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Opening Convocation

Opening Convocation

Convocation Speaker

R. Gerald Turner

President of SMU


As president of SMU since 1995, R. Gerald Turner is leading an era of unprecedented progress as the University celebrates the centennial of its opening in 2015. Under his leadership, two major gift campaigns have provided funding for 731 new endowed scholarships, 120 academic program endowments and 30 capital projects. With new campaign gifts, the number of substantially endowed faculty positions has risen from 62 to 107 toward a goal of 110. At the start of the 2015 fall semester, SMU’s current Second Century Campaign is well on its way to reaching a goal of $1 billion. For an update, visit smu.edu/second century.

SMU’s progress in recent years includes a near tripling of applications, more than a 100-point increase in student SAT scores, an increase in minority enrollment to 25 percent and a more than doubling of the University endowment in the past 20 years, currently at $1.4 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, Gerald 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.