kong Protests: A Messianic Movement?,” a panel discussion focused on the 2019 Hong Kong student protests, drew participants from across SMU and the Dallas area on Oct. 22, 2019. Sponsored by SMU Perkins School of Theology, the Tower Center's Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia and SMU's Center for Faith and Learning and the Embrey Human Rights Program, the event—one of the first of its kind in the U.S. to examine the protests—featured Dr. Lap Yan Kung, professor of Theology, The Divinity School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong as the keynote speaker. A panel discussion—which examined the religious and secular issues underlying the protests and the implications for religious communities in Hong Kong and around the world—followed. The panel moderator was Dr. Sze-kar Wan, Professor of New Testament at Perkins, who organized the event.
  • The globe came to Perkins during the 2019 Fall Convocation, held Nov. 12. “Mission Quest: Finding Your Place in God’s World,” featured travel guide and activist Rick Steves, who headlined an opening event with 1,200 participants at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium. Sharing the stage with Steves during the two-day event, also held at Highland Park United Methodist Church, were the Rev. Dr. Samira Izadi Page, a native of Iran who leads a ministry to refugees in Dallas, and the Reverend Dr. Célestin Musekura, a Rwandan and founder of African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM). In addition to hearing speakers from three continents, attendees heard praise music in 17 different languages and human stories of hope and struggle from around the world.
  • The 2019 Advent Worship Service, held Dec. 5, marked three milestones: the 60th anniversary of Perkins’ Master of Sacred Music (MSM) program, the 80th anniversary of the Seminary Singers, and the 60th anniversary of the Advent service itself. Advent was first celebrated in Perkins Chapel in 1959, a tradition continued every year since. Three guest choirs from Dallas-area churches, led by alumni of the M.S.M. program, performed an anthem, and all three choirs performed Jane Marshall’s “Song of Simeon.” Worship followed the classic “Lessons and Carols” format, plus a reading by Dr. Ted Campbell, Professor of Church History, of one of Martin Luther’s sermons.
  • Thanks to a partnership initiated with Cliff College in the U.K. and the Methodist Church of Great Britain, a Perkins intern was placed in England for the 2019-20 academic year. Third-year student Cori Clevenger—whose home church is First UMC in Liberty, Texas—interned in a threepoint charge of Methodist churches in the Midlands area. Her internship is part of a pilot program that organizers hope will become ongoing. Internships give M.Div. students at Perkins an opportunity to integrate coursework of Bible, theology and ethics with ministry practice in the real world. Now, Perkins students have the chance to do this in another culture, broadening their understanding of Christian expressions from those found in the U.S.
  • Two new Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed during 2019-20, including the first with an international school of theology, as part of the ongoing initiative to deepen relationships between Perkins and undergraduate colleges, universities and international seminaries. A formal agreement was reached with Project Transformation National, which sponsors a summer intensive for undergraduate college students who lead summer day camp programs for children and youth at urban United Methodist churches across the U.S. and who also explore vocations in ministry and service. In addition, the agreement with Bishop Han Theological School (BHTS) in Mindanao, Philippines, will promote collaboration and intercultural activities among theology faculty and students from the two institutions. Previous MOUs have been formalized with historically United Methodist institutions including Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana; Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas; McMurry University in Abilene, Texas; Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas; Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas; Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas; Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas; Wylie College in Marshall, Texas; and Presbyterian-related Austin College in Sherman, Texas.
  • The Bolin Family 2020 Perkins Scholarship Luncheon was held Wednesday, February 5, 2020, with New York Times columnist and best-selling author, David Brooks as guest speaker. The luncheon, inaugurated in 2010, serves as a major fundraiser for student scholarships. This year’s luncheon, which highlighted the 2019-20 Perkins Scholars, netted approximately $75,000 for new scholarships.
  • A two-day conference, "In the Face of Barbarism:" Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Culture, Humanity and the Importance of Ordinary Life,” was held Feb. 13-14, 2020, and included noted lecturers Victoria Barnett, Michael DeJonge, and Natalie Carnes. Supported by the Robinson Fund at Perkins, which encourages work at the intersection of theology and the arts, the event focused on the importance of everyday life in Bonhoeffer’s theology and ethics. The conference concluded with a one-person play on the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as adapted and performed by Al Staggs.
  • Dr. Theodore Walker, Associate Professor of Ethics and Society at Perkins, discovered a lost manuscript—written 77 years ago—by Ernest E. Just, with an important message for modern readers. The unpublished book presents a cell biology-rooted theory of the origin and evolution of ethical behaviors. Dr. Walker and his team are now in the process of editing the manuscript to submit for publication.
  • Dr. Evelyn Parker, Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology, was in South Africa as a 2019-2020 U.S. Fulbright Scholar. Based at the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice and the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, she worked on a project titled “Role of Religious Leaders in Preventing and Intervening in Teen Dating Violence in South Africa.”
  • The Rev. Dr. Rebekah Miles, Professor of Ethics and Practical Theology at Perkins, was named one of three Odyssey Medal Recipients by Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. The medals are presented annually by the Hendrix College Board of Trustees to individuals whose life achievements exemplify the Hendrix Odyssey Program. Miles, a 1982 Hendrix graduate, was honored for her research. A reception and medal presentation with Hendrix President William M. Tsutsui took place on November 14 in the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.
  • Dr. Ángel J. Gallardo joined the Perkins faculty and staff as Associate Director of the Intern Program in summer 2019. Dr. Gallardo, who earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU in 2018, previously served as a teaching assistant at Perkins and taught in the Regional Course of Study School. He holds leadership positions in various professional and Latino/a organizations, and has worked with faith-leaders, activists, and scholars both locally and internationally, including during an internship in Brazil.
  • The Rev. Katherine Glaze Lyle of Dallas was named recipient of the 2019 Perkins Distinguished Alumnus/a Award by the Perkins School of Theology Alumni/ae Council. She was honored during a special banquet held Nov. 12 at Perkins or her effectiveness and integrity in service to the church, continuing support for the goals of Perkins and Southern Methodist University, outstanding service to the community and exemplary character.
  • The Houston-Galveston Extension Program will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2020. The original program, which launched in fall 1995, enabled students to take initial portions of their work toward Perkins degrees in Houston-Galveston and to complete their work on the Dallas campus. Key leadership (in their roles at that time) included Perkins Dean Robin Lovin, Dr. James Moore, pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Houston and Dr. Charles Millikan, pastor of Moody Memorial United Methodist Church in Galveston, in addition to other leaders within the Texas Annual Conference. Over the years, many outstanding students, including Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, have attended Perkins through the Houston-Galveston Extension Program—also known as “Perkins South.”

