Donor Stories

Scholarship Support Inspires Alum to Pay It Forward
If you ask anyone who met Zane Cavender while he was a student at SMU, they would probably tell you that his claim to fame isn’t the plethora of ways he was involved on campus, but rather his hilarious and spot-on impression of President R. Gerald Turner. More

Creating a Legacy of Gratitude
As a high school student trying to make one of life’s biggest decisions, it can often be difficult to pinpoint exactly why one school feels more comfortable than another. For Diana Aguirre, she fell in love with SMU because it seamlessly combined a small, private school experience with the benefits and excitement of a large, technologically advanced city. More

Grateful Mustang Makes a Difference
Southern Methodist University wasn’t originally in John Trahan’s plans, but one snowy visit changed his mind—and his life. After a 30-year career in banking, he’s hopeful his legacy gift to SMU will inspire future Mustangs in their own pursuits. More

Scholarship Opportunity Leads to Legacy Gift
As a student at North Dallas High School, Karl V. Mendel '42 won a contest that changed the trajectory of his life. The prize was a year's tuition at SMU. More

A Lifelong Love of Learning
As a student, Dr. William Jernigan '61 excelled. His academic prowess earned an SMU scholarship, sparking his lifelong commitment to academic excellence and Southern Methodist University. More

Loyalty and Learning
Walt Henderson enjoyed attending SMU football games while growing up in nearby University Park. He remembers watching Mustang legends Doak Walker and Kyle Rote making history at SMU's Ownby Stadium, and then in the Cotton Bowl. More

Making a World of Difference
Jo Nelle Bain '71, '75 has never forgotten the thrill of a 7,000-mile adventure she took at age 10 with her mother. Since then, she has traveled to more than 40 countries and is still finding new places to explore. More

Next Generation Entrepreneurs Plan Ahead
Tech entrepreneurs Tye and Courtney ’00 Caldwell move at a lightning pace. The dynamic couple propelled ShearShare, their mobile app that connects salon and barbershop owners to individual stylists looking to lease professional space by the day, into an international platform in a matter of months.  More

Finding a Plan With the Right Chemistry
SMU Professor Ed Biehl was an aspiring professional pianist when undergraduate science courses changed his life. Opportunities to engage in research sparked a love of chemistry that has inspired him to set the stage for similar discoveries by future SMU students.   More

Honoring Family by Helping Students
Thanks to the financial assistance of family members, Leo Favrot was able to complete his legal education. When Leo and his wife, Vicky, decided to pay tribute to that kindness, they turned to Southern Methodist University to create a scholarship and an artful legacy.  More

An Instrumental Decision
Milton Bludworth, 95, grew up in a musical family and pursued his interest in music as a member of the Mustang Band. Seven decades later, fond memories of playing in the clarinet section motivated him to include SMU's band in his will.  More

Returning the Favor
Sam Thomas is grateful for his Southern Methodist University experience. As a student who benefited from scholarship support at SMU, he wants to help the next generation of SMU students have the same opportunity for success.  More

A Joyful Reunion
After meeting at a mixer at the SMU Baptist Student Union in the fall of 1968, sophomore Boyd Lyles and freshman Melanie Wright spent many dates cruising in Boyd's 1964 Ford Falcon and listening to popular rock bands on cassette tape.  More

Grateful Remembrance
It was 1949 when Joel Rubel met his future wife Sylvia in Austin, Texas. After graduating, Joel moved to Dallas where he and Sylvia were married and Sylvia attended SMU.  More

Lamar Jordan Supports the Mustangs On the Field and Off
If you attend a basketball or football game at SMU, you are likely to see Lamar Jordan supporting the Mustangs. Lamar, an Alabama native, was an athlete at Georgia Tech University along with his brothers. After graduating and serving in the military, he settled his young family in Dallas in 1957, building a new business related to the construction industry.  More

I had to ask "Why"!
Why would a couple, each of whom holds two degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, decide to leave the bulk of their estate to SMU?  More

And the Poetry Continues...
The impact of beloved and renowned SMU English professor, Laurence Perrine, will continue thanks to a bequest made by his wife, Catherine. The couple met while teaching in SMU's English department.  More

It's All About Giving Back
When we asked Mary Ann and Ed Hyde '49 why they were inspired to establish four gift annuities at Southern Methodist University, we expected to hear about tax deductions and great payment rates.  More

Suzanne Schmidt, an SMU Story
A curious friend recently asked me, "How on earth did a girl with no money from a one horse town in West Texas ever wind up at high brow SMU?" Good question.  More

With Gratitude
When Patricia Center Radcliffe was born, her parents knew they would like their daughter to attend SMU. In fact, when she was only 11 days old, Patricia's father took out an insurance policy that would expire on her 18th birthday. The intent was to use the money to send Patricia to SMU, a true reflection of Douglas Center's values and belief in the importance of education.  More

Honoring a Man and a Family
When Gordon Worsham wanted to honor his friend, Bassett Kilgore, he thought of SMU. Basset Kilgore's grandfather, James Kilgore, was a member of the commission that voted to establish SMU in Dallas and with that vote the Kilgore tradition at SMU began.  More

Gardner Reinvests in SMU Through Assets and Service
Greg Gardner '91 was an advertising/political science major who transferred to SMU as a sophomore in order to play football. When he wasn't on the football field, he lived at the SAE house and worked nights at a local pub.  More

Jeff Light, SMU '84
Born and raised in Schenectady, NY, Jeff Light chose SMU because he wanted a smaller school away from the Northeast and because a family friend was already attending the university.  More

John and Martha Hardt
As lifelong Methodists, Bishop John and Martha Hardt learned early of the importance of financial support for the institutions they loved.  More

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Southern Methodist University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Southern Methodist University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at P.O. Box 750402, Dallas TX 75275-0402, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to SMU or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to SMU as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to SMU as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and SMU where you agree to make a gift to SMU and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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