Walt Humann to receive SMU’s 2012 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award

Rita Kirk

Walt Humann to receive SMU’s 2012 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award

Walter J. HumannBusinessman and public servant Walter J. Humann ’67 is chiefly recognized for creating the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system and helping desegregate Dallas schools. For these and other accomplishments he will receive the 2012 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from SMU at a noon luncheon at the Belo Mansion April 2.

Presented each year by SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award is given to individuals who exemplify the spirit of moral leadership and public virtue. In Humann’s case, that involves his work in improving education, transportation, race relations, government organization, urban planning and infrastructure in North Texas. It also recognizes his time as a successful businessman: Humann leads his own firm, WJH Corporation, and has held top management positions in other major corporations, including Hunt Consolidated, Memorex-Telex and the LTV Corporation.

Longtime SMU board member Ray Hunt, this year’s J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award event chair, worked with Humann during the awardee’s time (1975-1992) as president of Hunt Investments and chair of the executive committee of Hunt Consolidated, Inc., one of the largest privately held energy, real estate, agribusiness and investment companies in America. Later, Hunt was also a partner in Humann’s WJH Corporation operations.

“Having worked closely with both Walt and Erik Jonsson on many projects, I can say that Walt’s spirit of public service and responsibility to his community is cut from the same cloth as Mayor Jonsson,” Hunt says. “Everything Walt has done for Dallas and its citizens, not to mention in his private business, has been conceived and executed with the highest level of ethical conduct and moral responsibility. I believe that there is no one in Dallas more deserving of this honor than Walt.”

Humann was selected for the honor because of his lifelong commitment to improving the quality of life for the Dallas community, says Maguire Center Director Rita Kirk.

“With quiet tenacity and perceptive vision, he played a pivotal role in the desegregation of the Dallas Independent School District by founding the Dallas Alliance. The Alliance’s Education Task Force created the Magnet Schools of DISD, thereby enriching the education and lives of thousands of children.” As Humann told D Magazine in 1985, “I felt strongly that the way to go was by voluntary intermixing of the races, where you have quality education at the end of the bus rides.”

“With everything he’s done,” Kirk says, “Walt upholds the tradition of excellence that the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award was created to recognize.”

Nationally, Humann was selected in the late 1960s by President Lyndon B. Johnson as the first White House Fellow from Texas.  Later, in 1970, he was chosen as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Men of America,” primarily for chairing the national committee that helped create the U.S. Postal Service. The former deficit-ridden, politically driven Post Office Department was replaced with a service run more like a public corporation. At the time USPS was created, it constituted the largest federal government reorganization in U.S. history.

During his time in Washington, Humann also co-authored with Doris Kearns (now Goodwin) and others a report, requested by the President, on ways to heal the breach between the college student community and the federal government. This report was presented to President Johnson in 1968 — one of the most turbulent years in U.S. history, marked by massive student anti-war protests. The report was titled, “Confrontation or Participation: The Federal Government and the Student Community.” He also wrote a children’s book, an illustrated poem entitled The Little Crescent Moon and the Bright Evening Star, and co-authored, with Mayor Jonsson, D: The Book of Dallas.

Regionally, the “father of DART” also led the successful redevelopment of the North Central Corridor, with Central Expressway and the DART rail line helping solve the nation’s “oldest living highway controversy.” In addition, Humann helped mediate the Love Field dispute among three airline CEOs and the mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth in the 1980s. He founded the Jubilee Project in the late 1990s and served for more than 10 years as its chairman, helping revitalize a 62-block inner-city Dallas neighborhood. Jubilee is trying a unique approach by dealing comprehensively with all elements affecting a blighted community — public education, anti-crime, health, employment, housing, economic development and physical improvements.

Humann holds a physics degree from MIT, an M.B.A. from Harvard, and a Juris Doctor degree from the Evening Division of SMU’s Dedman School of Law (’67). He has received numerous business and public service awards, including SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Dedman School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award and The Legacy of Leadership Award from the White House Fellows Foundation in Washington, D.C.

He is married to his high school sweetheart; they have three children and eleven grandchildren.

Past winners of the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award, now in its 15th year, include 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.

Tickets for the event are $50 for individuals; sponsorship tables for 10 also are available for $1,500. For ticket information, contact Erin Sutton at 214-768-4575.

Written by Denise Gee

> Visit the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility online

March 28, 2012|Calendar Highlights, For the Record, News|

‘Ethics, Trust, Transparency’ examined at SMU conference Nov. 2

As demonstrators gather in cities across America to protest a range of woes, from economic inequity and corporate greed to the power of lobbyists, SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility — in conjunction with the Cox School of Business — will explore the ethical practices of big business and government in a conference  Nov. 2, 2011.

Leading business analysts, financial journalists and government watchdogs will be featured during the event, “At Issue: Ethics, Trust and Transparency: Business, Government and the Case for Voter Concern.”

The conference runs 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Crum Auditorium of SMU’s James M. Collins Executive Center.

With the 2012 presidential election a year away, Maguire Center Director Rita Kirk says that voter dissatisfaction already is evident. “It’s time to take a serious look at what we can do to address the problems that confront us,” she says. “This call for ethical leadership advances the case that voters must demand the government they want, build the communities they desire and build businesses that reflect our yearning for a better life for our families.”

