Letter from the President
Looking back on the past year, I am struck by the contrast between the extraordinary generosity and accomplishment in the fall and the extraordinary difficulties the pandemic brought us this spring. The commitment, character and grace – all hallmarks of SMU – that made the fall historic are also what sustained us through the spring and will keep us moving forward.
The year began with two landmark gifts – one to the Cox School of Business and the other to create the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies. Both made SMU history. These commitments promise to strengthen the academic landscape of SMU for generations to come. Other gifts fueled research, education and community impact that are more important than ever. As you will read in these pages, Mustangs continue to make the world a better place.
We are also in the midst of a pandemic. Yet, despite COVID-19 and its effects, SMU stands strong in numbers, percentages and statistics. We are weathering the pandemic better than many universities in large part because of our strong Mustang community and because of you, our loyal supporters. When the city ordered a shelter-in-place this spring, we transitioned our students from in-person courses to virtual learning. When we decided to provide in-person instuction during July term, we formulated a plan with guidance from scientists and our local government and successfully welcomed Mustangs to the Hilltop. When Commencement had to be canceled in May due to COVID-19, SMU did what we do best – we developed a creative solution and invited May 2020 graduates back to campus in August for a safe outdoor ceremony. The next week, we were thrilled to welcome almost 1,100 of our graduating students back – in person and virtually – for fall term.
This year also provided opportunities for SMU to address important societal issues on the Hilltop. SMU’s Black student organizations, alumni board, staff and faculty came together as the Black Unity Forum to raise concerns and offer an action plan for ways the University can address equality, diversity and inclusion on campus. We will continue to listen as we build and execute this action plan that addresses the unique needs of SMU’s Black community.
We have work to do, but Mustangs never shy away from a challenge.
I am continually inspired by our community. Whatever changes come, we are ready to greet them with ingenuity and forward-thinking.
R. Gerald Turner