Oct. 11, 2007

$10.1 million gift to boost U.S. engineering education

DALLAS (SMU) — American engineering education is about to get a Texas-sized boost.

A $10.1 million gift to SMU from the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas – the single largest gift ever received by SMU’s School of Engineering – will help the United States compete globally in engineering and technology by preparing students to excel in these fields.

Renderings of the new Caruth Hall
(Click image for high-resolution version)

Front View

South Side View

The gift provides enhanced facilities and a national center to promote engineering and technology education in grades K-12 and beyond. The gift allocates $5.1 million to establish and endow the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education at SMU and $5 million toward a new building on the site of the original Caruth Hall, the historic home of SMU's School of Engineering since 1948. (Read more at

"As we approach our centennial celebration, it is fitting that the Caruth name is once again linked with SMU, because the Caruth family made the original gift of land that helped to assure the University's location in Dallas," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "Now, nearly a century later, this generous new gift from the Caruth Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas will enable SMU to make Dallas a national center for innovative engineering education and serve as a critical educational asset for North Texas."

In 2002 Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison helped establish the Institute for Engineering Education at SMU through an initial federal grant. The Institute and School of Engineering have provided leadership in engineering education through national Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiatives.

“The hard reality is that we are falling behind in the pace of discovery and, ultimately, in our ability to compete in a world driven by innovation,” said School of Engineering Dean Geoffrey C. Orsak. “We expect the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education to help overcome this deficit as it becomes a national center of excellence in researching, developing and delivering innovative K-16 engineering education programs."

The Caruth Institute will serve as a key resource to other math and science education programs, such as the Texas High School Project, a public-private collaboration managed by Communities Foundation of Texas and funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and CFT.

“The Institute staff will conduct primary research on effective techniques for teaching the math and science foundations for engineering and technology,” said SMU Provost Paul Ludden. “As an initial investment of this gift, SMU will recruit an international authority to fill a distinguished endowed faculty chair and serve as executive director of the Caruth Institute. The endowment also will provide funds to further strengthen SMU's engineering faculty with additional endowed appointments.”

The Caruth Institute will consolidate and further develop several successful national programs already in place in the SMU School of Engineering:

  • The Infinity Project: The nation's leading high school and early college math and science-based engineering education program, which will be extended into middle and elementary schools.

  • The Gender Parity Initiative: A nationally recognized program that supports SMU's strategy to promote interest in engineering and technology among girls and young women, with the goal to become among the first coeducational American universities to achieve 50 percent gender parity among engineering students.

  • Science Readiness Institute: An innovative summer math and science program for North Texas area middle school students that prepares them for rigorous high school study in advanced placement courses.

  • Visioneering: Signature National Engineers Week events and curriculum that give middle school students firsthand experience in engineering design. Visioneering received the 2006 Dean's Council Award for Excellence from the American Society of Engineering Education.

  • College Partnerships: An initiative that links community college pre-engineering programs with four-year engineering colleges, endeavoring to ensure seamless transition for students.

“Engineering makes the study of math and science very practical,” said Brent Christopher, president and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas. “New products, life-saving medicines, energy-efficient buildings and vehicles, the exploration of space – there is almost no aspect of life that is not touched by engineers. The Caruth Institute at SMU will create the teaching strategies and courses that will empower the next generation of high school students to pursue engineering and to change our world.”

The new gift from the Caruth Foundation at CFT allocates $5.1 million toward a new and expanded Caruth Hall on the site of the original building. It will serve as home to the new Caruth Institute for Engineering Education as well as the Engineering School's Department of Computer Science and its Department of Engineering Management, Information and Systems. With the new Junkins and Embrey Engineering buildings, the new Caruth Hall will complete the final phase in development of SMU's new East Quadrangle.

“As SMU approaches the centennial of its founding in 2011 and its opening in 2015, we are increasing resources for students, faculty, academic programs and the overall campus experience,” said Carl Sewell, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees. “This landmark gift will support that effort.”

The W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation was established as a supporting organization of Communities Foundation of Texas, the largest community foundation in Texas and one of the largest in the country. The Caruth Foundation supports bold initiatives for education, scientific research, medical advancement and public safety. W.W. Caruth Jr., who died in 1990, developed and managed the family's extensive real estate holdings in the Dallas area over four decades. His father, W. W. Caruth Sr., donated farmland in 1911 that provided the original land for the SMU campus.

In addition to Caruth Hall in the School of Engineering, other campus entities resulting from the generosity of the Caruth family include the W.W. Caruth Jr. Child Advocacy Clinic in Dedman School of Law, Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship in Cox School of Business, Caruth Chair in Financial Management in the Cox School and Caruth Auditorium in Meadows School of the Arts.

A private university located in the heart of Dallas, SMU is building on the vision of its founders, who imagined a distinguished center for learning emerging from the spirit of the city. Today, 11,000 students benefit from the national opportunities and international reach afforded by the quality of SMU’s seven degree-granting schools.

SMU's School of Engineering, founded in 1925, is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers 20 undergraduate and 29 graduate programs including both master's and doctoral levels.

Communities Foundation of Texas, a public charity founded in 1953, works closely with donors, nonprofits and other funding organizations. CFT offers specialized philanthropic resources, responsible asset management and effective grant making. As the largest community foundation in Texas and one of the largest in the country, CFT professionally manages more than 800 component funds. The foundation has combined assets of $800 million, and it has distributed more than $850 million in charitable grants since its inception.

Related Link:
The Dallas Morning News:
SMU gets $10.1M gift to improve engineering outlook



Media Contact:
Patti LaSalle
tele. 214-768-7660
Ann Abbas
tele. 214-768-7660