2014 Archives

Business leader Gerald J. Ford '66 '69 gives Commencement address

Watch Gerald J. Ford's keynote address.

December 22, 2014

DALLAS (SMU) – Business leader Gerald J. Ford '66 '69, former chair of the SMU Board of Trustees, delivered the keynote address at December Commencement on Dec. 20, 2014, encouraging the more than 600 students gathered in Moody Coliseum to "dream big."

Ford offered six tenets that he said would help the graduates "in any aspect of life":

  1. Make a plan — "If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard to get there."
  2. Be committed — "I don’t know of anyone who’s been successful in life who didn’t make a huge effort . . . effort will trump intellect.”
  3. Accept responsibility and particularly when things go wrong – “The first thing I would encourage you to do is look in the mirror and see what personal culpability you had in influencing this outcome . . . You need to learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them."
  4. Associate with good people – "What I’m going to suggest to you, going forward out in the real world, is that you become deliberate and proactive in associating with good people . . . The most important part is for you to be a good person and that will enhance your ability to associate with good people." 
  5. Accept bad news gladly – "If you don’t, you won’t get it. If you kill the messenger, the messenger won’t come. And if you don’t know the bad things, you can’t have any influence or mitigate or avoid the problem." 
  6. Under promise and over deliver. – "There’s just no downside to it. .. If you make your promise and you’ve saved a little back, you’ve established instant credibility." 

Ford earned a B.A. degree in economics from SMU in 1966 and earned his J.D. degree from Dedman School of Law in 1969. He is former chair of the SMU Board of Trustees and a member of the Executive Board of Dedman School of Law, a member of the Campaign Leadership Council and currently is the convening co-chair of SMU’s Second Century Campaign. He is a past member of the executive boards of Cox School of Business and Dedman College and of the Board of Directors of John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies.

Click here to watch the full ceremony. video icon

Related Stories

SMU law grad learns from, leans on mother’s legacy

In the past few months, Cathryn “CC” Copeland Wood has experienced three shining moments: Getting married, earning a law degree and landing a position with a prestigious Dallas legal firm.

But one accomplishment is even more special to her: Pulling off a wedding two weeks ahead of schedule in the unlikeliest of settings: MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. CC’s mission? Ensuring that her mother, who was fighting breast cancer, could be at her side for the wedding.

CC, a native of Midland, originally had planned to marry in Scottsdale, Arizona, Nov. 1. A month before the big day, however, Janet Copeland’s health wasn’t improving as the family had hoped. Not wanting to risk her mom being unable to travel to the wedding, CC took the wedding to her mom.

On Oct. 22, CC and her husband, Conner Wood, found themselves surrounded by 75 invited guests — and dozens of supportive strangers — in an MD Anderson garden. Holding a wedding in such a clinical setting was admittedly surreal, she says, but there was “such warmth shared by MD Anderson’s patients.” Many of them, in wheelchairs or accompanied by IV carts, gathered in the hallway to cheer CC in her bridal gown as she made her way from her mother’s room to the outdoor ceremony.

Read the full story.


Father, daughter share same mission for peace

Lisa Walters earned an undergraduate degree in human rights from SMU on Dec. 20 and will follow in the social justice path of her father, SMU Assistant Chief of Police Jim Walters. 

Lisa is joining the U.S. Peace Corps and will work for two years in Mali, Africa, as a business development volunteer. Her father started off his career in Africa after being assigned there on a U.S. Air Force peacekeeping mission to the Congo. 

During Lisa’s years at SMU, Lisa and her father worked together on projects aimed at combating human trafficking thanks to SMU’s unique relationship with the U.S. Department of Justice. 

# # #