Harold C. Simmons left “enduring legacy” of service and generosity to SMU

SMU mourns the passing of longtime supporter Harold C. Simmons.

Harold Simmons

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU mourns the passing of longtime supporter Harold C. Simmons, who along with his wife, Annette Caldwell Simmons, are among the most generous donors in the University’s 100-year history. Mr. Simmons died Dec. 28 in Dallas.

“Harold Simmons has left an enduring legacy at SMU," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "He and Annette have been longtime supporters and partners in our academic mission. Our students, faculty and staff will benefit for years to come because of their leadership and generosity."

In 2007, Harold and Annette Simmons made a historic $20 million gift to SMU, which established endowments for the school and provided funding for a new building, Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall. The gift created an endowed graduate fellowship fund and an endowed deanship and faculty recruitment fund, both of which honored Mr. Simmons’ parents, who were educators in Golden, Texas. In recognition of their commitment, SMU named the school the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

In February, Mr. and Mrs. Simmons committed an additional $25 million to the Simmons School. Their gift will fund a new building for the school’s expanding programs and support three new endowed academic positions. The new facility will be named Harold Clark Simmons Hall, in honor of Mr. Simmons, at Mrs. Simmons’ request.

Previous gifts to SMU include the endowment of four President’s Scholars and the creation of the Simmons Distinguished Professorship in Marketing in the Cox School of Business.

Since its creation less than a decade ago, the Simmons School has made significant and rapid contributions addressing the challenges facing schools and educators.

Harold Simmons
Harold C. Simmons

“Since our first gift to the school in 2007, we have been pleased to see the rapid progress the school has made in developing programs aimed at addressing the greatest challenges in our nation’s schools,” Mr. Simmons said in February. “Our investment has resulted in the formation of innovative programs for education and human development, the hiring of outstanding faculty leading research that makes a difference, and growing outreach to communities with solutions that work. This progress is worthy of continued investment, which we are pleased to lead.”

The school has expanded from one department and several programs to five departments – Teaching and Learning, Education Policy and Leadership, Counseling and Dispute Resolution, Applied Physiology and Sport Management and Graduate Liberal Studies – offering eight graduate degree programs and one undergraduate degree program. The school has grown from 13 full-time faculty members and 42 staff members to 62 full-time faculty members and 112 full-time staff members. Research funding has increased to $18 million since 2007. In addition, the school hosts research conferences and provides continuing education to teachers throughout North Texas.

The school also has developed community outreach programs that complement degree programs. These include the Center on Communities and Education, the Center on Research and Evaluation, the Institute for Evidence-based Education, Research in Mathematics Education and college access programs. In addition, the Simmons School has appointed a faculty member in global health who is a concurrent fellow at the George W. Bush Presidential Institute. The school also partners with the Bush Institute on two landmark education initiatives, Middle School Matters and The Alliance to Reform Education Leadership.

Mr. Simmons was founder, chair and CEO of Contran Corporation, a holding company with interests in several industries. He was a former member of the executive boards of Cox School of Business and Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. His relationship with SMU began in 1961 when he bought a small drugstore near the campus and named it Simmons University Drug. The enterprise eventually expanded to 100 stores. He sold the chain in 1973, and it later became Eckerd Drugs.

In addition to establishing the Simmons School, Mr. and Mrs. Simmons’ 2007 gift established two endowed funds named in honor of Harold Simmons’ parents, both of whom were educators. The Fairess Simmons Graduate Fellowship Fund honored his mother, who was a teacher. The Leon Simmons Endowed Deanship and Faculty Recruitment Fund honored his father, who was superintendent of schools in Golden, Texas.

“I grew up in a home that valued education,” Mr. Simmons said at the time. “My father and mother were both educators, and they sacrificed so that I could attend college. I’ve been able to use my education to become successful in business and to support important efforts that have an impact on other people’s lives.”

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