The highlights listed above are reflective of the vibrant engagement of Perkins faculty, staff and students during the 2019-20 academic year.

Perkins School of Theology is committed to those called to serve so that they might be empowered to lead. We thank our many colleagues, friends and alumni/ae in the Louisiana Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church for your generous support, including referrals of prospective students, as we continue our vital mission of preparing women and men for faithful leadership in Christian ministry.

Grace and peace,
Craig C. Hill
Dean and Professor of New Testament

Saint Paul School of Theology

Saint Paul School of Theology     

Saint Paul School of Theology, a seminary of the United Methodist Church, is committed to the formation of people for innovative, creative ministry. We are one institution with campuses in Kansas and Oklahoma. During the 2019-2020 academic year, the seminary enrollment in master and doctoral degree programs increased by 11%.

Saint Paul School of Theology began the 2019-2020 academic year with the addition of Dr. Casey Sigmon in her new role as Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship, and Director of Contextual Education. Dr. Sigmon has also made innovative changes to the weekly worship service as Chapel Coordinator. Saint Paul also welcomed Dr. Anne Walker as the new Executive Director of the Oklahoma Campus.

With the addition of Dr. Walker to Saint Paul came a new webinar offering titled, “Explore Calling: A Guide to Helping Others Answer the Call.” Offered complimentary, the webinar provides a resource for anyone looking to nurture a culture of call in their congregation; including meeting one-on-one with congregations looking to reach out to their community. Dr. Walker also launched the Vision OK Advisory Committee to serve the purpose of gaining support for and assisting in the development of the Oklahoma Campus. Similarly new this year, Dr. Melissa Pearce along with Dr. Walker hosted Listening Sessions to learn more about the challenges pastoral leaders face and dream together about how theological education might meet the changing demands of their ministry.

