alumni news

Linda and Mitch Hart commit significant gift to SMU’s Ford Research and Innovation Building

Linda and Milledge 'Mitch' A. Hart IIIDallas business leaders Linda Wertheimer Hart ’65 and Milledge (Mitch) A. Hart, III have committed a significant gift to the Gerald J. Ford Research and Innovation Building at SMU. The new facility will house the University’s Linda and Mitch Hart eCenter, which includes SMU Guildhall, the world’s top-ranked graduate game design program. The building will be located on SMU’s main campus at the corner of McFarlin Boulevard and Airline Road.

“Thanks to the Harts’ generosity, we are one step closer to creating a world-class center for research and innovation on our campus,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are excited about the synergies we’ll derive from bringing advanced computer programs together under one roof.”

In 2000, the Harts made a generous gift to establish the Hart eCenter, currently located at SMU-in-Plano, as well as to endow the eCenter’s directorship. The Hart eCenter focuses on interdisciplinary research, education and innovation; it is the first university-wide initiative focused on interactive network technologies created at a major research university. Reporting directly to SMU’s provost, the Hart eCenter uses this freedom and flexibility to promote thought leadership at the intersections of multiple fields and disciplines.

The Hart eCenter’s most visible manifestation is SMU Guildhall. Since its founding in 2003, the program has graduated more than 700 students, who now work at more than 250 video game studios around the world. SMU Guildhall offers both a Master of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development degree and a Professional Certificate of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development, with specializations in Art, Design, Production and Programming. In 2017, the Guildhall was named the world’s “No. 1 Graduate Program for Game Design” by The Princeton Review, based on a survey of 150 institutions in the United States, Canada and abroad that offer game design coursework and/or degrees.

> Visit SMU Guildhall online:

“SMU understands the value of interdisciplinary research in creating new knowledge and discovering new approaches to solving the world’s challenges. With a new facility dedicated to building these research collaborations, the University is stepping forward as an innovation leader,” said Linda Hart. “The growth of SMU Guildhall, both in programming and in stature, has been a source of tremendous pride for Linda and me ever since we made our first gift to establish the Hart eCenter. I look forward to seeing the exciting work this internationally recognized program will produce as it extends and expands its cutting-edge research in interactive technologies,” said Mitch Hart.

The Ford Research and Innovation Building was established with a $15 million lead gift commitment from Gerald J. Ford ’66, ’69 and Kelli O. Ford to construct a campus research center supporting SMU’s goal to expand advanced computing and interdisciplinary research throughout the University.

“One of SMU’s strengths is the research and other work we do at the intersection of multiple disciplines,” said Steven C. Currall, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We plan to continue building on this strength to advance and expand our research capability.”

In addition to the Hart eCenter and SMU Guildhall, the new building will house the AT&T Center for Virtualization, which will allow researchers from across the University to conduct interdisciplinary work to address the technical, economic, social and security issues associated with virtual technologies and their applications. It also will be the home of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, established in May 2012 through a gift from the Dedman Foundation.

It is expected that the availability of the Ford Research and Innovation Building will encourage more faculty to use high-performance computing and attract greater levels of external research funding. The University’s Second Century Campaign added 54 new substantially endowed faculty positions, bringing SMU’s current total to 120, many of them senior-level scholars with active research agendas. Along with other faculty who are leading important research projects, these scholars need and expect the best facilities to support their work. In addition, high-performance computing will apply directly to the undergraduate curriculum in several disciplines.

“Linda and Mitch Hart have been visionary supporters of SMU for many years. This gift reaffirms their dedication to the University as a leader in interdisciplinary research and education,” said Brad E. Cheves, SMU vice president for Development and External Affairs. “We are incredibly grateful for their support of excellence and innovation among our faculty and students, and for the opportunity to share these world-changing capabilities with our North Texas and global communities.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

Sarah Fullinwider Perot ’83 to be honored at 25th annual ‘Meadows at the Meyerson’ concert Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Meadows Symphony Orchestra, SMU

SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts will present its 25th annual “Meadows at the Meyerson” concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora Street in Dallas. The event will feature works by Barber and Mahler, performed by the critically acclaimed Meadows Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Paul Phillips. The event supports talented Meadows students through the Meadows Scholars Program.

