2015 Archives

SMU Centennial Homecoming Celebration spotlights distinguished alumni and emerging leader

Patron of the arts, finance educator, business doyen and religious leader honored

September 1, 2015

SMU Distinguished Alumni Award LogoDALLAS (SMU) — Cultural, business, and education leaders received the highest honor the University bestows upon its graduates – the Distinguished Alumni Award – during a campus ceremony coinciding with SMU’s Homecoming and Centennial Celebration the weekend of Sept. 23-27, 2015.  

The 2015 Distinguished Alumni were patron of the arts Bess Enloe ’60, finance educator Don Jackson ’63 and business leader Billie Ida Williamson ’74.  The Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters ’02, ’06, ’12 received the University’s Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of an alumnus or alumna who has graduated in the past 15 years.

The Distinguished Alumni Award presentation and dinner were held Thursday, Sept. 24, on the SMU Main Quad.

From the Award Ceremony

Bess Enloe

Don Jackson

Billie Ida Williamson

The Rev. Michael W. Waters

Combined Meadows Choir Sings Varsity

100 Years of SMU History in 10 Minutes

About the Recipients

Bess Enloe

Bess EnloeBess Enloe has provided visionary leadership to the arts in Dallas.  After graduating from SMU in 1960 with a B.A. in history, she taught high school in the Dallas Independent School District and later co-owned an interior design firm before devoting herself to volunteer efforts supporting the arts. Enloe chaired the Meadows School of the Arts Executive Board from 2010-14 and was the honoree of the 2014 Meadows at the Meyerson concert.

Enloe is a life trustee of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, where she has served as vice chair of the Board from 2011-2015 and previously as a member of the Capital Campaign Committee. At the Dallas Theater Center, she is a life trustee, co-founder of the Benefactors program and past chair of the Board of Trustees.

A lifetime of dedication to the arts has earned Enloe numerous honors, including the TACA Silver Cup in 1993, the TITAS Award for Excellence in Arts Leadership in 2007 and the 2009 Excellence in Community Service – Arts Leadership Award of the Dallas Historical Society.

Don Jackson

Don JacksonDon Jackson has led distinguished careers in both higher education and business. After earning his B.B.A. in finance at SMU in 1963, he received an M.B.A. from Indiana University and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.

Jackson returned to his roots immediately after earning his Ph.D., teaching finance at the Cox School of Business from 1967-78. A dedicated teacher, he was twice named a Rotunda Outstanding Professor of SMU and twice received the Salgo Distinguished Teacher Award from the Cox School.

While on campus, Jackson co-founded the Women’s Financial Series and established one of the earliest real-money investment practicums for SMU finance students. Today’s B.B.A. and M.B.A. students use Jackson’s investment practicum to manage over $9 million in assets.

Since leaving SMU, Jackson has led a second successful career as a financial counselor serving a limited number of multi-generational families. In 2010, SMU alumnus and trustee David Miller honored his former professor by providing the lead gift to establish the Don Jackson Center for Financial Studies in the Cox School of Business.

Billie Ida Williamson

Billie Ida WilliamsonBillie Ida Williamson has shown exemplary leadership in her profession and has inspired countless women in business. As a student at SMU, Williamson served as the University’s student body treasurer and Homecoming queen before earning a B.B.A. in accounting, with highest honors, in 1974.

Williamson had an almost immediate impact on the advancement of women and minorities in the public accounting profession when she became one of the first women partners in Ernst & Young LLP. Since retiring as a Senior Client Serving Partner in 2011, she serves on the boards of Pentair plc, Energy Future Holdings and Janus Capital Group. Her honors include Ernst & Young’s Rosemarie Meschi Award for Advancement of Women and the Dallas Business Journal 2014 Outstanding Director Award.

Also a philanthropist, Williamson serves on the boards of the Dallas Symphony Foundation and Dallas Holocaust Museum and is a member of the Committee of 200, which fosters women’s leadership in business, and the International Women’s Forum. She is a Leadership Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors.

Michael W. Waters

Michael W WatersIn a very short time, Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters has emerged as a prominent leader in Dallas’ religious community. Waters earned a B.A. in political science and religious studies from SMU in 2002, followed by two degrees from the Perkins School of Theology: the Master of Divinity cum laude and Doctor of Ministry with honors. Among numerous campus honors, Waters received SMU’s prestigious “M” Award. He also helped found SMU’s annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage for students to visit historic sites of the movement.

Drawing on the skills he learned as an SMU student body vice president and Perkins student body president, in 2008 Waters founded and became senior pastor of Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dallas, one of the fastest-growing A.M.E. churches in Texas.

Waters is also the award-winning author of Freestyle: Reflections on Faith, Family, Justice, and Pop Culture and chair of Dallas’ Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. He was named by Ebony magazine among “30 Under 30” leaders and by Dallas Business Journal among “40 Under 40” business and community leaders.


Southern Methodist University is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.



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