May 22, 2008
Dear Members of the SMU Community:
S. Leon Bennett
It is with deep gratitude for his outstanding service that I announce the retirement of S. Leon Bennett, General Counsel, Vice President for Legal Affairs and Government Relations, and Secretary to the Board of Trustees. Leon will be working on special projects for SMU during the summer and fall, and his retirement will be effective at the end of the calendar year.
For 25 years, Leon has led SMUís Office of Legal Affairs during a time in which legal issues affecting colleges and universities have grown in number and complexity. Typically working behind the scenes, he has handled challenging and sensitive issues with professionalism, discretion and wisdom. As Secretary to the Board of Trustees, he has supported the work of the Board through its restructuring in the late 1980s and continued refinements for greater organizational efficiency.
As the University has worked to implement its Centennial Master Plan for campus development, Leon has been instrumental in facilitating SMUís acquisition of nearby property, working closely with the cities of University Park, Highland Park and Dallas on development issues. He has built important relationships as well with the Texas legislature, the U.S. Congress and government agencies on public policy issues affecting higher education in general and SMU in particular. Most recently, he played a critical role in preparations and negotiations for the George W. Bush Presidential Library, helping to craft the detailed and historic documents of SMUís agreement with the Bush Foundation.
In all areas of his leadership, Leonís primary concern has been representing the Universityís best interests. Looking at the span of his service – from 1983 to the present – it is not difficult to imagine the range of activity, adaptations, growth and challenges that SMU has experienced. Leon has been there every step of the way as attorney, vice president, corporate officer and trusted colleague.
I know you will join me in thanking Leon and wishing him well.
R. Gerald Turner
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