Student body leaders reflect, look ahead

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Each academic year, one student is selected to serve on the highest governing body of Southern Methodist University: the Board of Trustees. The Student Trustee has one vote in the 42 person board, just like any other. He or she represents the student perspective along with nine other students who sit on the board’s standing committees, including the student body president.

The mission of SRBOT is “to serve as the liaison from the SMU student body to the board of trustees and its standing committees. The SRBOT will seek to gain input from all parts of the SMU student community and will represent them fairly and completely to both the board of trustees and the administration. As advocates of student issues, they will conduct themselves with integrity and confidentiality in all matters.” Below the outgoing and incoming SRBOT share their perspectives on the significance of the SRBOT positions.

George Utkov

I consider serving as Student Trustee to be such an honor and I am very excited and humbled at this great opportunity. As the student trustee, I hope to effectively communicate the interests of our student body to our university governing body – sharing student interests, concerns and priorities – while balancing them with the Board’s objectives. I am very proud of the tremendous strides SMU is making academically, athletically and in our overall student experience. There are so many great things happening on campus – the opening of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, new sophomore housing and the move into a different athletic conference – all strengthening SMU’s position as a leading institution of higher learning. I believe that our University’s future is even brighter because of our commitment to developing “World Changers.” With increasing investments in scholarships, facilities, student support systems and passionate, talented faculty and staff, I believe that the sky is the limit for SMU.

John Oakes

One of the greatest aspects of SMU is the involvement of students in leadership roles at every level of the university. Over the 2012-2013 academic year, I was extremely humbled and honored to serve as the SMU Student Trustee. The fact that one student per year serves as a full voting member of the Board of Trustees speaks volumes about our university. As Mustangs, we can be proud to say that a student always has a voice in SMU’s principal governance body.

The excitement at SMU is tangible. Only two weeks ago, we took the world stage for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The move to a new athletic conference, the Residential Commons and the new academic curriculum are just a few of the many other recent developments at SMU. The advancement of this university academically, athletically and physically is the direct result of conversations held by the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees determines this macro, grand strategy vision for the future of SMU. I assure you that our university could not be in better hands.

Times at SMU are only going to get better. As a soon-to-be young alumnus, I look forward to watching future students take the reins, unify as one student body and create change. World changers really are shaped here. God bless and Pony Up.

Academic Policy, Planning, Management

Rahfin Faruk

It is an honor to serve as the student representative to the Committee on Academic Policy, Planning and Management. I look forward to learning from skilled professionals and educators about a wide variety of academic issues – from engagement programs to professor tenure to the proliferation of new education technologies. This opportunity gives me the chance to step outside the classroom, a place for theory and discourse, and engage with the university’s overall academic plan. SMU’s future is bright. With the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library to the expansion of engagement programs to SMU’s growing academic diversity, it is an exciting time to serve on this thriving committee. As SMU looks to its next century, it plans to expand its research portfolio and faculty endowments. These are examples indicative of how this university’s reputation will continue to grow. It is my goal to follow in the footsteps of Hannah Bliss and contribute SMU’s overall goal: to train and prepare critical thinkers that will impact the world.

Hannah Bliss

It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve on the Committee on Academic Policy, Planning and Management. To sit among the members of this committee is both an eye opening and humbling experience, and an opportunity to see behind the scenes of an institution that has so remarkably impacted my own life. It is one thing to sit in a classroom and engage in academic dialogue, but it is another experience entirely to strategize and plan for the future academic success of a university. SMU students should take great pride and satisfaction in knowing that their Board of Trustees is a group of highly committed, ambitious and caring individuals who want the very best for SMU. This fact is reflected in our rising national reputation. From long term visions of scientific research and faculty endowments to the immediate approval of new majors and degrees, the Academic Committee does its best to ensure that each student on SMU’s campus has every opportunity to learn, question, study and ultimately thrive.


