Can Southern Methodist University ever be a great institution? Does Dallas really need it? Will the Mustangs ever win a football game again? Does UTD pose a threat to the private school?

These are a few of the questions we asked town and gown for the cover story in this issue. SMU is Dallas’ only long-time institution of higher learning, although a few “upstarts” like University of Dallas and the University of Texas at Dallas have come along in recent years.

We know, of course, that SMU is not the first choice of Dallas high school graduates. Many more go to University of Texas, at Austin or Arlington, or North Texas State University in Denton or to any of the fast-growing junior colleges in the Metroplex. Yet, SMU is Dallas in many ways. The business world and the legal profession have both relied on SMU for training and assistance over the years.

Charles Matthews, Senior Editor of D Magazine, seemed to us to be a natural to write the story. He was a member of the SMU faculty, in the English department, for seven years before joining D Magazine over a year ago. With his awareness of academic mentality, contacts and journalistic sense of what is important, Matthews fit the bill.

Matthews didn’t work alone though. Everyone at D Magazine contributed in some way to the complete story – especially Senior Editor John Merwin on financial matters, Associate Editor David Bauer on campus lifestyle and researcher Gail Garvie.

“I went into the story with one impression and found that SMU had changed radically, for the better, in a year,” Matthews says.

And the change at SMU is readily apparent. The school has just gone through a rough transition – two years of turmoil with Paul Hardin after two decades of peace with Willis Tate. And now, with James Zumberge as president, the school has a respected scholar and a businesslike, coldblooded president to replace the avuncular Tate and the boyish Hardin. Zumberge is giving it the old college try – finding a new direction in fundraising, in academic matters, in personnel and in the Dallas community.

“I picked up more gossip than I could use, and several people volunteered to be Hal Holbrook and meet me in the parking lot at midnight with more information,” Matthews says.

Many readers know Charles Matthews as editor of KEEPING UP, one of D’s most popular departments. But few readers know that he is a native of Oxford, Mississippi, and a 1962 graduate of Ole Miss. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Tubingen, Germany, and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Harvard, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. He taught at SMU from 1968 til 1975.

“I feel like I wound up where I was supposed to be in the first place,” Matthews says of his job at D Magazine. “I was misplaced in academia.”

But his academic English training has served him well. To be hired for his original job at D as a copy editor, Matthews pointed out the syntactical and grammatical errors in just one issue (including one on the publisher’s page). He was hired. Gradually, his duties increased to include not only copyediting, but reviewing and editing the KEEPING UP section, and writing features. This is his first cover story.

With the Dallas Cowboys starting another march for the Super Bowl, we chose Steve Perkins to decode the secret game plan of Tom Landry. Who is better suited? Perkins covered the Cowboys for the Times Herald for many years. He is one of Dallas’ best known sports writers – now writing books, magazine articles, and co-authoring the syndicated “Sports Hot Line” with Mickey Herskowitz. Perkins spent a week at the Cowboy training camp in Thousand Oaks, California, meeting the newcomers and renewing old friendships. Then he wrote the story of how Landry’s twists and turns have added a new dimension to the NFL play book.


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