DALLAS (SMU) — A new gift of $5 million marks another milestone in the historic support of the Dedman family and The Dedman Foundation for SMU. The gift will create the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
The Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute will bring together faculty and students from the humanities, sciences and social sciences for collaborative research and other programs. The Institute’s projects will reach beyond Dedman College to the broader University and the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Unlike interdisciplinary centers at other universities, the Institute will engage undergraduates as well as graduate students and faculty.
“SMU has benefited from the Dedman family’s extraordinary vision and support for more than five decades,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Few other families have had such a wide-ranging impact on the University’s development. Their major gifts have supported areas from humanities and sciences to law and lifetime sports. As we celebrate the University’s Centennial, this latest gift will help SMU continue to move forward among the nation’s leading universities.”
The Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute will host annual seminars bringing together faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and members of the community to discuss global issues. Informal research clusters will create collaborative groups of faculty and students from across the University to expand and enrich the interdisciplinary culture on campus. Interdisciplinary faculty appointments will develop challenging new programming and curricular offerings. A digital humanities lab will provide state-of-the-art computing technologies and interactive space for scholars to pursue interdisciplinary research.
“The Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute will provide an energetic interface between Dedman College, the University and the local community, enhancing SMU’s role as a dynamic center for exploration of relevant issues,” said Paul W. Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “The Institute also will help us recruit and retain outstanding faculty and support students in their research and degree programs.”
Institute seminars and research clusters will generate capstone courses, a vital component of the new University Curriculum. In addition to deepening and broadening course selection, the Institute will allow Dedman College to offer students more opportunities for engaged learning beyond the classroom.
“Addressing the complex challenges of our interconnected world requires the knowledge and perspectives of more than one discipline,” said Dedman College Dean William M. Tsutsui. “The Institute is a perfect fit for a college that spans departments from philosophy to physics. By creating opportunities for substantive collaboration across the disciplines, the Institute will open new vistas for research and help prepare students for real-world challenges requiring multiple perspectives.”
Dedman College will appoint Dr. Caroline Brettell, University Distinguished Professor at SMU and a member of the faculty of the Department of Anthropology, as the first director of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute. Dr. Brettell has conducted research on international migration in Portugal, France and the United States, and for the last decade has studied new immigration in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, she also is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 14 books.
The $5 million gift for the Institute is the latest of numerous major gifts from the Dedman family and The Dedman Foundation to SMU. Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports was named in recognition of the Dedmans’ 1976 gift of $1 million. Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences was named in honor of Robert H. Dedman, Sr., and his wife, Nancy McMillan Dedman, following their $25 million pledge in 1981 to endow the school. A portion of that gift funded Dedman Professorships in Economics and History, both in Dedman College.
At the kickoff of The Campaign for SMU in 1997, a pledge of $30 million, at that time the largest gift in SMU history, was announced from the Dedman family and The Dedman Foundation. The donors designated $12 million of the gift toward construction of the Dedman Life Sciences Building. The gift also established a $2.5 million endowed scholarship at SMU for students from North Dallas High School, alma mater of Robert Dedman, Sr.
Later, $15 million of that $30 million pledge, plus another $5 million, was designated for endowment of SMU’s Law School. In recognition of the total $20 million endowment, Dedman School of Law was named in honor of the Dedmans in 2001.
With the addition of the latest gift for the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, cumulative gifts and pledges to SMU from the Dedman family and The Dedman Foundation have a current value in excess of $82 million.
The Dedman family has strong ties to SMU. Robert H. Dedman, Sr., who died in 2002, earned his Master of Laws degree from SMU’s School of Law. Nancy McMillan Dedman received a bachelor’s degree in political science with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Their daughter, Patricia Dedman Nail, earned a Master’s degree in psychology from SMU. Their son, Robert H. Dedman, Jr., earned both J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from SMU, and his wife, Rachael Redeker Dedman, earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree from SMU.
Robert H. Dedman, Sr., developed ClubCorp into the world’s largest operator of golf courses, private clubs and resorts. He was named to the SMU Board of Trustees in 1976 and served as board chair from 1992-1996. He was one of five co-chairs of The Campaign for SMU (1997-2002). SMU honored him with the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Cox School of Business and the Law School’s Robert G. Storey Award for Distinguished Achievement. He and his wife, Nancy McMillan Dedman, together received SMU’s Mustang Award for longtime service and philanthropy to the University.
Nancy Dedman currently serves on the Dedman College Executive Board, as honorary chair of the Second Century Celebration and as honorary chair of Campaign Steering Committees for Dedman College and Dedman School of Law. She has served on the boards of the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series, Godbey Lecture Series in Dedman College and the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection in Meadows School of the Arts. She was honored with SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Robert H. Dedman, Jr., succeeded his father as president of ClubCorp in 1989, was named chief executive officer in 1998, and became chairman of the board in 2002. The Dedman family sold ClubCorp in December 2006 and simultaneously acquired the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club through Putterboy LLC. Robert Dedman, Jr., is currently the general partner of Putterboy, Ltd. and president of the Dedman family enterprise, DFI Management, Ltd. He was elected to the SMU Board of Trustees in 2004 and has served as secretary of the Board since 2010. He also currently serves on the Executive Boards of Dedman College and Dedman School of Law and on the Second Century Campaign Leadership Council. He previously served SMU on the board of the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College, the 21st Century Council and the Texas Campaign Committee for The Campaign for SMU.
Rachael Redeker Dedman, wife of Robert Dedman, Jr., currently serves on the Board of Directors of the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies and the Executive Board of Dedman School of Law and previously served on the Executive Board of Meadows School of the Arts.
The Dedman family’s new $5 million gift counts toward the $750 million goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised more than $631 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.
The Dallas Morning News: Dedman Foundation gives $5 million to SMU (subscription required)