Caren H. Prothro completed two terms of service as chair of SMU’s Board of Trustees May 31. She continues to serve as co-chair of The Second Century Campaign. Her late husband, C. Vincent Prothro ’68, served as co-chair of the Perkins School of Theology capital campaign and was the son of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro ’39. Campaign Update asked Mrs. Prothro to share a few thoughts as she prepared to complete her service.
Campaign Update: How would you describe the experience of serving as chair of SMU’S Board of Trustees for two terms?
Prothro: The four years of my service as chair has been the most satisfying opportunity of a lifetime. I have been privileged to serve during one of the most exciting and productive times in SMU’s history. Many have made this unprecedented success possible, starting with President R. Gerald Turner. The commitment of dedicated trustees, faculty, students, alumni and staff is truly remarkable. There is a culture of caring that permeates every aspect of the University, from campus groundskeepers to the professors who teach and mentor students.
CU: What would you point to as some of the most important accomplishments of the last four years?
Prothro: Without question, exceeding the campaign goal of $750 million two years ahead of schedule was a huge achievement. The decision of the Board to raise the goal to $1 billion was historic and sends a strong message that SMU is on the rise. Another important milestone was achieving our goal of a 1300 average SAT score, thanks, in part, to support for scholarships. Centennial Faculty Endowments are bringing scholars of great distinction to campus, and I am confident that with only 14 more positions remaining, we will meet our ambitious goal of 110 endowed faculty positions by the end of the campaign. And new construction projects here and on the SMU-in-Taos campus have enhanced the quality of academic facilities and certainly the quality of student life.
CU: What kind of role do you see SMU playing in the future as a nationally recognized educational and research institution?
Prothro: SMU will build on a strong foundation in educating students for a life of learning, inquiry and service. We will continue to place a high value on a liberal arts education while supporting professional schools of the highest quality. And while other colleges and universities have experienced reductions in faculty hiring and research expenditures over the past decade, SMU has moved ahead in the strategic recruitment of top faculty engaged in cutting-edge research projects. For these reasons and many others, I am convinced that the best of SMU is still to come.
CU: What message would you deliver to the broader community about why it should care about SMU’s mission and its future impact on Dallas and the nation?
Prothro: Dallas needs the intellectual capital generated at SMU. SMU graduates have helped shape our city, the region and certainly our state. They have provided civic leadership, established and run major companies and led major cultural arts projects, elevating the reputation of Dallas as an international destination. SMU will continue to be integral to the strength and growing global reputation of Dallas and the region. This is why we should care about SMU as it moves into its second century of opportunity!