R. Gerald Turner

Memorial service for Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler ’48 held Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017

Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler '48 at a ceremony where she received SMU's 2011 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics AwardThe SMU community celebrated the life of civic and philanthropic leader Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler ’48, former chair of the SMU Board of Trustees, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Altshuler died Dec. 8.

As a leader, Altshuler was known for her intelligence, decisiveness, legendary fundraising skills and sense of humor. As a result, she became the first woman to lead numerous Dallas boards and organizations, including the Board of Trustees of her alma mater, SMU. Education, health and services for some of the most downtrodden members of society were areas that attracted her support, but her generosity touched nearly every Dallas civic organization. Her influence, however, went far beyond Dallas. Altshuler was recognized nationally and internationally as a dedicated civic leader and philanthropist.

“The loss of Ruth leaves a major hole in the hearts of us all,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Ruth was my dear friend as well as a tireless fighter for SMU and all causes she believed in. She didn’t do anything halfway. Her work on behalf of Dallas and SMU was legendary years ago, and yet she continued to lead and inspire us year after year. Her impact on her city and her University will live on forever.”

“Ruth was a wonderful member of the SMU Board of Trustees. She was high energy and full of enthusiasm in everything she did to help make SMU a leading global university,” said Michael M. Boone ’63, ’67, SMU Board of Trustees chair. “As a civic leader, Ruth fell into that special category known as the best of the best. The SMU community will miss her dearly.”

A Dallas native and 1948 SMU graduate, Altshuler served on the SMU Board of Trustees for 50 years. She brought knowledge and understanding of every aspect of University life to her position, along with a great love of SMU.

Altshuler has served on nearly every board or council at SMU, including individual schools, libraries, lecture series and search committees. She served on the executive boards of six out of SMU’s seven schools, as well as the executive boards of SMU’s libraries, Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series and the Maguire Ethics Center. In Altshuler’s 50 years of leadership, she worked with six SMU presidents, and helped select two of them as a member of the presidential search committees which appointed Dr. R. Gerald Turner and Dr. James H. Zumberge.

“I talked to Ruth almost every day,” said Brad Cheves, vice president for development and external affairs at SMU. “She was fully committed to this University — offering advice and counsel on all manner of topics. But ultimately what she was most committed to was helping get things done. It was never about Ruth; it was always about others and how she could help them accomplish more than they may have thought they could.”

Her understanding of SMU’s strengths and challenges led to intentional and thoughtful leadership and giving, benefitting student achievement and faculty teaching and research. The projects she supported were varied, but all struck a personal chord. They ranged from endowing business professorships in honor of brothers James M. Collins and Carr P. Collins, to providing research funds for history professors in honor of her son, history buff Charles Stanton Sharp, Jr. She and her husband, Dr. Kenneth Z. Altshuler, endowed the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center because of their interest in supporting the achievements of young people. In addition, she supported the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professors Award, which annually honors four professors for their notable commitment to fostering student learning, as well as endowing lecture series, scholarships and facilities for areas ranging from athletics to arts to academics.

Altshuler received nearly every award SMU offers, including the 2011 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics award, presented by SMU’s Cary Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility to individuals who exemplify the spirit of moral leadership and public virtue, and the 1966 Distinguished Alumni Award. With her husband, Kenneth, the Altshulers were presented the 1998 Mustang Award for extraordinary philanthropy to the University.

The family asks that instead of flowers, donations be made in her honor to the Salvation Army.

> 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.edu/hunt

“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

Celebration of Lights opens SMU’s holiday season Monday, Nov. 27, 2017

SMU Celebration of Lights 2016

As Thanksgiving Break ended, SMU ushered in the holiday season with one of its most beloved annual traditions: the Celebration of Lights. Sponsored by the SMU Student Foundation, the 2017 ceremony took place Monday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m. on the Main Quad.

The ceremony features thousands of decorative lights, luminarias lining the sidewalks, seasonal songs performed by student musicians, and SMU President R. Gerald Turner reading the Christmas Story. The public was invited to attend and to share cookies and hot chocolate with the campus community before the ceremony began.

