August 7, 2007


Roy Huffington (right), President Turner and Vice President Cheves (back).

A gift of $10 million from the Honorable Roy M. Huffington (’38) of Houston will establish endowments to support faculty compensation and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students at SMU. Each totaling $5 million, the funds will be known as the Huffington Bicentennial Faculty Endowment Fund and the Huffington Bicentennial Scholarship Endowment Fund.

The Huffington Funds are patterned after the unique Benjamin Franklin Trust, established by Franklin more than 200 years ago to benefit the cities of Boston and Philadelphia. As with the Franklin Trust, terms are set forth for use of the Huffington Funds while they continue to grow over the next two centuries.

This is Huffington’s second major gift to SMU patterned after the Franklin Trust. The first was $5 million in 1990 to establish an unrestricted Huffington Bicentennial Endowment Fund. A portion of that fund is paid annually to SMU for current unrestricted use, while the fund continues to grow. The fund, which is administered as part of SMU’s endowment, now has a market value of $15.1 million, more than triple its original value.

“One of the most important components of a university’s growth in academic strength is to have a strong endowment that supports faculty and students,” Huffington says. “This endowment is intended to ensure long-term resources at SMU for the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and the bright students they will inspire.”

The Huffington gift “uses a historical model to strengthen our future. His generous investment will serve students and faculty for generations to come,” says Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs.

Huffington is chair and CEO of Roy M. Huffington Inc., an international petroleum operations investment firm. His career has included global oil and gas exploration, international business, military service and a stint as U.S. ambassador to Austria from 1990 to 1993.

“One of the most important components of a university’s growth in academic strength is to have a strong endowment that supports faculty and students.”

Huffington earned a B.S. degree in geology from SMU in 1938 and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in geology from Harvard University. He has received distinguished alumni awards from SMU and the Harvard Business School. He also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from SMU in 1990, when he delivered the Commencement address. A member of the SMU Board of Trustees from 1980-87, Huffington was named a trustee emeritus in 1991. His late wife, Phyllis Gough Huffington, earned her B.B.A. degree from SMU in 1943.

The Huffingtons have given a total $20.6 million to SMU. Other gifts have included endowed faculty chairs in finance and geological sciences and several endowed scholarship funds. In 1996 they received the Mustang Award recognizing longtime service and philanthropy to SMU.

“Resources for competitive salaries and merit scholarships are major factors in not only remaining competitive, but also in becoming one of the nation’s premier private universities,” says President R. Gerald Turner.