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Opening Convocation

Opening Convocation

Convocation Speaker

R. Gerald Turner, President


As president of SMU since 1995, R. Gerald Turner is leading an era of unprecedented progress, including a major gifts campaign that raised $1.15 billion, surpassing its goal three months ahead of schedule. SMU is now among 34 private universities to conduct a campaign to raise $1 billion or more in resources, and its donors have made substantial investments in new student scholarships, endowed faculty positions, academic programs and initiatives and capital projects. To continue building an ever-greater university and create a foundation for even more ambitious efforts in the decades to come, in June 2017 SMU launched Pony Power: Strengthening the Stampede, a three-year drive to increase annual giving for current use and enhance every part of the University.

SMU’s progress in the last 20 years includes a near tripling of student applications, more than a 165-point increase in average SAT scores, an increase in minority enrollment to 27 percent and a more than tripling of the University endowment. 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-chaired 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. 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.