The festivities continue with other beloved traditions:

  • Advent Worship ServiceSMU’s Perkins School of Theology celebrates its Advent Worship Service on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Perkins Chapel. Both services, under the theme “Ero cras…I shall come tomorrow,” will feature the Seminary Singers, directed by Simon Hill ’17 and accompanied by Hannah Cruse. The 8 p.m. service will include a special performance by the Orpheus Chamber Singers, led by founder and Artistic Director Donald Krehbiel ’83. Readers for the service will be Perkins faculty and staff members including Charles L. Aaron, associate director, Intern Program; Carlos F. Cardoza Orlandi, director, Doctor of Ministry Program; Laura Figura, coordinator of student life; Craig C. Hill, dean; Tamara E. Lewis, assistant professor of the history of Christianity; Evelyn Parker, associate dean for academic affairs and Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology; Margot Perez-Greene, associate dean for enrollment management; and Mark W. Stamm, professor of Christian worship.
  • All-University Holiday Celebration: President and Mrs. Turner invite all SMU faculty and staff members to their annual holiday reception Wednesday, Dec. 13, from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Martha Proctor Mack Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center.
  • December Commencement Convocation: SMU celebrates its 2017 December Commencement Convocation Saturday, Dec. 16, at 10 a.m. in Moody Coliseum. Retired and current faculty members will assemble for procession in academic dress no later than 9:40 a.m. in the Miller Champions Club. The ceremony will be livestreamed at smu.edu/live beginning at 9:45 a.m.

President Turner outlines SMU’s new direction in research at Dallas Fed

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

> Read more from SMU News

> Visit the website: smu.edu/datapowered

SMU celebrates Veterans Day with luncheon, Toys for Tots collection Friday, Nov. 10, 2017

Arc of Service banner, Maguire Center Veterans Day Luncheon 2017, 800px

SMU will celebrate its veterans from across the generations at a luncheon in their honor on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. The SMU Veterans Day Celebration, “Arc of Service,” will take place noon-1:30 p.m. in the Martha Proctor Mack Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center.

President R. Gerald Turner and U.S. Military Veterans of SMU will provide remarks recognizing the contributions and achievements of University service members. SMU Trustee Emeritus Milledge A. (Mitch) Hart III will deliver the keynote.

SMU Veterans pinThe luncheon will also feature live entertainment from the Meadows School of the Arts Brass Quintet, as well as the annual presentation of SMU Veterans lapel pins (pictured right).

In addition, the event will serve as a collection point for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s annual Toys for Tots drive. All members of the SMU community can drop off new, unwrapped toys and other holiday gifts for underprivileged children and teens. (Toys for Tots prefers not to accept realistic-looking toy weapons or gifts that include food items, according to the organization’s FAQ.)

Organizers are compiling a service slideshow featuring photos of SMU veterans. If you have photographs taken during your service period and would like for them to be included in the presentation, please send the photos and your service dates to the Maguire Center.

The event is presented by SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility. Thanks to a generous gift, Veterans Day luncheon tickets are complimentary for all SMU faculty, staff and students.

The Center also invites families, friends and loved ones of campus veterans to attend. Please RSVP by Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.

Attendance is free – but seating is limited, and registration is required. Sign up at the link below, or contact the Maguire Center, 214-768-4255.

> Register at Eventbrite to attend SMU’s 2017 Veterans Day luncheon

Tune In: University dedicates new Payne Stewart SMU Golf Training Center

SMU Athletics dedicated a state-of-the-art golf training facility at Trinity Forest Golf Club on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. The Payne Stewart SMU Golf Training Center is named in honor of the 1979 alumnus who became the 1989 PGA Champion, two-time U.S. Open Champion and a member of five U.S. Ryder Cup teams.

Myles Taylor of SMU News attended the dedication and has created a video exploration of the new center. Tap the YouTube screen to watch it, or click here to watch the video in a new windowvideo

The 6,700-square foot facility features team locker rooms, coaches’ offices, a conference room, a workout center and kitchen. The center also houses a hitting bay featuring premier equipment, including the Swing Catalyst, which tracks weight shift throughout the swing as well as four video motion-capture cameras and monitors to show swings. A TrackMan system uses dual radar technology to track both club movement and the ball at the moment of impact.  This equipment provides the perfect foundation for analysis, enabling the Mustang golfers to use real-time data to improve their games.

The Payne Stewart SMU Golf Training Center also includes 70,000 square feet of teeing ground, a 45,000 square-foot putting and chipping green and a challenging nine-hole short course.

“Facilities like the Payne Stewart SMU Golf Training Center, the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center, the new SMU Tennis Center, the renovated Moody Coliseum and the planned Indoor Performance Center are examples of the University’s commitment to compete at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.

