Loretta O'Reilly Hawkins Award

The purpose of the Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins Award is to recognize and rewards excellence among university employees. As a private university, it is vital that SMU employees provide the highest level service to all internal and external constituents; as such, this award seeks to commend employees who demonstrate the university’s commitment to excellence.

This award recognizes employees who represent the qualities and spirit of Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins, her love of SMU, her commitment to the community, and her high standards for work and life.

Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins was a member of the university staff from 1924 to 1961.  She held various roles during her 37 years at SMU, including assistant to President C.C. Selecman and President Umphrey Lee.  Regardless of her role, she developed and maintained excellent working relationships with the entire SMU community – from students to faculty, and groundskeepers to presidents.  Her retirement in 1961 was announced in a lead editorial in the Dallas Morning News entitled “Loretta’s Leaving.” 

Mrs. Hawkins was a single parent who was equally devoted to SMU and her family, working tirelessly through the depression (and a 66% pay cut for staff employees) to better the university, while also taking on part time and evening work to support her family.  She had an excellent reputation in the community and high standards of accomplishment in work, family, and the art of living. 

This award was endowed by Mr. Dallas E. Hawkins, II to honor his mother and her life as well as to benefit the university to which she was so dedicated.  By recognizing employees who, like Loretta Hawkins, work constantly for a better and stronger institution, this award will carry on her work.

Eligibility Requirements for Nomination

Nominees must:

  • have been a permanent, full time SMU staff employee for at least five years as of the month of the award nomination deadline, and
  • be in good standing at the University, and
  • have exemplified the qualities and characteristics of Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins as a member of the University community by demonstrating integrity, productivity, and devotion to SMU and family.

Press Release
From the Dallas Morning News editorial page on 6/26/1961:

Loretta’s leaving. These are nostalgic words for thousands of former students of Southern Methodist University who called her Mrs. Hawkins but cherished her as Loretta. For 36 years the assistant to the president of SMU was an awesome, yet understanding, kindly, helpful person.

No one appreciated her more than the cub reporter from the campus newspaper unless it was the editor, a seasoned veteran of two-plus years of college journalism, called on the carpet by the school’s authorities. Waiting nervously to face the medicine, cub and editor were made by Mrs. Hawkins to feel that it wasn’t quite the end of the trail for them. It is noteworthy that the names and faces Mrs. Hawkins remembers best may be successful execs now, but not necessarily model students earlier.

Always, for many Mustangs as they sing their “Varsity,” one of the things that “towers o’er the hill” will be Loretta.

Please visit the Loretta O'Reilly Hawkins Award Selection Process for more information.