The Daily Update: Thursday, April 29

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The Daily Update: Tuesday, April 27

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UPDATED: SMU Football Coach June Jones: Success in Football Benefits Everyone

April 20, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

By Brooks L. Powell

UPDATE: Brad Sutton, SMU Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations, clarified Jones’ statement regarding the number of viewers for the Dec. 24 Hawai’i Bowl Game. Jones told the SMU Student Senate 540 million people watched the game. Sutton explained via e-mail that an outside media survey calculated that “504 million people were exposed to the SMU brand by SMU’s berth in the bowl.” That figure represents the number of viewers or readers for news stories and articles leading up to and following the game. SMU Daily Mustang obtained a copy of the report, prepared by Cision Public Relations based in Chicago. The precise number of hits was 503,955,166. The PR firm also calculated that the value of the media exposure from the bowl berth exceeded $30 million.

When asked about Jones misstating the viewership figures, Sutton said by phone that Jones simply misspoke, adding that there was nothing “nefarious” about the error. Sutton said he had prepared and disseminated a sheet of statistics following the game and that Jones likely skimmed it and misstated what he had read. Sutton emphasized that the error was unintentional.

Brittany Mee, SMU’s account representative with Cision Public Relations, said via telephone that the firm calculates media exposure based on a number of factors. The number of readers for print media is determined based on the audited circulation figures for each publication. Viewers for broadcast stories are calculated based on the Nielsen net rating. And unique visitors for each Web article are counted to affix a value for Internet exposure. Cision PR does not track unique visitors from publication to publication, site to site, or channel to channel, Mee said. In other words, viewers were counted more than once if they read multiple articles from multiple sources, or watched more than one broadcast story.

The $30 million figure for publicity value is calculated using the three metrics above and Cision’s proprietary value for advertising cost. The number that results is the amount an advertiser would have paid for the coverage in each medium. Mee said Web and broadcast values are difficult to determine in many cases, so Cision uses values it has determined in-house. Print value is based on a per-publication basis.

The National Football Foundation calculated 32,650 people attended the game in Honolulu, while 1,951,227 tuned in to watch the broadcast.

Hear coach Jones address the SMU Student Senate at their Tuesday, April 20 meeting.

SMU football coach June Jones told the SMU Student Senate a winning football program is a major benefit to the university as a whole. And he said he has proof.

“I think a lot of times, people forget what a successful football team or athletic department … does for everybody,” Jones said.

To substantiate his claim, Jones offered Senators a number of statistics Tuesday afternoon. SMU Daily Mustang has not been able to independently confirm that the figures are accurate.

According to Jones, an independent media research firm calculated that 540 million people tuned in to watch the Mustangs’ victory at the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl on Dec. 24, 2009.

Jones said the football team’s impressive performance had an immediate impact on prospective students. From the date of the game through Jan. 9, 2010, Jones said admission applications to SMU surged 35 percent.

Responding to recent reports about the SMU athletics department’s growing budget deficits, Jones said winning, and therefore recruiting more students to attend SMU, will help stem fiscal hemorrhaging.

“[Winning] allows us to reach and make more revenue at the school,” Jones said. “This school has been operating in a big deficit obviously for a number of years, and so we’re on the verge of breaking through that, which is really really exciting.”

Jones said SMU also saw gains on the digital front. Hits on SMU’s homepage since Dec. 24, have increased 35 to 40 percent, Jones said. He boasted that on Dec. 24, the number of hits at numbered 87,000, easily eclipsing the 77,000 Web site hits on the date of the announcement that the Bush Library and Institute would make its home on the Hilltop.

While the players gear up for the fall, Jones said the athletic department is ramping up some new traditions. The two mustangs presented to SMU by philanthropist Madeleine Pickens, wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, will be christened with new names in an upcoming ceremony. Details are forthcoming. In addition, last season, players and students marched with the live mustang mascots in the “Mustang Walk” from Moody Coliseum to Ford Stadium. Jones encouraged all students to join in starting at the first home game Sept. 11, against the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Regarding next season, Jones said he’s particularly optimistic.