“Our commitment to competing for championships and enhancing the student experience requires continued investment in our infrastructure,” said SMU Director of Athletics Rick Hart. “This great facility is just another sign of that commitment by our donors and our university. SMU, its donors and fans have made significant investments in athletics in recent years, and we thank them for their support.”

— Written by Nancy George

> 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

University honors award winners, 25-year staff members at 2017 Staff Celebration and Convocation

25-year SMU staff members, 2017 Staff Celebration and Convocation, SMU

SMU honored staff members celebrating 25 years or more of service during its 2017 Staff Celebration and Convocation.

President R. Gerald Turner and University Registrar John Hall ’71, ’73, ’79 helped to honor 12 staff members who are celebrating their 25th year at the University at the 2017 Staff Celebration and Convocation Thursday, Oct. 5. The ceremony also recognized staff members honored in the annual President’s Award and Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins Award programs.

It has taken every SMU staff member to achieve the milestones the University has marked in recent years, Turner told the crowd. From rising admissions standards and record fund-raising numbers, to the installation of the ManeFrame II supercomputer and the service and management of four home football games in September, “there’s no way in the world that happens without all of you – and I thank you.”

Deanie Kepler ’70, director of parent and family programs, received the 2017 Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins Award, established to recognize and reward outstanding performance among University employees. Anna Marzillo, assistant director of International Student and Scholar Services, was finalist.

The SMU Staff Association announced the winners of the 2017 President’s Awards:

  • Shannon Lunt, Gretchen C. Voight New Employee Excellence Award
  • Mary Tays, Continuing Excellence Award
  • Lisa Tran, Outstanding Leadership Award

The event also honored the following staff members who have celebrated 25th SMU anniversaries:

  • Sherry Aikman (30-year staff member)
  • Joe Arnold (celebrated anniversary in 2016)
  • Ronny Jepsen (celebrated anniversary in 2016)
  • Yvette Castilla
  • Nazario Del Rio
  • Tammy Dyer
  • Lorinda Lamb
  • Pamela Morgan
  • Susan Strobel Hogan
  • Alan Pushin
  • Gloria Watson
  • Carolyn Yates

Reminder: Staff Celebration and Convocation, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017

President R. Gerald Turner has invited the entire SMU community to the University’s relaunched staff recognition day on Thursday, Oct. 5. 2017.

The new Staff Celebration and Convocation, created by the SMU Staff Association (SMUSA) in collaboration with the Office of Operational Excellence, will take place at 10:30 a.m. in McFarlin Auditorium. A reception with light refreshments will precede the ceremony at 10 a.m.

> RSVP for the Staff Celebration and Convocation at smu.edu/SMUSA

The event is for all staff members, and President Turner will give his traditional State of SMU address as the keynote. University Registrar John Hall, SMU’s longest-serving staff member, is the featured speaker.

Staff members who have achieved 25 years of service to SMU will be honored, as well as the 2017 President’s Award and Loretta O’Reilly Hawkins Award recipients. The ceremony with also recognize staff members who have continued their SMU service beyond 25 years, and previous President’s and Loretta Hawkins Award recipients.

> Visit the SMU Staff Association online

Jody and Sheila Grant pledge $1.5 million to SMU’s Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center

Robson and Lindley Aquatics Center, artist's rendering

Former varsity swimmer Joseph M. “Jody” Grant ’60 met his wife, Sheila Peterson Grant, while they were both SMU students. Now they have provided $1.5 million to help fund the University’s new Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center.

With their gift, they’ve also created the Sheila and Jody Grant Challenge, which encourages other donors to give the remaining $1.5 million to complete the Center’s $22 million funding goal. The 42,000-square-foot facility, soon to be home to the University’s internationally recognized men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, will be dedicated Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, during SMU Homecoming.

Jody and Sheila Grant

Jody and Sheila Grant

“As community business and philanthropic leaders, Jody and Sheila Grant know the importance of reaching the finish line and completing worthy goals,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Their generosity is inspirational and helps get us closer to completing funding for the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and providing a place where our student athletes can continue the championship legacy of SMU swimming and diving.”

Jody Grant attended SMU on a swimming scholarship. He earned four individual Southwest Conference swimming championships and was twice named to the All-America team.

“SMU’s swimming program has been near and dear to my heart since Coach Red Barr recruited me many years ago to swim for the Mustangs,” said Dr. Grant. “I am honored to support this new facility, which will be home for the swimming program that was so meaningful to me.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

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