May 16, 2012

Corporate and civic leader Walter J. Humann ’67, lauded for his efforts in education, urban planning and other areas of public service, received the 2012 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from SMU April 2.

Walter J. Humann

Presented by SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, the annual award recognizes individuals who epitomize the spirit of moral leadership and public virtue. In Humann’s case, that involves his work in improving race relations,
government organization, infrastructure and other facets of life in North Texas. The award also recognizes his successful business career: 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.

“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,” says SMU Trustee Ray Hunt ’65, chair of this year’s ethics award event. “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 Education Task Force, which created the Magnet Schools of DISD, thereby enriching the education and lives of thousands of children.

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

Nationally, Humann was selected in 1970 as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Men of America,” primarily for chairing the committee to create the U.S. Postal Service while serving as a White House Fellow (the first from Texas).

Regionally, the “father of DART” led the successful redevelopment of the North Central Corridor, with Central Expressway and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) rail line helping to solve the nation’s “oldest living highway controversy.” 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.

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. He has received numerous business and public service awards, including The Legacy of Leadership Award from the White House Fellows Foundation in Washington, D.C. He also has received SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998 and the Dedman School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004.