Caren H. Prothro was a co-chair of The Second Century Campaign and served two terms as chair of SMU’s Board of Trustees. Her late husband, C. Vincent Prothro ’68, served as co-chair of the Perkins School of Theology committee during SMU’s previous campaign, A Time to Lead, and was the son of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro ’39 and the grandson of Perkins School benefactors Joe J. and Lois Perkins. This Q&A is the fifth of six interviews with campaign co-chairs appearing in Campaign Update in conjunction with the end of the campaign.
Campaign Update: How would you characterize The Second Century Campaign’s success?
Prothro: It is a huge achievement. Surpassing our original goal two years ahead of schedule and then exceeding the $1 billion goal says something remarkable about the University and the high regard in which it is held, not only in Texas, but also around the country. The campaign donors believe that the University is poised for even greater things in the future, and they’ve invested generously in SMU to make great things happen.
CU: Whom would you credit for the campaign’s remarkable achievement?
Prothro: There are so many people who contributed to the campaign’s success that it is virtually impossible to list them. However, any such list certainly would begin with President R. Gerald Turner, who had both the vision of what could be accomplished and the understanding of how such an undertaking could be executed successfully.
The role of donors is central, of course, and everyone who provided a campaign gift deserves thanks for their generosity and commitment to SMU’s vital work. More than 65,000 people, including donors in every state and many foreign countries, contributed to the campaign. The University’s level of support never has been greater, and our influence continues to grow.
The campaign volunteers, including my colleagues on the Campaign Leadership Council and those who served on the various campaign steering committees, were absolutely central to the campaign’s success. Many gave a great deal of time, effort and essential guidance. They are owed an enormous debt of gratitude.
We also extend our sincere thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who made phone calls, organized events and shared stories about the exciting things happening at SMU.
CU: How would you characterize The Second Century Campaign’s impact on SMU?
Prothro: The funds raised are financing more scholarships for top students and more endowed faculty positions, and I have no doubt that combination will enhance academic quality throughout the University. The campaign already has added to the quality of life on campus – through the Residential Commons system – and improved facilities at SMU-in-Taos, among other examples.
The support generated by the campaign represents a vote of confidence in SMU’s mission today and a commitment to ensuring that SMU is an even stronger institution in the future, one able to provide tomorrow’s students and faculty with even greater opportunities for learning and research.
What was accomplished through the campaign truly is inspiring. And thanks to that accomplishment, the future of SMU is very bright.