Gerald J. Ford is a member of the SMU Board of Trustees and Convening Co-chair of The Second Century Campaign. He is a current member of the executive board of Dedman School of Law and a past member of the executive boards of Cox School of Business and Dedman College and of the Board of Directors of John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies. He was honored with SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995 and the Mustang Award in 1997, recognizing significant philanthropic contributions to the University. Mr. Ford provided the lead gift for the Mustangs’ football stadium in 1997, established the Gerald J. Ford Research Fellows program honoring outstanding faculty and also supports student scholarships.
In his professional life, Mr. Ford is one of the nation’s most accomplished financial services executives. During the past 35 years, he has acquired, managed and sold banking businesses and other financial services companies. He currently serves as chair of Hilltop Holdings Inc., which acquired PlainsCapital Corporation in 2012. He also is the co-general partner and principal investor in Ford Financial Fund II, L.P., a private equity firm.
Campaign Update: As a trustee and a Second Century Campaign leader, you urged that SMU raise its campaign goal to $1 billion, which was done. Why was raising the goal important?
Ford: The notable investment made in SMU through the campaign demonstrates the University’s positive trajectory and unprecedented momentum. Raising and achieving the campaign goal is the next logical step for SMU as it expands its national and global impact.
CU: The Gerald J. Ford Research Fellowships were established through your support, and now you have provided a lead gift for a new research center. Why have you focused on research?
Ford: I have been impressed by the research advancements of our faculty. Over the years, in supporting the Ford Research Fellows, I have seen firsthand the contributions made by our faculty through their research. I am pleased to provide them with the next essential asset they need to continue their achievements.
CU: What would you say to others considering a gift to The Second Century Campaign about the importance of providing support for SMU?
Ford: I believe it is important that SMU alumni, parents and friends support all areas of the University – academic programs, scholarships, athletics and campus development. SMU is known for the breadth of the educational experience it provides, and this campaign is strengthening every critical component of the campus environment for our students.