The Women's Symposium was created in 1966 as a part of the University's Fiftieth Anniversary celebration by the late Emmie V. Baine, Dean of Women at SMU from 1962 to 1988. The Symposium is the longest continuously running program of its nature in the country and one of SMU's oldest and most distinguished traditions.
The Symposium was designed as a unique educational experience for SMU students. Students begin the year-long planning process for the Symposium each Spring. Working with SMU staff and faculty, the students define the topic and workshop content and then use the next semester and half to implement the design. After extensive training, students are paired with faculty members and community representatives to facilitate workshops and discussion sessions.
The annual forum brings together women and men of differing ages and multicultural backgrounds to examine and discuss topics of national interest. The Symposium is a product of a year's work by joint committees of students, faculty, and community leaders. The program features nationally recognized speakers as well as topical seminars and workshops conducted by students, community leaders, and SMU faculty and staff.
Within the historical formation of the Symposium lie several goals or assumptions of need. The Symposium's founders recognized:
The primary goals of the program are:
1. To encourage women to assume roles of social and political
leadership within their communities;
2. To provide a forum in which women and men may examine
the societal impact of the changing roles of women; and
3. To provide an opportunity for female and male students to
develop leadership skills within a multigenerational,
Since 1966, over one hundred speakers have been brought to the campus by the Symposium, including:
Approximately 500 community leaders, college students, and high school students register for the Symposium. One-third of the registrants are SMU students, with the remainder representing professional and volunteer community leaders, secondary school students, and faculty and students from other colleges and universities.
For the greater Dallas community, the Symposium is a vital event and, in fact, promoted the establishment of special programs for women on other university and college campuses.