Reporters may contact: Janet Ragland
SMU News and Information
(214) 768-7650

January 22, 2001


Click on any photo below to view or download a high-resolution .jpg version.

Suzan Shown Harjo Donna Shirley Faye Wattleton


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University's 36th Annual Women's Symposium in the series "The Education of Women for Social and Political Leadership" will be held Feb. 27-28 on the SMU campus. The conference will focus on women's roles in reshaping society through innovative thinking.

Speakers this year include former manager of NASA's Mars Exploration Program Donna Shirley, Center for Gender Equality President Faye Wattleton and Native American policy advocate and writer Suzan Shown Harjo.

The symposium, titled "Thinking Outside the Box: Reshaping the World as Agents of Change," will be in the SMU Hughes-Trigg Student Center, 3140 Dyer St. Registration is $75 per person and includes lectures, workshops, program materials, dinner Tuesday and lunch Wednesday. Student discounts apply. Deadline is Feb. 5. For more information call Gail Ward at (214) 768-4412.

Started in 1966 by the late Emmie V. Baine, the SMU Women's Symposium is the longest continuously running program of its kind in the nation and one of SMU's oldest traditions. The symposium brings together women and men of differing ages and ethnic backgrounds to discuss topics of national interest and to interact with national leaders in education and public affairs. Besides speakers of national prominence, the symposium includes topical seminars and workshops conducted by students, community leaders, faculty and staff. The event attracts more than 600 people to the SMU campus.

Donna Shirley will present the first general session lecture at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. Shirley is the first female dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma, where she serves as assistant dean of advanced program development.

Shirley began her engineering career as an aerodynamicist and systems analyst with McDonnell Aircraft. In 1966, she joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and four years later became the mission analyst for the Mariner 10 mission to Venus and Mercury. In 1982, she was named manager of the Space Station Program Office, where she managed support of the initial NASA Space Station design activities. In 1987, she managed the Rover Concept Team, leading the development of concepts for automated mobile vehicles for use on planetary surfaces. She was named manager of the Mars Exploration Program Office in 1994. Shirley earned two bachelor's degrees from the University of Oklahoma and a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California. Her autobiography, Managing Martians: The Extraordinary Story of a Woman's Lifelong Quest to Get to Mars, chronicles the struggles and triumphs of the Pathfinder and Sojourner Rover teams.

Faye Wattleton will speak at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27 in the Hughes-Trigg Ballroom. The Center for Gender Equality is a nonprofit research, policy development and education institution created in 1995 to promote strategies for dismantling obstacles that impede full equality for women. From 1978 to 1992, Wattleton projected the Planned Parenthood Federation of American into the forefront of the battle to preserve women's rights to abortions. For her efforts she has been awarded 12 honorary doctoral degrees and many awards, including the 1992 Jefferson Award for the Greatest Public Service Performed by a Private Citizen and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Humanitarian Award. Wattleton is featured in a national photography exhibit, "I DREAM A WORLD: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America." She holds a bachelor's degree from Ohio State University and a master's degree from Columbia University. Her memoirs, Life on the Line, were published in the fall of 1996 by Ballantine Books.

Suzan Shown Harjo will begin her presentation at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28 in the Hughes-Trigg Ballroom. Helping Native Americans recover more than a million acres of land and numerous sacred pieces, Harjo has developed key federal Indian policy and law since 1975, including national policy advances for the protection of Native American cultures and arts.

Harjo is president and executive director of The Morning Star Institute, a national, nonprofit Indian rights organization for Native Peoples' traditional and cultural advocacy, arts promotion and research. The Institute is the sponsoring organization for a lawsuit regarding trademarks of the Washington Redskins professional football team. Harjo served as executive director of the National Congress of American Indians and was special assistant for Indian Legislation & Liaison during the Carter administration. She has lectured, presented and read at educational institutions nationwide and her poetry, news articles, arts criticism and social and political commentaries have been widely published. Harjo is Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee and a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

The SMU Women's Symposium workshops will focus on topics including work-friendly policies for women, women's history, sexual harassment, global economy, women in public office and domestic violence.

The SMU Women's Symposium is a University program coordinated by The Community Involvement and Women's Center of SMU in the Division of Student Life. Previous years' speakers include anthropologist Margaret Mead, news commentator Cokie Roberts, civil rights leader Coretta Scott King and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.