The annual spring concert also honors a community leader. This year, the honoree is noted philanthropist and arts advocate Sarah Fullinwider Perot, and the event chair is Melissa Fetter. SMU President R. Gerald Turner and Algur H. Meadows Dean Sam Holland will provide remarks at the event.

Tickets to the Meadows at the Meyerson concert are $17 for students and SMU faculty and staff. A $10 discount is available for Meadows subscribers. For tickets, contact the Meadows box office at 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

The program will include Samuel Barber’s First Essay for Orchestra, op. 12, and Toccata Festiva, op. 36 ,for organ and orchestra. Award-winning organist Stefan Engels, Leah Young Fullinwider Centennial Chair in Music Performance at the Meadows School, will be guest soloist. The program will conclude with Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, a dynamic work incorporating sounds of nature, folk music, a funeral procession and a heroic, triumphal ending.

“Meadows at the Meyerson celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2018, and has continued to be a musical highlight of the year,” said Dean Holland. “It is an opportunity to showcase the skill and dedication of our gifted students and the critically acclaimed Meadows Symphony on a world-class stage, and to raise scholarship funds for our Meadows Scholars Program. Now in its tenth year, the Meadows Scholars Program’s ever-increasing impact over the past decade can be measured by rising test scores, artistry and diversity with each incoming class. We are also thrilled this year to honor Sarah Fullinwider Perot, who works tirelessly to give, lead and advocate for arts and culture in Dallas. We are proud to claim her as a Meadows alumna.”

Event honoree Sarah Fullinwider Perot graduated from SMU in 1983 with a B.A. in journalism and broadcast film, and is currently president of the Sarah & Ross Perot, Jr. Foundation, which focuses on education, basic human need and patriotic philanthropy. She serves on the SMU Board of Trustees, as well as the executive boards of the SMU Meadows School, Dedman College and Tower Center for Political Studies.  Her service to the Dallas community includes fundraising efforts for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas Symphony and as chair of The Sweetheart Ball. She has been recognized with the TACA Silver Cup Award for her contributions to the arts in North Texas and was the recipient of the 2016 SMU Distinguished Alumni Award.

— Written by Victoria Winkelman

> Read the full story from SMU News

2018 SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage will travel under a new name, with a new endowment from Kelvin Beachum Jr. ’11, ’12

Kelvin Beachum Jr. on the field

New York Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum Jr. ’11, ’12 has made an endowment and naming gift to the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage. The SMU alumnus is a former Pilgrimage  participant.

When the 2018 Civil Rights Pilgrimage leaves SMU on Friday, March 9, it will do so with a new name and a new endowment. The Dennis Simon Endowed Civil Rights Pilgrimage has received a $100,000 endowment gift from New York Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum Jr. ’11, ’12.

Beachum and his wife, Jessica, visited campus to celebrate the gift on Thursday, March 8, 2018. The gift renames the pilgrimage the Dennis Simon Endowed Civil Rights Pilgrimage in honor of the SMU political science professor who led the program from 2008 to 2015. Dr. Simon died in February 2017.

An NFL athlete since 2012, Beachum devotes his off-the-field efforts to providing opportunities for students, particularly for minority youth. Since 2012, Beachum also has supported the pilgrimage that was so meaningful to him by funding scholarships and paying for meals for participants.

“Dr. Simon’s empathy and sympathy for those who went through the civil rights era was palpable,” Beachum said. “His urgency for students to know what happened then and how it has affected our current society always resonated with me.”

> Learn more about the Dennis Simmon Endowed Civil Rights Pilgrimage from the Chaplain’s Office

Under Simon’s leadership, the trip featured stops at meaningful sites in the civil rights movement, such as Little Rock High School, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s parsonage in Montgomery, Alabama. History came alive at each spot thanks to Simon’s friendships with original participants he called civil rights “foot soldiers,” who shared their recollections with students.

