SMU honors donors and dedicates Crain Family Centennial Promenade at campaign finale

SMU dedicates the Crain Family Centennial Promenade and celebrates the success of the historic Second Century Campaign.

Crane Promenade Dedication

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU unveiled a new campus monument recognizing major donors and dedicated the new Crain Family Centennial Promenade on Friday, marking the finale to the University’s historic $1.15 billion Second Century Campaign.

The campaign major donor monument recognizes the leadership and major gift donors to the campaign.  Breaking previous records, SMU received a historic 183 commitments at the Leadership Gift level of $1 million or more.  Major donors to the campaign, numbering more than 600, are also listed on the monument plaques.

The Crain Family Centennial Promenade, in addition to opening a vital pedestrian walkway across the campus, provides a welcoming space for the community to celebrate the broad support of those whose gifts to SMU are increasing the University’s prominence and academic stature.

Brick by brick, the walkway links the namesake Crain family with more than 10,000 other donors whose inscribed pavers line the new promenade. Each paver’s inscription tells a Hilltop story, and all those who contributed were invited to share their reasons for giving online.

“This is a joyful day for all of us,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.  “Not only do we celebrate a job well done by our major donors and legions of others, but we also have the opportunity to join our friends and families in strolling this beautiful new promenade and reading the inscriptions. It’s a perfect finale for the Second Century Campaign and a lasting tribute to our generous donors.”

SMU alumnus Gerald J. Ford, an SMU trustee and convening co-chair of the campaign, said the University is poised for greatness in its second century.

 “The future for SMU and Dallas is brighter because of the incredible generosity of donors to this 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.”

SMU alumnus Michael M. Boone, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees and a campaign co-chair, said the relationship between SMU and its home in North Texas make for an ideal partnership.

 “Dallas and SMU have grown up together, and both are experiencing an era of great promise and momentum,” Boone said. “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.”

The Crain Family and SMU

In the midst of the celebration, SMU paid tribute to the long-standing relationship of the Crain family with the University through the naming of the promenade.

The Crain family’s ties to SMU began with the enrollment of the late Ann Lacy Crain ’41.  Mrs. Crain earned a B.A. degree in English from SMU and was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.  She later became president of R. Lacy, Inc., an oil and gas production corporation, founded by her father, Rogers Lacy, and based in her home community of Longview, Texas.  She also was president of The Crain Foundation.  Mrs. Crain served her alma mater as well, as a member of the SMU Board of Trustees from 1984 to 1987 and as a member of the Dedman College Executive Board.

Mrs. Crain married Bluford Walter "B.W." Crain, Jr. and together they had three children, Lacy Crain,  B. Walter Crain, III ’72 and Rogers Lacy Crain.  Mrs. Crain and her family now constitute three generations of SMU alumni.

The family, through The Crain Foundation, has shown an ongoing commitment to SMU.  Their support includes funding of the Ann Lacy Crain Fountain on the east plaza of the Blanton Student Services Building, as well as general support of Meadows School of the Arts, Edwin L. Cox School of Business, the Hamon Arts Library Building Fund, the SMU Annual Fund and Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, among other areas. 

In 2012, the Crain family continued their support of the beautification of the SMU campus through a generous gift creating the Crain Family Centennial Promenade. Funding of the Crain Family Centennial Promenade supported the five-year Second Century Celebration marking the centennials of the founding of SMU in 1911 and its opening in 1915.

SMU stories in stone

While there are thousands of stories behind the promenade brick pavers, many share common themes of a passion for learning, a love of SMU and the bonds that were formed on the Hilltop.

For paver donor Jack Benage ’11, ’13, SMU is where he found the love of his life: “I donated this paver as a Valentine’s Day gift to Meredith Levine ’11, ’14, commemorating the day that we met on campus years ago. As it turns out, months later I asked her to marry me just steps from where the pavers will eventually be placed. Our paver is now a lasting tangible reminder of SMU’s role in bringing us together!”

Kellie P. Johnson ’95 honored Professors Brad Carter, Dennis Simon and Joe Kobylka: “I graduated with my B.S. in poli sci in 1995. I took almost every class taught by Drs. Simon, Carter and Kobylka. They were, by far, my favorite professors. I named my oldest son after Dr. Carter. I still email all three of them regularly and often stop by the Poli Sci Department when I’m on the Hilltop to just say ‘hi’ or chat as long as they’ll have me. They are great men, great teachers and great friends. I bought my paver to honor three individuals who made a lasting impact on my life and for whom I have more love and respect than I can ever convey to them.”

Many multigenerational SMU families are represented on the promenade. Among them are Deva Fontenot ’88 and her son, Dustin Fontenot ’13. She donated the gift as a lasting tribute to their Mustang pride: “I completed my education at SMU in 1988 with a degree in advertising. I always felt that this great University introduced me to talented people and had the ability to attract great professionals here to share their knowledge. When my oldest son applied to SMU, it was thrilling to see him accepted and create a legacy for our family. We have commemorated that with this paver displaying both of our names. It’s an honor to be a part of this beautiful promenade for always.”

Unbridled Generosity

The Second Century Campaign, which concluded Dec. 31, 2015, was an unprecedented success, raising $1.15 billion for University priorities and increasing SMU’s visibility and engagement among key University stakeholders. More than 65,000 members of the SMU family joined at a unique time in SMU history – including the centennial commemorations of SMU’s founding and opening as well as the establishment of the George W. Bush Presidential Center – to support a campaign that will benefit the University, its students and faculty far into the future.

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.

Volunteer Leadership

The Second Century Campaign was served by more than 400 volunteers from throughout the world led by six co-chairs, all SMU trustees: convening co-chair Gerald J. Ford ‘66, ‘69, Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler ‘48, Michael M. Boone ’63, ’67, Ray L. Hunt ‘65, Caren H. Prothro and Carl Sewell ‘66.

The campaign was launched publicly in 2008 with a goal of $750 million. When it achieved that goal two years ahead of schedule, the Board of Trustees voted to increase the goal to $1 billion, which, ultimately, also was exceeded. 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 more than $1.7 billion for new scholarships, new academic positions, academic programs and capital projects. 

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