December 21, 2011

The late Bill Clements and Rita Clements in 2009 at SMU-in-Taos at the opening of new student housing they helped to provide.

Former Texas Governor William P. Clements Jr., a longtime major supporter of SMU academic programs and trustee emeritus, died May 29, 2011, in Dallas. He was 94 years old.

His relationship with SMU began in the mid-1930s, when he was an engineering student. Through the years, Clements and his wife, Rita, have contributed more
than $21 million to the University, funding some of SMU’s highest academic priorities, including support for his special interest in the Southwest.

“Bill Clements’ generosity and guidance have made a significant impact on academic programs throughout SMU, with major gifts supporting engineering, theology, mathematics and history,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “By endowing the Clements Department of History, including a new Ph.D. program, and the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, he enabled students to learn more about the history and cultures of this region. Bill and Rita Clements also made it possible for SMU to acquire, rebuild and offer academic programs at SMU-in-Taos, located on the site of historic Fort Burgwin in northern New Mexico.”

Clements served multiple terms on SMU’s Board of Trustees and twice served as chair of its former Board of Governors, from 1967-73 and from l983-86. He was named trustee emeritus in 1991.