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About the Series

SMU Tate Lecture Series

About the Series

For 100 years, SMU has shaped minds, explored frontiers of knowledge and nurtured intellectual entrepreneurship. Now in its 33rd season, SMU’s Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series contributes to this mission by bringing thought-provoking and entertaining icons to the SMU campus and Dallas community. Regarded as one of the country’s finest platforms for distinguished and engaging discussions, the Tate Lecture Series provides unique opportunities for student interaction, faculty discourse and community debate with world changers.

Willis M. Tate

SMU President 1954-1972, 1974-1976

Willis M. Tate's tenure as president was remarkable not only for its record length but also for his vision for the University. As SMU's longest-serving president, Tate guided the University through turbulent times of protests and attacks on academic freedom.

As a student, faculty member, dean, and president, Tate's life was intertwined with SMU. Although born in Denver, Tate spent part of his childhood in Dallas. He graduated from high school in San Antonio, but as he said, it was inevitable that he eventually come to SMU. He majored in sociology, earning a Bachelor's degree in 1932 and a Master's in 1935. Following graduation, he returned to San Antonio, where he taught and served as principal at two schools. He later served in the Methodist church in Houston before returning to SMU as assistant dean of students and teacher of sociology. In May 1955, Willis Tate was inaugurated as the fifth president of SMU. In his inaugural address, he stated a basic principle of his faith: That a nation remains free only as universities are free in their quest for truth. In 1965, after being nominated by SMU faculty, Tate was awarded the Alexander Meiklejohn Award of the American Association of University Professors "for support of academic freedom."

Tate is well remembered for continually devoting his time to personally meet with students, his energetic efforts to represent SMU in the community, and his leadership, which helped establish SMU as a nationally recognized university.


President's ScholarsPresident's Scholars

Each year the Tate Lecture Series raises more than $800,000 for academic scholarships and student programs at SMU, including the President's Scholars Program. The next generation of academically gifted world changers receive full-tuition scholarships and opportunities to study abroad. Click here to learn more about the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series Endowed President’s Scholars Fund.



Student FoundationStudent Foundation

The Student Foundation mission is to provide quality traditional programming that will build community on the SMU campus, strengthen relationships with alumni and friends of the university, and foster student leadership. The Student Foundation provides ushers for all Tate Series Lectures, and a grant from the Tate Series helps support Student Foundation events such as Homecoming and Family Weekend.



Board of Directors

Chris Kleinert

Brad E. Cheves
Vice President for Development and External Affairs
Dana Wilcox Ayres
Executive Director
Marjorie A. Adams
Mary Anne Alhadeff
Charlotte Jones Anderson
Anita Ray Arnold
Ralph W. Babb, Jr.
Meredith Bebee
Randy Best
Yasmin Bhatia
Peter S. Brodsky
Mary Frances Burleson
J.H. Cullum Clark
Lee Cullum
Steven M. Edwards
Kelli O. Ford
Hilda C. Galvan
Kathleen Gibson
Linda W. Hart
Milledge A. (Mitch) Hart, III
Carlos M. Hernandez
Hattie Hill
Forrest E. Hoglund
Stephanie Hunt
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Willis Johnson
Sharon Lyle
Barbara Lynn
Nancy Cain Marcus
Harriet Miers
Volkan Otugen
Nancy Perot
Greg Rohan
Daniel Routman
Robert B. Rowling
Bob Shapard
Alex Silhanek
Michael J. Sorrell
Ronald E. Spears
Sabine Gaedeke Stener
Stephen Swann
Marian C. Tate
Carter Tolleson
Kim Wargo
Keven Ann Willey
Kathleen J. Wu
Trea Yip