Dennis Simon, SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage

The late Dennis Simon (front row, second from right) led the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage from 2008 to 2016 – combining an existing Chaplain’s Office program with his own class, “The Politics and Legacies of the Civil Rights Movement.”

“We had a chance to meet members of the Little Rock 9, the African American students who integrated Little Rock High School in 1957,” Beachum remembers. “We stepped inside the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which was bombed in 1963 by members of the Ku Klux Klan. We walked over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, site of the 1965 Bloody Sunday march. I literally followed in the footsteps of some very important and impactful agents for change and progress, some of whom gave their life.”

— Written by Nancy George

Read the full story from SMU News

Energy industry leader Kyle D. Miller ’01 honored with SMU gifts exceeding $5 million

Kyle D. Miller

Cox Distinguished Alumnus Kyle D. Miller ’01 has been honored by a tribute gift to SMU of more than $5 million.

A consortium of donors has honored SMU alumnus and energy industry leader Kyle D. Miller ’01 with more than $5 million in contributions to his alma mater. SMU Trustee Tucker S. Bridwell ’73, ’74 led the effort to assemble tribute gifts in recognition of Miller’s success in the energy industry; Bridwell and his wife, Gina, personally contributed to the effort, along with other SMU alumni and industry colleagues.

In recognizing Miller’s expertise and accomplishment in the energy finance arena, the majority of the tribute will establish the Kyle D. Miller Energy Management Program and the Kyle D. Miller Energy Scholarship Fund in the Edwin L. Cox School of Business. Both initiatives will receive endowment and current-use funding.

The gift also will include a naming opportunity honoring Miller and his love of athletics within SMU’s planned Indoor Performance Center.

Dallas Morning News: Investors mark SMU alum’s success with $5 million gusher of donations

“It’s a fitting tribute that Kyle’s colleagues have chosen to honor him by supporting both academic and athletic programs,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Kyle was named outstanding young alumnus for the Cox School of Business in May 2015, and these contributions will help position other students to find the kind of success he has achieved in energy finance.”

“It’s a fitting tribute that Kyle’s colleagues have chosen to honor him by supporting both academic and athletic programs,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Kyle was named outstanding young alumnus for the Cox School of Business in May 2015, and these contributions will help position other students to find the kind of success he has achieved in energy finance.”

For Bridwell, the opportunity to lead the effort to honor Miller while supporting SMU students and student-athletes was a perfect combination. “Kyle’s education at SMU helped lead to his success in energy finance,” Bridwell said. “The creation of this new program, scholarship fund and the plans for the new Indoor Performance Center provided all of us a chance to help future SMU students and student-athletes succeed and aspire to great careers while honoring Kyle, his achievements so far and his passion for the Mustangs.”

“I am humbled and honored by the generosity, kindness and vision represented by this effort,” said Miller, who served as the president and CEO of Silver Hill Energy Partners, LLC and Silver Hill Energy Partners II, LLC prior to their acquisition in 2016. “I want to thank everyone who contributed to all of these initiatives that will benefit students and the broader community in the years to come.”

The Energy Management Program will be based in the Maguire Energy Institute. It will augment the school’s existing MBA Concentration in Energy Finance and will strengthen the undergraduate offering in energy to meet the rising demand for BBA graduates in the energy sector. The program will also offer the Cox School multiple opportunities in executive education. Traditional business disciplines, particularly accounting and finance positions, currently comprise 6.1 percent of the total energy workforce, and this percentage is rising. In addition, the energy sector is increasingly technology-driven, placing greater emphasis on efficiency and productivity. Both of these characteristics fit the Cox School’s expertise in financial education and its strategy to enhance technology and innovation-based curricula in its programs.

Academic management of the program will be provided by Professor Kumar Venkataraman. He will be appointed to the Cary M. Maguire Chair of Oil and Gas Management and will work closely with the Director of the Maguire Energy Institute, Bruce Bullock, to provide modern and relevant curricula.

The operational side of the program will be managed by a director whose position will be funded by the gift that establishes the program, and who also will work closely with the Maguire Chair and the Director of the Maguire Energy Institute.

