Meadows School announces $1.5 million challenge grant during 2015 ‘Meadows at the Meyerson’ benefit

Conductor and SMU Prof. Paul Phillips with mezzo soprano Michaela Martens, Meadows at the Meyerson, March 31, 2015
Martha Raley Peak Endowed Centennial Chair Paul Phillips conducts SMU’s Meadows Symphony Orchestra as guest artist mezzo soprano Michaela Martens sings during the 2015 “Meadows at the Meyerson” benefit concert at Dallas’ Meyerson Symphony Center.

SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts announced a major new challenge grant during the most successful “Meadows at the Meyerson” concert in the event’s 22-year history on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

A $1.5 million challenge grant from the Morris Foundation will support the school’s Meadows Scholars Program. Led by SMU alumnus Ken Morris ’72 and his wife Linda of Carefree, Arizona, the foundation will match gifts designated to the Meadows Scholars endowment by Thursday, December 31, 2015.  

Education is a primary focus of the Morris Foundation, and the family has provided significant support to SMU over the years, including gifts for the Information Technology Center in Blanton Student Services Building, Campus Technology Initiative, the Kenneth R. and Linda A. Morris BBA Scholars Endowment Fund, MBA Scholarships and, most recently, the Morris Endowed Director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship in the Cox School of Business.

> $2 million gift to SMU establishes endowed directorship in Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship

Through donations and the Morris Foundation match for gifts designated to permanent endowment, the event raised over $1 million – a new record – for the Meadows Scholars Program.

The Meadows Scholars Program was launched in 2008 and provides scholarship support to applicants who meet both stringent academic and artistic criteria. The program has helped SMU successfully compete for the brightest and most talented students nationwide.

“We are deeply grateful to the Morris family for this generous commitment to enhance student quality at SMU,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “With this challenge grant, the Meadows School of the Arts will be able to continue to build this critical scholarship program and to successfully attract the nation’s top students in the arts and communications fields.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

$2 million gift to SMU establishes endowed directorship in the Cox School’s Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship

SMU Cox School of BusinessA $2 million gift from two Dallas entrepreneurs will support a new faculty directorship in the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship in SMU’s Cox School of Business.

The Linda A. and Kenneth R. Morris Endowed Directorship honors Jerry F. White, who has served as director since 1988. The endowment provides for the continued professional leadership of the Institute, which promotes the spirit of entrepreneurship through credit and noncredit courses as well as numerous business community outreach programs.

The gift also raises the University to 103 endowed faculty positions and closer to the Second Century Campaign goal of 110.

“Endowments such as this are vital because they allow us to retain individuals of great distinction at the University,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “This farsighted gift provides permanent funding for faculty, and we are proud that it comes from an SMU alumni family.”

The Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship supports everything from business plan competitions and entrepreneurship clubs to participation in the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

“Supporting the spirit of entrepreneurship at SMU’s Cox School bolsters the University’s commitment to student learning both inside and outside the classroom,” said Cox Dean and Tolleson Chair in Business Leadership Al Niemi. “This is at the very heart of what puts Cox graduates head and shoulders above their peers.”

Ken Morris is currently vice president, student systems software, at Workday, Inc., where he has served in a variety of technology- and development-related roles since shortly after the company was founded in 2005.  He was the co-founder of PeopleSoft Inc., where he served as its chief technology officer and in various other technology-related roles for 11 years until his retirement in 1998.

Linda Morris spent most of her professional career in recruiting and human resources.  She served as a principal at American Management Systems, Inc., heading up a nationwide college recruiting effort, and later was manager of human resources for PeopleSoft Inc.  She currently is involved with various philanthropic activities. Together, the couple founded the Morris Foundation, which assists social services organizations, especially those focused on education and animal cruelty prevention and care.

Mr. and Mrs. Morris were among the first of two investors in the SMU Cox MBA Venture Fund, directed by White through the Caruth Institute, which allows MBA students to gain practical knowledge in venture projects. The fund was established with $600,000 in seed capital, made its first investment in 2002, and is now valued at approximately $4 million after 15 student-driven investments.

The gift to fund the new endowed directorship counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised more than $942 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

> Read the full story from SMU News