Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership

Driving Innovation at SMU Cox, in Dallas and Beyond

Leveraging the vibrant culture of free enterprise in North Texas, the William S. Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership enhances the business ventures of SMU students and faculty and the wider region, supports the academic and professional pursuits of students and faculty, and brings to North Texas Expertise in the areas critical to the growth and development of the Dallas business community.

Expected Impact

  • Drive innovation in Dallas by supporting and investing in SMU faculty and students who start businesses.

  • Generate new revenue streams through external partnerships with a variety of organizations and corporations.

  • Spark original ideas by bringing to Dallas experts in business leadership from a wide variety of backgrounds. 

  • Bolster the success of outstanding students through financial assistance, practical learning opportunities, and expanded internships.

Spears Institute Gift

In 2022, celebrated energy expert and philanthropist William S. Spears made the largest gift by a non-alumnus in the history of SMU, a commitment that established the Williams S. Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the SMU Cox School of Business. Spears' investment will encourage business creation, leadership development, and economic growth, strengthening areas that are critical to the future of the Dallas business economy.

What's Ahead

Under the leadership of the co-founding directors, the William Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership will create a program consisting of Spears undergraduate scholars, Spears graduate fellows, distinguished visiting entrepreneurs, and distinguished visiting faculty. The program will include:

  • The Spears Distinguished Speaker Series – global entrepreneurial leaders invited to campus for regular presentations.
  • Spears Mentors – individual entrepreneurs who agree to mentor one or more undergraduate or graduate students per semester.
  • Academic content – credit-bearing courses on entrepreneurial leadership each semester taught by a distinguished visiting entrepreneur or Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership.
  • The Spears Internship Program – opportunities for Spears scholars and fellows to intern with entrepreneurs in Dallas, Washington, D.C., California and international settings.
  • Spears Entrepreneurial Certification – development of short courses on entrepreneurial leadership leading to receipt of a branded Spears Certificate.

I'm proud to partner with SMU. I hope that, through this gift, the Cox School will be a positive driver for pioneering innovation and enterprising development across Dallas.

William S. Spears, Founder and CEO of Cenergistic