The Kyle D. Miller Energy Management Scholarship Fund will provide funds for both BBA Scholars and MBA Scholarships. Scholarships continue to be a competitive factor in the recruitment of highly qualified students to both undergraduate and graduate programs. The potential to attract the most talented students – those who would excel in the Cox BBA Energy Concentration or MBA Concentration in Energy Finance and be highly sought-after by corporate and industry leaders – grows as the value of scholarships increases. This fund will elevate the student profile for the energy management program.

“This is a very exciting new program and scholarship fund that will further increase the competitiveness of SMU and the Cox School of Business,” said Cox Dean Matthew Myers. “We are delighted that both the Kyle D. Miller Energy Management Program and the Kyle D. Miller Energy Management Scholarship Fund will be endowed so that they will continue in perpetuity.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

$15 million gift to endow SMU’s Hunt Leadership Scholars Program

Hunt Scholars Group Portrait with Tate Speaker Indra Nooyi

Nancy Ann Hunt (third from left, front row) and Ray L. Hunt (fifth from left, front row) with Hunt Leadership Scholars.

A $15 million gift from the Nancy Ann Hunt Foundation (a supporting organization of the Communities Foundation of Texas) will ensure the long-term support of one of SMU’s signature scholarship programs. With this gift, Nancy Ann ’65 and Ray L. Hunt ’65 will have contributed $65 million to the University’s Hunt Leadership Scholars Program – a nationally recognized scholarship program that attracts academically gifted and exceptional service-driven student leaders from across the country.

In 1993, the Hunts  and SMU announced a vision to create an annually funded leadership program to preserve the well-rounded and entrepreneurial nature of SMU’s student body while the University grew its academic standing. They believed that an SMU education fosters, and benefits from, students who exhibit demonstrated leadership skills, intellectual ability, a spirit of entrepreneurism and a strong work ethic, combined with a desire to grow these skills and apply them in service of the community.

> Learn more about SMU’s Hunt Leadership Scholars Program:

“SMU has benefited enormously from Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt’s historic generosity,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Today SMU receives three times the number of applicants than it did in 1993 with many now having proven leadership, entrepreneurial and academic strengths. Therefore, although the Hunts feel that the original program’s objectives have been accomplished, we were delighted when they agreed to make this significant gift that will enable the University to create an endowment to insure the long-term continuation of the Leadership Scholars program and the legacy that the Hunts have created.”

“We are grateful for the impact this program has had upon the lives of so many students, both at SMU and beyond, in terms of preserving and enhancing the entrepreneurial spirit and “Texas heritage” which Nancy Ann and I enjoyed years ago when we were both students at SMU,” said Ray L. Hunt. “We are honored that SMU wishes to sustain this program in perpetuity to meet the needs of students at SMU and the Greater Dallas community in the years to come.”

“Our intent was to create a scholarship program that would be based upon more than just strong academic credentials,” said Nancy Ann Hunt.  “We wanted to help SMU attract truly outstanding students who demonstrate a strong potential to be a leader throughout their lives; young men and women who will stand up, speak out, and make a positive difference to a broader community.  We firmly believe that Hunt Scholars represent that type of person.”

Ten million dollars of the Hunts’ gift will be placed in an endowment that will generate funds in perpetuity. The remaining $5 million will be spent over the next several years as the endowment matures, allowing time to develop additional sources of support for the Hunt Leadership Scholars Program.

— Written by Regina Moldovan

> Read the full story from SMU News

SMU Guildhall students play games for good during 2017 Extra Life Game-a-Thon Dec. 2-3

Extra Life logo 2017This weekend, you can join SMU Guildhall for 24 hours of esports excitement and gaming for good – all from the comfort of your living room.

The Guildhall’s Extra Life Game-a-Thon returns Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2-3, 2017, to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network. The student-led event features online battles in both popular titles and new student-designed games, and the event will be streamed from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. both days on the SMU Guildhall Twitch channel.

