SMU reaches $1 billion campaign goal ahead of schedule for resources supporting academic quality and campus life

SMU reaches $1 billion campaign goal ahead of schedule for resources supporting academic quality and campus life.

Dallas Hall at SMU

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign has reached its $1 billion goal ahead of schedule, raising unprecedented funding for scholarships, academic positions and programs, facilities and other enhancements to campus life.

Read the text of Dr. Turner's address.

Centennial Celebration in McFarlin Auditorium

Centennial Worship Service in Perkins Chapel

The campaign’s official completion date is Dec. 31, 2015; campaign gifts will continue to be counted to that date.

The campaign announcement was made Thursday, Sept. 24, at a gathering of volunteers, donors, alumni, civic leaders and other members of the campus and Dallas communities. The event in McFarlin Auditorium was the official celebration of the 100th anniversary of SMU’s opening on Sept. 24, 1915 – and a rally for its future. The centennial is being celebrated during a weekend of Homecoming and other special events.

“This is a doubly historic day for us,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of SMU’s opening, we are pleased to announce unprecedented new support for our future. Our founders were forward-looking leaders, and they’d be pleased to see that today’s supporters are generously investing in our next century of achievement. These donors are truly the founders of our second century.”

SMU joins 34 private universities nationwide to conduct a campaign to raise 
$1 billion or more through major gifts campaigns. The institutions range from Columbia University and the University of Notre Dame to Emory and Vanderbilt universities.

“By raising $1 billion to support academic excellence, SMU joins distinguished company within the higher education community,” said Gerald J. Ford, SMU trustee and convening co-chair of the campaign. “This stature underscores the reality of our growth in quality and reputation. SMU is proving to be a wise and worthy investment, not only among donors, but also among the young people who will invest their futures with us as students.”


Among academic programs, campaign resources have enabled SMU to endow the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering and SMU’s newest and seventh degree-granting school – the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Established at the request of area school officials, Simmons offers evidence-based approaches to teacher preparation, school leadership development and community partnerships, as well as research on physiology and human performance.

The campaign has raised support for 582 new student scholarships; 49 new endowed faculty positions, now reaching a total of 111; 66 academic programs and initiatives; and 18 substantially funded capital projects, including new facilities for academic programs, student housing and athletics. Other gifts for campus enhancements support expanded career services and leadership programs.

“The campaign’s many successes reflect great confidence in SMU’s progress under the leadership of President Turner,” said Michael M. Boone, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees and a campaign co-chair. “This investment in our people and programs also will strengthen Dallas as our home city. And it will elevate the contributions of both Dallas and SMU to our nation and our global society.”

Dallas Hall at SMU

New campaign-funded facilities include buildings for the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Perkins School of Theology and Lyle School of Engineering, as well as a new Mustang Band Hall, new tennis center and renovation and expansion of Moody Coliseum for athletics and academic ceremonies. Under construction are the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center and Fondren Library Center renovation; upcoming construction projects include the Gerald J. Ford Research and Innovation Building and an aquatics center. At SMU-in-Taos, new facilities include a campus center, new or renovated housing and a chapel.

Among the most visible campaign projects is the addition of five new residence halls and a dining center as part of SMU’s new Residential Commons system, including on-site classes and faculty in residence. Six other halls have been renovated as Commons, enabling all first- and second-year students to live on campus.

The 582 scholarships created include support for undergraduates and graduate students in all seven schools of the University. Among them are Cox School of Business M.B.A. scholarships for veterans and active military students and additional scholarships for transfer students. New support also is being provided for SMU’s top two merit scholarship programs – the Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt Leadership Scholars and the SMU President’s Scholars.

New academic centers reflect increasingly important fields requiring interdisciplinary approaches. These include the Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation in Dedman School of Law; the Dedman Interdisciplinary Institute and the Embrey Human Rights Program, both in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; and the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security in the Lyle School of Engineering, which is collaborating with academic areas throughout the University. New endowed professorships address these areas as well as topics such as global entrepreneurship, art history, education, engineering innovation and economic freedom.

The largest single gift to the campaign, and the largest in SMU history, was $45 million, made in March 2015 by The Meadows Foundation to support the Meadows Museum and the Meadows School of the Arts. This gift, the largest ever given by The Meadows Foundation, came during the 50th anniversary year of the Museum.

Construction funded by the campaign is a major contributor to the Dallas economy. Since 2011 SMU has spent $390 million on renovation and construction projects, which are employing about 270 service providers, including architects, engineers, landscapers, contractors and suppliers.


“SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign” has made SMU fundraising history in several ways. The campaign:

  • Gained support from the largest number of donors – more than 62,000 from throughout the world.
  • Received gifts from nearly 23,000 donors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
  • Received the largest number of gifts of $1 million or more – 171.
  • Exceeded its goal to receive gifts from 50 percent of alumni over the course of the campaign, achieving 56.9 percent.
  • Surpassed its goal to achieve 25 percent of undergraduate alumni giving in a single year, reaching 26 percent for 2014–2015. (This measurement is used by some ranking organizations to gauge the level of alumni satisfaction with their alma mater.)
  • Attained the highest level of giving by faculty and staff, at 68 percent.
  • Received gifts from 18 percent of the student body in 2015 from campus leaders promoting a “Join the Stampede” drive.

“Absolutely essential to our success has been the leadership of our co-chairs and the entire Board of Trustees,” said Brad E. Cheves, vice president for development and external affairs. “As they have met with campaign volunteers throughout this campaign, they galvanized a new level of enthusiasm and optimism. Especially among alumni, there is great appreciation for the University they experienced, but also solidarity behind a shared vision of what it can be for new generations of students.”


The campaign has been served by more than 400 volunteers from throughout the world led by six co-chairs, all SMU trustees: convening co-chair Gerald J. Ford, Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler, Michael M. Boone (also chair of the SMU Board), Ray L. Hunt, Caren Prothro and Carl Sewell.

The Second Century Campaign was publicly launched in 2008 with a goal of $750 million. Rapid progress toward that goal and opportunities for further advancements led SMU leaders in 2013 to increase the goal to $1 billion and extend its timeline to 2015. The last four years of the campaign, 2011–2015, have coincided with SMU’s centennial era, marking the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and opening in 1915.

Ending in 2002, SMU’s previous major gifts campaign was the University’s first successful campaign since the drive funding its opening. “A Time to Lead: The Campaign for SMU” was launched in 1997 with an original goal of $300 million. Again, strong momentum led to an increased goal of $400 million. The final amount raised was $542 million.

Combining both campaigns, in the last two decades SMU has raised a total of $1.5 billion for 753 new scholarships, 111 new academic positions, 146 academic programs and 32 capital projects.

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SMU is a private university in Dallas enrolling approximately 11,000 students in seven degree-granting schools. Students benefit from small classes and close faculty-student interaction, as well as opportunities for off-campus research, service, internships and study abroad.