This March, Saint Paul marked its 60th anniversary with a celebration featuring keynote speaker Past President Dr. Lovett H. Weems, Jr. honoring 60+ years of theological education. Students, alumni, faculty, and the entire Saint Paul community came together for dinner, reminiscing and looking towards the future. During the celebration, Rev. Dr. Lois V. Glory-Neal was recognized as the 2020 Distinguished Graduate Award winner. In 1989, Rev. Dr. Glory-Neal of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference became the first Native American woman to be ordained elder. She became the first Native American district superintendent in 1992. Saint Paul also presented Ms. Sally Firestone with the Board Lifetime Achievement award for her years of service.

Saint Paul’s staff and faculty continue to contribute to the academy, church, and society. Dr. Anne Walker worked along with co-writer Dori Grinenko Baker on Tru Colors, a guide for assisting young adults in exploring ministry as a career. Tru Colors, from Discipleship Ministry, was published in March 2020. Dr. Casey Sigmon wrote the sermon “The Fruit of Self-Control” in the published book, Preaching to Teach: Inspire People to Think and Act. Additionally, as part of the 2019 Lectionary Commentaries on the website, Dr. Sigmon and Dr. Israel Kamudzandu contributed commentaries. In addition, Dr. Sigmon recently published “Homiletical Possibilities and Challenges in Colossians” in The Review & Expositor journal from November 2019.

In September 2019, Saint Paul Board of Trustees added four new members to their ranks: alumna Rev. Jennifer Ahrens-Sims of St. Stephen’s UMC, Mrs. Dana Aldridge of SS&C Technologies, Mrs. Linda Shipman with Dairy Famers of America Inc., and alumnus Rev. David Wiggs with Boston Avenue UMC. In addition, earlier in the year faculty emeritus Rev. Dr. Tex Sample became Board Chair. Saint Paul is financially sound and is operating with a balanced budget. The changes made throughout the past few years have established a solid financial foundation for years of sustainability. With the Board’s assistance, the seminary continues to focus on its mission and works to continuously enhance and evaluate the strategic plans in place to guide us into the future.

Saint Paul held several events and forums this year beginning with hosting an Overland Park Chamber of Commerce Wednesday Wake-up where Overland Park business members and community leaders started their day on the Kansas Campus with coffee, networking, and learning more about the seminary’s mission. In November, Saint Paul was the host location for the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity (MORE2) Faith and Democracy Prayer Breakfast. MORE2 and Church of the Resurrection are partnering with Saint Paul in the recently launched Doctor of Ministry focus, “Spiritual Leadership in Unsettled Times.” Throughout the year, students on both campuses participated in educational forums with discussions on a myriad of topics such as, "Sustaining Pastoral Leadership Through Personal Wellness", “Transgender Day of Remembrance”, and “The Enneagram and Your Spiritual Growth.” Saint Paul was blessed to have many alumni return to lead worship in the weekly chapel services. Rev. Shannon Hancock, alumna and Director of Admissions, brought the message on the Kansas Campus during the MLK Jr Worship Celebration while alumnus Rev. Bryan Lampkins preached on the Oklahoma Campus. This past January, Saint Paul was proud to host the United Methodist Theological Field Educators Meeting on the Kansas Campus. This year’s theme was “Vicissitude: Navigating Call and Mission as Contextual Educators in 2020. In April, the Evangelical Society hosted a lecture featuring Dr. Kimberly Alexander, author of Pentecostal Healing: Models of Theology and Practice and co-author of Women in Leadership: A Pentecostal Perspective and What Women Want: Pentecostal Women Ministers Speak for Themselves.

Honoring Saint Paul’s longstanding commitment to praxis learning and ministry, part of the 2019-2020 curriculum included practicums which are workshop-style seminars that teach ministry skills. For Spring 2020 FOCUS Week, Alumnus Rev. Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III, Senior Pastor of St. James UMC, taught the course Urban Church in the 21st century which explores the Urban Church and its context in relation to ministerial practices and theological understandings.

