Eliran Assa

David and Carolyn Miller have ponied up in a historic way.

The former varsity basketball standout at Southern Methodist University and his wife have pledged $50 million to the Edwin L. Cox College of Small business, exactly where he received his graduate and undergraduate degrees in finance in the early 1970s.

It is the biggest single present in the university’s 108-year history.

It also brings the Highland Park couple’s total gifts to SMU to additional than $100 million.

The Millers’ newest donation will be made use of to overhaul and expand the small business school’s facilities, employ endowed faculty and expand scholarships to raise student diversity on the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The Millers’ present will be officially announced Friday morning on campus at the James M. Collins Executive Education Center.

Many hundred invitees have been told to count on an “unprecedented commitment” to SMU and its small business college.

Carolyn Miller laughs with her husband David Miller (right) and SMU president R. Gerald Turner. The couple's total giving to SMU is more than $100 million.
Carolyn Miller laughs with her husband David Miller (proper) and SMU president R. Gerald Turner. The couple’s total providing to SMU is additional than $100 million.(Smiley N. Pool / Employees Photographer)

“It’s the largest present from a single individual or household in our history,” R. Gerald Turner stated in an interview earlier this week. “Just by that, it is major news. This is a important enhancement of SMU’s important contributions to Dallas — and that is getting a very first-class college of small business.”

That was echoed by the dean of SMU’s small business college, Matt Myers: “This clearly is a monumental present that is going to heighten the currently really optimistic trajectory of Cox,” he stated. “People roll their eyeballs at me when I say this, but I’ve stated it considering the fact that I got right here two and a half years ago: A robust Cox tends to make a stronger SMU, and a stronger SMU tends to make a additional robust and globally competitive North Texas.

“It’s a game-changer for us devoid of query.”

Miller, 69, is the co-founder and managing companion of EnCap Investments LP, which is primarily based in Dallas and Houston and is a single of the biggest private equity firms in the globe. He has served on SMU’s board of trustees for 11 years, at present as vice chairman. He also serves as chairman of the Cox Executive Board.

Carolyn Miller graduated from Hendrix College in 1974 and is on its board of trustees. She holds master’s degrees in elementary education and gerontology.

SMU, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary of small business education subsequent year, is in the early stages of a important fundraising campaign for the small business college, as effectively as arranging the university’s subsequent important gifts campaign.

“It’s good that the Millers decided to supply really generous and substantial leadership to get these items underway,” Turner stated.

The couple’s prior gifts to SMU funded academic positions and scholarships, the Carolyn and David Miller Campus Center at SMU-in-Taos and athletics initiatives, like the Miller Boulevard Ballroom in SMU’s new athletic instruction center.

“This present is singularly directed to Cox,” Turner stated, “but their all round help has been remarkably broad and generous.”

Moody Coliseum’s basketball court is named for David in recognition of the couple’s $20 million in donations to expand and renovate the arena, as effectively as construct the Miller Occasion Center at Moody.

Miller, who attended SMU on a basketball scholarship, was a 3-year varsity beginning center and a member of the 1971-72 Southwest Conference Co-Championship group. He earned his MBA in 1973 whilst on a teaching assistant fellowship.

David Miller stands in front of a photo from his days as a starting center for SMU.
David Miller stands in front of a photo from his days as a beginning center for SMU.(Hillsman Stuart Jackson)

“I attended SMU for 5-plus years and never ever paid the university a dime in tuition,” Miller stated in an interview at his dwelling Wednesday. “I had this seriously conscious believed, I seriously did, of ‘Hey, I do not know how my life is going to play out, but I just hope at some point or some day, I’ll be in a position to give a thing back to the university.’ ”

His very first commitments to the college have been a $25 present to the Mustang Club and a $100 pledge to SMU’s common operational fund in 1979.

The Millers’ $50 million donation is a single of the biggest gifts in current regional history.

In November, the University of Texas at Dallas announced that it had been provided the Barrett Collection of 400-plus performs of Swiss art — the single biggest donation ever produced to UTD. When the university declined to spot an precise worth on the collection, it stated it was in excess of $35 million.

3 years ago, the city of Dallas received a $50 million present from the estate of the late Harold Simmons to help the $250 million Trinity River Park project. Announced by Simmons’ widow, Annette, it was the biggest private donation ever in help of a municipal project.

The Millers’ largesse has extended beyond SMU, with important gifts of at least $1 million to 11 other nonprofits, like Carolyn’s alma mater. Their biggest non-SMU present was an undisclosed quantity to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, exactly where he serves as a member of its board.

Myers stated the small business college is focused on 3 initiatives. “It’s motherhood and apple pie in quite a few methods — practically nothing fancy,” he stated. “Scholarships to bring in the ideal and brightest — no matter what their monetary status is hiring the faculty to construct modernized applications that prepare students for the fourth industrial age and facilities that construct a sense of neighborhood and enable us to teach in a modern day style.

“These 3 items are our continual drumbeat.”

That appeals to the Millers.

“I’m biased due to the fact I’m a small business college graduate,” Miller stated. “But in terms of SMU’s brand, its academic reputation and the gains that have been produced, Cox has led the way. I’m excited about the prospective for that trajectory to continue. My hope is that our present will inspire other folks to jump on board.”

The cash will be provided as necessary, he stated. The Millers want half to go toward facilities and half to scholarships and endowed professorships.

“We’ve got all these shiny new buildings all more than the campus, but nothing’s been completed at Cox,” Miller stated, noting that the current buildings have been constructed in 1954 and 1987 and in some cases flood when it rains challenging. “We desperately want to upgrade the facilities, but at the similar time, what seriously tugs at Carolyn and me and pulls on our hearts are scholarships. You have got to have good facilities. There’s no query about that. But the scholarship piece of it is vital to us.”

Joining the mega-givers

David B. and Carolyn L. Miller and the David B. Miller Family members Foundation are providing $50 million to SMU’s Cox College of Small business. They previously contributed $51 million to the college, bringing their total to $101 million.

Biggest single gifts by folks in SMU history

$35 million: Ray L. Hunt and Nancy Ann Hunt in 2005

$30 million: Robert and Nancy Dedman in 1997

$25 million: Harold and Annette Simmons in 2013

Supply: SMU

Other mega-sized single gifts

The Millers join a tiny group of Dallas philanthropists who have provided single gifts of $50 million or additional.

$100 million: William P. Clements to Southwestern Health-related Foundation in 2009

$50 million: Annette and Harold Simmons to UT Southwestern Health-related Center in 2008

$50 million: Perot household to Perot Museum of Nature & Science in 2008

$50 million: Harold and Annette Simmons to UT Southwestern in 2005

$50 million: Annette Simmons to Trinity Park Conservancy in 2016

Supply: The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Eliran Assa