Linda Hart

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: guildhall.smu.edu

“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

Lyle School announces Hart Center for Engineering Leadership

Caruth Hall, Lyle School of Engineering, SMUDallas business and philanthropic leaders Linda and Mitch Hart are providing a gift to fund the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership in SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering.

Housed in the Palmer Engineering Leadership Complex in the Lyle School’s new Caruth Hall, the Hart Center will build on the Lyle School’s co-op and internship programs, adding leadership seminars and workshops, a business plan competition, community engagement projects, innovation competitions and mentoring relationships.

Career fairs, mock interviews, a series of debates on engineering ethics and formal, videotaped presentations made in an executive boardroom will help students develop social and communication skills as they prepare to enter the workforce.

The concept for the multifaceted program emerged from growing evidence that successful, contemporary engineering leaders rely on a variety of skills that go beyond applied math and science. The Hart Center works with faculty across the campus to provide focused curricula and personal and team experiences to develop the leadership skills of future engineers.

For example, the engineering student who needs to build confidence for formal presentations may be guided toward a theater class offered through SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. A business plan competition offered in collaboration with the Cox School of Business can introduce students to working with a multidisciplinary team.

Approximately 750 undergraduate students in the Lyle School, including about 250 first-year students, are participating in the program this semester. Hart Center programs also are available to graduate students.

“This project has special meaning for both Linda and Mitch, who have a passion for promoting leadership,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The Linda and Mitch Hart Center for Engineering Leadership will prepare all of our students at the Lyle School to succeed with a strong combination of technical, management, communication and social skills essential for leadership and collaboration.”

“Over my lifetime, I have learned that leadership is not defined by a position,” said Mitch Hart. “A leader is someone people choose to follow – someone who can make a difference. It is my great pleasure to work with the Lyle School to provide students the tools they need to develop their leadership skills and maintain engineering’s role as a driver of economic growth.”

“Today’s engineers will be called upon not only to excel in their fields and be persuasive, but also to interpret their expertise in both business and public settings, contribute their talents to civic issues, and consider the ethical dimensions of problems and solutions,” said Linda Hart. “This Center will add tremendous value to an SMU engineering education by connecting Lyle students to faculty from a variety of non-engineering disciplines who will help hone their leadership skills.”

“This unique program is key to the expanding role of engineers in our economy and society,” said Lyle School Dean Geoffrey Orsak. “Our engineers will be able to work across disciplines, cultures and management styles to get things done – an absolute necessity to maintain our nation’s competitiveness.”

(Above, SMU’s Caruth Hall, home of the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership.)

> Read more from SMU News
> Visit the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership online

Calendar Highlights: Oct. 20, 2009

Scott ApplebyDarwin Year continues: Scott Appleby (right), professor of history and director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, will speak on “From Apocalypse to Accommodation: Catholic, Protestant and Jewish Responses to Darwin in America, 1865-1910” at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 20 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. The lecture is the latest event in SMU’s year-long “Darwin’s Evolving Legacy” series. Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies in Dedman College, the Office of the Chaplain and Religious Life and the Catholic Campus Ministry. Free and open to the public.

Reading and results: SMU Distinguished Professor of Education Leadership and Policy Reid Lyon will speak on “Leadership Lessons: Turning the Agony of Reading Failure Around” at 8 a.m. Oct. 22 at the Park City Club, 17th floor, 5956 Sherry Lane in Dallas. The lecture is part of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Focus on Education Series. Cost is $45 for non-Chamber members. Register online at the Chamber’s website; click on the Events tab.

President’s Leadership Summit: Hart Group Vice Chair and CEO Linda Hart will share her experiences and expertise with SMU students in President R. Gerald Turner’s Leadership Summit at 5 p.m. Oct. 22 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum. No RSVP is needed. For more information, contact Leadership and Community Involvement, 214-768-4403.

Perkins Interdisciplinary Dialogue: The ongoing struggles of everyday life as a source of theological reflection and of women’s influence in society will be the topic of “Lo Cotidiano: Daily Life, Stage for Religious Understanding” Oct. 27 in the Prothro Hall Refectory, Room 104. The discussion will be moderated by Ada Maria Isasi Diaz, visiting professor, Perkins School of Theology; and Josephine Caldwell-Ryan, Women’s and Gender Studies, Dedman College. A light dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m., followed by discussion 7-8:30 p.m. To register, contact Rachel Lamb.

Faculty Club Distinguished Luncheon: SMU Associate Provost Ellen Jackofsky will speak on “Women at SMU: Creating and Continuing a Meaningful Legacy” in the next Distinguished Luncheon at noon Oct. 28 in the SMU Faculty Club. Lunch is $12 for members, $15 for nonmembers. RSVP by Oct. 23 to Dee Powell, 214-768-3012.