President Turner’s 500-Mile Contract

Worried that SMU is just too close to home? Read about President Turner’s daughter, who had the same concern, and see how a simple, creative solution gave her the best of both worlds.

Want your own “500 Mile Contract?” Download and print it here.


SMU President R. Gerald Turner

From SMU President R. Gerald Turner:
When I became president of SMU, our younger daughter was just starting the college-search process. Her older sister had ventured 500 miles away from home to go to school, so the younger daughter wanted that same experience. She wanted a college just like SMU, but she thought she needed to leave home to find it.

Her mother and I truly believed that SMU would be a perfect fit for her. After many long conversations as a family and visits to other universities, she ultimately decided that her dream school was right here in Dallas, despite it also being where her father worked.

Since she still wanted the opportunity to experience going away to college, though, we developed the concept of a “500-mile contract.” As parents, we agreed to treat her as if she were indeed 500 miles from home – we weren’t allowed to just show up at her residence hall or make her come home for dinner.

The second half of the contract stated that she had to treat us as if we were indeed 500 miles away from her – she wouldn’t come home every week for her mother’s cooking, ditch the residence hall during finals or bring us her dirty laundry.

With that, SMU had its next Mustang. We did a great job of honoring the contract, and soon she found her niche on campus. Her mother and I became used to our empty nest, and we all had a great routine going. By November of her first year at SMU, the contract was no longer an issue, and she started dropping by the house occasionally.

My point here is that you don’t have to go far from home to experience a world of possibilities. Your SMU classmates will be from all 50 states and 60 different countries. Plus, when you decide you’re ready for an adventure, you can spend a semester or a year enhancing your academics and earning degree credits while studying abroad or taking courses at SMU’s campus in Taos, New Mexico.


Pony Up! 

R. Gerald Turner

R. Gerald Turner
SMU President