Kirk has extended an invitation to the conference to North Texas business leaders and elected officials, including the Dallas City Council, noting, “Your presence at this conference would help us make a bold statement about our community’s commitment to ethics.”

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> Read more and watch live via JustIn.TV at the SMU News site Video

November 1, 2011|Calendar Highlights, News, Tune In|

University commemorates 9/11 anniversary with events, reflection

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, SMU will host a range of public events Sept. 7-11 to help the community find peace and meaning after that devastating day.

“Only by bringing our thoughts, feelings, prejudices and knowledge to the forefront can we resist those who would manipulate us,” says Rita Kirk, director of SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, overall sponsor of the events. “How we remember the events of that day is an important ethical choice.”

Kirk will moderate the panel discussion for “The Day the Whole World Watched” on Sunday, Sept. 11.

“What happened on 9/11 was horrific, but that doesn’t get us any closer to making a better world. We have to commit ourselves to making it happen,” says Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, which will host the “Ending the Cycles of Violence” discussion on Friday, Sept. 9. “This demands peoples’ awareness and involvement in creating a new narrative based on respect, dignity, manners, tolerance and healing.”

Community members are invited to add their thoughts and memories to the Maguire Center’s online journal, 911remembered.org, where they can also scroll through entries from SMU’s original set of remembrance journals created on Sept. 11, 2001.

Above, SMU student Christina Rancke, whose father died on 9/11, shares her memories. Click the YouTube screen to watch, or open this link to see Christina Rancke’s video in a new window. video

> Find a complete schedule of events at SMU News
> Learn more at the Maguire Center’s “9/11 Remembered” site

September 7, 2011|Calendar Highlights, News|

Ruth Altshuler to receive SMU’s 2010-11 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award

Ruth Collins Sharp AltshulerRenowned civic and philanthropic leader Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler will be honored as the 2010-11 recipient of the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award at a noon luncheon on Thursday, March 10. The event will take place in the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center.

The award is presented annually by SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility to individuals who exemplify the spirit of moral leadership and public virtue.

The presentation will include tributes by Former First Lady Laura Bush, SMU President R. Gerald Turner and Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. She will be introduced by her daughter, Sally Sharp Harris.

“Few people are as deserving of this honor as Ruth,” says Maguire Center Director Rita Kirk. “She is a tireless servant leader, and her devotion to many causes has enriched the lives of countless people and organizations.

“Beyond the headlines,” Kirk adds, “Ruth is simply a loving person who enlivens a conversation and holds an expectation for excellence that draws people to work alongside her. We are honored to recognize her accomplishments.”

At the national level, Altshuler was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Library of Congress Trust and by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the U.S. Commission to UNESCO.

Altshuler is the first person in the United States to receive all three national service honors – the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year Award from the National Society of Fundraising Executives; the national Alexis de Tocqueville Award of the United Way of America; and the Distinguished Service Award given by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. She has been honored on a global level with the rarely given Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service from the Salvation Army International in London. Her numerous honors closer to home include recognition by the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas’ Centennial Award, the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, the Linz Award and Annette Strauss Humanitarian Award.

Her current leadership positions include being vice chair of the Southwestern Medical Foundation, life trustee of the Hockaday School and honorary chair of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and the Dallas Summer Musicals. She is immediate past chair of the Communities Foundation of Texas. She also sits on the boards of the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries, KERA, and the Salvation Army of Dallas and is one of three life members of the Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board. Altshuler also serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Altshuler, a 1966 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, is one of SMU’s longest-serving trustees – she is former chair of the Board and a current member. In addition, she is co-chair of the Second Century Campaign Leadership Council and served as a co-chair of The Campaign for SMU (1997-2002). She also is co-chair of the Second Century Celebration Organizing Committee.

Past winners of the J. Erik Jonsson Award include 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.

> Read more from SMU News
> Visit the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility online

March 9, 2011|News|

Rita Kirk becomes new director of SMU’s Maguire Ethics Center

Rita Kirk, the new director of SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, says she is committed to making ethics a continuing conversation on the SMU campus.

“One of the goals of the Maguire Center is to provoke conversation both in class and out so that ethics becomes a central point of discussion in our daily lives,” she said. “SMU is fortunate to have the Maguire Center. The range of programs, speakers, and internships is impressive, yet awareness among students of ways to engage with the Center can be greatly enhanced. I look forward to working with SMU and its extended community.”

Kirk defines ethics as a lifelong struggle to live intentionally and to define who you are.

The center supports student and faculty ethics-related education and activities, as well as community outreach to private and public institutions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The center was funded in 1995 by an endowment of $2.5 million from its namesake, Cary Maguire.

A professor in the Division of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs in the Meadows School of the Arts, Kirk became director of the Maguire Center on Jan. 1, 2011, taking over from Tom Mayo, associate professor in the Dedman School of Law. Mayo, a medical ethicist, has guided the program for five and a half years. In addition to his faculty position at SMU, Mayo is an adjunct associate professor of internal medicine at UT-Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

“Ethical challenges surround students everywhere and all the time – in their clubs and organizations, in their personal relationships, in their dealings with teachers and classmates,” Mayo said. “I believe the first and often hardest step most of us are challenged to take is to realize that our choices are ethical ones in the first place.”

Click the YouTube screen above for Rita Kirk’s comments on the usefulness of ethics. Click this link to open the Rita Kirk video in a new window. video

> Read more from SMU News

February 8, 2011|News|
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