New gift establishes first Endowed Centennial Chair at SMU

A gift from Sarah and Ross Perot Jr. of Dallas creates the Jerome M. Fullinwider Endowed Centennial Chair in Economic Freedom.

Jerome M. Fullinwider

DALLAS (SMU) — A new gift to SMU from Sarah and Ross Perot Jr. of Dallas will establish the Jerome M. Fullinwider Centennial Chair in Economic Freedom, named in honor of Mrs. Perot’s father. The chair-holder will join the faculty in the William J. O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom in SMU’s Cox School of Business.

The gift makes history for SMU as the first centennial chair, part of a new category of gifts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of SMU’s founding and opening. A position designated as “centennial” must meet elevated giving levels, be a combination of endowment funding and five years of annual support, and be created during the centennial celebration period, January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2015.

“This gift supports one of the top priorities of SMU’s Second Century Campaign and the University’s strategic plan – increasing the number of faculty positions that are endowed,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “When this campaign began, SMU had 62 endowed faculty positions. Our goal is to increase that number to 100. With other endowed chairs and professorships established during the campaign, this new commitment brings us to 83. We are deeply grateful for the generosity and foresight of the Perot and Fullinwider families for leading the way in establishing this centennial chair.”

On May 4, the Perots surprised Mr. Fullinwider with the announcement that the faculty position would be SMU’s first centennial chair.

“We are indeed grateful for the vision shown by the Perots in creating this first centennial chair,” said Brad E. Cheves, SMU’s vice president for Development and External Affairs. “This gift demonstrates how the University’s centennial can provide wonderful opportunities for donors to support SMU’s academic priorities and honor those who are important in their lives. We hope that many other donors will choose to do the same.”

The gift for the Fullinwider chair counts toward SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which at midpoint has raised more than $500 million to advance student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

Jerome “Jerry” M. Fullinwider received a B.B.A. degree from SMU in 1951 and is a 1953 graduate of the U.S. Naval School of Justice in Newport, RI. Following graduation, he served with the U.S. Navy in Korea and China.

“My father has pursued his interest in free enterprise and expansion of global business relationships throughout his business career,” Sarah Perot said. “When he told us of his commitment to the O’Neil Center at SMU’s Cox School of Business, Ross and I decided that an endowed faculty chair in his name would be a fitting way for us to recognize his achievements and to ensure the permanence of his interest long into the future.” The Perots added to his commitment to provide a total gift of $2 million for the centennial chair.

Sarah Fullinwider Perot was awarded a B.F.A. degree in broadcast journalism from SMU in 1983. She currently serves as a member of the SMU Board of Trustees and The Second Century Campaign Executive Committee. She co-chairs the Campaign Steering Committee for the Meadows School of the Arts.

Ross Perot, Jr. is Chairman of Hillwood Development Company and The Perot Group. He is a former member of the SMU Board of Trustees.

The O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom was established in the Cox School of Business at SMU in 2008 by William J. O’Neil ’55 and his wife, Fay C. O’Neil ’55, to study the impact of competitive market forces on freedom and prosperity in the global economy. The center offers education and training on the importance of globalization in changing the business environment.

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SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.