Ebby and SMU

Ebby Halliday did not graduate from SMU, but many in her close circle of friends and family did. Her husband Maurice Wilson Acers belonged to the class of 1925, majoring in political science with a minor in religion and received the SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1984. Her mother-in-law, Effie Elizabeth Acers was a charter member of the SMU Mother’s Club and involved with the planting of the 132 oak trees along Bishop Boulevard in 1938. Ebby’s brother Paul Hanson, upon returning from serving in the Marine Corps, graduated from SMU in 1948. Mary Fances Burleson was a student at SMU when she was hired for what was to be a “temp job” for Dallas realtor Ebby Halliday, but ended up making it a life-long career.

Surrounded by SMU alumni, Ebby felt a personal connection to SMU. She became a benefactor and notable speaker, invited to lecture and share her decades of business experience in the real estate industry. In the Spring term of 1973, Ebby participated in a panel series about sales for the Marketing-4361 class, playing the role of a “prospective buyer”. Ebby’s handwritten list of questions to grill Professor Jerry  Drake’s students are in the collection. 


  • What’s the best location, best schools, best resale?
  • I’ve heard of Texas’ Homestead Law–what is that and will it affect my husband and me as home buyers?
  • Is it true you have termites in Texas? How can I be sure what I buy is free of termites?
  • How can we be sure we get a clear title?

On December 11, 1973, Richard F. Tozer, at the time an adjunct professor in the Caruth Institute of Owner-Managed Business invited Ebby to speak on the topic of “success in business”. In 2002, she and Mary Frances Burleson addressed the Cox School of Business, speaking on the topic of executive leadership.

Ebby’s company also became a sponsor of the Tate Distinguished Lecture Series: “Ebby Halliday Companies Lecture” from 2013 – 2018, bringing broadcaster Robin Roberts, social psychologist Amy Cuddy, author Brandon Stanton, chess champion Gary Kasparov, and political strategists, James Carville and Karl Rove to SMU. 

After Maurice Acer’s death, Ebby memorialized his long involvement with SMU by establishing the Maurice W. Acers Endowed Scholarship in 1994 for deserving students who otherwise would miss the opportunity to attend SMU. In 2001, Ebby pledged to fund an endowment to support the new Hegi Career Center and name the center’s conference room after Maurice. 

Hegi Center Proposal, 2001

The DeGolyer Library holds the papers of both Maurice Acers and Ebby Halliday.

Project archivist Krishna Shenoy is working on processing the Ebby Halliday papers thanks to a generous gift of the Ebby Halliday Foundation, to preserve and make accessible the work of the First Lady of Real Estate.

Contact degolyer@smu.edu for additional information or assistance with accessing the collections. For access to these collections or to learn more about the women of the southwest, be sure to visit the DeGolyer Library and check out our books, manuscripts, pamphlets, and photographs.