Lyda Hill receives SMU’s 2015 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award

Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility

Lyda Hill receives SMU’s 2015 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award

Lyda HillLyda Hill, whose philanthropy is guided by the credo that “science is the answer,” received the 2015 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility at a luncheon on Thursday, April 2 at Dallas’ Belo Mansion. The annual award honors a community leader who exemplifies ethical, inspiring leadership.

Hill, president of the real estate, tourism and venture investment firm LH Holdings, and granddaughter of oilman H. L. Hunt, has spent her life dedicated to what she calls “balancing profit with a purpose.”

“I really believe that whether we’re talking hunger, poverty, cancer, you name it, science is where we’ll find the answers,” she told Philanthropy in 2014, adding that her focus is on “things that are going to make a big difference to a lot of people for a long time.”

“Over the past several years Lyda’s zest for adventure has been surpassed by the sheer joy she derives from making transformational gifts to organizations and causes dedicated to making Dallas a better community in which to live and work,” says Bobby B. Lyle ’67, vice-chairman of the Maguire Center advisory board, longtime SMU trustee and namesake of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering.

Lyle says Hill “has set audacious goals for her philanthropy,” with interests ranging from education to medical research to healthcare and human services for the elderly. “In whatever she undertakes, she sets the bar high and leads by example,” he says. “Many of her gifts are given quietly, without fanfare. Others are legendary. And all are having a tremendous positive impact on lives throughout our city and across the nation.”

In 2010 Hill became a member of The Giving Pledge, created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit a majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Hill has pledged to donate all of her assets to charity, the bulk of it during her lifetime. She was recognized in 2013 as the only single woman on the Philanthropy list of most generous donors, having now given an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars to “game-changing” charities primarily focused on life-sciences research.

Rita Kirk, director of the Maguire Center, notes that Hill quotes Walt Disney on her foundation’s website. “Like Disney, Lyda Hill makes it ‘fun to do the impossible.’ She understands the strategic use of her resources, the magic created when people dare to dream greatly, and the impact strategic giving can have on our community – and even the world.”

Hill was a founder of the Oklahoma Breast Care Center as well as Remeditex Ventures, which supports early biomedical research by universities and health care institutions “that can take promising advances to the marketplace quickly,” she says.

Her philanthropic support of the life sciences includes her $50 million gift pledged to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program, which aims to eliminate cancer through improved cancer-detection techniques and therapeutic treatments that Hill, a breast cancer survivor, hopes will “break cancer’s code.”

Hill also has donated $20 million to her alma mater, The Hockaday School, to fund a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program; $10 million to the “I Stand for Parkland” capital campaign; and $6 million in pledges to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the Center for Brain Health to help military service members and veterans recover from traumatic brain injuries.

Hill has helped a variety of environmental/marine conservation efforts through the Nature Conservancy and Pew Charitable Trusts. She also has supported such community-revitalization projects as Klyde Warren Park, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (named for her mother) and The Trinity Trust.

Past winners of the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award, now in its 18th year, include Gail Griffin Thomas, Nancy Ann & Ray Hunt, Walter J. Humann, Ruth S. Altshuler, Bob Buford, Ronald G. Steinhart, Michael M. Boone, Zan W. Holmes Jr., Roger Staubach, Caren Prothro, Tom Luce, Ron Anderson, Jack Lowe Jr., William T. Solomon, Stanley H. Marcus, Charles C. Sprague and Curtis W. Meadows Jr.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story from SMU News

April 1, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News|

Calendar Highlights: Feb. 18, 2015

Emanuel Cleaver II

Emanuel Cleaver II visits Perkins Chapel as a guest preacher on Thursday,, Feb. 19th.

The Cultural Realities of Cancer: Visiting SMU under the Department of Anthropology, Dr. Deborah O. Erwin, Director of the Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, will explore “The Cultural Realities of Cancer” and how individuals are impacted by this diagnosis. This free event will take place in the McCord Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 5 p.m. For more information, email Pamela Hogan.

Emanuel Cleaver II: Sponsored by the Perkins School of Theology Black Seminarians Association, U.S. Representative and United Methodist clergyman Emanuel Cleaver II will visit the Perkins Chapel as a guest preacher on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 11:30 a.m., during the regular worship service. Celebrating Black History Month, the theme for this worship service is “We’ve Come This Far by Faith and We Won’t Stop Now!” For more information about the chapel service and Rev. Cleaver’s visit, email Ailey Pope, the chair of the Black Seminarians Association at Perkins.  