Tyler Scott

SMU’s incredible commitment to its students shines brightly through the opportunity provided to undergraduates to serve on the Board of Trustees and its various committees. It is an absolute honor and blessing to be selected as this year’s student representative to the Athletics Committee. With big shoes to fill following Margaret Ellen’s lead, I plan to do no less than give this position my all. As SMU Athletics continues to establish its presence on campus and in Dallas by providing the SMU Advantage, I look forward to assisting in fulfilling the goal of continuing the successes of student-athletes and the athletics department as a whole. From my work experiences within SMU Athletics to my knowledge of Sport Management as an APSM major, I promise to utilize all necessary resources to ensure I can best voice the opinion of the student body as a valid liaison. I am beyond honored to work alongside Mr. Rick Hart and the current trustee members as The American Athletic Conference, Moody Coliseum renovations, the new tennis complex and conference-leading teams each give us a reason to be proud Mustang Fans. I will certainly take this opportunity to learn from those who have contributed so passionately to SMU and will remain fully committed to ensuring the continued success of SMU and SMU Athletics.

Margaret Ellen Crawford

Serving this past year as the student representative to the Athletics committee has been an unforgettable experience. I have learned more than I ever imagined I would in this position. The trustees as well as SMU staff provide a wealth of knowledge that have and will continue to steer SMU Athletics in a positive direction. Their dedication to bettering both athletic achievement and the student athlete experience is truly remarkable. Having the opportunity to welcome both Larry Brown and Rick Hart to SMU was truly special, as was seeing SMU transition from conference USA into the Big East.

Going forward, I believe SMU will continue to evolve into a top athletics institution. Not only does our football program continue to get better, but our basketball
program now finds itself in a position to compete with the best nationally. The excitement surrounding our basketball recruits is tangible. In addition to football and basketball, our other teams have continued to excel. Women’s cross country won the Conference USA championship this year, while Men’s Golf took home many all conference awards including Freshman of the Year. These are just a few of the outstanding accomplishments our athletes have made this year. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for SMU athletics and I am honored to have served in this position.

Buildings and Grounds

Zane Cavender

SMU is beautiful – plain and simple. From our palatial Dallas Hall to the nationally-renowned Boulevard, our campus is central to the SMU way of life. Along with our dynamic student body, world class faculty, administration and location, our beautiful campus is close to our hearts and remains a symbol of strong Mustang unity. However, this wouldn’t be possible without careful attention to the architectural value of this campus, a detailed master plan and an overall campus vision. I look forward to contributing to this vision, and providing a student perspective to the changes affecting our campus in the future.

Working with our administration, fellow student leaders and the Board of Trustees, I have great hopes for the future of the SMU campus as we look forward to continued improvement, development and exponential growth. With exciting projects like the Residential Commons, Tennis Complex, and newly renovated Health Center and Moody Coliseum, Southern Methodist University is moving into its second century at the helm of sustainable construction and innovative design – all while remaining loyal to the core aesthetic value of our campus. Moving forward into the future, our campus will continue to attract generations of new Mustangs and their families, and serve as an integral component of our collegiate experiences.

Brian Horan

I was honored to serve as the student representative on the Buildings and Grounds Committee for the 2012-2013 academic year. Over my time sitting on the committee, I had the opportunity to tour the George W. Bush Presidential Center, take part in numerous discussions covering a multitude of initiatives and projects aimed at improving our campus, and build relationships with trustees and members of the SMU staff. I am well aware that the aesthetic quality of the university is an asset that is rivaled by few other schools in the nation. I am confident the campus will continue to improve with leadership provided by President Turner and the trustees. I also recognize that with increased emphasis on environmentally conscious construction in the form of LEED standards, SMU demonstrates its commitment to preserving natural resources. Furthermore, I understand that maintaining a strong relationship with the surrounding community of University Park is vital to the university’s long-term well-being. Finally, I wish to congratulate my successor Zane Cavender. I believe he will provide insightful input and put forth tremendous effort acting as a liaison between the student body and the Board next year.

Development and External Affairs

Lauren Lyngstad

I am incredibly honored to have the opportunity and privilege to serve as the student representative to the Development and External Affairs Committee for the upcoming year. This is an important and exciting time for this university as we anticipate completion of the Second Century Campaign that has helped to usher SMU into an even higher standard of academic excellence and national prestige. We, as students, have been blessed to reap the benefits of the commitment that our trustees, faculty and alumni have toward our university – whether that commitment is through the generous giving of their time, talent or resources.

