$2 Million gift to endow directorship of SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility

A $2 million gift from SMU Trustee emeritus and longtime benefactor Cary M. Maguire will endow the directorship of the University ethics center that bears his name in honor of the center’s founding director, ethicist William F. May.

Left to right: President R. Gerald Turner, Cary M. Maguire, William F. May, Michael M. Boone.
(l. to r.) SMU President R. Gerald Turner, Cary M. Maguire,
William F. May, and SMU Board Chair Michael M. Boone.

DALLAS (SMU) – A $2 million gift from SMU Trustee emeritus and longtime benefactor Cary M. Maguire will endow the directorship of the University ethics center that bears his name in honor of the center’s founding director, ethicist William F. May.

Each director of the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public responsibility will now carry the title of William F. May Endowed Director, beginning with current director Dr. Rita Kirk.

“Cary Maguire’s gifts to SMU always have been transformative,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His commitment to the William F. May Endowed Directorship will position the Maguire Center for future excellence while permanently linking Bill May’s name with both the center he founded and the field to which he devoted his illustrious career.”

The Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility is a University-wide center that supports ethics-related education and activities for students and faculty, as well as outreach to community, private and public institutions. The Maguire Center seeks to recognize, honor and model ethical behavior; provide moral reflection on contemporary issues; and celebrate ethics that reflect SMU’s fundamental values. The center sponsors programs and lectures throughout the year and recognizes public virtue through its annual J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award.

“SMU is committed to the teaching of ethics throughout its curriculum, and to promoting dialogue on important issues with the surrounding community,” said Steven C. Currall, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Cary Maguire’s latest act of generosity will ensure that this dialogue continues in perpetuity with a talented, equally committed faculty member leading the way.”  

Maguire is chairman, president and CEO of Maguire Oil Company and chairman of Components of America and Staco Systems Inc. He earned his B.S. degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. He served on the SMU Board of Trustees from 1976 to 2000 and was elected a trustee emeritus in 2002. Mr. Maguire is a member of the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility advisory board, the Maguire Energy Institute advisory board and the Edwin L. Cox School of Business executive board. Maguire has served on SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies and the Second Century Centennial Celebration organizing committee, as well as the Campaign Leadership Council for SMU’s A Time to Lead capital campaign.

SMU honored Maguire and his wife, the late Ann (Thompson) Maguire '52, in 1995 as two of the first Mustang Award recipients, recognizing the couple for their philanthropic support of the University.  The Edwin L. Cox School’s Maguire Building and Maguire Energy Institute are named in his honor and were made possible through his family’s generosity. The Maguires established the Maguire Chair in Oil and Gas Management in the Cox School and the Maguire Chair in Ethics, the first University-wide endowed professorship. They provided funds for scholarships, faculty incentive funds and a variety of initiatives throughout the University.

“Once again, Cary Maguire has made a generous, personal commitment to support our students in the pursuit of ethical leadership on our campus,” said Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. “A great university has a role to play in hosting public dialogue on the great issues of the day, and we thank Cary Maguire for helping to make that possible at SMU.”

About William F. May

Directorship namesake William F. May is a distinguished and widely respected scholar in the field of medical ethics who has written extensively on the moral and ethical obligations of health care professionals to patients and on other matters concerning ethical behavior and decisions. He has taught at Smith College, Indiana University, SMU, Georgetown University and the University of Virginia, among other distinguished institutions. Born in Chicago, May attended public schools in Illinois and Houston. He graduated with honors from Princeton University in 1948, earning his bachelor’s degree in history and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to graduate school at Yale, earning his B.D. in theology magna cum laude in 1952 and his Ph.D. in contemporary theology in 1962.

Dr. May came to SMU in 1985 to serve a University-wide appointment as SMU’s first Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics, a position he held until 2001. It marked the beginning of a long and productive association with the Maguire family and its philanthropic support of scholarship. May was appointed founding director of the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility in 1995, a position he would occupy until 1998. Many of the Maguire Center’s current activities and programs were established during May’s tenure as director, including the Public Service Fellowship Program, which provides financial assistance to SMU students to engage in public service or research in the field of ethics; the Maguire Teaching Fellowship Program, which supports cross-disciplinary faculty teaching and course development in the area of ethics; and the Maguire Public Scholars Program, which showcases SMU faculty scholars in an ongoing lecture series.

May also served on the Clinton Administration’s Task Force on Health Care Reform in 1993 and on the President's Council on Bioethics from 2002-04. A 1978 Guggenheim Foundation fellow, Professor May has served at length on the Phi Beta Kappa panel of visiting lecturers and scholars. Prior to his SMU service, he was the Joseph P. Kennedy Professor of Christian Ethics in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University (1980-85).

Since his retirement from SMU, Dr. May has served as a Senior Fellow in the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life at the University of Virginia and an expert in the Social Trends Institute. He also served for a year as visiting professor at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. In 2007, May was appointed to a three-month tenure as the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in American History and Ethics in the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress.

May is a former president of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics, as well as a Founding Fellow of The Hastings Center, where he co-chaired its research group on Death and Dying. He is the author of several books on medical and political ethics, including The Physician’s Covenant (Westminster John Knox Press, 2nd edition 2000), The Patient’s Ordeal (Indiana University Press, 1991), The Ethics of Giving and Receiving: Am I My Foolish Brother’s Keeper? (SMU Press, 2000), Beleaguered Rulers: The Public Obligation of the Professional (Westminster John Knox, 2001) and Testing the National Covenant: Fears and Appetites in American Politics (Georgetown University Press, 2011).

About Rita Kirk

Rita Kirk has been director of the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility since January 2011. A professor of communications, Kirk is a member of the Altshuler Distinguished Faculty and a Meadow's Distinguished Teaching Professor. She holds the "M Award" for outstanding teaching from the SMU student body and is recognized for her analysis of political and persuasive campaigns. Kirk is the author of several award-winning books, including Political Empiricism: Communications Strategies in State and Regional Elections; Hate Speech, a book analyzing implications for hate discourse in public communication with coeditor David Slayden; and Soundbite Culture: The Death of Discourse in a Wired World. Specializing in communication strategy, she has more than 30 years of experience as a strategist for city council, mayoral, state, U.S. Representative, and gubernatorial races.

Dr. Kirk has served as a communication consultant on public policy matters and frequently manages focus groups for CNN. Kirk holds a bachelor's degree in communication/political science and a master's degree in communications, both from the University of Arkansas. She received her Ph.D. in communications from the University of Missouri.

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


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