2015 Archives

Clements Foundation Gifts to SMU-in-Taos Cap Legacy of Giving From William P. Clements, Jr.

July 24, 2015

DALLAS (SMU) – When friends and supporters of SMU-in-Taos gathered at the New Mexico campus in July to celebrate the opening of the Carolyn and David Miller Campus Center, the event also underscored more than four decades of visionary support from the late Bill Clements, Jr. ‘39 and the Clements Foundation.

William P. Clements, Jr. '39
Courtesy of Clements Foundation, Photo by Alexander

Clements and his wife, Rita, contributed more than $7.5 million toward development of facilities and programs for the Taos campus before his death in 2011. Now, a $1 million gift from the Clements Foundation will support the position of the William P. Clements, Jr. Endowed Executive Director of SMU-in-Taos, currently held by Mike Adler, SMU associate professor of anthropology. The Clements Foundation also honored Clements through its support of the Miller Campus Center and the naming of the center’s William P. Clements, Jr. Great Hall.

“Stand anywhere on our beautiful New Mexico campus, and you will be touched by Governor Clements’ passion for both the University he loved and the breathtaking beauty of the Sangre de Christo Mountains,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Serving as both U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense and twice as Governor of Texas was not insignificant, but I think he’d agree with me in saying that SMU-in-Taos is among his enduring legacies.”

Guided by a master plan adopted in 2008, SMU-in-Taos continues to expand its programmatic offerings, add and enhance educational and residential facilities and continue stewardship of the land and natural resources. Under the master plan, new housing for faculty and students was added in 2009, as well as technology upgrades and improvements to winterize buildings, transforming the campus into a year-round facility. The addition of the Miller Campus Center and the Chapel at Fort Burgwin, along with other current improvements, represents further progress in implementation of the plan.

The recent period of unprecedented growth has occurred under the leadership of Adler, who is responsible for developing and implementing academic and community offerings, directing the expansion and upgrading of infrastructure and facilities, overseeing the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the campus, and building strong relationships with the local and SMU communities.

“It is our great pleasure to endow the position currently held by Dr. Adler, said Pauline Neuhoff, Clements Foundation president and Gov. Clements’ granddaughter. “I think my grandfather would be pleased that the stewardship of this unique resource, so important to both SMU and the surrounding New Mexico community, will be guaranteed in perpetuity.”

The gift to endow the position of Executive Director of SMU-in-Taos counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised more than $987 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. As part of the campaign the University has set a goal to reach 110 endowed faculty and leadership positions by Dec. 31, 2015.

“I am so thankful to the generations of the Clements family that have made this campus possible,” Adler said. “It is a gift to be able to direct such an amazing place that changes lives. In June I asked the students how many of them had been to SMU-in-Taos before. Eighty percent of them raised their hands – and that shows the impact of the experience here.”

Adler joined SMU in 1991 as an assistant professor of archeology and director of the Archaeology Field School at SMU-in-Taos, teaching courses each fall and spring and directing the field school each summer. In 2006 SMU became the first Executive Director of the SMU-in-Taos campus.

“Those of us who knew Gov. Clements and who know Dr. Adler understand how meaningful this gift from the Clements Foundation will be in guaranteeing the future of SMU-in-Taos,” said Brad Cheves, SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs. “It speaks to the long, historical and continuing relationship between the Clements family and SMU. Now, the University will always be prepared to support a strong leader who is dedicated to preserving and enhancing this unique resource – much as Gov. Clements did over his lifetime.”

William P. Clements, Jr. '39

Former Texas Governor William P. Clements, Jr., a longtime major supporter of SMU academic programs and trustee emeritus, died May 29, 2011, in Dallas at the age of 94. His relationship with SMU began in the mid-1930s, when he was an engineering student. Through the years, Clements and his wife, Rita, contributed more than $21 million to the University, funding some of SMU’s highest academic priorities, including support for his special interest in the Southwest.

With Clements’ support, SMU began in 1968 to acquire and restore property 10 miles south of Taos that included the site of Fort Burgwin, a pre-Civil War cavalry post, and Pot Creek Pueblo, a 13th–century Indian ruins. His leadership helped keep intact the rustic beauty of the campus while enabling development of up-to-date, learning-and-living facilities.

Clements has supported the study of this region in several other ways. In SMU’s Dedman College, he endowed the Department of History and a new Center for Southwest Studies, both named in his honor. This support made possible the Ph.D. program focused on the Southwest in the Clements Department of History and the work of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies in providing fellowships for research and scholarly publication. Other major gifts to SMU have supported programs in engineering, mathematics and theology.

As the former chair of the SMU Board of Trustees, Governor Clements also provided leadership guiding the University’s academic planning, endowment management and physical development. Beginning his association with SMU as an engineering student in the mid-1930s, he was a cherished member of the SMU family for more than 70 years.

The Clements Foundation

The Clements Foundation is an independent foundation established in 1968 by the late William “Bill” P. Clements, Jr. Officers of the foundation are Clements family members, including President Pauline Neuhoff, Clements’ granddaughter; Vice President Nancy Clements Seay, Clements’ daughter; Secretary Margaret Napier, Clements’ granddaughter; and Treasurer George Seay III, Clements’ grandson.

The foundation states its focus as “the history of the state of Texas, the greater Southwest, and related matters of historical value.” Recent grants, aside from those to SMU, included West Dallas Community School, North Texas Food Bank, and Clements Center for National Security at UT.


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


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