Established in 1914 with a gift of $111,540 from the General Education Board of The Methodist Church, SMU’s endowment now represents more than $1.5 billion in assets invested in a diversified portfolio designed to ensure current support as well as growth for the future.

Investment in the SMU endowment provides long-term funding to enhance student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. Annual income from the endowment provides vital support for the University, which relies on tuition and annual gifts for almost 85 percent of its operating resources. SMU manages the endowment investment with the goal of preserving and increasing these essential resources, which are helping provide a financial foundation for the University’s second century of achievement.

It took 80 years for SMU’s endowment to reach $500 million. Reaching that milestone enabled the endowment to double in size to over $1 billion in only 10 years. An endowment gift not only invests for the future, but it works for SMU today.

  • SMU’s Office of Gift Planning can help you establish a new endowment fund. Contact us at, or 214-768-1911.
  • SMU’s Office of Donor Relations can assist you with questions concerning a previously established endowment fund. Contact us at, or 214-768-1605.


Impact of Giving

“As the first in my family to graduate from high school and go on to college, when one of us makes it, we all make it. One light in the dark is all it takes to enlighten the whole room.”

— Erik Velasco, Class of 2014, Robert H. Dedman SMU Scholars Program at North Dallas High School Endowment Fund, Margaret Gregory Endowed Student Aid Fund

Giving to the SMU endowment provides the opportunity to change the lives of students and scholars and to create a permanent legacy honoring or memorializing the life and work of an individual or organization.

This support allows SMU to offset the rising cost of higher education by providing a dependable source of income for student and faculty investment and minimizing the need for continued tuition increases. Income from the endowment enables SMU to accomplish its greatest priorities, namely to:

  • Recruit and challenge gifted students
  • Recruit and retain prominent faculty and support significant research and creative endeavors
  • Enhance the campus experience
  • Increase financial strength

About the Endowment

SMU’s endowment represents more than $1.5 billion in assets invested in a diversified portfolio designed to ensure current support as well as growth for the future.

The portfolio, managed by the Investments Office and an Investment Committee appointed by the Board of Trustees, includes traditional and nontraditional investments, an asset allocation mix developed to meet the long-term investment return goal of 8 percent, in order to provide stable support and strong growth.

The SMU endowment comprises hundreds of named endowment funds that fall into two main categories: those restricted to specific areas and needs, such as scholarships, professorships, academic programs and campus life; and unrestricted endowments that support the University’s mission. These endowment funds are invested together but administered individually to ensure that the purposes defined by the donor are accomplished in perpetuity.

Establishing An Endowment

The process to establish a new endowment begins with a conversation between the donor and SMU regarding the donor’s vision and wishes for the gift.

Perhaps a scholarship for promising young students is a priority or a research fund in an area of personal interest. Together the University and the donor determine the greatest need and the greatest opportunity for the gift.

A named fund may be established with a gift of $100,000 or more. The University and donor agree on the amount of the gift, the name of the fund, the detailed purpose of the gift, and stipulations regarding management and stewardship of the gift. A gift may be made now with an outright payment of cash or securities, paid out over a period of years, or deferred through a planned gift, such as a bequest in a will. More information on planned gifts can be found here.

Such gifts establish a permanent fund that is invested as one part of the pool of funds constituting the SMU Endowment. A portion of the interest and capital gains from the fund is spent annually for the purpose designated, while the remainder is added back to the fund’s principal to protect its value against inflation. The original value of the fund, plus any additional gifts, is preserved and invested, while the earnings support the fund’s purpose.

Endowment Giving Levels

The SMU Board of Trustees has set minimum giving levels for certain types of endowment purposes to enhance the educational experience; at these levels the donor will have the opportunity to name the endowed fund.

Student Quality

President’s Scholarship $500,000
Graduate Fellowship $500,000
Provost’s Scholarship $250,000
General University Scholarship $100,000
School-Based Scholarship $100,000
Leadership Scholarship $500,000
International Study Scholarship $100,000
Diversity Scholarship $100,000
Special Skills Scholarship $100,000
Transfer Student Scholarship $100,000

Faculty and Academic Excellence

Deanship $3,000,000
Distinguished Chair $2,000,000
Chair $1,500,000
Professorship $1,000,000
Visiting Professorship $750,000
Departmental Research Fund $1,000,000
Graduate Assistant Fund $500,000
Research Equipment Fund $500,000
Faculty Research Fund $200,000
Faculty Teaching Fund $200,000
Executive Director or Director of Institute $2,000,000
Athletics Coach or Director $2,000,000
Executive Director or Director of Center or Program $1,000,000
Librarian or Archivist $1,000,000
Department $10,000,000
Institute $5,000,000
Center $2,500,000
Program $1,000,000
Lecture Series $500,000
Academic Program Excellence Fund $100,000
Library Acquisition Fund $100,000