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SMU Honors Distinguished Alumni and Emerging Leader

SMU News

Originally Posted: October 31, 2016

Philanthropic, civic and business leaders will receive SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor the University bestows upon its graduates, during a campus ceremony in November.

The 2016 Distinguished Alumni are philanthropic leader Sarah Fullinwider Perot ’83, financial services leader John C. Tolleson ’70 and real estate magnate Richard W. Weekley ’67. Kevin Lavelle ’08, founder of a revolutionary men’s clothing company, will receive the University’s Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of an alumnus or alumna who has graduated in the last 15 years.

The Distinguished Alumni Award presentation and dinner will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, on the SMU Main Quad. Purchase tickets online or call 214-768-4575.

2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


Sarah PerotSarah Fullinwider Perot, a 1983 graduate of SMU with a B.A. in broadcast journalism, is currently the president of the Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. Foundation, which focuses on education and basic human need. She serves on the SMU Board of Trustees, as well as the Executive Boards of the Meadows School, Dedman College and the Tower Center for Political Studies. Perot’s local contributions to the community include fundraising efforts for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas Symphony and serving as chair of The Sweetheart Ball. Perot’s commitments were honored with the TACA Silver Cup Award and a nomination for Texan of the Year. Nationally, she is a Trustee with the Blair House Restoration Fund in Washington, D.C. Perot recently concluded her term as vice-chair for The Global Fund for Children directing micro-grants in education and safety benefiting more than a million vulnerable children in 70-plus countries.

John TollesonJohn C. Tolleson, a nationally recognized leader in financial services, began his career in banking while an undergraduate at SMU. He joined MBank Dallas and later became president and CEO of MBank Austin. Tolleson returned to Dallas as head of retail banking and marketing of MCorp, the predecessor of First USA, which became the nation’s second-largest independent credit card bank. In 1997, Mr. Tolleson sold First USA to Bank One and founded Tolleson Wealth Management where he is chairman and CEO. He has served as an SMU trustee, chairman of the Cox Executive Board, chairman of the endowment Investment Committee and is a longtime sponsor of the Tate Lecture Series. He was the recipient of the Cox School’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996 and the Mustang Award in 2012. Mr. Tolleson serves on the boards of Southwestern Medical Foundation, Baylor Healthcare System Foundation and is a Laureate of the Dallas Business Hall of Fame.

Richard W WeekleyRichard W. Weekley is a real estate magnate, U.S. Navy veteran and tireless worker for civil justice reform. After graduating from SMU with a B.A. in economics in 1967, Weekley became a naval officer aboard the USS Fletcher, serving in Vietnam. After leaving the service, Weekley founded the real estate brokerage and development firms Weekley Properties and Weekley Development Company in 1973. Three years later, he co-founded David Weekley Homes, the largest privately owned homebuilder in the United States, two-time National Homebuilder of the Year and listed 10 times as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. Weekley is the volunteer co-founder, chairman and CEO of Texans for Lawsuit Reform. He also serves or served on the board of directors for numerous philanthropic organizations, including the Greater Houston Partnership, the Metropolitan YMCA, the Dallas Federal Reserve Board and Texans for Education Reform. Weekley has been called a “giant in Texas” and, in 2013, the Texas Business Leadership Council named its annual award the Richard W. Weekley Public Policy Leadership Award.

Kevin LavelleEmerging Leader Award winner Kevin Lavelle is the founder of a revolutionary men’s clothing company. Lavelle graduated from SMU in 2008 with a B.S. in engineering management. After graduation Lavelle worked for Hunt Consolidated, Inc., and for the consulting firm Oliver Wyman. In 2012, Mr. Lavelle founded Mizzen+Main, a clothing company that introduced advanced performance fabrics to traditional menswear. As the company’s CEO, Lavelle has attracted an influential and loyal customer base across nearly every major professional sports league. The brand is featured in more than 200 retail locations in forty states. He has been recognized as the 2016 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Regional Winner. Lavelle gives back to the veteran community through Mizzen+Main’s partnerships with the Navy SEAL Foundation, the Travis Manion Foundation and 31 Heroes. Lavelle is the founding curator of the World Economic Forum’s Dallas Global Shapers and also is involved with KIPP Young Professionals and the SMU Young Alumni Board. READ MORE