Thanks to a landmark $100 million commitment from the Moody Foundation, SMU is launching the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies. This is a transformational moment for SMU, signaling that the University has the means to attract and support research of the highest caliber, and the men and women who deliver it.

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU will take a major step forward in serving the talent and research needs of a challenging world, thanks to a landmark $100 million commitment from the Moody Foundation that will fund the University’s eighth degree-granting school – the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

The Moody Foundation commitment is the largest gift in SMU history.

“We cannot overstate the power and reach of this gift,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “This is a transformational moment for SMU and Dallas, signaling that SMU is a premier institution with the means to be a full partner in commercial and global problem-solving, and a pipeline for leaders to tackle those challenges.

“As the Texas economy booms, companies and institutions look to universities like SMU for innovative ideas, data-driven research and technology that can create opportunity,” Turner said. “The Moody School will be the portal to all of our resources – the entry point for any organization with a research challenge to approach the University for partnership.”

The Moody Foundation gift will include:

-Endowment and operational funds in support of SMU faculty and renowned visiting faculty, as well as a deanship

-Endowment and operational funds to provide competitive financial support for graduate students

-Endowment and operational funds to recruit leading scholars conducting world-changing research

-Endowment and operational funds to provide flexibility in stimulating interdisciplinary work

-Construction of Moody Hall, to serve as headquarters for the Moody School and facilitate faculty and student interaction that generates interdisciplinary research

“The Moody Foundation exists to strengthen the future of Texas and Texans through big ideas like this one,” said Frances Moody-Dahlberg, the Foundation’s executive director and chairman. “We all know that transformative discoveries come when people from different disciplines and broad perspectives are free to collaborate in unique ways. SMU’s Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies will encourage and support such innovative connections. I am eager to see what the combination of world-changing students and faculty coupled with exceptional resources will produce on this campus, in the region and across Texas.”

The Moody School will begin formal operations during the 2020-21 academic year.

“The profound nature of the Moody’s Foundation gift is the latest example of the growth of SMU’s status academically, programmatically and philanthropically,” said SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs Brad E. Cheves. “With the sophisticated way the Foundation has structured this investment, SMU and the new Moody School will be well prepared in terms of facilities, endowed resources and operating funds to execute its important mission, which itself supports the University’s strategic plan.”

The investment in graduate-level education and research is expected to:

-Inspire and enable greater interdisciplinary collaboration and creative problem solving

-Attract students with the strongest academic backgrounds and potential

-Increase research grant funding

-Boost the University’s reputation for research excellence

-Place SMU shoulder-to-shoulder with other prestigious private universities that historically focused on undergraduate education, but have strategically expanded services and support for graduate students

-Strengthen collaborations with other universities, including UT Southwestern Medical Center, major corporations and other entities in producing high-impact research projects

The creation of the Moody School will increase the reputational value of an SMU graduate degree. Research with impact depends on strategically growing SMU’s talented pool of exceptional faculty and attracting the best and brightest master’s and Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows. Together they provide the academic framework for discovery.

“SMU has long offered premier undergraduate and professional programs,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs ad interim Peter K. Moore. “The creation of a graduate school will enable the University to build on its excellent graduate educational programs in the sciences, humanities, engineering, arts and education to fuel research, strengthen teaching and reputation, and deliver greater impact in everything we do. It also means more opportunities for undergraduates, who are mentored through association with research faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.”

The broad endowment funding provided by the Moody Foundation will guarantee the strength of the school in perpetuity, while the operational funds included in the gift will provide for immediate impact.

SMU currently offers 25 Ph.D. programs, awarding about 70 of the advanced degrees annually to students from all over the world. These degrees are administered through the students’ individual schools – Dedman College of Sciences and Humanities, Lyle School of Engineering, Meadows School of the Arts and Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Eventually all graduate degrees granted from Dedman, Lyle, Meadows and Simmons Schools will be administered jointly through the Moody School, and graduate students will receive a diploma that credits their master’s degree, doctorate or Ph.D. to both their individual school of study and the Moody School.

The Cox School of Business, Dedman College of Law and Perkins School of Theology do not offer Ph.Ds. and will continue to manage internally the highest degrees awarded in their respective fields. But the Moody School will link interdisciplinary research and professional development from all SMU schools.


William L. Moody, Jr. and his wife, Libbie Rice Shearn Moody, laid the groundwork for the family’s dedication to community involvement and philanthropy when they established the Moody Foundation in 1942 in Galveston, Texas. The Foundation was created to benefit present and future Texans, and, starting in the 1960s under the leadership of Mary Moody Northen, it began awarding grants throughout the state, often focusing on capital projects for private colleges and universities, as well as support for children’s health projects, libraries and historical preservation initiatives. Beginning in the mid 1980s, led by Robert L. Moody, Sr., now chairman emeritus, major investment in local Foundation-initiated projects related to traumatic brain injury and the development of tourism in Galveston were a key focus. As the reach of the Foundation expanded and strengthened, the need for a permanent location in North Texas became evident, and, in 1966, a Dallas office was established to oversee local initiatives.

Now, the great-granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Moody, Jr. and a 1992 graduate and trustee of SMU, Dallasite Frances Moody-Dahlberg, along with her brother, Ross Moody, and niece, Elizabeth Moody, leads the Foundation as Chairman and Executive director. Under their guidance, the Moody Foundation has expanded its statewide giving and continuing partnering with local groups to fund major projects. At UT Southwestern, they have supported the Children’s Research Institute with major equipment and created the position of Robert L. Moody, Sr. Faculty Scholar. In 2017, they collaborated with the City of Dallas to support the AT&T Performing Arts Center and, in order to enhance small and growing nonprofit performing arts organizations in Dallas, they established the Moody Fund for the Arts. In recognition, the City Performance Hall was renamed Moody Performance Hall.

SMU and the Moody Foundation have enjoyed a decades long partnership. During those many years, the two organizations have joined forces to make SMU facilities such as Fondren Science Building in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Owen Arts Center in Meadows School of the Arts and Moody Coliseum exceptional resources for the SMU campus and the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The two organizations have collaborated to empower faculty research at the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, aiming to quantify data and identify solutions to homelessness among students in the Houston/Galveston area as well as developing cutting-edge programs to help adults and students achieve literacy.

This most recent seminal gift to establish the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies is in keeping with the Foundation’s long-standing tradition of support for institutions and communities in the state of Texas. It is yet another way the Moody Foundation has demonstrated its enduring values that have led to more than seven decades of impactful generosity.


SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and nearly 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as the lead change in their professions, communities and the world.