Dallas & SMU: The Power of Partnership (2012)

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SMU Today: A Significant Economic Enterprise

As a comprehensive national university, SMU is also a business enterprise with significant economic impact on DFW.

Annual Spending Impact in DFW

Operations (Local)
$486 million
Scholarships and Need-based Aid $123 million
Capital Projects $110 million
Total $719 million
Student/Visitor Spending $142 million
Total Impact of SMU Local Spending Plus Student/Visitor Spending $861 million
Impact of Annual Spending by SMU Graduates $6.2 billion
Total SMU Combined Annual Spending Impact $7 billion


  • Endowment: SMU's endowment has more than doubled since 1995. It surpassed the $1 billion mark in 1995 and was valued at $1.2 billion as of February 2012. The endowment ranks 61 in the United States among colleges and universities.
  • Buildings and real estate: SMU owns buildings and facilities valued at $1.1 billion (estimated replacement cost). In addition, the University owns land in University Park, Highland Park, Dallas, Plano and Taos, New Mexico, valued at $666 million (estimated market value).
  • Other holdings: Facility contents owned by the University, including equipment, art, special collections, furniture and other items, are valued at $566 million. The value of other assets, such as cash, accounts receivable, pledges receivable and miscellaneous other categories, total approximately $500 million.
  • Total assets: $4 billion.

Total Economic Impact

The regional economic impact of local spending by SMU combined with spending by SMU alumni living in the DFW region totals more than $7 billion.

SMU Construction

Construction of facilities such as Caruth Hall, one of three new buildings for engineering, injects millions of dollars into the local economy.

Impact of SMU Annual Expenditures

The impact of SMU spending totaled approximately $861 million in fiscal year 2011, about $300 million more than the estimated economic impact of hosting a Super Bowl.

SMU's spending is broken into three categories: 1) operations; 2) scholarships and financial aid; and 3) capital projects. SMU has a further recurring impact in the form of spending by students and visitors drawn to DFW because of the University.

Impact of Local Spending for Operations

Annual Spending: Two Types

  1. Salaries, wages and benefits paid to University faculty and staff: $243 million. This expenditure supported more than 2,200 full-time jobs.
  2. Annual local general and administrative expenditures and local vendor contracting to support the functioning of the University: $137 million. This expenditure included purchases of materials and supplies, non-capital furnishings, utilities, professional services and other expenses.
    FY 2011 total regional operations spending: $381 million.

Annual Spending: Impact

The economic impact of SMU's regional operations spending for FY 2011 was approximately $486 million.

SMU Construction

The Collins Executive Education Center in Cox School of Business was built specifically to serve area professionals with courses and other programs.

SMU Spending: 10-Year Impact

  • For fiscal years 2002 through 2011, SMU's local expenditures for operations exceeded $3.2 billion in inflation-adjusted 2010 dollars. Economic impact totaled an estimated $6.9 billion.
  • SMU's expenditures supported 63,442 person years of employment over the 10-year period, supporting an average of about 6,300 jobs a year. (This includes both direct support for jobs at SMU plus indirect support for additional jobs in the community.) The jobs paid a total of more than $2.6 billion in salaries, wages and benefits.
  • Property income increased during the period by $914 million.
  • Even though SMU is a tax-exempt organization, University operations generate substantial revenue for local and state governments. Total tax revenues were approximately $236.7 million.

Impact of SMU Spending: Scholarships/Financial Aid

SMU spends approximately $123 million annually on financial aid and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students.

The University raises significant contributions for scholarships and also acts as a conduit for federal and state spending on financial aid and scholarships.

Impact of SMU Spending: Capital Projects

SMU Construction

SMU has built or renovated more than 40 facilities since 1995, contributing to the University's economic impact on the region.

The 20-year period from 1995, when the University adopted the Centennial Strategic Plan, through 2015, the centennial of SMU's opening, constitutes a period of unprecedented campus construction.

  • Over two decades, the University's capital program will include approximately $1.2 billion in local spending for facility construction, renovation and furnishings and equipment.
  • From 1995 through spring 2012, SMU has added or renovated more than 40 buildings and other facilities, acquired additional real estate, modernized infrastructure and undertaken numerous other campus projects at a total cost of approximately $833 million.
  • New or ongoing projects scheduled through 2015 will result in additional spending of $331 million, for a total capital expenditure of approximately $1.2 billion over the 20-year span.
  • The total regional economic impact of that expenditure is approximately $2.2 billion, or an average of $110 million annually.
  • SMU capital spending will have supported more than 13,700 person years of employment paying $759 million in salaries, wages and benefits. In addition, property income in the form of rents, royalties, dividends and corporate profits in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will have been boosted by $226 million.
  • The economic activity generated by SMU's capital spending also will have generated an additional $61 million in state and local taxes.

Impact of Spending: Students and Visitors

SMU Construction

SMU student and visitor spending contributes to the University's economic impact on DFW.

