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John R. Dresser, a 1979 graduate of SMU, describes his student experience as "the light switching on."

"I had so many wonderful professors: Jim Hopkins, O.T. Hargrave, Hal Williams, Jim Early, Bonnie Wheeler, Jeremy Adams, David Weber. They opened up a whole new world to me," says Dresser, who launched his college career at the University of Michigan, but transferred to SMU as a sophomore business major.

Of all the SMU professors he admired, one in particular, the late historian Dennis Cordell, was not only a teacher and mentor but also a valued friend.

"Dennis was a new professor at the time and about six or seven of us, all transfer students, took one of his North African studies courses," Dresser recalls. "With his passion and knowledge of the subject, he made it click for us."

After earning a bachelor's degree in history from SMU, Dresser earned a law degree from the University of Tulsa. He later joined his family's law practice, Dresser, Dresser, Haas and Caywood, P.C., in Sturgis, Michigan.

In honor of Cordell, Dresser has contributed to the purchase of materials focusing on Middle Eastern history, one of the professor's areas of expertise, each year since his graduation.

"Donors like John are so important," says Gilliam M. McCombs, Dean and Director, Central University Libraries (CUL). "They support the heart of the program – our collections – without which there would be no library."

Through Dresser's steady support, the CUL collection will serve as a lasting legacy to Cordell, who died October 13, 2013, after battling cancer.

To learn more about honoring a favorite SMU professor with a gift to the libraries, contact Paulette Mulry ‘83, CUL Director of Development, at or 214-768-1741.