As president of SMU since 1995, R. Gerald Turner is leading an era of unprecedented progress, including a $1 billion major gifts campaign that surpassed its goal in September 2015, three months ahead of schedule. SMU is now among 34 private universities to conduct a campaign to raise $1 billion or more in resources. The campaign is providing support for 582 new student scholarships; 49 new endowed faculty positions, for a total of 111; 66 academic programs and initiatives; and 18 capital projects, among them new academic, student life and athletics facilities. This success has occurred at the same time that SMU is celebrating the centennial of its opening in 1915.
SMU’s progress in the last 20 years includes a near tripling of applications, more than a 165-point increase in student SAT average scores, an increase in minority enrollment to 25 percent and a more than doubling of the University endowment, currently at $1.5 billion. SMU consistently ranks in the top one-fourth of the best national universities as listed in U.S. News & World Report. Working with the SMU Board of Trustees, President Turner led efforts to attract the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which opened on the SMU campus in May 2013.
Beyond the campus, President Turner has served on the boards of the American Council on Education and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and he co-chairs the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. In Texas he serves on the boards of the Methodist Hospital Foundation, the Salvation Army of Dallas and two publicly traded companies.
Before joining SMU, President Turner was the chancellor of the University of Mississippi and served in administrative and teaching positions at the University of Oklahoma and Pepperdine University. A native of New Boston, Texas, he earned a B.S. degree in psychology from Abilene Christian University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in psychology from The University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife, Gail, have two married daughters and five grandchildren.