Drop the confetti. Ninety-nine years after its founding, the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business has received its biggest-ever donation: $50 million. The gift comes from alumnus David Miller, a former varsity basketball player who received his undergraduate and MBA degrees from SMU in the 1970s, and his wife Carolyn, both of whom are long-time benefactors of the school and the university.
The Millers’ gift is so big, in fact, that it has no equal in the 108-year history of SMU.
“SMU has been tremendously important in my own life and that of my family,” says David Miller, the co-founder and managing partner of EnCap Investments LP who also serves as vice chair of the SMU Board of Trustees and chair of the Cox Executive Board. “This gift is an investment in its future. We’re excited to support Cox’s forward-focused vision for advancing business education and developing talented business leaders.”
MAKING GOOD ON A MAJOR COMMITMENT
This is far from the Millers’ first gift to SMU Cox. They previously endowed the David B. Miller Endowed Professorship; the Don Jackson Center for Financial Studies, named after a former professor who inspired David Miller as a student; the MBA-Military Scholarships; and the David Miller Endowed Scholarship Fund. They also contributed to the creation of Cox’s EnCap Investments & LCM Group Alternative Asset Management Center, a highly competitive program that trains undergraduate business majors in private equity/investment banking, while also connecting them with industry professionals.
“For decades, the range and depth of Carolyn and David’s leadership and dedication have strengthened every part of our University,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said in a school news release. “We thank the Millers for their remarkable gift. Their investment will amplify the long-term strategic plan for SMU’s top-ranked Cox School of Business and its facilities, students, faculty and programs.
“As a result, we’ll prepare tomorrow’s business leaders for success in the global economy.”
The Millers’ latest gift will go toward supporting the Cox School’s strategic plan, which includes modernization of the curriculum, more and broader scholarships, collaboration across the SMU campus on new interdisciplinary programs, and facility enhancements. It also aspires for the school to extend community outreach to develop corporate partnerships and expand inclusivity. Perhaps most importantly for the school’s long-term outlook, the Millers’ donation will help propel strategic initiatives, Cox Dean Matthew B. Myers says.
“We’re going to keep expanding the influence of our nationally and internationally ranked business school,” he said in the school’s announcement of the Millers’ gift. “We are thankful for the support from accomplished leaders like the Millers, who understand the value that a strong business school brings to a dynamic, evolving global city.”
A LONG HISTORY OF GIVING TO SMU
David Miller’s SMU roots run deep: His mother, Fay Ann Miller, attended the school in the 1940s, and four other family members are alumni, including David Miller’s son Kyle D. Miller, his stepson John M. Hasley, and his nephews Matthew C. Miller and Christian B. Miller. Scholarships supported by the Millers include the David and Carolyn Miller Annual Scholarships and Diversity Scholarships.
“Bringing in students from many backgrounds uplifts the campus and the educational experience for all,” says Carolyn Miller, a former teacher and community advocate.
The Millers also have given $17.5 million toward the expansion of SMU’s Moody Coliseum and renovation and construction of the Miller Event Center, and they also have provided funding for athletics programs, including men’s basketball. Most recently they funded the Miller Boulevard Ballroom, a multipurpose space for campus and community events in the new Indoor Performance Center, featuring Armstrong Fieldhouse.
“We are grateful for David and Carolyn’s dedication and visionary focus in committing to a generous investment to make SMU and our great business school even stronger,” SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs Brad E. Cheves said in the school’s announcement. “David holds SMU close to his heart. As he describes it, his relationship with SMU is a ‘50-year love affair,’ which has spread among his family.”