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President Gerald R. Ford: 1913-2006


President Ford talking to SMU students.

Southern Methodist University remembers with great fondness and respect President Gerald R. Ford, who visited the campus several times and was the grandfather of two SMU graduates. He died Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2006, at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

In 1975, President Ford, spoke at the University's convocation, saying that "just before I left Washington yesterday morning, I did receive a bit of very good news. Bill Clements, our Deputy Secretary of Defense as well as the former chairman of SMU's board of governors, informed me that I had been named the first and only honorary member of your sensational Mustang Band. All I can say is, I have always been proud to be a Ford. In the future, I will be even more proud to be a Ford Mustang."

President Ford, who received an honorary doctor of law degree from SMU at the time, also talked about the country entering its third century. "I see this era as one of the fulfillment of the individual citizen. I see a century devoted to education, which equips young men and women, like the students of SMU, to make their own decisions rather than permit their future to be programmed by massive government structures . . ."

Two of President Fordís granddaughters graduated from SMU. Heather Elizabeth Vance received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005 with a major in journalism and a minor in film studies. Tyne Mary Vance received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2002 with a major in theatre.

President Ford visited the SMU campus in 1989 as a speaker in the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series and in 1999 as the inaugural speaker for the Hart Global Leaders Forum, which brings world leaders to Dallas to share their knowledge and experience with high school student leaders and community members. In addition, he was the featured speaker at an SMU business management briefing in 1976.

His visits to SMU and the time he took to speak with SMU students and visiting high school students will remain a cherished memory of the University.

More information about the life of President Ford is available at the website for his Presidential Library, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the North Campus of the University of Michigan, his alma mater (B.A., 1935).

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