Watch Extra Life 2017 live at Twitch.TV/SMUGuildhall

Guildhall graduate students have raised more than $12,000 for Children’s Medical Center Plano during their two years of Extra Life competition. The team has set a 2017 goal of $7,500, with The Hersh Foundation pledging to match dollar-for-dollar all funds raised up to $10,000. The Dallas-based foundation was created in 1997 by Kenneth A. Hersh, president and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and his wife, Julie, who serves as its president.

> Visit Team SMU Guildhall’s Extra Life direct-donation link

The students will return with some of the most popular competition titles, including Mario Party, Rocket League Tournament and Overwatch. New this year: Mowin’ and Throwin’, a full-length game designed by Guildhall alumni that began as a 24-hour design challenge during last year’s game-a-thon.

> Sign up for a Mowin’ and Throwin’ play test at House Pixel Games

A partial list of this year’s tournament titles:

The event will include an appearance by local esports team Dallas Fuel, competitors in the new Overwatch League. They will discuss the life of a professional esports gamer beginning at 5:15 p.m. on Sunday. In addition, SMU Guildhall will give away two copies of Star Wars Battlefront II provided by alumni donors; more giveaways and fun activities will take place throughout the weekend and will be announced during the streams of each game.

Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $30 million for sick children through thousands of gamers from around the world, raising funds from friends and community to help heal sick and injured kids. One hundred percent of donations, which are tax-deductible, go to local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

> Read the press release from the SMU Guildhall website

> Learn more at the SMU Guildhall Extra Life team page

Bishop Michael McKee ’78 named 2017 Distinguished Alumnus by Perkins School of Theology

Bishop Michael McKeeMichael McKee, SMU trustee and resident bishop of the Dallas Area of The United Methodist Church, has been named the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. He will be honored during the annual awards banquet on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 at 5 p.m. in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall.

Bishop McKee was selected for the award by the Perkins Alumni/ae Council for his demonstrated effectiveness and integrity in service to the church, continuing support and involvement in the goals of Perkins School of Theology and SMU, distinguished service in the wider community and exemplary character.

A native of Fort Worth, Bishop McKee’s service to The United Methodist Church, to Southern Methodist University, and to Perkins School of Theology has spanned almost five decades and has influenced the denomination at the local, regional, national, and global levels.

“Bishop McKee is an outstanding choice for the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award,” said Perkins Dean Craig C. Hill. “Throughout his ministry, he has been a faithful servant of both The United Methodist Church and Perkins School of Theology, and I — like so many others — have come to rely on his judgment and to count on his assistance.”

“There is no better partner in the work of our school,” Dean Hill said.

In his nomination letter, Dr. John Robbins — senior pastor of Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston — cited Bishop McKee’s extraordinary and courageous leadership through the years.

“He served the local church with distinction with every congregation he led experiencing significant growth,” he said. “His strong leadership created an exceptional level of respect from his clergy colleagues, as well as countless lay people. He has never shied away from challenges or conflicts that might impede his ability to share the Gospel message through the spoken word and hands-on efforts,” Dr. Robbins said. “Because of that and many other accomplishments, he is more than deserving of this prestigious honor.”

A member of the SMU Board of Trustees since 2012, he has been a member of the Perkins Executive Board since 2004 and currently serves as its chair. He was a member of the Perkins Dean Search Committee in 2016 and was co-chair of the successful Second Century Campaign, which increased financial aid and faculty chair endowments at Perkins School of Theology.

Bishop McKee is president of the Board of the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), a member of the Council of Bishops Executive Committee and is immediate past-president of the South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops. In addition to SMU, he serves on the Boards of Trustees of the Texas Methodist Foundation, Southwestern University, and Methodist Health System, Dallas

Elected to the episcopacy by the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church in 2012, he previously served for 15 years as senior minister of First UMC in Hurst, Texas. He was appointed as senior minister of Overton Park UMC, Meadowbrook UMC in Fort Worth, and First UMC in Joshua. Bishop McKee also served as associate pastor of First UMC in Fort Worth and Richland Hills UMC.

A clergy member of the Central Texas Annual Conference prior to his election to the episcopacy, he was ordained Deacon in 1975 and Elder in 1979. He served as chair of the annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry, was elected delegate to the General Conference in 2008 and 2012, and was an alternate delegate in 2004. In addition, he was a delegate to South Central Jurisdictional Conferences each quadrennium from 2004-2012.