The 2013-2014 academic year will, without a doubt, serve as a defining year for our university. We will see the completion of the residential commons system, the move to a new athletic conference, and the fostering of an even stronger relationship between the newly opened George W. Bush Presidential Center and the SMU community. As the student representative to the Development and External Affair Committee, I look forward to serving as the voice of the student body to ensure that these progressions on our campus are implemented in the most cohesive manner possible. I am thankful to serve and am humbled to have been selected to represent my peers, for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration.

William Badarak

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as this year’s student representative to the Development and External Affairs Committee. The quarterly meetings of the committee have provided me with great insight into the activities of those in the DEA function, specifically the focus on endowment growth, and the marketing and branding of the University as a whole. Attending events like the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication and the announcement of the gift that supports the building of Harold Clark Simmons Hall have been highlights of my year on the committee. More importantly, it has been eye opening to observe the incredible work of those tasked with fundraising and marketing for SMU. While it is easy to become lost in the weeds during our undergraduate and graduate experiences, it is refreshing to take a step back to understand the overarching goals and principles that the trustees have set in place to guide our university. It was also interesting to learn how the standing committees of the Board work to meet these guidelines. I am grateful to have had the experience to learn from the members of the Development and External Affairs Committee, and humbled to have been able to share my experiences and the student perspective with them. It has been an honor serving with the trustees, committee members and my fellow student representatives. I am also grateful for this opportunity to serve the university.

Finance/Audit Liaison

John Angle

I could not be more honored or excited to have the opportunity to serve on the Finance and Audit Committees of the SMU Board of Trustees for the 2013-2014 academic year. After four years as an undergraduate student, I look forward to giving back to SMU in a new way as a graduate student. In the coming year, I hope to learn from and about the trustees, and to gain a greater understanding of financial stewardship of the university. The outgoing representative did an incredible job, so my cohorts of student representatives have very big shoes to fill. Together, we will gather student input and provide feedback to the trustees about student life and concerns.

As I see it, my role as the Finance/Audit Committee student liaison centers on proper stewardship – both of the role and of SMU. First – as much as possible in a group of experts – I hope to assist in implementing proper financial and accounting policies and controls to protect and enhance the university we all care about. In addition, I will work to increase the student trustees’ visibility on campus to show students the real leadership development opportunities SMU provides. As a trustee of my position I will work to ensure an active role on the committees for future students. Above all, I will strive to ensure that the student voice about matters such as the university’s budget and tuition are communicated in a respectful and active manner.

James Moreton

There are so many exciting things happening on SMU’s campus these days, including the opening of new residen
tial housing, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and the move to a new athletic conference. All of these events are a testament to the vision, unwavering passion and absolute dedication of SMU’s Board of Trustees to our university. With each step taken forward into uncharted territory, there are incredible opportunities and unknown challenges. My experience has given me the utmost confidence that SMU has the appropriate visionaries and leaders to face these challenges head on.

It has been an honor for me to serve as the student representative on the Finance and Audit committees and to work alongside many of SMU’s most dedicated and accomplished alumni. However, I have had an equally enjoyable time working with my fellow representatives. Dining with Decision Makers was one of my favorite events because it was the culmination of the work of my fellow representatives, especially John Oakes. It is very unique to SMU that students are given so many opportunities to interact with the Board of Trustees and I encourage all students to take advantage of these opportunities.

I will be leaving the Hilltop in May but I have been inspired to embark on a life long journey with SMU by giving back in any way that may benefit this institution, its students and its future.

It has been an honor serving as a student representative to the Finance and Audit Committees of the Board of Trustees. All of the exciting things happening on campus are a testament to the vision, unwavering passion and absolute dedication of SMU’s Board of Trustees to our university.


