$1.5 million gift from Jack Knox to fund new Dedman Law faculty chair for children’s rights, protection

Business leader Jack Knox's $1.5 million gift to Dedman School of Law will help protect children.

Jack Knox

DALLAS (SMU) — A $1.5 million gift from business leader and SMU alumnus Jack D. Knox ’60 ’63 will establish the Jack Knox Chair in the Rights and Protection of Children at SMU Dedman School of Law.

Jack Knox
Jack D. Knox

The endowed professorship, made possible by Knox’s gift, will support teaching, researching and publishing on legal issues related to protecting the welfare and legal rights of children.

“We are deeply grateful to Mr. Knox for his gift, which not only will make a difference in the lives of children but also will advance the academic offerings of one of the nation’s top law schools,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Our law graduates will be more aware of the important social and personal issues affecting children and will be trained in protecting their legal rights.”

“Jack Knox’s gift will enable the law school to further its teaching and scholarship on children’s rights,” said SMU Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law Jennifer M. Collins. Dean Collins joined Dedman Law in July as an innovative academic leader and nationally recognized scholar on the intersection of family and criminal law. “Endowment gifts like this provide critical support for our commitment to excellence in the classroom and continued cutting-edge, impactful work by our faculty.”

Knox, a native of Weatherford, Texas, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from SMU in 1960 and a Juris Doctor degree from SMU Dedman School of Law in 1963. In 2011, Knox was honored with the Robert G. Storey Award for Distinguished Achievement, the highest honor bestowed by Dedman School of Law.

“It’s an honor to help my alma mater empower the next generation of legal professionals by providing them with a strong understanding of what the issues are and the knowledge and drive to develop better laws and policies to protect children’s welfare and rights,” Knox said.

“Mr. Knox’s gift is helping SMU reach its goal of 110 endowed faculty positions, which is a major emphasis of our historic Second Century Campaign,” said Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for Development and External Affairs. “His generosity and humanitarian spirit will enhance Dedman Law’s outstanding ability to educate its students, inspire public service and provide exceptional legal training.”

Knox is general partner of Six Flags Over Texas Fund Ltd., a private limited investment group overseeing real estate assets of Six Flags Over Texas. He also is owner of Café Pacific Restaurants Inc., parent company of the popular restaurant, which has been based in Dallas’ Highland Park Village for 34 years.

In addition, Knox is president and board chair of Sixx Holdings Inc., founded in 1988 to operate the Italian-concept brand of Patrizio’s restaurants, which he sold in 2006.

Knox has been involved in the oil and gas industry for several decades, previously serving as chairman and CEO of public companies Summit Energy, Inc. (1970-89) and and Western Oil Fields (1969-71). He also has been director of Sunshine Mining, BancTEXAS Group, Inc., El Chico Inc., and Bryson Oil and Gas Ltd. 

In addition, Knox continues to be active in the ranching business west of Fort Worth, where he has served as managing director of Knox Land & Cattle since its formation in 1960. He also maintains close ties to the Weatherford community through civic activities.

Knox’s civic and honorary appointments and directorships have included the Board of Trustees of Medical City Hospital in Dallas, the Friends of Scott and White Hospital in Temple, the M. D. Anderson Hospital Board of Visitors in Houston, the Board of Directors of the Dallas Petroleum Club, the Board of Directors of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan YMCA in Dallas, the Advisory Board of Directors of the Texas Humane Legislative Network, and a member of the Advisory Committee to the City of Dallas Animal Shelter Commission.

Knox has a long history of supporting SMU. Prior to this gift, Knox has provided financial support for Cox School of Business scholarships, the Richard B. Johnson Center for Economic Studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, the Crain Family Centennial Promenade and the Mustang Club.

Also at SMU, Knox has served on the Dedman School of Law Executive Board (2011-14), the Texas Campaign Steering Committee (1996-2002), the Dedman College Executive Board (1992-97) and the Cox School of Business Associate Board (1970-80).

As a longtime champion of children in need, Knox is founder and president of the Fund for Sick Children, a private foundation supplying medicine and equipment to hospitals and doctors in third world countries. He also is active in many charities and lobbying groups directed toward helping children in need, as well as stopping animal abuse. He received the Man’s Best Friend Award from Paws in the City in 2011. He also received the Humanitarian of the Year award from Operation Kindness in 2005.

“SMU Dedman Law’s new endowed faculty chair will help further the University’s commitment to public service by focusing on the rights of the youngest members of society, those without the ability to protect themselves,” says SMU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Paul W. Ludden.

The Jack Knox Chair counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, and advances the campaign’s goal to reach 110 endowed faculty positions. To date the campaign has raised more than $902 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.  The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.

About Dedman School of Law

The School of Law at SMU was founded in 1925. It was named Dedman School of Law in 2001 in honor of Dallas benefactors Nancy and Robert H. Dedman, Sr., and their family. SMU Dedman Law enjoys a national and international reputation of distinction. It is among the most competitive law schools in the country for admission, as well as one of the most successful in the placement of its graduates.

The faculty is comprised of highly talented, distinguished scholars and teachers who are leaders in their fields and have outstanding academic and scholastic credentials. Dedman Law students are immersed in an intense professional legal curriculum with opportunities to obtain real-world experience through extensive legal clinics, public service placements, academic externships and clerkships.  

In U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools” report released earlier this year, SMU Dedman School of Law ranked 42nd , an increase of six points from last year’s ranking of 48th among 194 law schools fully accredited by the American Bar Association. In Texas, SMU is one of only two law schools in the first tier of “best schools of law” category.

Additionally, The National Law Journal ranked SMU Dedman Law 22nd among all law schools for graduates employed in long-term jobs requiring bar passage.

Dedman Law graduates include CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, Texas Supreme Court justices, federal court judges, members of Congress, ambassadors, foreign ministers and justices on the highest courts worldwide, as well as partners at leading law firms and general counsels at major corporations. Dedman Law graduates practice law in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and on all seven continents.

As SMU enters its second century of achievement, the Dedman School of Law continues to be dedicated to the ideals that shaped it from its founding: outstanding legal education, public service, and professional responsibility.

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