The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Statues honor SMU alumnus

Sculptures featured in Blanton building

Approximately 50 SMU students, faculty and staff membersattended the dedication of two sculptures in memory of SMU alumnusFrancisco Villigrán Molina yesterday on the second floor ofthe Laura Lee Blanton administration building.

“We will remember his indomitable spirit and his joy oflife,” Michael Clarke, director of international studies atSMU, said at the opening of the presentation.

Molina was an international student from Guatemala and amanagement science and economics major.

He graduated last year and was accepted into the Master’sOperations Management program. He died on Jan. 16, 2004 after along battle with cancer, which left him virtually blind.

Geoffrey Orsak, dean of the School of Engineering, presented thetwo sculptures “E Pluribus Unum” and “Circles ofHumanity” made by board of trustees member, doctor ofoncology and 1942 SMU alumnus Dr. John DeVore.

“I feel privileged as one who could give some sculpturesto honor Francisco,” DeVore told the crowd.

Molina’s parents were also present at the dedication.

“We learned to move through suffering rather than avoidit,” Olga Lucrecia Molina Castillo said as she spoke of herson’s bout with cancer.

She said he once told her, “This cancer experience is justan interruption in [his] life because God had somethinggreater.” According to Castillo, the sculptures representedwhat her son stood for.

“Francisco didn’t have an easy life,” hisfather, Ambassador José Francisco Villagrán de Leon,said. He told how Molina wanted to go to a “good university,a real university.” He chose SMU.

“I admire his integrity, courage, kind heart and hisfaith,” his father said.

School of Engineering Senator Rafael Alvarez presented aresolution on behalf of the Student Senate for a testing center forstudents with disabilities. He emphasized that many policies aredifficult for everyone in Senate to agree on, but the resolutionreceived a unanimous vote.

“We honor Francisco’s life, spirit and legacy atSMU,” Alvarez said.

Rie Watts, business line manager for the master’sexecutive program in the School of Engineering, was a close friendof Molina’s.

She told of a time when she had a brochure in her office about a3 1/2 year project that many had overlooked in the past.

Molina came in one day and looked at the brochure.

“With his impaired vision, he looked at the brochure andsaid, ‘Wow, you’ve outdone Cox now!'” Wattsexplained.

She reiterated the praise that many others had of Molina’sintelligence and faith.

Through the radiation, chemotherapy and experimentalmedications, she said Molina would return to his studies as ifnothing happened.

“I wish everyone could’ve met him,” shesaid.

Mary Alys Lillard was Molina’s academic advisor for theschool of engineering. “The thing I remember most is healways had a smile on his face,” she said.

The remembrance is far from over. Watts said a memorial concertis planned for 2005 in Guatemala in Molina’s honor.

She said they hope to raise enough money to send anotherGuatemalan student to SMU. Ultimately, they hope to endow a chairfor a professor with disabilities.

A few tears escaped from several audience members as a stringtrio from the Meadows School of the Arts closed the dedication with”What a Wonderful World.” It was a song, Clarke said,that Molina would have chosen had he been in attendance.

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