Contact: Ann Abbas
SMU Public Affairs
(214) 768-7655

October 2, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- A $1 million pledge from Jeanne and Berry Cox of Dallas will serve as a challenge grant to establish an endowed faculty chair at Southern Methodist University in honor of Mrs. Cox’s father, the late U.S. Senator John G. Tower, an SMU alumnus.

The Coxes’ pledge will match dollar-for-dollar an additional $l million to be sought from other donors over the coming year, with a goal of raising $2 million to establish the John G. Tower Distinguished Chair in International Politics at SMU. An internationally renowned scholar will be sought to fill the endowed chair. The chairholder will join the faculty of Dedman College’s Department of Political Science and also will provide leadership in the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies at SMU.

“The new distinguished chair in international politics reflects John Tower’s two great loves -- teaching and politics,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “During the last six years of his life, Tower shared his knowledge and experience with SMU students as a lecturer in the Department of Political Science. This new endowed chair, in combination with the Tower Center, will extend Senator Tower’s legacy to future generations of SMU students. We are grateful to Jeanne and Berry Cox for making it possible.”

In addition to teaching and conducting research in the areas of public and international affairs, the John G. Tower Distinguished Chairholder will provide leadership in developing a national security program in the Tower Center, which will include conferences and other outreach activities involving constituents from local to international levels.

“To fill the Tower Distinguished Chair, we will seek an individual whose intellectual leadership extends well beyond the classroom, but who will be first and foremost a great scholar-teacher,” said Dedman College Dean Jasper Neel. “The Tower Chair will enhance SMU’s preparation of students for international careers in both public and private sectors.”

The John G. Tower Center for Political Studies, founded in 1992 in Dedman College, supports teaching and research programs in international and domestic politics with an emphasis on global studies and national security policy. The center sponsors conferences and seminars drawing international participants, hosts visiting scholars and diplomats-in-residence and awards a Medal of Freedom to world leaders for their advancement of democratic ideals. Undergraduate students are the focus of the Tower Center’s teaching mission.

“Senator Tower was a leader in the field of national security and had an enormous impact on the course of American foreign and defense policy,” said James Hollifield, director of both the Tower Center and International Studies in Dedman College. “The Tower Chairholder will bring expertise in areas that reflect the career interests of the late senator, strengthening both teaching in the Political Science Department and programs of the Tower Center.”

John G. Tower began and ended his distinguished international career as a teacher. After earning a master’s degree in political science from SMU in 1953, he taught political science at Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, Texas, until his election to the U.S. Senate in 1961. He represented Texas in the Senate until 1985, serving as chair of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee. After retiring from the Senate, Tower was appointed U.S. strategic nuclear arms negotiator with the Soviet Union in Geneva and Chair of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. He visited SMU often through the years and returned to the campus in l985 as a Distinguished Lecturer in Political Science, teaching a course in national security affairs until his death in a plane crash in 1991. Tower served as a member of the SMU Board of Trustees from 1968-87.

“The Tower Center has great potential as a resource not only for the students and future political leaders but for the rest of us as well,” Berry Cox said.

Jeanne Tower Cox received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from SMU. Elected to the SMU Board of Trustees in 1996, she currently is vice chair of the board’s Standing Committee on Student Affairs and serves on the Academic Policy, Planning and Management Committee. She also is a founding member of the Tower Center Board of Directors and a member of the Dedman College Executive Board. Her recent community service activities include the Highland Park Independent School District’s Strategic Planning Committee 2000.

Both Jeanne and Berry Cox are members of the Texas Committee of the Campaign for SMU. Berry Cox, an SMU alumnus, has served as a member of the Associate Board of the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, named in honor of his father. Berry Cox is a private investor and serves on the board of Home Depot Inc. Mr. and Mrs. Cox are trustees of the Berry R. Cox Family Foundation.

Personally and through other entities, Jeanne and Berry Cox have provided funds for Tower Center programs including the Medal of Freedom Award and a lecture series honoring the late Annette Strauss, former Dallas mayor, which brings international speakers to address campus and community audiences. In addition, the Coxes provided a fund to establish the Marian Tower International Conference Series, named in honor of Mrs. Cox’s sister, who died with their father in the 1991 plane crash. This fund also provides scholarships for several students to study abroad each year.

The Coxes’ pledge of $1 million for the Tower Distinguished Chair counts toward SMU’s $400 million capital campaign launched in 1997. This five-year campaign is the most ambitious fund-raising effort in the university’s history, with the largest goal ever sought by an institution in North Texas. The campaign seeks endowment and other support to continue strengthening the quality of students, faculty, academic programs and selected facilities at SMU.