For the last two years, George Killebrew ’85 has been a voice for all alumni. As SMU Alumni Board chair, he led the charge to bring the SMU Alumni Board to prominence and give all alumni voices a conduit to University leadership. His responsibilities included serving as the alumni trustee to the SMU Board of Trustees and on the standing committees for Academic Affairs, Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Development and External Affairs and Legal Affairs.
Perhaps his favorite part of being board chair was the opportunity to speak during Commencement to each graduating class. “This weekend, you’re about to join something extraordinary,” he said at the May 2018 ceremony. “The SMU alumni community is 130,000 strong and spans the entire globe. So no matter where you go, you’ll always have family.”
In early 2020, when fears surrounding the coronavirus kept people at home, George rallied the board. He kept them connected with hybrid in-person and virtual meetings. Members worked together to hold a safe and fun Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony during the traditional Homecoming Weekend.
Official @SMUAlumniNetwork Instagram and Facebook accounts were launched. Social media and monthly newsletters highlighted the creative ways alumni and the entire Mustang community came together. Unprecedented times saw an unprecedented response as gifts poured in to support urgent needs in the SMU community.
Alumni Cary Pierce ’91 and Jack O’Neil ’90 of the band Jackopierce kicked off a new series of virtual events for alumni, by alumni, aptly titled Stampede in Place. Other alumni leveraged their unique talents and resources as well in a wide range of ways, from converting existing businesses to accommodate the demand for much needed personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer, to distributing donated personal hygiene essentials and food. Alumni gave new meaning to the term Mustang Strong.
SMU Giving Day 2021 was record-breaking. More undergraduate alumni participated than ever before, by raising awareness about the 24-hour fundraising blitz, making donations and sponsoring matching gifts. And despite having fewer students attending class on campus at the time, more students than ever before donated to Giving Day causes. More than 8,000 gifts comprised more than $2.5 million raised for 216 SMU causes in one day.
George had his sights set on elevating the board from the beginning. And, despite unprecedented times, he successfully led the charge to champion a more connected, invested and informed Mustang alumni community. His term as chair kicked off a new era in SMU alumni engagement. We are so grateful.
– Astria Smith, senior executive director for Annual Giving and Alumni Relations
A little more about George
The Honolulu native has been fiercely committed to the Mustang family since his graduation more than 35 years ago. He started as a young alumni volunteer advocate, and, since then, has volunteered on the Tate Board, Athletic Forum Board, reunion committees and in numerous other capacities. During his board tenure, George also dutifully served on SMU’s Pony Power leadership committee, where he helped advance giving for the University’s current-use needs.
George and his wife live in Dallas with their two sons. He is a collector of sports cards and sports memorabilia and enjoys running, golfing, horse racing and cooking. He is an avid Mustang sports fan and attends as many home athletic events as he can.
Currently: Commissioner, Major League Rugby
Previously: Executive vice president, Dallas Mavericks
The next chapter
Last month, George completed his two-year term as chair and will move into an ex officio capacity for one year. On May 14, during the last Alumni Board meeting of 2020–2021, George ceremoniously passed the gavel to Alumni Board Chair-elect Kristin W. Henderson ’82. Her official term started June 1 and will continue through May 31, 2023.
“You have represented alumni well,” says Brad E. Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs at SMU, expressing his gratitude to George. “Whether it was during outdoor Commencement ceremonies in 100-plus degree temperatures, at Baccalaureates, at student ring ceremonies – and everything in between.”