The Daily Update: Monday, April 25

April 25, 2011 by · Comments Off 

On today’s Daily Update you’ll catch the latest about the devastation brought on by the fires in central Texas, details on the recent murder in Plano and who Sir Elton John chose as his son’s god mother. All this and more on your Daily Update.

Multiple Changes Taking Place at Texas-Based J.C. Penney

March 16, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Mackenzie O’Hara
mohara@smu.edu

The 108 year-old retailer J.C. Penney Company is getting a facelift, but not just on the outside. In a February press release, the company called the new design, which puts emphasis on a new, lowercase “jcp” by positioning it slightly off-centered in a red box, the most meaningful update to the company’s logo in 40 years.

“The logo was designed to evoke a sense of movement and discovery as the letters appear to break out of the box, symbolizing an emergence into an exciting, new future,” the company said in the press release.

It is also making changes on the inside with the addition of William A. Ackman, founder and CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management LP, and Steven Roth, CEO of Vornado Realty, to its board of directors this February.

When asked why this change is taking place, Kate Coultas, corporate communications manager of J.C. Penney said, “Pershing Square and Vornado are among the Company’s largest shareholders and Mr. Ackman and Mr. Roth each have notable expertise in areas of relevance to J.C. Penney’s business.”

Still, Ackman is known as an activist investor who takes stakes in companies and then pushes for changes, and he seems to be getting his wish.

Along with the addition of Ackman and Roth to the board came the announcement that the Plano-based company will be shutting down six underperforming stores ending its catalogue business, and launching a $900 million share buyback program this month.

J.C. Penney has been wrestling with the effects of the recession for the last few years. Revenue peaked at $19.6 billion in 2006 and fell steadily to $17.6 billion in 2010. But revenue has ticked up two percent in the last year to $17.8 billion. Net income has also increased 55 percent from $251 million to $389 million in the past year.

Comparable store sales, or sales in stores open a year or more, is a critical measure of retailing performance. The quarter grew 4.5 percent over the last year which the company attributes to “the company’s merchandising initiatives, including the launch of exclusive brands such as Liz Claiborne, and the compelling value offered to customers through J.C. Penney’s private brands such as Worthington and St. John’s Bay,” in its February earnings press release.

While J.C. Penney has had improving performance over the past year, increasing prices in commodities such as cotton are expected to affect the company’s ability to maintain the low prices it offers its customers.

Mike Ullman, chairman and chief executive officer, addressed this issue in the company’s third-quarter earnings call saying it is something everybody in the industry is going to feel.

“I think our objective is to have a competitive advantage, particularly on key price points the customer would expect us to maintain. This can be done obviously through a change in mix, in terms of how to promote the business, but importantly how we manage the costing in Asia,” said Ullman.

Big D Blog: Plano Church Turns Green for Earth Day

April 29, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Posted By Madeline Olds

Like many, Plano’s Christ United Methodist Church has remodeled their sanctuary to fit a 54,000 square foot green and environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

But, like no other in Texas, they are striving to be the very first church in Texas with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which is the official designation for environmentally friendly buildings.

“We think it’s important to be good stewards of all the resources God has given us,” quotes the Rev. Don Underwood.

Low flow toilets, waterless urinals, and low-odor wall paints are just some of the updates the church has put into place. They also took on a fairly new concept that Whole Foods market uses widely– close and up-front parking spaces for environmentally friendly vehicles, including bicycles.

One of the pressing reasons for this update was the growth in attendance the church has experienced as of late– nearly 6,000 members today. In 2007, the decision was made final, and now it is nearly ready for a test drive.

Read more about the green changes of CUMC here.

Campus News Blog: SMU in Plano Hosting PMBA Info Session

April 22, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Bradley Nesbitt

The clock’s a tickin’ and you haven’t got a clue what you’re doing after school. The job you had in the bag is gone and burger-flipping at the Golden Arches doesn’t seem too bad for a post-grad plan. SMU has a better solution for your problem: go back to school and get your PMBA degree.

SMU-in-Legacy and the main Dallas campus are? hosting information sessions next week about their MBA programs. SMU’s Cox School of Business highly encourages potential applicants to attend.

This is not your typical fall-back degree either. Cox was rated as one of the top 10 business programs by Forbes and U.S. News & World Report.

SMU’s Plano campus will host information sessions on Tuesday, April 28, and Tuesday, May 26, at 6 p.m. in Building 4, room 122. If you can’t make it to either of those, SMU’s Dallas campus will have sessions on Wednesday, April 29, and Wednesday, May 27, at 6 p.m. in the Ernst and Young Gallery. Fill out an online RSVP form if you want to attend.

Campus News Blog: SMU in Plano Offers New Non-Credit Photo Class

April 7, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Bradley Nesbitt

SMU-in-Legacy is teaching students how to make memories last a lifetime. Well, at least the lifetime of your hard drive.

Although the Plano campus focuses on graduate courses, it also offers non-credit courses? such as photography, personal finance, and starting your own business through SMU’s Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE).

Family Memories, CAPE’s newest addition to the course offerings, teaches you how to take advantage of the latest digital technology to organize, edit, and preserve photographs. Besides, sifting through piles of photo albums is so 90s.

Before signing up, there are a few things you need to know. The class is B.Y.O.L. (bring your own laptop) and make sure it’s loaded with Photoshop CS4. It costs $89 and meets two Thursdays, April 23 and 30, from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

Sign up before spaces fill. Worried that you don’t need to spend the moolah? SMU’s 1-Day Websale, held the first Friday of each month, is offering $10 discounts on all CAPE classes when you register online.

Campus News Blog: SMU in Plano Gaming Team Competes for Top Prize at IGF

March 25, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Bradley Nesbitt

We know, we know. From the economy to the news, it seems that all you ever hear these days is doom and gloom. But in this case, Doom seems to have a pretty bright future ahead of it.

The Color of Doom, created by SMU in Plano’s graduate gaming team, is one of the top 10 game world finalists in the International Games Festival, and will be competing for the IGF’s Student Showcase’s top award, Best Student Game.

Team Overscope, creators of The Color of Doom, spent nearly five months creating the single player mod, 3D action-platformer game.

Doom won the first round at IGF Student Showcase. All 10 IGF finalist games are being showcased at the Game Developers Conference, March 23 to 27, in San Francisco. Best Student Game will be awarded on March 25, 2009.

For more information about The Guildhall and Team Doom, check out this website.

Campus News Blog: Gaming Info Session at The Guildhall

February 19, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Bradley Nesbitt

Just hearing the words “information session” makes me cringe with boredom. But don’t jump the gun just yet. The Guildhall at SMU-in-Legacy is hosting an open house where gaming fanatics can get a taste of the school’s video gaming program.

This is not your run-of-the-mill informational lecture. Attendees will listen to a lecture, then break off into focus groups, learning about the three areas The Guildhall students specialize in: software development, art creation or level design.

The open house is on Feb. 28 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Plano campus and is a must if you are considering attending The Guildhall. Financial aid options will be given at the end. There are only 100 spots, so make sure you sign up ASAP.

To reserve your place, visit The Guildhall’s website or check out this Web page for more information. The Guildhall open house is located at 5232 Tennyson Parkway, Building 2, in Plano.