For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Saint Paul Course of Study (COS) School educated 265 individual students with a total registration of 650 classes; offering a total of 53 courses located in Leawood, KS; Hays, KS; Oklahoma City, OK; Columbia, MO; and Springfield, MO. Saint Paul is in the second year of offering a hybrid (online and on-campus) schedule for six courses during the Winter term. Plans to increase the number of hybrid course offerings are in development. Saint Paul launched a part-time, accelerated pilot COS satellite program (PML) in Columbia, MO in 2018 and added a second track in 2019. Comprised of nine courses in practical theology, this COS option is designed specifically for part-time local pastors or certified lay ministers entering ministry following completion of the Missouri Conference Licensing School. The PML satellite program is a collaborative program of Saint Paul Course of Study Regional School with the Missouri Conference. Since September 2018, COS has offered six courses and enrolled 30 individual students in the PML satellite program.

Saint Paul School of Theology is blessed to be in ministry in the name of Jesus Christ and to help others respond to God’s call. We are a seminary that offers classes and experiences to folks from many denominations and faith walks. Our work as faculty and staff is to provide excellence in theological and practical education for ALL persons called and capable to attend. Remember: “Where two or more are gathered” Christ is there with us.

President Neil Blair, Saint Paul trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, and students thank you for your interest, prayers, and support.

Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University President's Report

Since its founding in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Southern Methodist University has served as a nonsectarian institution of higher learning. Our mission is to expand knowledge through research and teaching and serve as a powerful catalyst for the growth and development of Dallas and the broader North Texas region. With continued representation from The United Methodist Church, and welcoming students of all faiths, the University is reaching a higher level of accomplishment and global recognition in our second century of shaping world changers – for today and tomorrow. 

SMU Update 

Students, Faculty and Staff 

Fall 2019 enrollment totaled 11,824, including 6,710 undergraduates and 5,114 graduates. Ethnic minority students made up 29 percent of total enrollment. An international enrollment of 1,417 (approximately 12 percent of total enrollment) represented 84 countries. Our impressive class of 2023 was chosen from a pool of more than 15,000 applicants. This cohort’s average ACT score is 30.8, and the average SAT score is 1377 – both an increase from last year – making it the most academically qualified and diverse in SMU history. 


The University’s reputation is strong and growing. SMU is ranked No. 64 among national universities by U.S. News & World Report. We are pleased that presidents, provosts and chief admissions officers at the nation’s universities are beginning to recognize our strengths, as evidenced by two consecutive years of rising expert opinion scores within the U.S. News rankings. 

• The Cox School of Business full-time M.B.A. ranks No. 43, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Business Schools, up from 48th in the previous year’s rankings; the SMU Cox Executive M.B.A. ranks No. 23 in the nation. 

• Dedman School of Law was ranked No. 52 nationally by U.S. News & World Report

• The Center for World University Rankings 2019 placed SMU at No. 315 out of 20,000 universities worldwide, No. 133 nationally and No. 27 for alumni employment, placing the institution in the top 1.6% worldwide. Universities are ranked for their quality of education, alumni employment, quality of faculty and research performance. 

• SMU ranked No. 16 in a Forbes list of top Southern colleges and universities. 

• College Factual rankings (published by USA Today), highly focused on outcomes, including graduation rates, high salaries for graduates and low student loan default rates, ranked SMU at No. 3 among Best Texas Colleges; No. 92 among Best Nationwide Colleges; and No. 1 in its list of “Highest Paid Music Graduates” in 2019. 

• The Princeton Review ranks SMU Guildhall No. 2 for the best graduate game-design program. 


In FY 2019, SMU received $31.8 million in external funding for research conducted in the United States and worldwide, representing a $5.2 million increase over the previous year. Current funding agencies include National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Defense and Toyota Foundation. Regarding private fundraising, SMU finished FY 2019 strong, thanks to the generosity of our entire donor family who made more than $118 million in gifts, making it a record year for giving. That generosity includes exceeding our second-year Pony Power goal by $2 million with $52 million in gifts received to fund our most pressing current needs. 

2019 Highlights 

Significant Gifts and Grants 

$100 Million Gift Establishes New Graduate School 

In 2019 SMU celebrated the largest gift in its history – an unprecedented investment of $100 million from the Moody Foundation to create the eighth named school at SMU: the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies. This new school supports the University’s graduate programs in education, engineering, the arts, humanities, sciences and social studies, as well as faculty research and interdisciplinary programs across the University. It will enable SMU to graduate higher numbers of doctoral students and strengthen collaborations with other universities, major corporations and other entities in producing high-impact research projects. 