Godbey Lecture Series: In honor of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the Godbey Lecture Series presents “Perspectives on Magna Carta” featuring three SMU professors as they illuminate the history and contribution of the document. The SMU professors include; Jeremy Q. Adams, Professor of History, Joshua Tate, Associate Professor of Law, and Ada-Maria Kuskowski, Assistant Professor of History. The event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 19, 5:30 p.m. in the Gene and Jerry Jones Great Hall, Meadows Museum. While the lecture is free and open to the public, guests are asked to please register online. For more information, visit the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute webpage or email Elizabeth Fieldling. 

Meadows Virtuosi Players: SMU Meadows School of the Arts presents “Meadows Virtuosi Players” on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 6:30 p.m., in the Caruth Auditorium. Formed in 2012, the Meadows Virtuosi Players concert series features select Meadows student musicians performing side-by-side with their faculty colleagues. This Saturday, directors Andrés Diaz and Matt Albert will be joined by Meadows voice faculty member Camille King. For more information, call 214.768.2787.

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Tate Lecture Series: SMU’s Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series presents Doris Kearns Goodwin, on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, best-selling author and presidential historian. While The Anita and Truman Arnold Lecture is already sold out, SMU students, faculty and staff are welcome to participate in the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. 

Research Day 2015: On Wednesday, Feb. 25, SMU graduate and undergraduate students are invited and encouraged to present results of ongoing and completed SMU-based research. Guests are welcomed to meet over 160 students engaged in research, and discover opportunities for future collaboration and entrepreneurship. The event will take place in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, Promenade Ballroom, from 2-5 p.m. For additional information, view the 2015 Research Day Catalog or email Sarah Sage. 

February 18, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News, Research, Save the Date|

Civic leader Gail Griffin Thomas ’58 receives SMU’s 2014 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award

Gail Griffin ThomasCivic leader Gail Griffin Thomas ’58, president and CEO of the Trinity Trust Foundation and a champion of urban transformation, received the 2014 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility during a Wednesday, March 19 luncheon at the Belo Mansion.

Thomas has been a  catalyst for inner city quality-of-life improvements for several decades. After Dallas residents approved the Trinity River Project in 1998 to create a centerpiece for the city and help neighborhoods feel a stronger connection to Dallas, Mayor Ron Kirk tapped Thomas to develop an operation to raise private funds for the plan.

In addition to Thomas’ Trinity Trust leadership role, she is director of the Dallas Institute’s Center for the City program, where she teaches and conducts seminars and conferences — something she has done for several decades in a host of U.S. and international cities.

The Trinity River Corridor Project consists of 20 miles and 10,000 acres of land in and along the Trinity River Corridor and the Great Trinity Forest. It seeks to protect downtown Dallas against future flooding while providing environmental restoration, improving transportation congestion, spurring economic development and creating a magnet for play. Upon its completion it will be considered the largest urban park in the U.S., including sports fields, trails, nature centers and recreational opportunities ranging from kayaking to horseback riding.

Thomas’ efforts for the Trinity project also helped inspire the philanthropic gifts for the design of Dallas’ two bridges designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. Currently she is seeking funds to build the Trinity Spine Trail from the Audubon Center to White Rock Lake.

“We give this award to someone with courage; someone who responds to challenges with a sense of grace and ethical direction,” said Maguire Center Director Rita Kirk. “Gail Thomas certainly represents all of those things.”

Thomas has written the books Healing Pandora: The Restoration of Hope and Abundance, Imagining Dallas and Pegasus, the Spirit of Cities. She co-authored Stirrings of Culture with Robert Sardello and Images of the Untouched with Joanne Stroud. Her next book, Recapturing the Soul of the City, is forthcoming, as is a play she is writing.

In addition, Thomas is a distinguished alumna of both SMU and The University of Dallas. She has been a national awards panelist for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been honored by the Texas Society of Architects and the American Institute of Architects.

Thomas and her husband, Bob Thomas, have three children and 10 grandchildren.

> Read the full story from SMU News


March 24, 2014|News|

‘When Life Strikes the White House’: SMU symposium examines effects of personal crises on U.S. presidencies

Black and white stock photo of the White House

SMU continues its schedule of events observing the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination with a symposium exploring the effects of personal crises on a presidential administration.

Experts from SMU and around the nation will participate in “When Life Strikes the White House: Death, Scandal, Illness, and the Responsibilities of a President,” a two-day examination of the effect of three types of turning points in the lives of sitting presidents – illness, personal matters made public, and death in the family. The symposium will explore what happens to a president and his administration when that president suffers a personal crisis, and whether it results in policy change or an identifiable change in historical moments.

