William S. Spears is strengthening entrepreneurial leadership through new Cox School institute

Driving innovation at SMU, in Dallas and beyond

A commitment from celebrated energy expert and philanthropist William S. Spears, the largest gift by a non-alumnus in the history of SMU, will establish the William S. Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the SMU Cox School of Business. This new addition to SMUā€™s $1.5 billion campaign for impact, SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow, will empower students, bolster faculty pursuits and ignite our community for future generations.

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Iā€™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.

ā€” William S. Spears, Founder and CEO of Cenergistic

Fueling entrepreneurial impact

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

Dallas skyline at night

Introducing the
Spears Institute

Student pitching at business competition

The Spears Accelerator

An academic business accelerator, offering a range of support services and funding opportunities for the conception, creation and development of new businesses, services and products and utilizing external partnerships to strengthen research and development processes and create new revenue streams for the University, benefiting its students, faculty and programs.

rendering of students walking on Cox quadrangle

Spears Entrepreneurial Leadership Program for MBAs and BBAs

Unique, specialized curricula, preparing business students to become innovative corporate leaders through real-world experiences and academic coursework in areas such as new product and process development, and the generation of venture capital.

Spears Scholars Program

Highly competitive scholarships to support meritorious undergraduate and MBA students as they pursue their academic and professional goals in the North Texas business climate and contribute to the future economic vibrancy of the region.

Spears Interns Program

Key internships, expanding leadership opportunities for SMU Cox students in other global cities and offering unique insights and opportunities for personal and professional growth that will stay with them long after they leave the University.

Judges at pitch competition.

Endowed executive director

An endowed leadership position whose experience and business industry insights will be crucial to development of the Spears Institute and its programs, maximizing its impact regionally and nationally.

Spears Faculty Fellows Program

Fellowships to bolster SMU Cox faculty research initiatives and support the development of innovative curricula and programming.

Spears Speaker Series

Annual events that feature high-profile leaders and business experts from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds, bringing to Dallas their unique perspectives and insightful knowledge to benefit SMU students, faculty and the broader community.

Through the Spears Institute, Dallas and SMU can expand our thriving partnership and make our city an even more dynamic hub for entrepreneurial activity.

ā€” Eric Johnson, City of Dallas Mayor

Celebrating a shared future

SMU announced Spears’ historic gift and the establishment of the Spears Institute on April 28, 2022. Joined by guests from across the Hilltop, the University celebrated this innovative new addition to the Cox School of Business in a special event marking the occasion. Following the announcement, SMU was further honored by Spears through the addition of the “Red SMU Room” at the headquarters of his energy conservation company, Cenergistic. A Mustang-themed meeting/office space, the Red SMU Room was officially dedicated by Spears on June 2, 2022, alongside his wife Candye Gould Spears ’06, SMU President R. Gerald Turner and Vice President for Development and External Affairs Brad E. Cheves.

View event photos View Red SMU Room photos

About William S. Spears

William S. Spears is a renowned civic and financial leader, known throughout the region for his work in the energy sector, the many boards on which he has served and his dedication to excellence in the education field. Introduced to SMU through wife Candye Gould Spears ’06 and stepdaughter Meghan Bartos ’05, both SMU alumni, Spears’ gift to the Edwin L. Cox School of Business builds on a long legacy of philanthropy across the country and a lifelong passion for business excellence that stretches far beyond the University.

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