January 19, 2021

The SMU Board of Trustees met in early December and, among the many topics considered, they unanimously supported asking our SMU community for help on an important issue.

We are extremely proud and appreciative of how our community has responded to COVID-19 and the stresses it placed on our students, faculty, staff and operations. With your support – and that of your fellow Mustangs – we kept the University open and mitigated the pandemic’s impact on our community’s health. We look forward to a positive spring experience on campus, and to the day – hopefully soon – when we can return to normal operations.

That said, the global pandemic is still affecting SMU. It has significantly impacted the University financially, in ways both obvious and subtle. For many years, SMU has proudly balanced our budget based on strong sources of revenue, including, among other things, tuition, endowment support (much of it restricted), earned revenues, athletics ticket sales and gifts to operations. However, the budget for the current school year took some big hits: income from athletics, events and other earned revenue dropped precipitously at the same time the University needed to invest in testing, isolation units, contact tracing, distance learning, technology and the many other unanticipated expenses related to COVID-19.

Many of our students were also affected, seeing their family earnings and ability to meet basic needs drop considerably. You responded by contributing over $2 million to make up for the financial impact the pandemic has had on our students. More than 600 donors stepped up to help, contributing to the Presidential Fund for Immediate Needs and enabling these students to stay in school, and ensuring the University successfully recruited a full first-year Class of 2024.

We still need your help. Our students’ hardships remain. In addition, the SMU Athletics program cannot meet its revenue goals given the restrictions on ticket sales we have had to adopt in order to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Athletics also incurred the expenses of keeping the student-athletes safe during the pandemic through testing, contact tracing and other measures.

As part of our yearly Pony Power drive for current-use support, I invite you to make a gift today above and beyond your normal giving to SMU. Please consider supporting one or both of the initiatives created to offset the expenses of COVID-19: The Presidential Fund for Immediate Needs (PFIN) and the Athletics Fund for Immediate Needs (AFIN).

Combined, we are seeking $3 million – $500,000 to PFIN (in addition to the $2 million raised since June) and $2.5 million to AFIN for this current fiscal year; we will reevaluate the need for COVID-19 relief next year, as well, and communicate what we find then. Now is the time to rally and to enter the 2021–2022 academic year without residual financial impact from the pandemic.

Your serious consideration of this urgent request is appreciated. Here on the Hilltop, we have shaped world changers for over 100 years. We will continue to do so, in large part because of you, our loyal supporters.

Please make your gift online at smu.edu/immediateimpact or via the enclosed reply card. I look forward to your generous and speedy response.



Gerald Turner