SMU sets record for Texas private university fundraising with $1.15 billion campaign total

SMU sets record for Texas private university fundraising with $1.15 billion campaign total.

Dallas Hall at SMU

DALLAS (SMU) – Coming on the heels of its 100th birthday celebration, the University announced today that SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign has raised gifts totaling $1.15 billion, the largest amount ever raised by a private university in Texas.

Dallas Hall at Southern Methodist UniversityThe University’s Board of Trustees heard the final tabulation of gifts and pledges at its meeting Feb. 26 on the SMU campus, following the official completion of the campaign Dec. 31, 2015.

Teaching and learning at SMU are forever enhanced by the ambitious campaign: Donors provided 689 new student scholarships; raised the previous number of 62 endowed faculty positions to a new total of 116; and provided for 68 new or significantly enhanced academic programs and initiatives, including endowments for two schools. Twenty-four capital projects have been substantially funded, including new facilities for academic programs, student housing and athletics. Other gifts for campus enhancements support expanded career services and leadership programs.

The campaign succeeded against a backdrop of explosive North Texas population growth and the relocation of many Fortune 500 companies to the region. SMU President R. Gerald Turner said the unprecedented funding for scholarships, academic positions and programs, and facilities will benefit SMU’s home city and surrounding region in the form of innovative ideas, research and talented graduates.

 “These gifts, in many ways, are gifts to the greater Dallas area,” Turner said. “All of the major metropolitan areas of the country have at least one nationally competitive university that not only helps educate the area’s workforce, but also serves as the educational and intellectual hub for many of the city’s needs and cultural assets,” he said. “SMU is proud to be that university for Dallas.”

SMU joins 34 private universities nationwide to have undertaken campaigns of $1 billion or more. The institutions include Columbia University, the University of Notre Dame, Emory and Vanderbilt universities.

“The future for SMU and Dallas is brighter because of the incredible generosity of donors to this campaign,” said SMU alumnus Gerald J. Ford, SMU trustee and convening co-chair of the campaign. “What their gifts will do for the next generation of leaders, researchers, innovators, artists and entrepreneurs is impossible to measure at this time, but the impact will be unprecedented.”

Academic Programs

Campaign resources 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.

A strong example of SMU’s response to the needs of its home community, the Simmons School was established at the request of area school officials, offering evidence-based approaches to teacher preparation, school leadership development and community partnerships, as well as research on physiology and human performance. Within the school, the SMU Budd Center: Involving Communities in Education is reaching into West Dallas in particular, partnering with 29 nonprofits; 16 public, private and charter schools; and the Dallas Independent School District. They aim to address the social, emotional and educational issues that cause many students to disengage from learning, drop out or graduate from high school unprepared for employment or further education.

Also endowed during the campaign was the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crime Against Women at the Dedman School of Law, one of 10 specialized clinics and projects, where, under the supervision of faculty, students serve as advocates on behalf of clients in many areas of the law.

Mirroring the importance of the arts in a thriving community, the largest single gift to the campaign, and the largest in SMU history, was $45 million from The Meadows Foundation to support the Meadows Museum and the Meadows School of the Arts, which offer a range of nationally recognized academic programs and events that enhance the cultural offerings of the city and surrounding region.

 “Dallas and SMU have grown up together, and both are experiencing an era of great promise and momentum,” said SMU alumnus Michael M. Boone, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees and a campaign co-chair. “Great global cities need great centers of learning that serve as incubators for creative ideas and innovative actions that change the world. I’m thrilled that this fundraising success helps ensure that SMU will continue to play a pivotal role in advancing the growth and entrepreneurial culture of Dallas for many years to come.”

Here is a partial list of academic programs receiving funding from The Second Century Campaign:

Cox School of Business

  • EnCap Investments & LCM Group Alternative Asset Management Center
  • Don Jackson Center for Financial Studies
  • Kitt Investing and Trading Center

Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

  • Embrey Human Rights Program
  • Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences
  • Texas-Mexico Research Program in the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies

Dedman School of Law

  • Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crime Against Women
  • Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation

Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering

  • W.W. Caruth, Jr. Institute for Engineering Education
  • Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security
  • Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity

Meadows School of the Arts

  • Art History Ph.D. Program
  • Journalism Digital Studio
  • National Center for Arts Research


Perkins School of Theology

  • Center for Preaching Excellence
  • Center for Religious Leadership
  • Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions

Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development

  • The Budd Center: Involving Communities in Education
  • Institute for Leadership Impact
  • Research in Mathematics Education

Growing Scholarship Programs

The 689 new endowed scholarships created include support for undergraduates and graduate students in all seven schools of the University. Among them are Cox School of Business MBA 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.

Other new merit-based scholarships include those offered by schools for students who express advanced interest in major programs – Cox BBA Scholars, Meadows Scholars, Dedman College Scholars, Lyle Scholars, Simmons Scholars and Dedman Law Scholars. Annual gifts for multiyear scholarships also provide essential support to these students.

Faculty Support

The extraordinary quality of SMU’s faculty is a defining feature of the University. Support for The Second Century Campaign enabled SMU to add 54 endowed faculty positions, reaching a University total of 116, up from 62 in 2008. Endowments for new faculty positions enable SMU to broaden significantly the subjects researched and taught at the University, many of which are vital to the future of Dallas.

Among the notable examples of faculty endowment is Frederick Chang, the Bobby B. Lyle Centennial Distinguished Chair in Cyber Security and director of SMU’s Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security, who this year was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.

New Facilities

New campaign-funded facilities include buildings for the 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 and renovated housing and a chapel.

One of the most visible campaign projects, and one with significant impact on campus life, 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.

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

“From the beginning, this campaign was about big ideas, innovative thinking and unbridled enthusiasm for SMU,” said Brad E. Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs. “Campaign co-chairs and SMU trustees set ambitious goals. Along the way, our longtime supporters and thousands of new donors joined in this effort. The momentum they’ve created is like nothing we’ve seen before. I’m excited to see where we go from here.”

Breaking Campaign Records

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

  • Gained support from the largest number of donors – more than 65,000 from throughout the world, an increase of 58 percent from SMU’s previous campaign, which ran from 1997-2002.
  • Saw an increase of 135 percent in gifts from outside Texas, as compared to the last campaign.
  • Received the largest number of gifts of $1 million or more – 183.
  • Exceeded its goal to receive gifts from 50 percent of alumni over the course of the campaign, achieving 59 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.)

Concurrent with the campaign, starting in 2008, SMU improved in national U.S. News & World Report rankings from 68 to 61; undergraduate applications increased 57 percent to 12,992; and SAT scores rose to 1309.

Volunteer Leadership

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, 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 to increase the goal to $1 billion. The last four years of the campaign, 2011–2015, coincided with SMU’s centennial era, marking the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and opening in 1915.

SMU’s previous major gifts campaign, ending in 2002, was the University’s first successful campaign since 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.

Including both campaigns, in the last two decades SMU has raised over $1.7 billion for new scholarships, new academic positions, academic programs and 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.