On September 12 the University launched SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign. At the kickoff, we announced that during the two-year quiet phase of the campaign, donors already had committed $317 million toward the $750 million goal.
Just two weeks later the economic downturn led to failed financial institutions, falling stocks, layoffs and bailouts. One might wonder: What a difficult time to launch a major gifts campaign! However, after a very successful quiet phase, we were ready to initiate this public phase with a strong belief in the resiliency of the American economy.
In addition, universities must plan for the long term. A campaign can last five or more years, and pledges are paid over time. Most of our donors continue their generosity, and we are confident that when conditions improve, those who may have postponed their philanthropy will renew their support. One of the main goals of this campaign is to achieve a 50 percent participation rate among alumni over the course of the campaign, and a yearly contribution rate of 25 percent. Both of these can be accomplished through gifts of all sizes.
All SMU constituents recognize the University’s momentum, and we must keep moving forward. The previous campaign, which ended in 2002, enabled SMU to upgrade educational facilities and increase endowment funds. We knew, however, that SMU would need a subsequent campaign to focus more heavily on endowment for scholarships, faculty positions and academic programs, upgraded facilities and campus programs Universitywide, but particularly in Dedman College, the academic core of SMU.
The approach of the centennial of our founding, 2011, and of our opening, 2015, gives us a unique opportunity for enhanced outreach and influence. We must uphold our founders’ vision to remain competitive and relevant in a changing world.
Our progress to date is impressive. The number of students applying for admission to SMU continues to rise. Their academic credentials are better than ever. We continue to recruit outstanding faculty to supplement those already here who excel as teachers and researchers. During the campaign’s quiet phase, we named the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College. The Meadows Foundation has provided new historic support for Meadows Museum and Meadows School of the Arts. In addition, we have gained endowments for five academic institutes, centers and initiatives; nine endowed faculty positions; 175 endowed scholarships; and seven new or renovated facilities.
Our public phase gained momentum with the naming of the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering. Now is the time to build on these strengths.
Never has the need been more critical for the strong leadership that SMU graduates provide in so many fields. The best result of this campaign, and our greatest contribution to society, will be to equip our graduates to address difficult issues, solve complex problems and lead productive change. They will strengthen our nation for the long term. Thanks to all of you who have supported this goal and will do so in the future.
R. Gerald Turner