SMU also boosts its value by attracting visitors to the region. SMU generates spending by students who choose to come to SMU from outside the region and non-local visitors to campus drawn by meetings, performances, exhibits and events such as Homecoming, reunions and graduation ceremonies. These visitors stay at hotels, frequent restaurants and generally bring new spending to the region.

  • Based upon surveys of college students and visitor spending, it is estimated that non-local SMU students and campus visitors bring more than $140 million in new annual spending to the region, creating a total economic impact of almost $156 million each year.
  • This spending supports more than 1,100 permanent jobs paying more than $47 million in salaries, wages and benefits annually. Property income is increased by $37 million, and an additional $17.8 million is generated annually in sales taxes, hotel occupancy property taxes and fees.

Impact of Spending by SMU Graduates

About 40,000 SMU graduates live and work in the DFW metropolitan region. Not only do their skills help make North Texas a desirable place to live and work, their recurring spending has significant impacts on total economic activity in the region.

  • Using an estimated median income of $150,000 for SMU graduates living in North Texas, it is possible to calculate that spending by SMU graduates generates about $6.18 billion in local
    economic activity. This spending supports more than 46,000 jobs across the region while generating about $362 million and state and local tax revenue.

Combined Annual Impact of SMU and Alumni Spending

SMU Construction

SMU events such as reunions, family weekends and home football games attract out-of-town visitors to Dallas and stimulate spending.

The combined economic impact of SMU's annual spending for operations, scholarships and capital projects, added to the total impact of spending by visitors, totals approximately $861 million.

Adding the economic impact of spending by SMU's graduates to University spending yields a total annual impact of approximately $7 billion.

These expenditures directly and indirectly support approximately 45,000 permanent jobs that pay about $2 billion in salaries, wages and benefits.

This economic activity boosts property income by about $1.3 billion. And though the University is tax-exempt, business activities and spending associated with SMU are responsible for more than $39 million in annual revenues for state and local taxing jurisdictions.

Combined with taxes generated by SMU graduates, the total fiscal impact of the University is almost $401 million annually.

New and Renovated Facilities

In the past several years SMU has built or renovated more than 40 campus facilities, including many used by members of the DFW community. A partial list of new and future facilities includes:


  • Laura Lee Blanton Student Services Building
  • Caruth Hall (engineering)
  • James M. Collins Executive Education Center
  • Crum Basketball Center
  • Data Center*
  • Dedman Life Sciences Building
  • J. Lindsay Embrey Engineering Building
  • Gerald J. Ford Stadium
  • Jerry Junkins Engineering Building
  • Paul B. Loyd, Jr. All-Sports Center
  • Meadows Museum
  • Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall
  • Residential Commons Complex
  • Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall
  • Tennis Complex*


  • Fondren Library Center*
  • McFarlin Auditorium
  • Moody Coliseum*
  • Mustang Band Hall*
  • Perkins Chapel
  • Perkins School of Theology Quadrangle
  • Residence Halls*
  • Dr. Bob Smith Health Center*

* In progress or planned

Calculating Economic Impact

The economic impact estimates in this report were calculated by Bernard L. Weinstein, Ph.D., and Terry L. Clower, Ph.D. Weinstein is adjunct professor of Business Economics and associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute, both at SMU's Cox School of Business. From 1989 to 2009 he served as director of the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas.

Clower is the current director of the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas. He has served as associate director, project manager, staff researcher and statistical analyst on numerous projects reflecting experience in labor relations, economic and community development, public utility issues, transportation and economic impact analyses.

Explaining the Multiplier Effect

The economic impact estimates provided in this report were calculated based on the IMPLAN economic input/output model developed by the Minnesota IMPLAN Group (MIG, Inc.), a leading provider of economic planning services whose clients include the Federal Reserve and Stanford University.

Input-output models track how spending flows through a regional, state or national economy, thereby creating additional economic impact sometimes referred to as "the multiplier effect." For example, departments within SMU purchase office supplies from local vendors. These vendors, in turn, hire employees, purchase shopping bags, use inventory-counting services and engage other professional service providers such as accountants. The impact totals in this report refer, therefore, to the combination of direct spending plus the multiplier effect. (The total reported for SMU spending on scholarships represents the actual expenditure, since the economic impact of out-of-town student spending is calculated as part of student/visitor spending.)

Importantly, the impacts in this report account for the effects of spending by the University as well as its employees and its vendors spending a portion of their earnings for goods and services in the local economy. That is, each of these impacts is adjusted to account only for purchases from local entities. For example, some specialty lab equipment is available only from out-of-area vendors. These purchases thus have little effect on the local economy, and the value of their impact is adjusted accordingly.

In this section of the report, the terms "economic impact" and "impact" are used interchangeably.


Calculating Fiscal Impact

While recognizing that SMU is a tax-exempt institution, this report includes estimates of the tax revenue generated by SMU spending. University expenditures generate tax revenue for local and state governments in the form of sales and use taxes, property taxes and government revenue from permit fees and licenses. Tax revenue totals also include estimates of the value of consumption taxes from spending by employees of the University and its vendors and suppliers.