“We’re excited about where we’re headed,” Jones said. “We think we’re going to continue right on up the ladder—we envision a conference championship and that’s what we’re playing for.”

“It certainly will be a lot of fun to be an SMU Mustang the next four to five years,” Jones said.

The Daily Update: Wednesday, April 14

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Opinion Blog: Bush Institute Should Start Acting Like a Good Neighbor

April 13, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Brooks Powell

The George W. Bush Presidential Center won’t be complete until 2012. But already SMU students feel like they’re getting the shaft.

All accounts leading up to the announcement that the library and institute would be built at SMU said it would be open and available to everyone. Now, officials with the Institute are backtracking on that claim, specifically for conferences and events. SMU students wishing to attend are out of luck unless they’re willing to chip in a few grand to secure a spot on the invitation list.

James K. Glassman, the 63 year-old executive director of the George W. Bush Institute, told SMU’s Student Senate in March about his vision for the think-tank and how it will relate to the greater SMU community. He enticed those present with details of upcoming conferences held on the SMU campus and around Dallas, many including national and international figures addressing a range of topics.

At the meeting, Glassman introduced Oscar Morales, a Colombian journalist and Bush Institute Fellow. Morales will lead a conference on April 19 on “cyber-dissidents” and political change, highlighting the role of online tools and social media in promoting democracy around the world.

What students listening to Glassman’s rhetoric didn’t know was that he was setting them up for a cruel “gotcha.”

With some prodding, Glassman admitted Bush Institute conferences will be largely invitation-only, adding that “some” SMU students will be allowed to attend. The majority of attendees will be dignitaries, donors and special guests of the Institute.

In other words, unless a student’s bank ledger has a hefty entry labeled “George W. Bush Institute,” he or she shouldn’t count on a spot at one of these conferences. Note that Glassman is also in charge of raising money for the Institute.

Brushing off SMU students is unacceptable given the sacrifices the community has made to welcome the Bush Presidential Library and Institute to campus.

Students and faculty moved out of convenient on-campus housing, which was bulldozed to clear a site for the Bush Center. The University also paid untold sums to holdouts in the University Gardens development to clear more land. With tuition increasing by at least 5 percent each year, all that settlement money could have been used to keep tuition costs down if SMU hadn’t engaged in the quest for the Bush Library in the first place.

But hindsight is 20/20 and the Bush Center will indeed be a fixture at SMU.

Glassman joked to the Student Senate about the Bushes having a 300 year lease on the library building that will be built at the southeastern end of campus.

In the interest of getting this long-term relationship off on the right foot, an about-face is needed, and quickly. With two years until the Bush complex is scheduled to open, there is plenty of time for Glassman and his colleagues to work out how to accommodate more SMU students at the Institute’s conferences and events.

For years, SMU has been a celebrated destination in the southwestern United States for some of the greatest minds from around the world. Clearly, SMU recognizes the value imparted to inquisitive minds by listening to experts, and opportunities for such exposure abound. Just not at the Bush Institute, or at least not yet.

Speaking in his capacity as fundraiser-in-chief, Glassman said donations are on-track for the Bush Center. If that’s so, what harm will opening up a few seats do to the campaign’s momentum? Donors conversing with some exceptionally bright students might get them to donate more money.

If space is a concern, Glassman needn’t look far for a suitably-sized location to host more than just his exclusive audience. SMU has a number of large venues that were designed specifically to hold audiences for presentations and lectures, including several that are brand new.

There truly aren’t any excuses that Glassman and his ilk can defend. Money and space are the only limiting factors, and those are easily resolved. It’s time to open the doors and let students in.

This is a crucial period for the future relationship between SMU and the Bush Center. Hopefully, leaders in the Bush entourage will see the value of including students in the life of the library and institute. Otherwise, one begins to wonder why they chose to affiliate with a university in the first place.