Visionary Impact With Miller Family $50 Million Gift 

Carolyn and David Miller ’72, ’73 made the largest single gift by an alumnus and his family in SMU’s 108-year history. The Millers’ latest $50 million commitment will support the Edwin L. Cox School of Business’ strategic plan to modernize its curriculum; offer more and broader scholarships to attract the world’s best business students; collaborate across the SMU campus on new interdisciplinary programs and enhance the school’s facilities. It also aspires for the school to extend community outreach to develop corporate partnerships and expand inclusivity. 

Owen Arts Center Renovation Kickoff Inspires a New Challenge and Additional Gifts 

Last fall, as the Meadows School of the Arts celebrated the 50th anniversary of its naming, we kicked off the renovation of Owen Arts Center, a $34 million initiative to improve academic spaces in the north wing for visual arts, art history and creative computation, while creating welcoming and accessible entrances to the building. During the celebration, we announced a new $1.8 million challenge gift from Indianapolis philanthropist and former Meadows School parent G. Marlyne Sexton. This latest gift brings her total commitment to OAC to $5 million and creates an incentive for others to join in and help the Meadows School reach the remaining $4 million needed to revitalize the arts hub. 

A $5 million gift from Dallas art collectors and patrons Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers extends their long-standing support of artists by establishing a vibrant hub for the visual arts at SMU. The new Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers Center for Visual Arts in the Owen Arts Center will provide a physical space that expands academic and artistic opportunities for students and faculty to propel them to the forefront of their fields. It is part of a $34 million initiative to modernize the 250,000-square-foot building’s north wing. Gifts to the project are supported by a grant from The Meadows Foundation. 

Game Changer Opens on the Boulevard 

Last year, we celebrated the dedication of the Indoor Performance Center, featuring Armstrong Fieldhouse, which marked a new era in athletics preparation and training for SMU Mustangs. The technologically equipped, multiuse facility also offers a significant expansion of possibilities for campus and community participation. Many generous donors made the Indoor Performance Center possible. In addition to Liz Armstrong ’82 and Bill Armstrong ’82, donors of more than $1 million are Gary T. Crum ’69 and Sylvie P. Crum; Paul B. Loyd, Jr. ’68 and Penny R. Loyd; David B. Miller ’72, ’73 and Carolyn L. Miller and the David B. Miller Family Foundation; and Garry A. Weber ’58. There were also 17 donors of $100,000 and higher, with eight making gifts of $1 million each and nine making six-figure commitments. 

New Home For Digital Explorers 

SMU took a giant leap forward in the rapidly shifting digital frontier with the groundbreaking of the Gerald J. Ford Hall for Research and Innovation at the corner of McFarlin Boulevard and Airline Road. SMU Trustee Gerald J. Ford ’66, ’69, his wife, Kelli O. Ford, and the Gerald J. Ford Family Foundation provided a $15 million lead gift to help fund construction of the building. The new 50,000-square-foot interdisciplinary research hub will serve as home to SMU’s AT&T Center for Virtualization, the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, high-performance computing and data science, the new Visualization Lab and the Guildhall, the Hart eCenter’s top-ranked digital game-design program. 

High Tech, High Impact from Bobby B. Lyle 

Dallas entrepreneur, industry leader and educator Bobby B. Lyle ’67 built on the farsighted generosity that named the Lyle School of Engineering 11 years ago by designating $10 million to power a new strategic vision for the school. The future-focused model will combine innovation, agility and swift responses to shifts in technological capabilities with enduring institutional support. His investment will support the school’s Future Fund by establishing endowments for Accelerating Emerging Research and Accelerating High Tech Business Innovations. The fund also will support two additional strategic portfolios: Transforming the Engineering Education Experience and Transformative Technology for Social Good. 

Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship 

Prominent Dallas business leaders Linda Wertheimer Hart ’65 and Milledge (Mitch) A. Hart, III are among SMU’s most generous donors, and they made another major investment. The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship merges the wisdom of the Cox School of Business with the knowledge of the Lyle School of Engineering to develop the tools entrepreneurs need to bring their concepts to life. In addition, Mrs. Hart honored her husband on his 85th birthday with the Milledge A. Hart, III Scholarship Fund for Veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps. 

