Igniting the future of business education

As part of SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow – the University’s new $1.5 billion campaign for impact – the Cox School of Business has announced two bold initiatives that will propel us into our next era of innovation: an extensive renovation and expansion project for the Cox School’s buildings and a drive to endow MBA scholarships, empowering the next generation of business leaders to meet grand challenges with meaningful solutions. 

“For more than a century, the Cox School has inspired great ideas and shaped world changers,” said R. Gerald Turner, SMU president. “This next chapter in the school’s history promises to build on Cox’s tradition of excellence by providing even more opportunities for discovery, collaboration and research. I am excited to see what the Cox School, fueled by SMU Ignited, will accomplish.”

Already, donors have committed more than $100 million to shape the leadership pipeline and create a culture at Cox where faculty and students are encouraged to spend their days on campus collaborating and blazing new trails in business.

“The Cox School continues to grow in reputation and ability to transform the business landscape,” said Tucker Bridwell ’73, ’74, president of the Mansefeldt Investment Corporation and the Dian Graves Owen Foundation and chair of the Cox School Campaign Steering Committee. “Empowered by world-class facilities and expanded scholarships, the future of the Cox School’s impact is boundless.”

Building a brighter tomorrow

To compete at the highest level not only requires high-caliber faculty and students, but also the right facilities to foster educational excellence and collaboration. With a planned two-year renovation and expansion of its current facilities, the Cox School of Business will further its goals and scope, sparking new developments and taking on new challenges to place it prominently and competitively on the world stage.

Spurred by a landmark gift of $50 million in October 2019 – the largest single gift from an alumni family in SMU’s history – from Carolyn L. Miller and David B. Miller ’72, ’73, co-founder and managing partner of EnCap Investments LP, the Cox School began its plans for its bold renovation and expansion project. Donors have answered the call, contributing more than $90 million. By April 2022, SMU seeks to raise the final $30 million needed to break ground on the project and create new and improved facilities, which will provide the environment needed to train students for an ever-more synergistic and technologically integrated business landscape.

Expected impact

  • Provides welcoming, technologically advanced spaces to fuel innovation and contribute to the “9-to-9” culture at Cox, where faculty and students are encouraged to spend their days on campus collaborating and making connections.
  • Encourages collaborations to help faculty, students and partners tackle grand challenges.
  • Empowers top-tier students to come to the Hilltop and carry SMU’s enterprising spirit into the world.

“Our newly revamped buildings, classrooms and meeting spaces will spark bold thinking, groundbreaking research and service the needs of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs,” said Cox School Dean Matthew B. Myers, Tolleson Chair of Business Leadership and David B. Miller Endowed Professor in Business. “I’m grateful to our generous supporters for building on our long-standing tradition of adapting to meet the changing needs of the industry.”

The business of changing the world

Additionally, the Cox School has launched a $30 million drive to endow MBA scholarships. Since its founding, Cox has attracted top business minds from across the country and around the world – students, faculty and alumni whose enterprising spirit influences the way the world does business. Scholarship support advances the worldwide recognition of the excellence of our undergraduate and graduate programs. Our students are bold, inventive and confident – ready to drive solutions the world needs now – and the business community is taking note.

In the newly released Bloomberg Businessweek Best B-Schools 2021–22 ranking, a well-respected indicator of the top MBA programs nationally, SMU Cox ranked 31, moving up 11 points from 42 in the last ranking two years prior. This classification is based on input from employers/recruiters; the graduating class of ’21; alumni from the classes of ’13, ’14 and ’15; and data submitted by the Cox School on compensation, learning and entrepreneurship. This tremendous jump shows how meaningful a Cox MBA is to the business community. MBA scholarships enable more students to benefit from the highly regarded education Cox graduate programs offer.

Generous supporters Carolyn and David Miller and the late Edwin L. Cox ’42 have already put SMU halfway to our goal of $30 million, with $15 million to shape the leadership pipeline and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs. The Millers allocated $10 million of their historic $50 million donation to join Ed Cox in the MBA scholarship challenge.

Miller earned his undergraduate degree on a basketball scholarship and his MBA in finance on a teaching fellowship. He understands the power scholarships can have on one’s path. “SMU has been tremendously important in my own life and that of my family,” Miller said. “This gift is an investment in its future. We are excited to support Cox’s forward-focused vision for advancing business education and developing talented business leaders.”

The Millers’ gift supporting MBA scholarships was inspired by the late Edwin Cox, the namesake for the Cox School of Business. As a native of Mena, Arkansas, Cox completed his first two years of undergraduate study at SMU in the late 1930s. He went on to earn I.A. and MBA degrees from Harvard Business School, after which Cox pursued a career in oil and gas exploration and production before founding the Edwin L. Cox Company, for which he served as CEO.

“Throughout his life, one of my father’s greatest passions was helping the next generation of business leaders discover new projects and reinvigorate the business landscape,” said Berry R. Cox, chairman of Cox Partners Inc. “My father’s posthumous gift to endow MBA scholarships will transform lives and propel innovation in ways we can’t yet imagine.”

To get involved or learn more about how to invest in the Cox School priorities, contact Ashley Pitts, director of development in the Cox School of Business, at apitts@smu.edu or 214-768-4988.