The Daily Update: Monday, April 5

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Update: Green Was Taking Prescription Medication

March 23, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Brooks L. Powell

The family of SMU sophomore Joseph Hunter Green said he was taking prescription medication when he was found dead in his dorm room in January. He sustained a “painful injury” while on the SMU-in-Taos campus in December and was under treatment for it, said his sister Brooke Baker, an SMU alumna, in an emailed statement.

Baker did not say what type of injury Green suffered or how severe it was, but noted Green had not taken any such medication before December.

The combination of alcohol and prescription drugs in his system led to Green’s death, said a spokeswoman for the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office as reported Sunday night.

Baker said her family approved a statement that was to be released by SMU Monday, but said SMU failed to mention that Green was taking prescription medication related to his injury at the time of his death. SMU officials were not immediately able to comment on why those details were omitted from the release.

SMU’s statement read in part: “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family and loved ones of Joseph Hunter Green. … SMU continues its efforts to educate students about the risks of consuming alcohol while taking medication.”

Baker added in an email that her family is still struggling to cope with the loss.

“Our hearts break everyday (sic) we are without Hunter,” she said. “We only want to honor his memory.”

Green was found unresponsive in his room at the SMU House at 3004 SMU Blvd. on Friday, Jan. 22. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Dallas County Medical Examiner at 12:36 that afternoon.

Medical Examiner Rules Student’s Death an Accident

March 22, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

By Brooks L. Powell

The January death of SMU sophomore Joseph Hunter Green, 21, has been ruled an accident, a spokeswoman for the Dallas County Medical Examiner confirmed Sunday night.

The manner and cause of Green’s death was determined to be “mixed drug and alcohol intoxication,” said the spokeswoman, who asked not to be named. Green’s family was notified earlier this week when the results came back. They have not yet issued a statement.

The Medical Examiner’s office would not release the full list of substances found in Green’s body over the phone. A copy of the full autopsy report has been ordered and should be available mid-week.

Green was found unresponsive in his room at the SMU House at 3004 SMU Blvd. on Friday, Jan. 22. A 911 call to the University Park Police Department revealed an unnamed caller thought Green might have committed suicide. The caller said he received a “suspicious” email that morning which prompted him to go to the SMU House to check on Green.

Green was pronounced dead at the scene by the Dallas County Medical Examiner at 12:36 that afternoon. A statement issued by SMU immediately following news of Green’s death said the SMU Police Department and the Texas Rangers, the law enforcement agencies charged with investigating the case, did not suspect “foul play.”

In the fall of 2009, Green transferred to SMU from the University of Central Florida. He attended SMU’s campus in Taos, N.M. with a small group of students taking part in the program’s inaugural fall class. Green had only been on SMU’s main campus in Dallas for a few days before he died. University spokesman Kent Best said at the time of Green’s death that Green was not affiliated with a Greek organization.

The Daily Update: Thursday, March 4

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Hutchison, Perry and White Address Issues Important to College Students

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By Brooks Powell

The bid for Texas governor jumps into a new gear Tuesday as Texas voters head to the polls for the 2010 gubernatorial primary. This election is significant because many college students will cast ballots for the first time in a state-wide election for governor. (Rick Perry has served as the state’s chief executive since 2000 when he took over for George W. Bush.)

Candidates of all stripes have criss-crossed the state for months garnering votes and attention. Some of their trips have included stops on the Hilltop.

Students saw Libertarian gubernatorial candidates duke it out at their only Dallas debate in February.

Kay Bailey Hutchison spoke with Daily Mustang editor Sarah Acosta last semester and Governor Rick Perry visited SMU, both to talk about what they will do for college students.

Students also heard from Bill White, former Houston mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

White sat down for an on-camera interview to address issues important to college students. Click on the video below to watch Bill White and SMU-TV reporter Brooks Powell in an excerpt from the Tuesday, Feb. 16 edition of The Daily Update.

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