As president of SMU since 1995, R. Gerald Turner is leading an era of unprecedented progress. His tenure has included two historic major gift campaigns that raised more than $1.6 billion for student scholarships, endowed faculty positions, academic programs and capital projects, including new academic, student life and athletics facilities. To continue its rise in impact and quality, SMU is engaged in a three-year drive, Pony Power: Strengthening the Stampede, to provide annual gifts that support today’s students, faculty and academic programs.
Fueled by these investments, SMU’s progress has included increases in average admission test scores, a near tripling of student applications, an increase in minority enrollment to 27 percent and a more than tripling of the endowment. The University continues to advance as a leading center of teaching and research that creates new knowledge, addresses significant issues and prepares students to be world changers. SMU ranks in the top 20 percent of the best national universities by U.S. News & World Report and in the top 15 percent of universities worldwide by the Center for World University Rankings.
From its home in the global city of Dallas, SMU’s vibrant campus offers enrichment opportunities such as the Tate Lecture Series and the Meadows Museum to students and the wider community. President Turner led efforts with the Board of Trustees to attract the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which opened at SMU in 2013. SMU and the Bush Center partner through fellowships, public lectures, the new George W. Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative and additional collaborations that bring together students, faculty and global experts to tackle pressing challenges.
Beyond the campus, President Turner has served on the boards of the American Council on Education and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and he co-chaired the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for nearly 10 years. In Texas, he serves on the boards of the Methodist Health System Foundation, the Salvation Army of Dallas, the AT&T Performing Arts Center and two publicly traded companies.
Before joining SMU, President Turner was the chancellor of the University of Mississippi. He previously served in administrative positions at the University of Oklahoma and Pepperdine University. A native of New Boston, Texas, he earned an A.A. degree from Lubbock Christian University, a B.S. in psychology from Abilene Christian University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife, Gail, have two married daughters and five grandchildren.