The program begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 in the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza with a focus on John Kennedy. An all-day seminar on Wednesday, Feb. 19 on the SMU campus will examine Kennedy and 12 other presidents.

The symposium is presented by SMU’s Center for Presidential History, Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, George W. Bush Library and Museum and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

> More information and online registration at SMU’s Tower Center website

Richard Reeves

A summary of events, topics and speakers:

Tuesday, Feb. 18 – 7 p.m., Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (411 Elm Street, Dallas)

Richard Reeves, senior lecturer in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, will discuss the traumatic events at play in John Kennedy’s life during his tenure as president – Addison’s disease, the death of his infant son, and extramarital indiscretions.

An author and syndicated columnist who has made a number of award-winning documentary films, Reeves’ latest book is Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House (Abrams, 2010).

Wednesday, Feb. 19 – 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center, SMU

Personal Crises and Public Responsibility

  • A comparison of John Tyler and Gerald Ford: Mark Updegrove, presidential historian, author of Baptism by Fire: Eight Presidents Who Took Office During Times of Crisis (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009)
  • Bill Clinton: William Chafe, co-director of Duke University’s Program on History, Public Policy and Social Change
  • Andrew Jackson: Dan Feller, director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee
  • Lyndon Johnson: Randall Woods, Distinguished Professor, John A. Cooper Professor of History, University of Arkansas

Loss in the Family

  • Calvin Coolidge: Amity Shlaes, syndicated columnist, director of the Four Percent Growth Project at the George W. Bush Institute, author of Coolidge (Harper Collins, 2013)
  • Franklin Pierce: Michael Holt, emeritus professor of history at University of Virginia, author of Franklin Pierce (Times Books, 2010)
  • John Kennedy: David Nasaw, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History at City University of New York, award-winning author
  • Abraham Lincoln: Michael Burlingame, Chancellor and Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois-Springfield

Presidential Illness

  • Woodrow Wilson: Tom Knock, associate professor in SMU’s Clements Department of History, author of To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order (Princeton University Press, 1992)
  • Richard Nixon: Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, author of Henry Kissinger and the American Century (Harvard, 2007)
  • Ronald Reagan: Kiron Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, co-author of multiple books on the 40th president, including Reagan: A Life in Letters (The Free Press, 2001)
  • Franklin Roosevelt: Frank Costigliola, professor of history at the University of Connecticut, author of Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War (Princeton University Press, 2013)

Karen HughesCapstone Presentation – 7 p.m., George W. Bush Institute Auditorium (2943 SMU Boulevard)

Political and corporate strategist Karen Hughes ’77 – once named by The Associated Press as “perhaps the most influential woman ever to serve an American president” – will give the capstone presentation. Her ability to manage public policy, communications and politics helped brand George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservative” image, lending to the success of his gubernatorial campaigns beginning in 1994 and his subsequent campaigns for president.

From 2001-02 Hughes served as strategic adviser to President Bush on policy and communications, managing all communications, speech writing and media affairs for the White House. She served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2005-07. Now based in Austin, Hughes is worldwide vice chair of the public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, advising global business leaders on communications and branding strategies. She also serves on the board of SMU’s Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College.

For more information, call 214-768-3210 or e-mail SMU’s Center for Presidential History.

> Register online at the Tower Center homepage

February 14, 2014|Calendar Highlights, News|

Tune In: How J. Erik Jonsson transformed Dallas

Hundreds of Dallas’ leading public servants, including Mayor Mike Rawlings and DISD Superintendent Mike Miles, joined emerging leaders at SMU on Thursday, Feb. 6 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mayor J. Erik Jonsson’s citizen-led “Goals for Dallas.”

Jonsson, a founder of Texas Instruments, became mayor of Dallas in 1964, shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Already a strong advocate for education, he worked to improve morale and the image of the city throughout his term.

Jonsson’s “Goals for Dallas” initiative spurred the construction of DFW Airport, the Dallas Convention Center, the New Museum of Fine Arts and Dallas City Hall. The program helped establish public school kindergartens, citywide family planning, the University of Texas at Dallas, several branch libraries and neighborhood parks.

The sold-out event, “Goals for Dallas: The Impact of Ethical Leadership,” was sponsored by SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility and was held in the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom of SMU’s Umphrey Lee Center.

Maguire Ethics Center Director Rita Kirk spoke with KTXD’s “The Texas Daily” about “Goals for Dallas” on its 50th anniversary. Click the YouTube screen to watch, or open this link to see the KTXD Goals for Dallas segment in a new windowvideo

> Read more about SMU’s “Goals for Dallas: The Impact of Ethical Leadership” from SMU News

February 13, 2014|Faculty in the News, News, Tune In|
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