Former Texas Governor William P. Clements Jr., a longtime major supporter of SMU academic programs, died May 29, 2011 in Dallas. He was 94 years old.
Clements’ relationship with SMU began in the mid-1930s, when he was an engineering student. Through the years he and his wife, Rita, have contributed more than $21 million for some of SMU’s highest academic priorities, including support for his special interest in the Southwest.
“Bill Clements’ generosity and guidance have made a significant impact on academic programs throughout SMU, with major gifts supporting engineering, theology, mathematics and history,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “By endowing the Clements Department of History, including a new Ph.D. program, and the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, he enabled students ranging from undergraduates to doctoral fellows to learn more about the history and cultures of this region. Bill and Rita Clements also made it possible for SMU to acquire, rebuild and offer academic programs at SMU-in-Taos, located on the site of historic Fort Burgwin in northern New Mexico. This facility has given generations of students and faculty a tremendous and unique resource for teaching, learning and research.
“Earlier, as chair of SMU’s Board from 1967-73 and again from 1983-86, Bill Clements led the formation of an endowment committee resulting in dramatic increases in market value. He led funding of the campus master plan that continues to guide our academic offerings, and with an eye for detail in bricks and mortar, he preserved the continuity of SMU’s Collegiate Georgian architecture.
“All this he accomplished with his typical no-nonsense approach and direct style of communication. His legacy as a business leader, public official and supporter of SMU will stand the test of time. He was a member of the SMU community for more than 70 years and he will be greatly missed.”
A memorial service honoring the life of Governor Clements will be held 4 p.m. Thursday, June 2 at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.
Gifts to SMU in memory of Governor Clements can be directed to the William P. Clements Jr. Memorial Fund. Visit the SMU Giving homepage for information on how to make a gift to SMU.
Above, Bill and Rita Clements at the 2009 opening of new student housing they helped to provide for the SMU-in-Taos campus on the grounds of Fort Burgwin, New Mexico. Photo by Hillsman S. Jackson.