2015 Archives

Highland Park Methodist funds SMU professorship


The following is from the Oct. 8, 2015, edition of The Dallas Morning News.

October 8, 2015

By Holly Haber

Highland Park United Methodist Church has given $1.5 million to neighboring Southern Methodist University to advance Methodist scholarship.

Umphrey Lee
Umphrey Lee

The gift includes $1 million to establish and endow the Umphrey Lee Professorship in Methodist History and $500,000 to educate people seeking leadership positions in the Methodist church.

Part of SMU’s $1 billion centennial campaign, the endowment is a tribute to Umphrey Lee, who was influential in the early years of both the church and the university.

Lee was student body president the year the university opened in 1915, earning a master’s degree in theology in 1916. He later served as pastor of Highland Park United Methodist for 13 years and then as SMU’s fourth president for 15 years and chancellor for four years.

The two institutions share a long, collaborative relationship. Highland Park United Methodist began as University Church, holding its first service on SMU’s campus in February 1916. The name changed later that year when Highland Park families agreed to join the new congregation and SMU donated the land where the church stands today. As minister, Lee supervised the 1926 groundbreaking for the current building.

As part of an unofficial, continuing connection, the Rev. Paul Rasmussen, senior minister, is a member of the executive board of Perkins School of Theology, and most of the church’s ministers are Perkins graduates. A number of Perkins faculty and staff members teach adult classes at the church, and Perkins students serve as interns. And at the start of each school year, SMU President R. Gerald Turner preaches a sermon at the church.

Related Links:

Highland Park United Methodist Church gift honors former pastor, SMU president and alumnus Umphrey Lee

Announcement of the Gift


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