SMU News Contact: Meredith Dickenson or Ellen Sterner at 214-768-7650,


March 7, 2005


DALLAS (SMU) -- The SMU Board of Trustees has voted to create a new School of Education and Human Development, to fill critical needs in the advancement of teacher training and research on language acquisition and literacy.

Several factors have increased demand for SMU's education programs. American schools need to hire 2.2 million teachers, including 240,000 middle and high school mathematics and science high school teachers, by the next decade, according to the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century. In addition, changing demographics and classrooms with more non-English speaking children require greater numbers of bilingual and special education teachers.

The focus of the new school of education will be on helping teachers and other professionals improve their skills and advance in their careers. Therefore, most programs will be graduate level. SMU will continue to offer master's degrees in education and bilingual education but will add master's degrees in dispute resolution and school and family counseling by 2006. Also planned is a master's degree and a Ph.D. in literacy and language acquisition by 2007, to be followed by graduate programs in mathematics and science.

"A school devoted to the education professions will serve the needs of our community and society," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "Bilingual education and literacy acquisition are growing areas of importance to Texas . They are two areas of strength in SMU’s programs that set us apart from other schools of education."

The new school will combine existing education programs into three main academic departments, turn certificate programs into graduate degrees, and create new programs in human development. Currently SMU offers a variety of programs in reading, learning therapy, elementary and secondary education, bilingual education, early childhood education, gifted education, and dispute resolution. Putting these areas together and elevating them as part of a school will allow SMU to expand its nationally recognized education programs and related research.

"The Dallas area needs more graduate programs in the applied social and behavioral sciences, so a special emphasis on human development will serve our community and bring more opportunities for research," said SMU Provost Ross Murfin. "On the education side, we are renewing our commitment to research-based instruction and training teachers to become masters of their subject areas as we have since the early years of SMU."

The new education school will offer classes at the University Park and Plano campuses and be divided into three departments, one institute and one division:

The Department of Teaching and Learning

  • Educational Psychology and Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary and Secondary Certification
  • Center for Gifted Education

Department of Literacy and Language Acquisition

  • Preschool Reading
  • School-level Literacy
  • Bilingual Education
  • Learning Therapy
  • Diagnostic Center for Dyslexia and Related Reading Disorders

Department of Human Development

  • Dispute Resolution
  • School and Family Counseling
  • Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management

Institute for Reading Research

Division of Lifelong Learning

  • Continuing Education for Youths and Adults
  • Continuing Education for Professionals

SMU's literacy and language acquisition programs have attracted national acclaim. The Language Enrichment Activities Program (LEAP) for preschool children is taught in eight states to 19,000 children and is now the model for the nation's Head Start programs. In addition, elements of the LEAP curricula are part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Bilingual Education program received more than $3 million from the U.S. Department of Education and trains about 65 teachers a year.

The Institute for Reading Research, founded in 2003 with an endowment from the Texas Instruments Foundation, has attracted $6 million in research grants. The Institute provides a laboratory for research-proven methods of instruction to students. SMU recently created the Diagnostic Center for Dyslexia and Related Reading Disorders at its Legacy campus in Plano.

Robert Patterson, dean of the Division of Education and Lifelong Education, which will now be called the School of Education and Human Development, says teachers are attracted to SMU's academic reputation when choosing the University for advanced certification.

"Theory and application will come together to produce outstanding professionals and leaders no matter where they teach or work," said Patterson.

The School of Education and Human Development will be the seventh degree-granting school or college at SMU. Others include the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, the Dedman School of Law, the Meadows School of the Arts, the Perkins School of Theology, and the School of Engineering.

For more information about SMU's School of Education and Human Development, call 214-768-7587 or go to


Southern Methodist University is a private university in Dallas with more than 10,000 students and offering degree programs through seven schools. More information about SMU is available at