April 29, 2014
DALLAS (SMU) — Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will be the featured speaker at SMU’s all-University commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 17, in the newly renovated Moody Coliseum. The ceremony, including Rawlings’ address, will be broadcast live at www.smu.edu/live.
“Mike Rawlings has a passion for improving the quality of life in Dallas,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He is using his platform as mayor to work for more livable neighborhoods, increased economic opportunity throughout the city and strong public education for Dallas children. We prepare our graduates to become world changers, and I can’t think of a better example for them than Mayor Rawlings.”
Elected mayor in June 2011, Rawlings immediately took on a broad agenda of citywide improvements. He has created new strategies for growing the arts through the Mayor’s Business Arts Initiative, has used his visibility as mayor to organize a campaign against domestic violence and has put Dallas in the spotlight by taking a leading role with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which will meet in Dallas, June 20-23, 2014.
With the launch of GrowSouth, Rawlings outlined a comprehensive strategy designed to boost the economic impact of southern Dallas. GrowSouth already has been a catalyst for new economic investment, job creation and public-private partnerships. In 2012, The Dallas Morning News praised Rawlings, saying, “After only six months, Rawlings has accomplished more for southern Dallas than many of his predecessors managed in their entire terms.”
Rawlings has adopted four DISD schools in southern Dallas in areas primed for growth and also is working closely with Commit!, an education collaborative for Dallas-area schools. SMU partners with Rawlings on the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club, which provides incentives to keep children reading over the summer months, as well as the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program, an eight-week, paid summer internship program for students from public and charter high schools in Dallas.
Rawlings came to Dallas in 1976 with a couple hundred dollars in his pocket and worked his way from an entry-level position to CEO of TracyLocke, then the largest advertising agency in the South. He later took the helm of the world’s largest pizza company, Pizza Hut, and grew it to record sales. Rawlings currently serves as vice chair of CIC Partners, where he provides business counsel and capital, helping to grow small and mid-sized businesses in Dallas and across the U.S.
Before being elected mayor, Rawlings served as the city’s Homeless Czar for five years, where he oversaw the construction and opening of The Bridge and worked to raise more than $12 million in private donations for the non-profit organization for the homeless. Rawlings was awarded the 2007 Innovation Award from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Dallas Historical Society's Award for Excellence in Humanities, and the Anti-Defamation League's Humanitarian of the Year for 2010.
“As SMU enhances its impact on the city, in particular through educational programs and research in West and South Dallas, we have appreciated the mayor’s leadership and partnership,” said Caren H. Prothro, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees. “He understands the impact of higher education on the vitality of a city, has participated in several SMU programs and is a great friend to the University.”
SMU expects to award more than 1,300 degrees at its University-wide Commencement ceremony on May 17, 2014. The University’s individual schools and departments will host diploma ceremonies throughout the day.
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