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SMU Public Affairs
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January 25, 2002


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DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University President R. Gerald Turner received the Anti-Defamation League’s 2001 Henry Cohn Humanitarian Award at a banquet January 14.

Turner is the 25th recipient of the award, which was established by the Dallas Regional Board of the ADL to honor members of the community. Turner received the award “in recognition and appreciation for his distinguished service and inspiring leadership in preserving liberty, counteracting bigotry and advancing the cause of human rights, dignity and equal opportunity.” Ruth Altshuler, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees, was chair of the award banquet.

Nate Levine, president of Etan Industries Inc., and Ray L. Hunt, chair, president and CEO of Hunt Consolidated Inc. and member of the SMU Board of Trustees, spoke at the banquet in honor of Turner. Levine noted Turner’s outreach to the Jewish community through SMU’s commitment to establish an endowed faculty chair and related programs in Jewish studies. Levine and his wife, Ann, have provided $1.25 million in funding for the faculty chair. “In proposing this project, Gerald Turner enabled me to enjoy the gift of giving,” Levine said at the banquet. “I commend him for the rich mosaic of diversity he is building at SMU.”

Hunt noted Turner’s initiatives on diversity and cross-cultural understanding while chancellor at the University of Mississippi, as well as his efforts at SMU, where he became the 10th president in 1995. The drive toward greater diversity at SMU began with its ninth President, A. Kenneth Pye, and has been advanced by President Turner and the Board of Trustees. SMU’s minority enrollment has approximately doubled in recent years, rising from 9.9 percent in l987 to 19.3 percent in fall 2001. Also noted at the banquet was Turner’s role in promoting tolerance and understanding through numerous SMU activities and written commentaries in the wake of the September 11 attacks.



In accepting the award, Turner summarized the role of the University in expanding opportunities for diversity and encouraging dialogue on issues of human rights. He cited several pioneering SMU efforts, including the racial integration of Perkins School of Theology in 1952; establishment in 1966 of the annual Women’s Symposium, which served as a catalyst of the early women’s movement in Dallas; and academic programs in Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies.

“Any award of this nature belongs not just to an individual, but to an entire community making progress possible,” Turner said. “At SMU that community includes trustees, faculty, staff, students and numerous donors who share and support the University’s vision.”

The Anti-Defamation League is one of the largest civil rights and human relations organizations in the country. ADL is involved in combating hate, bigotry and terrorism; protecting religious freedom; providing anti-prejudice training; offering victim support; fighting anti-Semitism and racism; advocating hate crimes legislation; and promoting interfaith and intergroup dialogue.

Lawrence Rosenbloom is chair of the ADL Dallas Regional Board, and Mark L. Briskman is the regional director.