Southern Methodist University President's Report
Since its founding in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Southern Methodist University has served as a nonsectarian institution of higher learning. Our mission is to expand knowledge through research and teaching and serve as a powerful catalyst for the growth and development of Dallas and the broader North Texas region. With continued representation from The United Methodist Church, and welcoming students of all faiths, the University is reaching a higher level of accomplishment and global recognition in our second century of shaping world changers – for today and tomorrow.
Students, Faculty and Staff
Fall 2019 enrollment totaled 11,824, including 6,710 undergraduates and 5,114 graduates. Ethnic minority students made up 29 percent of total enrollment. An international enrollment of 1,417 (approximately 12 percent of total enrollment) represented 84 countries. Our impressive class of 2023 was chosen from a pool of more than 15,000 applicants. This cohort’s average ACT score is 30.8, and the average SAT score is 1377 – both an increase from last year – making it the most academically qualified and diverse in SMU history.
The University’s reputation is strong and growing. SMU is ranked No. 64 among national universities by U.S. News & World Report. We are pleased that presidents, provosts and chief admissions officers at the nation’s universities are beginning to recognize our strengths, as evidenced by two consecutive years of rising expert opinion scores within the U.S. News rankings.
• The Cox School of Business full-time M.B.A. ranks No. 43, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Business Schools, up from 48th in the previous year’s rankings; the SMU Cox Executive M.B.A. ranks No. 23 in the nation.
• Dedman School of Law was ranked No. 52 nationally by U.S. News & World Report.
• The Center for World University Rankings 2019 placed SMU at No. 315 out of 20,000 universities worldwide, No. 133 nationally and No. 27 for alumni employment, placing the institution in the top 1.6% worldwide. Universities are ranked for their quality of education, alumni employment, quality of faculty and research performance.
• SMU ranked No. 16 in a Forbes list of top Southern colleges and universities.
• College Factual rankings (published by USA Today), highly focused on outcomes, including graduation rates, high salaries for graduates and low student loan default rates, ranked SMU at No. 3 among Best Texas Colleges; No. 92 among Best Nationwide Colleges; and No. 1 in its list of “Highest Paid Music Graduates” in 2019.
• The Princeton Review ranks SMU Guildhall No. 2 for the best graduate game-design program.
In FY 2019, SMU received $31.8 million in external funding for research conducted in the United States and worldwide, representing a $5.2 million increase over the previous year. Current funding agencies include National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Defense and Toyota Foundation. Regarding private fundraising, SMU finished FY 2019 strong, thanks to the generosity of our entire donor family who made more than $118 million in gifts, making it a record year for giving. That generosity includes exceeding our second-year Pony Power goal by $2 million with $52 million in gifts received to fund our most pressing current needs.
Significant Gifts and Grants
$100 Million Gift Establishes New Graduate School
In 2019 SMU celebrated the largest gift in its history – an unprecedented investment of $100 million from the Moody Foundation to create the eighth named school at SMU: the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies. This new school supports the University’s graduate programs in education, engineering, the arts, humanities, sciences and social studies, as well as faculty research and interdisciplinary programs across the University. It will enable SMU to graduate higher numbers of doctoral students and strengthen collaborations with other universities, major corporations and other entities in producing high-impact research projects.
Visionary Impact With Miller Family $50 Million Gift
Carolyn and David Miller ’72, ’73 made the largest single gift by an alumnus and his family in SMU’s 108-year history. The Millers’ latest $50 million commitment will support the Edwin L. Cox School of Business’ strategic plan to modernize its curriculum; offer more and broader scholarships to attract the world’s best business students; collaborate across the SMU campus on new interdisciplinary programs and enhance the school’s facilities. It also aspires for the school to extend community outreach to develop corporate partnerships and expand inclusivity.
Owen Arts Center Renovation Kickoff Inspires a New Challenge and Additional Gifts
Last fall, as the Meadows School of the Arts celebrated the 50th anniversary of its naming, we kicked off the renovation of Owen Arts Center, a $34 million initiative to improve academic spaces in the north wing for visual arts, art history and creative computation, while creating welcoming and accessible entrances to the building. During the celebration, we announced a new $1.8 million challenge gift from Indianapolis philanthropist and former Meadows School parent G. Marlyne Sexton. This latest gift brings her total commitment to OAC to $5 million and creates an incentive for others to join in and help the Meadows School reach the remaining $4 million needed to revitalize the arts hub.
