SMU Economic Impact ReportSMU President R. Gerald Turner had a clear message for a group of business and civic leaders gathered at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas: The return on investment in SMU made by Dallas leaders more than 100 years ago continues to be strong.

In a Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 update on SMU’s economic impact, Turner outlined the growth in reputation for all seven of the University’s degree-granting schools, including the creation of more than a dozen centers and institutes addressing issues like education, criminal justice reform and international business. Most notably, he said, SMU is transforming into a new era of teaching and research fueled by a powerful digital infrastructure.

The University now offers 13 graduate programs in data science and is powered by ManeFrame II, among the top 20 supercomputers in North American higher education. In addition, SMU partners with organizations such as the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, AT&T, Raytheon, Big Thought, Harvard and MIT.

President Turner also emphasized that SMU’s high-speed supercomputer is accessible with no waiting to students, faculty and research partners outside SMU – and that a University that can complete data analysis in any discipline faster, without long wait times for access, has an advantage.

The five-year investment of $85 million in high speed computing, data science curriculum and planned Gerald J. Ford Research Center has an additional strategic purpose: It can deliver more bang for the research buck than a comparable investment in additional wet labs for handling chemicals and biological matter. The University aims to generate $100 million a year in research, Turner said, and the infusion of data science into research across disciplines – combined with important work accomplished in University wet labs – will help SMU get there.

— Written by Kim Cobb

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