Hunt gift to endow SMU’s signature Hunt Leadership Scholars Program

Hunt Leadership Scholars Program will continue its legacy of attracting top talent to SMU and Dallas area.

DALLAS (SMU) – A $15 million gift from the Nancy Ann Hunt Foundation (a supporting organization of the Communities Foundation of Texas) will ensure the long-term support of the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program, which is one of SMU’s signature scholarship programs attracting academically talented student leaders from throughout the United States to SMU.

Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt with Tate Lecture Series speaker Indra Nooyi and Hunt Scholars
Nancy Ann Hunt (third from left, front row) and Ray L. Hunt (fifth from left, front row) with Hunt Leadership Scholars.

In 1993, Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt and SMU announced a vision to create an annually funded leadership program to preserve the well-rounded and entrepreneurial nature of SMU’s student body while the University grew its academic standing. They believed that an SMU education fosters, and benefits from, students who exhibit demonstrated leadership skills, intellectual ability, a spirit of entrepreneurism and a strong work ethic, combined with a desire to grow these skills and apply them in service of the community.

“SMU has benefited enormously from Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt’s historic generosity,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Today SMU receives three times the number of applicants than it did in 1993 with many now having proven leadership, entrepreneurial and academic strengths. Therefore, although the Hunts feel that the original program’s objectives have been accomplished, we were delighted when they agreed to make this significant gift that will enable the University to create an endowment to ensure the long-term continuation of the Leadership Scholars program and the legacy that the Hunts have created.”

With this gift, the Hunts will have contributed $65 million to the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program, a nationally recognized scholarship program for SMU, attracting the interest of academically gifted and exceptional service-driven student leaders from across the country.

“We are grateful for the impact this program has had upon the lives of so many students, both at SMU and beyond, in terms of preserving and enhancing the entrepreneurial spirit and “Texas heritage” which Nancy Ann and I enjoyed years ago when we were both students at SMU,” said Ray L. Hunt. “We are honored that SMU wishes to sustain this program in perpetuity to meet the needs of students at SMU and the Greater Dallas community in the years to come.”

“Our intent was to create a scholarship program that would be based upon more than just strong academic credentials,” said Nancy Ann Hunt.  “We wanted to help SMU attract truly outstanding students who demonstrate a strong potential to be a leader throughout their lives; young men and women who will stand up, speak out, and make a positive difference to a broader community.  We firmly believe that Hunt Scholars represent that type of person.”

Ten million dollars of the Hunts’ gift will be placed in an endowment that will generate funds in perpetuity. The remaining $5 million will be spent over the next several years as the endowment matures, allowing time to develop additional sources of support for the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program.

Hunt Scholars span majors across all disciplines at SMU and are leaders in virtually all spheres of campus life. They have served as president, vice-president, and secretary of the Student Body, Program Council, and Student Foundation. They have been leaders across the spectrum of SMU’s hundreds of student organizations and editors for campus newspapers and publications. To date, the program has provided scholarships to 372 students who following their graduation from SMU have had a significant impact in many diverse fields ranging from medicine and law to theology, teaching and politics.

About Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt

Nancy Ann (’65) and Ray L. Hunt (’65) are longtime contributors to SMU, and their leadership and vision have proven transformative to the University in many ways over the years.

Nancy Ann Hunt taught in elementary school before focusing more fully on community service, devoted in particular to the well-being of women and children. Though she prefers working behind the scenes, numerous organizations have recognized her leadership with awards. Among them are the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award of the Methodist Health System Foundation, the Douglas D. Hawthorne Leadership Award of the Texas Health Resources Foundation, the Dallas Women’s Foundation Maura Award, the Genesis Women’s Shelter Jane Doe Award and the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Beaver Award. She also received the Life Member Award of the Texas PTA. She currently serves on the board of New Friends New Life, which helps victims escape the sex trafficking industry and build new lives for themselves and their children. Among numerous activities in support of SMU, she serves on the executive board of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Ray L. Hunt is executive chairman of Hunt Consolidated, Inc. Mr. Hunt’s service to SMU has been multifaceted. He chaired the Board of Trustees of the University after its restructuring in the late 1980s and now serves on the Board’s Trusteeship, Executive and Finance committees. He also serves on SMU’s Special Committee on Development and the Edwin L. Cox School of Business Executive Board. Working with other SMU trustees and President Turner, he was instrumental in attracting the George W. Bush Presidential Center to SMU, on whose Board he serves.  He was elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1992, received the first J. Erik Jonsson Award of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce and was selected for the Linz Award, honoring humanitarian service in the Greater Dallas community.

In 2013 Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt became the first couple to jointly receive the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility. Both have received SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and in 1996 the Hunts received SMU’s Mustang Award in recognition of their extraordinary philanthropy to the University.


About SMU

For more than 100 years, SMU has shaped minds, explored the frontiers of knowledge and fostered and entrepreneurial spirit in its seven degree-granting schools. Taking advantage of unbridled experiences on the University’s beautiful campuses and SMU’s relationship with Dallas, the dynamic center of one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions, alumni, faculty and 11,000 graduate and undergraduate students become ethical leaders in their professions and communities who change the world.