Loretta Hawkins Award

Loretta Hawkins (1956)

The Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins Award is designed to recognize and reward excellence among university staff employees. As a private university, it is vital that SMU employees provide the highest level service to all internal and external constituents; as such, this award seeks to commend employees who demonstrate the university’s commitment to excellence.

This award recognizes employees who represent the qualities and spirit of Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins, her love of SMU, her commitment to the community, and her high standards for work and life. Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins was a member of the university staff from 1924 to 1961. She held various roles during her 37 years at SMU, including assistant to President C.C. Selecman and President Umphrey Lee. Regardless of her role, she developed and maintained excellent working relationships with the entire SMU community – from students to faculty, and groundskeepers to presidents. Her retirement in 1961 was announced in a lead editorial in the Dallas Morning News entitled “Loretta’s Leaving.” 

Mrs. Hawkins was a single parent who was devoted to both SMU and her family, working tirelessly through the depression (and a 66% pay cut for staff employees) to better the university, while also taking on part time and evening work to support her family. She had an excellent reputation in the community and high standards of accomplishment in work, family, and the art of living. This award was endowed by Mr. Dallas E. Hawkins II, to honor his mother and her life as well as to benefit the university to which she was so dedicated. By recognizing employees who, like Loretta Hawkins, constantly strive for a better and stronger institution, this award will carry on her work.

Eligibility Requirements

Nominees must:

  • have been a full-time SMU staff employee for at least five years as of the month of the award nomination deadline
  • be in good standing at the University (as determined by the awards committee)
  • have exemplified the qualities and characteristics of Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins as a member of the University community by demonstrating integrity, productivity, and devotion to SMU and family
  • be a parent of one or more children, and their primary support

Nomination Forms

Nominations may be submitted by students, managers, employees, co-workers, or colleagues and are submitted by clicking here. Following completing the form via the link, the nomination will not be considered complete until the accompanying letter is submitted via email to SMUSA@smu.edu. Individuals nominating a SMU staff member are also asked to complete and submit the Loretta O'Reilly Hawkins Checklist via email to SMUSA@smu.edu.

Nominations will will be accepted until 5:00pm on September 25, 2023.

Process for Review of Nominations

  • Nominations will be collected and recorded by the SMU Staff Association. A complete nomination will include the nomination form and a letter describing how the nominee exemplifies the legacy of Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins. Additional materials, such as supporting recommendation letters from customers or other employees, are encouraged but not required.
  • Nomination Verification Form will be sent to each nominee’s manager for endorsement / comments. In the event the nomination was submitted by the employee’s manager, the Nomination Verification Form will be sent to the manager’s department head or division head for endorsement.
  • The President of the Staff Association will convene a committee to review nominations. The committee will consist of the Staff Association President, the Vice President of Staff Development, a representative from the Department of Human Resources, and one additional member selected by the Staff Association President. Selection will be through consensus of the committee as to which nominee best represents the spirit of Loretta Hawkins.
  • Priority consideration will be given to female nominees, but all nominations are welcome.
  • The Committee will select one recipient of the Loretta Hawkins Award, with a cash award of approximately $2,500 (depending on the funds available in the Loretta Hawkins Award endowment fund). The Committee may also designate runners-up or finalists for this award at their discretion. Finalists will receive a cash award of $250-$500. Award winners will also receive a framed certificate, and commemorative pin.
  • The award will be presented at the annual SMU Staff Celebration and Convocation.
  • Winners are ineligible to receive the award two years in a row.

Remembering Loretta

"Loretta's leaving. These are nostalgic words for thousands of former students of Southern Methodist University who called her Mrs. Hawkins but cherished her as Loretta. For 36 years the assistant to the president of SMU was an awesome, yet understanding, kindly, helpful person.

No one appreciated her more than the cub reporter from the campus newspaper unless it was the editor, a seasoned veteran of two-plus years of college journalism, called on the carpet by the school’s authorities. Waiting nervously to face the medicine, cub and editor were made by Mrs. Hawkins to feel that it wasn't quite the end of the trail for them. It is noteworthy that the names and faces Mrs. Hawkins remembers best may be successful execs now, but not necessarily model students earlier.

Always, for many Mustangs as they sing their “Varsity,” one of the things that “towers o’er the hill” will be Loretta."

From "Loretta's Leaving," Dallas Morning News editorial page on 6/26/1961.