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SMU mourns loss of donor and leader Charles Wyly

Charles Wyly
Charles Wyly

August 9, 2011

DALLAS (SMU) --The SMU community mourns the loss of Dallas leader and philanthropist Charles Wyly, who died in a car accident Sunday, August 7, in Colorado.

Mr. Wyly served on the Executive Board of SMU’s Cox School of Business since 1998. He also was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

His gifts to SMU exceeded $3 million, including $1 million to establish the Charles Wyly Professor of Management Information Sciences Endowment at the Cox School. In addition to serving on the Cox School’s Executive Board, Mr. Wyly was a member of the Cox School’s campaign committee from 1996 to 2002. He provided the Cox School with software and services totaling $1 million for information technology and operations management.

As a member of the Tower Center Board since 1992, Mr. Wyly supported the Center through gifts to The John Goodwin Tower Distinguished Chair in International Politics and National Security, as well as the Tower Center Medal of Freedom. At SMU Mr. Wyly also supported the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award, presented by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility; the Meadows School of the Arts’ annual benefit concert; and the SMU Mustang Club.

“Charles Wyly was a generous donor and leader whose entrepreneurial skills and civic-mindedness inspired students to think creatively in business and use their success to serve their communities,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He supported our highest priorities in faculty development by endowing a professorship in business and contributing to a chair in political science. As a founding member of the Tower Center Board, he enabled SMU to establish a center of excellence for the study of national security and political economy, bringing world leaders to campus for deliberation and interaction with undergraduates. We know that his influence continues through the quality of education he supported, guiding generations to come.”

Dallas business leader Bobby B. Lyle ’67, an SMU trustee, member of the Executive Board of the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering and long-time personal friend, said the community has lost one of its finest citizens. “Charles has been extremely generous in his support of SMU as well as other institutions of higher learning and K-12 schools throughout Dallas. His support has been transformational for the performing arts in Dallas, punctuated by the opening of the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. He quietly influenced our community through years of service on both the local and national boards of The Salvation Army and as chair of the Communities Foundation of Texas.  Much of his philanthropic efforts go unnoticed because he went about doing the right thing without fanfare, never seeking the limelight. Charles just knew what needed to be done, and he did it in his own quiet, humble manner.”

“Charles Wyly’s relationship with SMU Cox extended beyond his valued service and leadership on the board,” said Cox School Dean Albert Niemi. “With his many successful ventures, he understood the importance of information technology and operations management in running a business. We’re able to teach students best practices in those fields, thanks in no small part to his generosity. Mr. Wyly also showed our students the value of giving back to the communities where they live and work.”

“Charles Wyly was an incredibly insightful, dedicated supporter of the Tower Center’s mission since its founding,” said James Hollifield, the center’s director and a professor of political science in Dedman College. “He valued public service and our national history, and he understood that engaged citizens don’t just happen. He knew we have to work hard to train the next generation of leaders and to help our city and nation understand the great issues of our day.”

Raised in rural Louisiana, Mr. Wyly earned a degree in business administration from Louisiana Tech University, where he was named Alumnus of the Year in 1968. His involvement with SMU dated to 1963, when he and his brother, Sam, started their first significant business venture, UCC, a computer company serving the University. With his brother he co-founded, led or expanded enterprises including the arts-and-crafts retail chain Michaels Stores, Inc.; Sterling Software, Inc., an international computer software company; Maverick Capital, Ltd., an investment management firm; Earth Resources Co., an oil refining and mining company; Green Mountain Energy Co., an electric power company; and the Bonanza and steakhouse chain.

Charles Wyly's civic work included serving as chairman of the Communities Foundation of Texas Board of Trustees; member of the National and the Dallas Advisory Boards of The Salvation Army; member of the board of directors of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Lakehill Preparatory School; and chairman of the Advisory Board of St. Alcuin Montessori School. He also served as chairman of the board of the Dallas Theater Center; and director of the United Way of Dallas, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Summer Musicals and TACA, a nonprofit organization benefiting the performing arts in Dallas.

Mr. Wyly is survived by his wife, Dee, four children and seven grandchildren. Services are pending.

 

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