A $5 million gift from Dallas art collectors and patrons Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers extends their long-standing support of artists by establishing a vibrant hub for the visual arts at SMU. The new Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers Center for Visual Arts in the Owen Arts Center will provide a physical space that expands academic and artistic opportunities for students and faculty to propel them to the forefront of their fields. It is part of a $34 million initiative to modernize the 250,000-square-foot building’s north wing. Gifts to the project are supported by a grant from The Meadows Foundation.
Game Changer Opens on the Boulevard
Last year, we celebrated the dedication of the Indoor Performance Center, featuring Armstrong Fieldhouse, which marked a new era in athletics preparation and training for SMU Mustangs. The technologically equipped, multiuse facility also offers a significant expansion of possibilities for campus and community participation. Many generous donors made the Indoor Performance Center possible. In addition to Liz Armstrong ’82 and Bill Armstrong ’82, donors of more than $1 million are Gary T. Crum ’69 and Sylvie P. Crum; Paul B. Loyd, Jr. ’68 and Penny R. Loyd; David B. Miller ’72, ’73 and Carolyn L. Miller and the David B. Miller Family Foundation; and Garry A. Weber ’58. There were also 17 donors of $100,000 and higher, with eight making gifts of $1 million each and nine making six-figure commitments.
New Home For Digital Explorers
SMU took a giant leap forward in the rapidly shifting digital frontier with the groundbreaking of the Gerald J. Ford Hall for Research and Innovation at the corner of McFarlin Boulevard and Airline Road. SMU Trustee Gerald J. Ford ’66, ’69, his wife, Kelli O. Ford, and the Gerald J. Ford Family Foundation provided a $15 million lead gift to help fund construction of the building. The new 50,000-square-foot interdisciplinary research hub will serve as home to SMU’s AT&T Center for Virtualization, the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, high-performance computing and data science, the new Visualization Lab and the Guildhall, the Hart eCenter’s top-ranked digital game-design program.
High Tech, High Impact from Bobby B. Lyle
Dallas entrepreneur, industry leader and educator Bobby B. Lyle ’67 built on the farsighted generosity that named the Lyle School of Engineering 11 years ago by designating $10 million to power a new strategic vision for the school. The future-focused model will combine innovation, agility and swift responses to shifts in technological capabilities with enduring institutional support. His investment will support the school’s Future Fund by establishing endowments for Accelerating Emerging Research and Accelerating High Tech Business Innovations. The fund also will support two additional strategic portfolios: Transforming the Engineering Education Experience and Transformative Technology for Social Good.
Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Prominent Dallas business leaders Linda Wertheimer Hart ’65 and Milledge (Mitch) A. Hart, III are among SMU’s most generous donors, and they made another major investment. The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship merges the wisdom of the Cox School of Business with the knowledge of the Lyle School of Engineering to develop the tools entrepreneurs need to bring their concepts to life. In addition, Mrs. Hart honored her husband on his 85th birthday with the Milledge A. Hart, III Scholarship Fund for Veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Elizabeth Loboa named Provost
Elizabeth Loboa, appointed as SMU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs in December, will join the University on July 6, 2020. As chief academic officer for SMU, she will be responsible for the overall quality of teaching, scholarship and research and all aspects of academic life, ranging from admissions and faculty development to supervision of SMU’s eight schools, library system, and international programs. Loboa, a biomedical engineer, is currently vice chancellor for strategic partnerships and dean and Ketchum Professor of the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri. She brings to SMU a distinguished academic record and broad university leadership experience.
Academic Deans Reappointed
The academic deans leading SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, Dedman School of Law and Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences have been reappointed to serve in their positions for an additional five years: Marc Christensen, dean of the Lyle School and Lyle Professor of Engineering Innovation, who has served as dean since 2013; Jennifer Collins, Judge James Noel Dean and professor of law at Dedman Law, who has served as dean since 2014; and Thomas DiPiero, dean of Dedman College and professor in the departments of English and World Languages and Literatures, who has served as dean since 2014.