Program Highlights 

Elizabeth Loboa named Provost 

Elizabeth Loboa, appointed as SMU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs in December, will join the University on July 6, 2020. As chief academic officer for SMU, she will be responsible for the overall quality of teaching, scholarship and research and all aspects of academic life, ranging from admissions and faculty development to supervision of SMU’s eight schools, library system, and international programs. Loboa, a biomedical engineer, is currently vice chancellor for strategic partnerships and dean and Ketchum Professor of the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri. She brings to SMU a distinguished academic record and broad university leadership experience. 

Academic Deans Reappointed 

The academic deans leading SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, Dedman School of Law and Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences have been reappointed to serve in their positions for an additional five years: Marc Christensen, dean of the Lyle School and Lyle Professor of Engineering Innovation, who has served as dean since 2013; Jennifer Collins, Judge James Noel Dean and professor of law at Dedman Law, who has served as dean since 2014; and Thomas DiPiero, dean of Dedman College and professor in the departments of English and World Languages and Literatures, who has served as dean since 2014. 

Meadows School of the Arts celebrates 50th Anniversary 

Meadows School kicked off a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of its naming, staging three premieres by internationally recognized choreographers at its 26th annual benefit concert, “Meadows at the Winspear.” The concert featured the critically acclaimed Meadows Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Paul Phillips, and the students of the Meadows Dance Ensemble. It also honored community leader The Meadows Foundation, which has supported SMU and Dallas for more than five decades. It was in 1969 that SMU’s School of the Arts was renamed Meadows School of the Arts in honor of Algur H. Meadows. 

Gift Expands Dedman Law’s Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation 

The Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation, launched in 2015 in Dedman Law, received an additional $2 million gift to expand its profile as a leader in multidisciplinary research and scholarly debate surrounding new technologies. The academic center brings together experts from the legal, scientific and business communities to explore the complex challenges presented by the evolving innovation ecosystem. Current research projects supported by the Tsai Center include studies of fingerprint technology and tax implications of artificial intelligence, as well as a digital tool for keeping track of litigation involving government watch lists. The Tsai Center also has funded new courses, including one in which law students create web-based legal apps for Texas legal-aid organizations. 

$1.5 Million NSF Grant Helps Fund Minecraft 

SMU’s Lyle School, Guildhall and the Simmons School of Education and Human Development will use a $1,521,615 grant from the National Science Foundation to research teaching computer science and computational thinking through the popular video game Minecraft. Research will span the fields of game design, human-computer interaction, machine learning, curriculum design and education assessment by integrating STEM+C (computing) curriculum directly into Minecraft. The game and infrastructure produced through the research will serve as a vital computing resource for middle and high school educators. The grant was awarded to Corey Clark, deputy director of research at SMU Guildhall and an assistant professor of Computer Science at Lyle School; Eric Larson, associate professor in Computer Science at Lyle School; and Leanne Ketterlin Geller, professor and Texas Instrument Endowed Chair in Education at Simmons School. 

Professor Brings People Together for Conversations on Tough Topics 

Jill DeTemple, associate professor of religious studies in Dedman College, has developed a discussion tool – reflective structured dialogue – that she is using in her own classrooms and sharing with professors at SMU and nationwide. The idea is to take topics that drive people apart – gun rights, abortion, the death penalty, the existence of God – and reframe the conversation around personal experiences. At its core is curiosity about another person’s life and values. 

SMU Scientists Identify New Texas Dinosaur 

SMU postdoctoral fellow Kate Andrzejewski, along with University paleontologists Dale Winkler and Louis Jacobs, have identified Convolosaurus marri from fossils collected at Proctor Lake, southwest of Fort Worth. Remnants of several dinosaurs were first found at the Comanche County lake site in 1985, and most of the fossils had been stored for years in the Shuler Museum of Paleontology at SMU. But it wasn’t until Andrzejewski, Winkler and Jacobs examined the fossils more recently that the new dinosaur was identified. Convolosaurus marri is on view at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall as “Proctor Lake Ornithopod.” The newly identified dinosaur was named in honor of Ray H. Marr ’51, an SMU alumnus who is president of Marr Oil & Gas LTD and a strong supporter of SMU students. 

