Trailblazer Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler
receives SMU’s J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award

Renowned civic and philanthropic leader Ruth Altshuler receives the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award.

Ruth Altshuler

DALLAS (SMU) — Renowned civic and philanthropic leader Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler will be honored as the 2011 recipient of the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award on Thursday, March 10, at a noon luncheon at the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom at SMU’s Umphrey Lee Center in Dallas.

Ruth AltshulerThe award is presented annually by SMU’s Cary Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility to individuals who exemplify the spirit of moral leadership and public virtue.

The presentation will include tributes by Former First Lady Laura Bush, SMU President R. Gerald Turner and Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation. She then will be introduced by her daughter, Sally Sharp Harris.

“Few people are as deserving of this honor as Ruth,” says Maguire Center Director Rita Kirk. “She is a tireless servant leader, and her devotion to many causes has enriched the lives of countless people and organizations.

“Beyond the headlines,” Kirk adds, “Ruth is simply a loving person who enlivens a conversation and holds an expectation for excellence that draws people to work alongside her. We are honored to recognize her accomplishments.”

At the national level, Altshuler was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Library of Congress Trust and by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the U.S. Commission to UNESCO.

Altshuler is the first person in the United States to receive all three national service honors – the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year Award from the National Society of Fundraising Executives; the national Alexis de Tocqueville Award of the United Way of America; and the Distinguished Service Award given by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. She has been honored on a global level with the rarely given Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service from the Salvation Army- International in London.  Her numerous honors closer to home include recognition by the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas’ Centennial Award, the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, the Linz Award and Annette Strauss Humanitarian Award.

Her current leadership positions include being vice chair of the Southwestern Medical Foundation, life trustee of the Hockaday School and honorary chair of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and the Dallas Summer Musicals. She is immediate past chair of the Communities Foundation of Texas. She also sits on the boards of the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries, KERA, and the Salvation Army of Dallas and is one of three life members of the Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board. Altshuler also serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Altshuler has given generously of her time, talents and resources to SMU, which has honored her with its Distinguished Alumni Award. One of SMU’s longest-serving trustees, she is former chair and a current member of the Board of Trustees. She is co-chair of the Second Century Campaign Leadership Council and served as a co-chair of The Campaign for SMU (1997-2002). She also is co-chair of the Second Century Celebration Organizing Committee.

Past winners of the J. Erik Jonsson Award include Bob Buford, Ronald G. Steinhart, Michael M. Boone, Zan W. Holmes Jr., Roger Staubach, Caren Prothro, Tom Luce, 
Ron Anderson, 
Jack Lowe Jr., William T. Solomon, Stanley H. Marcus, Charles C. Sprague and Curtis W. Meadows Jr.


J. Erik Jonsson was a founder of Texas Instruments, a strong advocate for education and a public-spirited mayor of Dallas who worked from 1964 to 1971 to improve morale and the image of the city after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He pushed through a $175 million bond that financed a new city hall, the Dallas Convention Center and the Dallas Central Library and was a driving force in the development of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. For more information, visit


The Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU seeks to heighten ethical awareness throughout the campus and in the greater Dallas community. The Center serves as a forum for the exploration of issues bearing on the public good. It brings together those who confront issues of social importance with resources and opportunity for ethical reflection. For more details, visit

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.