SMU on Friday morning celebrated the largest alumni gift in its history — $50 million from David and Carolyn Miller to the Cox School of Business — while looking to the future of the school.
David earned a B.B.A. in finance and an M.B.A. from SMU, has served on the SMU Board of Trustees for 11 years as well as chair of the Cox School of Business Executive Board and as a member of the university’s Campaign Leadership Council. He’s a co-founder and managing partner of EnCap Investments L.P.
The Millers have supported SMU for decades in the areas of academics, athletics, student scholarships, and more. Their latest donation will support the school’s strategic plan to modernize curriculum, offer more and broader scholarships, and collaborate across the campus on new interdisciplinary programs and enhance facilities.
“Nothing in today’s occasion can really match the devotion that David and Carolyn Miller have shown to SMU. We’ve had many opportunities to celebrate their generosity, but today really tops them all,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said. “Today’s story began in 1968 when David decided to come to SMU… It was a great day when he did come to our campus, and it’s been a blessing to the campus ever since.”
David Miller said he appreciates Turner’s leadership of the university and the improvements the university and the Cox School of Business have made.
“As we all know, SMU has made tremendous strides under Gerald Turner’s transformational leadership,” he said. “I wasn’t on the board when he got here about 25 years ago, but I’ve had the opportunity to hear many people talk about how he so clearly articulated a vision for how to improve… the academic standard at SMU.
“We’ve got a lot of outstanding schools here, but in terms of the progress we’ve made in terms of our ranking, our reputation, our brand, there’s no question that Cox has led the way,” Miller said. “Dean Matt Myers, too, has a vision and a plan for how to take the Cox school to even higher levels. Our gift is all about supporting that vision.”
Cox School of Business Dean Matthew Myers thanked the Millers and said their gift will help prepare for the workforce of the future.
“I learned about (David’s) vision and his dedication to Cox and to SMU very quickly. I met Carolyn a short time later and saw that this was a couple that had some really big ideas for this campus and for this school,” Myers said. “This remarkable gift stands out as a testament to that foresight and it comes at an especially exciting time as we mark 100 years of business education at SMU.
“The world of business has just changed tremendously (since the school was established in 1920), and thanks to the foresight and vision of so many generous donors, SMU has kept pace with what’s been required to prepare business leaders through these next 100 years,” he said.
Myers said the school will need more and broader scholarships and modern curriculum to prepare students for the future and donations like the Millers help to provide that.
“Now, at this moment in history, we face a real challenge out there to be able to produce the type of principled leaders that SMU and the community can be proud of who can navigate an increasingly technologically-oriented and complicated digital world and to do that, we need more and broader scholarships to attract a diverse pool of high-potential students,” he said. “We need an exceptional faculty and curriculum to prepare those promising minds to rise to the challenge… We need more faculty that can help us deliver what we need to deliver to these exceptional students, and we need facilities to enhance and encourage collaboration between students, faculty, and other SMU schools
“We’re preparing tomorrow’s leaders for jobs that don’t even exist yet, and if that sounds pretty daunting, it is, but because of the unprecedented vision and generosity of David and Carolyn Miller… the Cox School of Business is well-positioned to meet those needs,” Myers said.
SMU Board of Trustees Chair Robert Dedman Jr. also thanked the Millers for their donation.
“We thank you for your historic commitment today and really for helping make SMU a great, 21st-century university,” Dedman said.
The Millers’ previous support for the Cox School of Business includes the David B. Miller Endowed Professorship, the Don Jackson Center for Financial Studies, the MBA-Military Scholarships and the David Miller Endowed Scholarship fund. They also contributed to the creation of the Cox School’s EnCap Investments and LCM Group Alternative Asset Management Center.