SMU Study Finds Possible New Way to Treat Virus “Cousin” of HIV 

A study led by SMU suggests that oleandrin – a drug derived from the Nerium oleander plant – could prevent the HTLV-1 virus from spreading by targeting a stage of the reproduction process that is not currently targeted by existing drugs. That is significant because there is currently no cure or treatment for the virus – a lesser-known “cousin” of HIV that affects an estimated 10 to 15 million people worldwide. “Our research findings suggest that oleandrin could possibly limit the transmission and spread of HTLV-1 by targeting a unique stage in the retroviral life cycle,” said Robert Harrod, associate professor and director of graduate studies in SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences. Harrod is a co-author of the study, published in the Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals. 

DART Station Renamed SMU/Mockingbird Station 

Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) Mockingbird Station was renamed SMU/Mockingbird Station after the DART Board approved a naming-rights agreement with SMU, making it easier for visitors to find the campus and cementing the rail station’s role as a gateway to the University. Opened in 1997, Mockingbird Station quickly became an important transportation resource for SMU students, faculty, staff and visitors. The Mustang Express shuttle service connects the DART station to the University campus a short distance away. 

We are excited about the impact our University and its programs continue to have on the world around us, and we are grateful to continue our work through the Perkins School of Theology in the education and training of all branches of the Wesleyan Tradition. We request your continued prayers and support. 

Warm regards, 
R. Gerald Turner 
Southern Methodist University


United Theological Seminary

United Theological Seminary 

For nearly 150 years, United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH, has been preparing faithful, fruitful leaders to make disciples of Jesus Christ. 


In the Fall 2019 semester, United equipped 459 women and men for leadership in the Church, including 272 masters’ students and 187 doctoral students. An ecumenical community of many denominations, races and nationalities, United welcomed students from 11 countries, 42 states, and 37 denominations, with the student body comprised of 49% African American, 42% Caucasian, and 10% ethnic/racial minorities.(1) The Seminary prepared 165 Course of Study students and served 36 students through the Hispanic Christian Academy, a 3-year Spanish online course of ministry program for Hispanic/Latino lay pastors and leaders.(2) Altogether, approximately 660 students followed God’s call through United Theological Seminary. 


United graduates are making an impact in their communities as they spread the Good News. 

  • 88% of alumni/ae are currently employed in or retired from ministry(3) 
  • 70% serve in local parishes(4) 
  • Rev. Dr. Brad Kalajainen (DMin ’99) received the 2019 Effective Ministry Award for his transformative leadership of Cornerstone UMC in Grand Rapids, MI. 
  • Rev. Dr. James Bushfield (MDiv ’79, DMin ’92) received the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award for his leadership and ministry in the Indiana Conference of The UMC. 
  • Rev. Dr. Sandra Coley (DMin ’14) received the Outstanding Doctor of Ministry Award for her advocacy of organ donation among African American communities. 

New at United 

United introduced a 36-hour Master of Arts (MA) degree, designed for those who wish to earn a degree while completing the requirements for Advanced Course of Study in pursuit of ordination in The United Methodist Church. The MA program is available fully online, on-campus or in a combination. 

United continues to offer innovative learning through its Live Interactive Virtual Education (LIVE) environment introduced in 2018. In the first year, 59 students participated in LIVE courses, connecting with classmates on campus in Dayton, OH, and across the country by attending classes in real-time via simultaneous webcast. 

Becoming Debt-Free 

United remains committed to becoming debt-free by the seminary’s 150th anniversary on October 11, 2021. Thanks to the support of generous donors, United has received more than $2.5 million toward its goal of raising $4 million to “burn the mortgage.” Becoming debt-free as an institution will enable United to focus on generating income for scholarships that lighten the load of student debt for seminarians. 

In Romans 10:14, St. Paul writes: “How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” For 150 years, United has been preparing faithful and fruitful Christian preachers and leaders who proclaim the Good News of God’s unconditional love which has come to us in Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God! 

Dr. Kent Millard, 

(1) Data represents Fall 2019 headcount enrollment, unless otherwise specified. 

(2) Data represents unduplicated headcount enrollment in the 2018-19 academic year. 

(3) United Theological Seminary 2019 Alumni/ae Survey, sent in April 2019 to alumni/ae who graduated with a degree or certificate from United in years ranging from the 1940s to 2018, for whom the seminary had email contact information. Data collected represents a 25% response rate (520 respondents) of the 2,043 alumni/ae contacted. 

(4) Or if retired, were serving in this capacity at time of retirement. United Theological Seminary 2019 Alumni/ae Survey. 

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