Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler and Carl Sewell serve as co-chairs of The Second Century Celebration Organizing Committee. Each formerly served as chair of SMU’s Board of Trustees, and each currently serves as a trustee. Campaign Update spoke to Mrs. Altshuler and Mr. Sewell about The Second Century Celebration, which marks the centennials of SMU’s founding in 1911 and opening in 1915.
Campaign Update: Why is it important to celebrate SMU’s centennial?
Altshuler: A centennial is an opportunity to celebrate and honor the people who have made this place what we love and support today. It’s a time when we remember the founders, professors, student leaders, alumni, donors – everyone who has touched and been touched by this University – for their contributions to the character, life and spirit of SMU.
Sewell: From my perspective, while a centennial celebration evokes the memories of times past, and honors those who built our history, it is primarily an opportunity to place a marker for future achievement. A centennial allows us collectively to take stock, to take pride in our quality today and to reaffirm our even greater aspirations for the future.
CU: How do you see SMU continuing to move forward in its second century?
Altshuler: I think it’s just going to get bigger and finer. Student quality will continue to rise, we will continue to recruit more top faculty, and I think we will really be on the road to the big time. I also think the George W. Bush Presidential Center is going to knock peoples’ socks off. It’s going to be such an important addition not only to SMU but also to Dallas and North Texas.
Sewell: I believe by the time we finish our second century, there should be no reason that we’re not every bit as good a university as those in the Ivy League or any of the other top universities in the United States. By the end of our second century, there should be no better university in America.
CU: What is the key message that you, as co- chairs, would like to convey to alumni, parents and friends?
Sewell: If you believe in quality, if you believe in excellence, if you believe in achievement, you can find all of that at SMU today. I hope people will be inspired to support an institution that is getting better every day. We have a chance to make SMU a great, great university. We can make it happen if we all work on it together.
Altshuler: We need the support of all the alumni and everyone else who cares about the University. We’re in the process of enhancing our alumni donor base, which is crucially important if the University is going to keep moving forward. And when you come back to campus, I think you will be startled by the amazing changes that have taken place, thanks to that support.