Happenings on the Hill

Largest Alumni Gift Ever

David and Carolyn Miller donated $50 million to the Cox School of Business, the largest alumni gift in its history.

This donation will help support the school’s plan to modernize curriculum by offering more scholarships, collaborating across the campus on new interdisciplinary programs, and enhancing facilities.

David earned his bachelor’s degree in finance and MBA from SMU. He has served on the SMU Board of Trustees for 11 years and as a Cox School of Business executive board member.

David said he appreciates SMU President R. Gerald Turner’s leadership of the university and the improvements he has made to both the university and the school of business. He also stated that Dean Matt Myers has a vision and a plan for how to take Cox to a higher level.

“Our gift is all about supporting that vision,” Miller said.

The Millers’ past support 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.

Tom Leatherbury

First Amendment Clinic

Thanks to a gift of $900,000 from the Stanton Foundation, SMU’s School of Law will launch a First Amendment clinic that will focus on issues such as free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly and petition.

“We believe that freedom of expression and the First Amendment must be protected by enhancing law students’ understanding of the First Amendment and providing a resource for organizations, students, journalists, and citizens defending their First Amendment right,” said David Johnson, spokesman for the Foundation.

Tom Leatherbury, a partner at Vinson & Elkins LLP with 40 years of experience, will serve as the director and an adjunct professor to help direct the clinic.

Leanne Ketterlin Geller

Researching Minecraft

SMU Lyle School of Engineering, Guildhall, and the Simmons School of Education and Human Development are using a grant from the National Science Foundation to research teaching computer science and computation thinking through the popular video game Minecraft.

“We’re presented with the challenge of finding creative ways to positively impact student outcomes in STEM and the value it can provide in the learning experience,” said Leanne Ketterlin Geller, professor and Texas Instrument endowed chair in education at Simmons.

The research will study game design, human-computer interaction, machine learning, curriculum design, and education assessment by integrating STEM-based curriculum into the game. The research begins this month, with funding extending through 2022.

The goal is to create a more stable, ethical, and inclusive data science workforce by enhancing the interest in data science to an assorted population of K-12 students.

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