Spring 2009 will go on record as one of the most heated student recruitment seasons in the history of higher education. SMU, along with other prestigious public and private institutions, took measures to meet the increasing needs of potential students affected by changing economic circumstances.

At the same time, SMU and its peers strove to maintain the quality of the entering student class in terms of academic scores, leadership skills and diversity. By the opening of the 2009–10 academic year, SMU exceeded its student recruitment goals, directly attributable to a supportive group of scholarship donors.

Trustee David Miller ’72 and his wife, Carolyn, are two such donors. While attending the SMU Board of Trustees meeting in May, he learned of the need for increased scholarships to meet the offerings of other institutions. The Millers decided to respond by funding “capstone” scholarships, which can be used immediately to recruit and retain priority student prospects. The Miller scholarship gift directly resulted in highly desirable students deciding to attend SMU this fall.

“Increasing student quality isn’t only about test scores and rankings,” President R. Gerald Turner says. “Just as important, the quality of the student body supports the teaching and research conducted by faculty, as well as the interchange among students both in and out of the classroom. The right combination of students creates an academic environment that inspires excellence across campus.”

Endowed scholarships provide critical resources that support SMU’s efforts to recruit top students. However, at a time when the University’s endowment is providing fewer dollars because of the economic downturn, gifts that support annually funded scholarships can provide an essential bridge for students who might not otherwise be able to attend the University.

Campaign emphasis 

Increasing scholarship resources is a key goal of The Second Century Campaign and strengthens SMU’s ability to recruit the best and brightest. Record numbers of prospective students have applied to SMU in recent years, reflecting the growing awareness of SMU’s quality and offerings. And SMU has proven that investment in scholarships and student recruitment and retention strengthens the University’s ability to compete nationally for these brilliant and creative young minds.

In fact, the average SAT score for entering undergraduates has increased 98 points in the past decade, rising from 1144 to 1242. This puts SMU within reach of its goal of an average SAT score of 1250 next year and at least 1275 by 2015, the centennial of SMU’s opening.

Scholarship programs within specific schools, such as Cox BBA Scholars and Meadows Scholars, have strengthened SMU’s ability to recruit students to those disciplines. We must remain nimble in the new recruitment season this fall as the competition for top prospects nationwide will continue to be aggressive.

“We have proven that SMU is a highly desirable institution for our nation’s top students, and we have survived a trying recruitment year. In 2009–10 we remain vigilant and appreciative for those scholarships that can make a difference now,” says Turner.

To learn about supporting SMU’s student quality, please contact Assistant Vice President for University Development Pam Conlin at 214-768-3738 or pconlin@smu.edu.