SMU commencement returns to newly renovated Moody Coliseum

Business leader Ray Hunt will give the commencement address Saturday in Moody Coliseum.

Ray Hunt

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU’s December 21 commencement marks the debut of the newly renovated Moody Coliseum and its 39,245-square-foot Miller Event Center.

Ray Hunt
Ray Hunt

More than 600 students will graduate during the 10 a.m. ceremony, which will include the facility’s official dedication. SMU trustee and business leader Ray L. Hunt will deliver the commencement address.

“One of the greatest joys of University life is Commencement, when we celebrate the achievement and potential of our new graduates,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “This year represents another milestone in that our December graduates are the first to receive their degrees in the newly renovated and expanded Moody Coliseum. We are honored to share this special memory with them, as we wish them the best in the next phase of their journey.”

Hunt, the commencement speaker, is the CEO of Hunt Consolidated Inc. and chair of Hunt Consolidated Energy and Hunt Investments and graduated from SMU in 1965 with a B.A. in economics. He was a University Scholar and received the Outstanding Business Student Award. A member of the SMU Board of Trustees since 1976, he was board chair from 1987 to 1992. He currently serves as a co-chair of SMU’s Second Century Campaign and sits on the Advisory Board of the Maguire Energy Institute. His past SMU leadership positions include president of the Alumni Association and membership on the President’s Leadership Council, and he served on the boards of the Cox School of Business, Meadows School of the Arts and the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility. His support for SMU includes establishing in 1993 the Hunt Leadership Scholars program with his wife, Nancy Ann Hunt, a 1965 SMU graduate.

“Among the broad and generous support that Ray and Nancy have provided the University, the Hunt Scholars program continues to attract students who demonstrate leadership ability, a keen intellect, strong work ethic and a desire to lead at SMU and after graduation,” Turner said. “This program symbolizes much of what an SMU education provides and is a testament to the vision and generosity of Ray and Nancy Hunt.”

Ray Hunt was a member of the steering committee that directed SMU’s successful bid for the George W. Bush Presidential Center. He currently serves on the Board of Advisors of the Bush Institute and as a member of the Bush Presidential Foundation. His civic leadership has included service as chair of the Dallas Citizens Council, chair of the North Texas Commission and chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

SMU has honored Hunt with its Distinguished Alumni Award and the Cox School of Business Distinguished Alumni Award. Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt, together, received SMU’s Foundation for the Future Award and the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award, which is presented annually by SMU’s Maguire Ethics Center. Hunt has been inducted into the Dallas and Texas Business Halls of Fame and has received the Distinguished Business Leader Award from the Texas Association of Business. Among his civic awards are the Linz Award from The Dallas Morning News, the H. Neil Mallon Award from the Dallas Council on World Affairs, and the Sprague Community Service Award from the Southwestern Medical Foundation. His professional honors include the American Petroleum Institute Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Texas Energy Council and the Public Service Award from the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Moody Coliseum rendering
Artist's rendering of the newly renovated Moody Coliseum.
Read more about the renovation.

A $20 million gift from the Moody Foundation in 2011 provided the impetus for the extensive expansion and renovation of Moody Coliseum. SMU and the Moody Foundation have had a long partnership, including the foundation’s support of improvements to Fondren Science Building and previous improvements to Moody Coliseum. SMU alumnus and trustee David Miller ’72, ’73 and his wife, Carolyn, also committed $10 million toward the renovation project in 2011. The new Miller Event Center is named in their honor. Through the Miller Family Foundation the Millers have supported areas across the University including the Cox School of Business, athletics, SMU-in-Taos and student scholarships.

The enhanced Moody Coliseum includes coaches’ offices and areas for team meetings.  All-new seating has been added throughout the arena, including the Hall of Fame entertainment area, suites, loge seats, courtside retractable seating and accessible seating. Technology improvements include a new scoreboard, LED boards throughout the arena, a distributed sound system, wireless access and enhanced broadcast capabilities. The renovated entry lobby opens to a view of the arena, while surrounding widened concourses feature vaulted ceilings. Other renovations include concession stands, restrooms and locker rooms.  The new Miller Event Center includes 12 premium suites, the Miller Champions Club and a newly furnished entertainment area.

Each May and December the coliseum is transformed to host SMU Commencement as well as graduation ceremonies for thousands of area high school students. SMU Commencement speakers have included SMU graduate and former First Lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, journalists Jim Lehrer and Bill Moyers, comedian Bill Cosby and SMU graduate and Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates. Four U.S. presidents have spoken at Moody Coliseum: Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Poet T.S. Eliot also spoke to audiences there.

Moody Coliseum also has been the venue for entertainers such as the Kingston Trio, the Rolling Stones, John Denver, Three Dog Night, the Grateful Dead, Queen, U2 and Pearl Jam.

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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.