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SMU celebrates 20 years of Hunt Leadership Scholars

April 10, 2014

By Devean R. Owens
SMU News

SMU is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt Leadership Scholars Program. The scholarship program supports students who have a commitment to leadership, service and learning at SMU and beyond.

The University will honor the program and its alumni with a reception and dinner during Founders’ Day Weekend, April 10-13, which commemorates the centennial of SMU’s founding in 1911 and opening in 1915.

Hunt Scholars
Ray L. and Nancy Ann Hunt (center front) with this year's Hunt Leadership Scholars.

“For two decades the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program has brought students to SMU who make a positive difference while inspiring others to get involved,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “This program is a reflection of the Hunts’ decades of generosity and leadership at SMU and in Dallas. As SMU looks ahead to its next century, we celebrate the important continuity this program brings to our campus culture, as well as our shared values of leadership, responsibility and service.”

When the scholarship program was announced at Hughes-Trigg Student Center on February 8, 1993, SMU Trustee Ray L. Hunt ’65 and his wife, Nancy Ann ’65, said they hoped it would allow outstanding student leaders from all walks of life to come to SMU.

“The Hunt Leadership Scholars Program has achieved what we had hoped and more,” Mr. Hunt said. “It establishes a core of outstanding scholars who set examples for other students and take advantage of all the opportunities that SMU and Dallas have to offer. Alumni of the program support one another after graduation and have made remarkable contributions around the world. As the program continues its trajectory, the impact will be even greater on the students yet to come.”

About 25 high-achieving young leaders from across the country are named Hunt Leadership Scholars every year. The scholarship provides full SMU tuition and fees, less the amount of resident tuition and fees at the leading public school of the student’s state of residency. The program also supports tuition and transportation to one of SMU’s study abroad programs and provides leadership training and opportunities to interact with leaders.

“In selecting Hunt Leadership Scholars, we weigh not only students’ academic records, but also their potential to make an impact,” said Associate Provost Linda Eads, program director. “Our scholars are dedicated to being engaged. They are leaders of student organizations and active in the North Texas community. Some have founded their own organizations, including health, education and service programs.”

Since the first Hunt Leadership Scholars graduated in 1997, alumni of the program have gone on to leadership roles in medicine, law, the ministry, education, business, nonprofits and public service. 

Hunt Leadership Scholar Warren Seay ’10 was awarded a prestigious Truman Scholarship in 2009, when he was a junior studying political science. He also was elected that year to the DeSoto, Texas, school board, becoming the youngest elected official in Dallas County and one of the youngest in Texas history. 

Being a Hunt Leadership Scholar “changed my perspective on leadership,” said Seay, who graduated from Dedman School of Law in 2013 and continues to serve on the school board, while also working for a law firm. “The program reinforced for us that the best leaders have both the drive to achieve academically and a genuine concern for the community.”

About Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt

Nancy Ann ’65 and Ray L. Hunt ’65 are longtime contributors to community organizations that empower individuals to transform their lives.

Hunt Scholars announcement
Ray L. Hunt in 1993, announcing the scholars
program as Nancy Ann Hunt looks on.

Nancy Ann Hunt taught in elementary school before focusing more fully on community service, devoted in particular to the well-being of women and children. Though she prefers working behind the scenes, numerous organizations have recognized her leadership with awards. Among them are the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Beaver Award, Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award of the Methodist Health System Foundation, Women’s Center of Dallas Maura Award and the Genesis Women’s Shelter Jane Doe Award. She is chair-elect of the board of New Friends New Life, which helps victims escape the sex industry and build new lives for themselves and their children. Among numerous activities for SMU, she serves on the executive board of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Ray L. Hunt is chairman, president and CEO of Hunt Consolidated, Inc. Mr. Hunt’s service to SMU has been multifaceted. He chaired the Board of Trustees after its restructuring in the late 1980s and now serves on the Board’s Trusteeship Committee and Executive Committee. Working with other SMU trustees and President Turner, he was instrumental in attracting the George W. Bush Presidential Center to SMU and serves on the Bush Foundation board. Elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1992, he received the first J. Erik Jonsson Award of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce and was selected for the Linz Award, honoring humanitarian service. Mr. Hunt also received the Order of Marib Award from the Republic of Yemen, the only non-Yemeni to be so designated.

In 2013 Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt became the first couple to receive the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, and both have received SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2014, they funded the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women, named in honor of Mrs. Hunt’s father, at SMU’s Dedman School of Law.

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