Students shine in SMU’s 2011 December Graduation

Civic and business leader Carl Sewell spoke at the December graduation. See video and a slide show from the ceremony.

Carl Sewell speaks at SMU graduation on 17 December 2011

The SMU community celebrated the graduation of about 950 students in ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 17, with business and civic leader Carl Sewell (’66) as the featured speaker.

"SMU is your university," Sewell told the graduates and their families and friends gathered in SMU's Moody Coliseum. "You have been a part of the greatest academic growth in the history of this university. . . and it clearly is on the path to becoming a great university."

Sewell, past chair of the SMU Board of Trustees, is chairman of Sewell Automotive Companies, a national leader in the automotive industry and an innovator in establishing customer service standards. He shared his service philosophy and practices in the best-selling book Customers for Life, which has sold more than 1 million copies in 17 languages.

In introducing Sewell to the graduates, SMU President R. Gerald Turner said, "Carl Sewell is an unwavering and dedicated advocate promoting SMU’s rise in academic quality and prominence. Not only does he motivate others to provide resources for scholarships, but he also has taken the lead to fund many of those scholarships. And all of you graduates here today have in some ways been touched by his vision and generosity, as he supports programs such as career services and athletics."

Sewell offered four major pieces of advice for the graduates:

  • Find a mentor
  • Think about what you read and how much you read. Make the reading of a serious book something you do at least once every six months.
  • Decide how good you want to be, and how much time you want to devote to it.
  • Learn from failures. (He mentioned his long history of working with GM, and how he has learned from that company's failures.)

Among his many commitments to SMU, Sewell serves as one of five co-chairs of The Second Century Campaign, the University’s largest and most successful foundering effort. He also is co-chair of The Second Century Celebration Organizing Committee, 2011-15. His support of the President’s Scholars program, the University’s highest merit award, has resulted in record numbers of students receiving the scholarships. He also supports SMU athletics and student career services, among other areas.

Sewell has been recognized with SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award and the Cox School of Business Distinguished Alumni Award. He earned his Bachelor’s degrees in banking and finance, as well as in economics, from the University.

For more information, see the University Registrar’s December Graduation home page. Also see December Graduation photos and DVDs

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