Bishop McKee received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin (1973), a Master of Theology from Perkins School of Theology of Southern Methodist University (1978), and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Texas Wesleyan University (2005). He is married to Joan (Craig) McKee and they have two adult children: Erin McKee Chidsey, son-in-law Darin, and grandsons Knox and Ford, Los Angeles, California; and Meredith McKee, who lives in Dallas.

> Buy tickets for the SMU Perkins awards banquet online

New book on Holocaust Poland commemorates 10th anniversary of SMU human rights program

'No Resting Place' book coverBearing witness to Poland’s deep physical and emotional scars that linger long after World War II – when the Nazis made the country the epicenter of the Holocaust – is the focus of a new book by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.

No Resting Place: Holocaust Poland (Terrace Partners, $39.95) combines more than 200 contemporary photos of occupied Poland’s deadliest Holocaust sites with historical vignettes and poignant observations from those who have experienced one of the most comprehensive, longest-running Shoah study trips offered by a U.S. university.

> Read a preview of No Resting Place: Holocaust Poland

Each December, the two-week “Holocaust Poland” trip – led for more than 20 years by SMU Prof. Rick Halperin – exposes students and lifelong learners to the Third Reich’s genocidal “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Both the trip and book are meant to ensure historical remembrance and “history as warning,” says history professor and co-author Halperin. “In our increasingly polarized world, where hate crimes against Jews and Muslims are on the rise, the need for tolerance and understanding has never been greater.”

Dallas philanthropist and SMU alumna Lauren Embrey (’80, ’06) couldn’t agree more. Embrey’s life would be profoundly changed by the 2005 “Holocaust Poland” pilgrimage she took while pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) degree at SMU. In 2006, Lauren, her sister Gayle, and their Embrey Family Foundation funded the pioneering Embrey Human Rights Program, led by Halperin, within SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. In 2012, enthusiasm for the program allowed SMU to go from offering a human rights minor and MLS concentration in human rights and social justice to providing a Bachelor of Arts degree in the field, making SMU one of only five U.S. universities to do so. (Since then, two others have followed suit.)

Since Halperin began leading SMU study trips to Poland in 1996, the number of participants has grown from a handful to more than three dozen who went on the 20th anniversary pilgrimage in 2016 (including two dozen students able to travel thanks to a gift from SMU alumnus Mike Disque ’64 and his wife, Cherri). To commemorate the program’s 10th anniversary and trip’s second decade, Halperin teamed up with SMU colleagues Sherry Aikman and Denise Gee to create No Resting Place.

The trio’s primary objective was to produce a book sensitively depicting “the last places ever seen by millions of innocent people who didn’t want to die in such horrific places,” Halperin says. “And unlike most other Holocaust books we wanted this one to be produced in color – because the Holocaust happened in color.”

— Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

Congressman Sam Johnson ’51 creates scholarship fund, donates archive to SMU

Rep. Sam Johnson, SMU Class of 1951As Congressman and war hero Sam Johnson ’51 prepares to retire from the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, he is making two gifts to SMU that will support the education of military veterans and preserve for future study papers and materials from a 29-year military career and 26 years in Congress.

A gift of $100,000 will establish The Hon. Sam Johnson Endowed Military Scholarship Fund, with the Collin County Business Alliance (CCBA) providing seed funding to make the scholarship operational for the 2018-19 academic year. Members of the student U.S. Military Veterans of SMU (SMU MilVets) joined the CCBA for the scholarship gift announcement in early October.

SMU’s Board of Trustees and President R. Gerald Turner will celebrate both the scholarship and the donation of Rep. Johnson’s papers and other materials to the University during an on-campus reception at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Fondren Library.

“SMU helped shape me into the person I am today, and I can’t think of a better way to say thank you to my alma mater than with this scholarship and library gift,” Johnson said. “I’m grateful to join SMU in making a commitment to the military and its families by helping these deserving individuals achieve their higher education. And I’m hopeful that this library archive will help inspire future generations to build a legacy of service on behalf of others and our great nation.”

