July 15, 2009
Providing scholarships that allow top students to attend SMU is a key priority of The Second Century Campaign. A talented student body is a defining feature of a great university. The best students enrich the quality of the classroom experience, inspire their peers, challenge their professors and contribute to a university’s academic reputation. And they bring vitality and energy to every aspect of campus life.
For these reasons, maintaining the ability to award scholarships is important even during the best economic times. But providing scholarships is even more crucial during an economic downturn. We must ensure that financial concerns are not an impediment to students with the potential to learn, grow and make their own contributions to the SMU experience. While annual donations help meet the needs of many ongoing University programs, they are especially important in providing the scholarship support that helps make the high quality education offered by SMU accessible.
In this issue of Campaign Update, you will read comments from SMU donors discussing the importance of giving at this time. They represent many others who also have stepped forward to contribute recently, either through a first donation or by increasing the amount of their annual gift. Their commitment to the University sets an inspiring example and is also central to our ability to continue providing essential scholarship support.
SMU has proven that investment in scholarships strengthens our ability to attract top undergraduates from around the United States and internationally. The average SAT score has risen 97 points in the past 10 years while the number of applications has continued to increase. Scholarship programs established by individual schools – such as BBA Scholars in the Cox School of Business, Meadows Scholars in Meadows School of the Arts and Embrey Scholars in the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering – have had a particularly powerful effect on the schools’ ability to attract top students. We anticipate that the new Dedman College Scholars Program in Dedman College will yield similar results.
In the heat of the economic meltdown, we will not know until the semester starts in August who will actually join our student body. Your gift in support of scholarships at this time will directly affect our ability to recruit and retain students who might not otherwise be in a position to attend. We take great pride in the University’s growing reputation as a center for learning, teaching and research. With your support we will continue to draw the top students who are such an important part of SMU’s continuing rise among the nation’s premier universities.
R. Gerald Turner