Meadows School of the Arts celebrates 50th Anniversary
Meadows School kicked off a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of its naming, staging three premieres by internationally recognized choreographers at its 26th annual benefit concert, “Meadows at the Winspear.” The concert featured the critically acclaimed Meadows Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Paul Phillips, and the students of the Meadows Dance Ensemble. It also honored community leader The Meadows Foundation, which has supported SMU and Dallas for more than five decades. It was in 1969 that SMU’s School of the Arts was renamed Meadows School of the Arts in honor of Algur H. Meadows.
Gift Expands Dedman Law’s Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation
The Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation, launched in 2015 in Dedman Law, received an additional $2 million gift to expand its profile as a leader in multidisciplinary research and scholarly debate surrounding new technologies. The academic center brings together experts from the legal, scientific and business communities to explore the complex challenges presented by the evolving innovation ecosystem. Current research projects supported by the Tsai Center include studies of fingerprint technology and tax implications of artificial intelligence, as well as a digital tool for keeping track of litigation involving government watch lists. The Tsai Center also has funded new courses, including one in which law students create web-based legal apps for Texas legal-aid organizations.
$1.5 Million NSF Grant Helps Fund Minecraft
SMU’s Lyle School, Guildhall and the Simmons School of Education and Human Development will use a $1,521,615 grant from the National Science Foundation to research teaching computer science and computational thinking through the popular video game Minecraft. Research will span the fields of game design, human-computer interaction, machine learning, curriculum design and education assessment by integrating STEM+C (computing) curriculum directly into Minecraft. The game and infrastructure produced through the research will serve as a vital computing resource for middle and high school educators. The grant was awarded to Corey Clark, deputy director of research at SMU Guildhall and an assistant professor of Computer Science at Lyle School; Eric Larson, associate professor in Computer Science at Lyle School; and Leanne Ketterlin Geller, professor and Texas Instrument Endowed Chair in Education at Simmons School.
Professor Brings People Together for Conversations on Tough Topics
Jill DeTemple, associate professor of religious studies in Dedman College, has developed a discussion tool – reflective structured dialogue – that she is using in her own classrooms and sharing with professors at SMU and nationwide. The idea is to take topics that drive people apart – gun rights, abortion, the death penalty, the existence of God – and reframe the conversation around personal experiences. At its core is curiosity about another person’s life and values.
SMU Scientists Identify New Texas Dinosaur
SMU postdoctoral fellow Kate Andrzejewski, along with University paleontologists Dale Winkler and Louis Jacobs, have identified Convolosaurus marri from fossils collected at Proctor Lake, southwest of Fort Worth. Remnants of several dinosaurs were first found at the Comanche County lake site in 1985, and most of the fossils had been stored for years in the Shuler Museum of Paleontology at SMU. But it wasn’t until Andrzejewski, Winkler and Jacobs examined the fossils more recently that the new dinosaur was identified. Convolosaurus marri is on view at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall as “Proctor Lake Ornithopod.” The newly identified dinosaur was named in honor of Ray H. Marr ’51, an SMU alumnus who is president of Marr Oil & Gas LTD and a strong supporter of SMU students.
SMU Study Finds Possible New Way to Treat Virus “Cousin” of HIV
A study led by SMU suggests that oleandrin – a drug derived from the Nerium oleander plant – could prevent the HTLV-1 virus from spreading by targeting a stage of the reproduction process that is not currently targeted by existing drugs. That is significant because there is currently no cure or treatment for the virus – a lesser-known “cousin” of HIV that affects an estimated 10 to 15 million people worldwide. “Our research findings suggest that oleandrin could possibly limit the transmission and spread of HTLV-1 by targeting a unique stage in the retroviral life cycle,” said Robert Harrod, associate professor and director of graduate studies in SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences. Harrod is a co-author of the study, published in the Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals.
DART Station Renamed SMU/Mockingbird Station
Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) Mockingbird Station was renamed SMU/Mockingbird Station after the DART Board approved a naming-rights agreement with SMU, making it easier for visitors to find the campus and cementing the rail station’s role as a gateway to the University. Opened in 1997, Mockingbird Station quickly became an important transportation resource for SMU students, faculty, staff and visitors. The Mustang Express shuttle service connects the DART station to the University campus a short distance away.
We are excited about the impact our University and its programs continue to have on the world around us, and we are grateful to continue our work through the Perkins School of Theology in the education and training of all branches of the Wesleyan Tradition. We request your continued prayers and support.
R. Gerald Turner
Southern Methodist University