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First of three new endowed academic positions
named at SMU Simmons School of Education

Associate Dean Michael K. McLendon named the Annette and Harold Simmons Centennial Chair

December 20, 2013

DALLAS (SMU) — A noted higher education policy and leadership scholar is the first new Centennial Chair in SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development.  Michael K. McLendon, associate dean of SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, has been named the Annette and Harold Simmons Centennial Chair.

Michael K. McLendon
Michael K. McLendon

The Centennial Chair is the first of three academic positions made possible as part of a $25 million gift to the Simmons School from Mr. and Mrs. Simmons in February 2013.

The Annette and Harold Simmons Centennial Chair is to be based first in the area of education policy and leadership. Two endowed positions to be filled in 2014 are the Patsy and Ray Caldwell Centennial Chair, initially to be directed in the Simmons School’s Department of Teaching and Learning, and the Glenn Simmons Endowed Professorship, to be based first in the Department of Applied Physiology and Wellness.

The recipient of numerous teaching and mentoring awards, McLendon teaches graduate courses on public policy and education, university governance and finance, leadership and American public policy.

In 2013 McLendon received national recognition for his research contributing to public debates about K-12 and higher education. He has been a principal investigator or lead consultant on national studies funded by the Lumina Foundation, National Science Foundation and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

McLendon’s widely published research centers primarily on factors influencing policy change at both the state and campus levels, with a particular focus on how political behavior shapes states’ policy choices. He also has studied the effects of campus and state policies on college student success.

“Through his superb scholarship and dedication to the higher education field, Michael will integrate research-based solutions with practice and policy, and make a mark on the way colleges and universities evolve,” said David Chard, Leon Simmons dean of Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. “The Simmons School is enormously privileged to have him fill the school’s first Centennial chair. His caliber of scholarship and teaching immediately elevates us in important state and national policy conversations.”

“I’m deeply honored to hold the Simmons School’s first endowed Centennial Chair,” McLendon said. “My aim is to help position the Simmons School and SMU as research leaders around matters of education policy and policy reform and as conveners of important conversations nationally on the future of higher education.”

McLendon joined SMU in 2012 after serving as a professor of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, where he was executive associate dean and chief of staff from 2008 to 2011. He holds a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Michigan, an M.S. in higher education from Florida State University and a B.A. in political science from Baylor University. Before his doctoral studies, the Texas native served as a policy analyst in the Florida House of Representatives and as a staff member in the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the creation of these three academic positions, the Simmons’ recent financial commitment also will fund a new building for the expanding programs of the school. The new facility will be named Harold Clark Simmons Hall, in honor of Mr. Simmons, at the request of Mrs. Simmons, a 1957 SMU alumna.

“Since our first gift to the school in 2007, we have been pleased to see the rapid progress SMU has made in developing programs aimed at addressing the greatest challenges in our nation’s schools,” Harold Simmons said in February. “Our investment has resulted in the formation of innovative programs for education and human development, the hiring of outstanding faculty leading research that makes a difference, and growing outreach to communities with solutions that work. This progress is worthy of continued investment, which we are pleased to lead.”

Mr. and Mrs. Simmons’ combined gifts of $45 million to SMU’s Second Century Campaign make them among the most generous donors in SMU’s 100-year history. Previous gifts include the endowment of four President’s Scholars and the creation of the Simmons Distinguished Professorship in Marketing in the Cox School of Business.

SMU’s Second Century Campaign coincides with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.

After surpassing an original financial goal of $750 million, the SMU Board of Trustees voted in September to raise the Campaign goal to $1 billion to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. SMU announced in October that it had raised $800 million two years ahead of the Campaign’s end date, Dec. 31, 2015.


The Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU reflects the University’s vision of serving the most important educational needs of our city, region and nation, graduating students for successful careers in a variety of fields and providing educational opportunities beyond traditional degree programs. The school is committed to rigorous, research-driven programs that promote evidence-based, effective practices in education and human development.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

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