Jaison Thomas

It is an honor and a humbling experience to be able to serve the SMU community as student representative to the Investments Committee of the Board of Trustees. I look forward to engaging in conversations relating to the macro-economic trends as well as investment trends of endowments throughout the nation. I hope to utilize my time on this committee to broaden my understanding of the institution’s endowment, investment processes and expectations for future investment vehicles. I am excited to have the privilege to serve on this committee and ultimately hope to learn about the long-term strategies of the university’s funding and investments.

Eric Sabandal

My experience on the Investments Committee of the Board of Trustees has been an enormous learning opportunity in both quantitative and qualitative analysis. The committee is populated by a collection of the sharpest minds in the investment community. The committee’s insightful grace in managing the endowment’s two simultaneous goals of growth and liquidity has been humbling. This year has been one of pronounced volatility and uncertainty with regard to the global financial markets and political systems. I am continuously astounded by this committee’s understanding and execution as these world events rapidly occur. In review, this position has allowed me to blend my undergraduate passion with a greater understanding of SMU’s macro strategy. I am honored and tremendously grateful for the opportunity to grow and learn from SMU’s Board of Trustees, Investment Committee members and my fellow student representatives.

Student Affairs

Antonea Bastian

I am thrilled and honored to be selected as one of the student body’s representatives to the SMU Board of Trustees’ Student Affairs Committee for the 2013-2014 academic year. I have been encouraged by the discussions that have taken place at SMU over the past year. I see a lot of opportunity for students to come together and define what it means to be a Mustang, and I also see how that will reflect our values as students at the greatest university in the country. The current representatives have done an exemplary job of leading our peers and I hope that the next group of student leaders will lead with just as much courage. Next year, I intend to communicate the concerns of students to the Board and communicate the vision of SMU that the Board has to the students. It is an exciting time at SMU. As we transition to a new chapter of SMU history, it is imperative to foster cooperation, school unity and the constant pursuit of excellence.

Will Slack

It is an honor to be selected to serve as a Student Representative to the Board of Trustees Student Affairs Committee. I am immensely grateful. Working alongside my fellow student committee members, I hope to streamline communication within Student Affairs and the student body at large, create new ways to identify student needs, improve the claims process for voicing student concerns, and continue the vision of those before me to foster a sense of belonging and school pride. SMU was built on an unshakeable foundation of big ideas and bold visions. It is my hope this next academic year will be filled with dynamic ideas to improve life on campus for all Mustangs. The student body is, perhaps, the greatest asset of our beloved university. Innovative ideas and a motivated student body can have an impact that is larger than our Dallas campus. With knowledge of our past, understanding of the present and visions of the future, I look forward to working with my peers to charter the course of Southern Methodist University into a second century.

Amie Kromis

My experience on the Student Affairs Committee to the Board of Trustees has been an eye-opening testament of how much value SMU places in its students. The fact that I sit on a committee of accomplished and renowned individuals that determine the strategic plan of the university speaks volumes of how SMU wants students opinions to be interwoven in every step the university takes. Serving as a Student Representative has been a learning experience for how to take advantage of such positions. I am confident that my successors will use this platform to not only grow individually as leaders, but to also attract attention to issues that are pertinent to students. It has been an exciting and surreal year. It is a blessing to know that SMU has been, and will continue to be in great hands. Pony up!

Elise McDonald

I have very much enjoyed serving a student member of the Student Affairs Committee of the SMU Board of Trustees this year. Providing a student voice to our trustees and university administrators always reminded me how important students are to the life of our university. Whether it was one of the four board meetings, a Student Affairs Advisory Board meeting, or informal conversations with trustees and university administrators, I was always impressed at how carefully each decision is considered and how often student input is sought.

I most enjoyed a less formal responsibility of my position: communicating information from the trustees and university administrators to students. Our leadership truly cares about SMU, and works diligently to ensure our current and long-term success. I enjoyed helping our students realize the good our trustees and administrators do for the university on a daily basis, whether that was forming task forces, overseeing the opening of the Bush Presidential Center or meeting one-on-one with students. Communication between university leadership and students is crucial, and I am glad to have served in such a capacity.

Best wishes to the student representatives in 2013-2014! 

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