Johnson’s archive will be housed in DeGolyer Library, SMU’s special collections repository.

“We have always been proud to hold up Sam Johnson as an example to our students,” Turner said.  “His courage and strength of character helped him survive nearly seven years as a prisoner during the Vietnam War. The military veterans on our campus who benefit from his support will be doubly proud that their scholarships carry his name, and we will all benefit from the donation of his archive.”

“Congressman Sam Johnson has made a tremendous, positive impact on our community that will continue to be felt by generations to come. His distinguished legacy endures with his scholarship for military students, which will widen opportunities for deserving men and women who have unselfishly served our country,” said CCBA Chairman and President, Capital One Financial Services, Sanjiv Yajnik.

Johnson received a Distinguished Alumni Award from SMU in 1994, the highest honor the University bestows on its graduates.

Johnson, 86, grew up in Dallas.  He began his career in public service in ROTC at SMU, where he also was a member of Delta Chi and Alpha Kappa Psi fraternities, and graduated in 1951 with a B.B.A. degree in insurance and real estate. He and Shirley Melton Johnson ’51 married the year before they graduated. Mrs. Johnson passed away in 2015.

During his 29-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Johnson served as the director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School and was one of two authors of the air tactics manual that is still used today. After retiring as a colonel from the Air Force in 1979, Johnson started a home-building business in North Dallas. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1985, where he served until winning the race for Texas’ 3rd congressional district in 1991. Johnson announced in a January letter to his constituents that he plans to retire at the end of his term in 2018.

SMU and the Johnson family welcome additional contributions to The Hon. Sam Johnson Endowed Military Scholarship Fund. Gifts may be made here.

— Written by Kenny Ryan

> Read the full story from SMU News

Mary Vernon Painting Prize honors longtime art professor, helps launch young artists’ careers

Nicolas Gonzalez and Mary Vernon

Nicolás González and Mary Vernon

Mary Vernon plans to retire in May 2018, and Meadows School of the Arts wanted to create a fitting honor for the longtime art and art history professor. In 2016, along with a group of donors, the School established the Mary Vernon Painting Prize to help launch the careers of top art students.

Now, Meadows seeks to endow the prize fund in perpetuity, so that it can continue to help students establish their careers in the art world.

The School has set a goal of $100,000 or more to endow the annual award – presented to an undergraduate painter with the best body of work in the year, as judged by faculty. When fully vested, the endowment fund will generate $5,000 annually to be awarded to one or more promising art students.

To date, more than $60,000 has been secured toward the goal. An anonymous donor has offered to match dollar-for-dollar the next $20,000 in new gifts to help achieve or surpass the funding goal.

“In spring 2016, Mary told me it was time to transcend from an art student into an emerging artist,” says Nicolás González ’17, the prize’s first recipient. “She told me to invest my passion and time with painting materials that are rich in pigment and surfaces that are delicate to the touch. She said, ‘Let the world know that you are a painter, a serious painter, who knows how to paint.’”

The Mary Vernon Painting Prize has enabled González to purchase higher-quality painting supplies such as oils, Yupo paper, linen fabric and  brush script liners, he says. “Through these specific materials, my abilities as a painter have greatly expanded. They have allowed me to have a better understanding that the quality of the painting surface and the type of paint are very important.”

Vernon, says González, taught him to be brave and to persevere. “She encouraged me to never give up within the world of the arts,” he says. “There were times when I just wanted to throw in the towel, but every time, Mary seemed to always appear as a glowing light within the shadows of my fear. She would always encourage me to be better, to always do my best, and tell me that doors would always open as long as I turned the key. She said, ‘You already possess the key. It’s in your heart and soul, it speaks through your work. As long as you keep trying, doors will always open.’

“Mary Vernon is someone very special to this world and a true master of the arts and its history. Her love for the arts and her students is equal to none. I am so grateful to have Mary Vernon as my mentor, professor and true friend whom I hold close to my heart.”

— Written by Mary Guthrie

> Read the full story from the SMU Meadows homepage

Load More Posts