SMU announces $25 million gift from Harold and Annette Simmons

A $25 million gift from Harold C. and Annette Caldwell Simmons will fund a new building and academic positions.

Harold C. and Annette Caldwell Simmons

DALLAS (SMU) - Harold C. and Annette Caldwell Simmons have committed a new gift of $25 million to the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU. Their gift will fund a new building for the expanding programs of the school 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.

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.

Their combined gifts of $45 million to the school make Harold and Annette Simmons’ commitment among the largest to SMU’s Second Century Campaign, also making them among the most generous donors in SMU’s 100-year history. Previous gifts include the endowment of four President’s Scholars and the creation of the Simmons Distinguished Professorship in Marketing in the Cox School of Business.

SMU’s Second Century Campaign coincides with celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915. Counting the Simmons’ new gift, the campaign has raised $713 million toward a goal of $750 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

“We are truly fortunate to count the Simmons as partners in our academic mission and greatly value their leadership and generosity,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “They have established an enduring legacy of service and generosity benefitting SMU and show great foresight by supporting education. Since its creation less than a decade ago, the Simmons School has made significant and rapid contributions addressing the challenges facing schools and educators.”

“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,” said Harold Simmons. “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.”

Since 2007, 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.

“This extraordinary gift enables our school to leave a more durable imprint as we increase our capacity for making an impact,” said David Chard, Leon Simmons dean of Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. “The new building and endowed faculty positions will enable us to expand dramatically the scope and quality of our teaching, research and service.”

About Annette Caldwell Simmons and Harold C. Simmons

Mrs. Simmons earned a B.S. degree in elementary education from SMU in 1957 and later taught first, second and third grades at Maple Lawn Elementary School in Dallas and at Clark Field, a U.S. air base in the Philippines. Mrs. Simmons is a former member of the board of the SMU Tate Distinguished Lecture Series and has been active in numerous other SMU programs and civic activities.

Mr. Simmons is founder, chair and CEO of Contran Corporation, a holding company with interests in several industries. He is 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.

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,” Harold Simmons said. “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.”

About the Annette Caldwell Simmons School
of Education and Human Development

Degree and Certificate Programs

The Simmons School offers graduate-level and specialized programs for educators and research programs that focus on how students learn and develop language and mathematical skills. These programs include literacy and mathematics training, bilingual education, English as a second language, special education, gifted student education and learning therapy.

Also offered are master educator programs in science, technology, reading and mathematics. Master’s degrees in education leadership offer specializations in higher education and in urban schools. The undergraduate minor in education prepares students for teacher certification.

In human development, the school offers master’s degrees in counseling, dispute resolution, sport management and liberal studies, along with wellness and creative writing. An undergraduate major in applied physiology and sport management was created in 2009, providing students with a biological understanding of health and fitness and the business background required of sport, health and fitness professionals.


From developing the best strategies for teaching children to read to identifying math difficulties in kindergartners, faculty members at the Simmons School are dedicated to research that has a real-world impact on education locally and nationally. Ongoing research at the school’s Institute for Evidence-Based Education includes developing a reading curriculum for children with mild to moderate mental disabilities, addressing the needs of adolescent English language learners and developing an algebra readiness program for at-risk sixth-graders.

In addition, researchers at the Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics Laboratory and the Locomotor Performance Laboratory analyze the complexities and mechanics of human movement. Other laboratories analyze the mechanics of human speed and the effects of hot and cold temperatures on patients with diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Community Outreach

Dedicated to community outreach, the Simmons School shares its expertise and resources through unique programs and clinics such as the Learning Therapy Center, the Diagnostic Center for Dyslexia and Related Disorders and the Center for Child and Community Development. In addition, the Master of Science in Counseling Program gives graduate students hands-on counseling experience and provides low-cost services to patients at the SMU Center for Family Counseling in Plano and the Resource Center of Dallas in Oak Lawn.

The outreach continues through youth programs that provide college experience to gifted and talented students, college preparedness for first generation college students and scientific training and mentoring for gifted minority students pursuing biomedical careers.


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.