Carolyn L. and David B. Miller, BBA ’72, MBA ’73, made history in October with a $50 million gift to SMU to drive innovative education at the Cox School of Business. The gift is the largest-ever to SMU from an individual donor family. The Moody Foundation announced a $100 million gift to the University just a few weeks later to fund the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, but the Miller gift is designated specifically for the Cox School of Business. The couple’s benevolence builds on their decades-long support for academics, athletics, student scholarships and other areas to benefit generations of world changers.
“For decades, the range and depth of Carolyn and David’s leadership and dedication have strengthened every part of our University,” says SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We thank the Millers for their remarkable gift. Their investment will amplify the long-term strategic plan for SMU’s top-ranked Cox School of Business and its facilities, students, faculty and programs. As a result, we’ll prepare tomorrow’s business leaders for success in the global economy.”
As co-founder and managing partner of EnCap Investments LP, David Miller counts his SMU experience as the bedrock of his professional achievements. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from SMU and was a standout on the varsity basketball team. He has served on the SMU Board of Trustees for 11 years and currently serves as vice chair.
“SMU has been tremendously important in my own life and that of my family,” David says. “This gift is an investment in its future. We’re excited to support Cox’s forward-focused vision for advancing business education and developing talented business leaders.
The Millers’ latest commitment will support the School’s strategic plan to modernize its curriculum, offer more and broader scholarships to attract the world’s best business students, collaborate across the SMU campus on new interdisciplinary programs and enhance its facilities. The plan will also extend community outreach to develop corporate partnerships and expand inclusivity.
The Millers’ previous Cox School support includes the David B. Miller Endowed Professorship; the Don Jackson Center for Financial Studies, named after a former professor who inspired David as a student; the MBA-Military Scholarships; and the David Miller Endowed Scholarship Fund.
The Millers have also contributed to the creation of the Cox School’s EnCap Investments & LCM Group Alternative Asset Management Center. The highly competitive program trains top-notch undergraduate business majors in application-oriented private equity or investment banking and connects them with industry professionals through events and internships. SMU alumni of the program credit its rigor with helping them land jobs at top firms.
With their historic support, the Millers hope to inspire others to join the momentum propelling the Cox School’s strategic initiatives. “We’re going to keep expanding the influence of our nationally and internationally ranked business school,” says Matthew B. Myers, Cox School Dean and Tolleson Chair in Business Leadership. “We are thankful for the support from accomplished leaders like the Millers, who understand the value that a strong business school brings to a dynamic, evolving global city.”
In 2020, Cox is celebrating 100 years of business education in Dallas. Both the University and the city have grown and benefited each other in a powerful partnership. Texas region by supplying confident and well-prepared graduates to the workforce,” says SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs ad interim Peter K. Moore. “Investing in new academic opportunities and professional networks for ambitious students creates lasting impact, beyond graduation and throughout our alumni’s careers.”
Support from the Miller family enables the Cox School to ready itself for the future and reveals the passion David and Carolyn have for SMU and its mission. “We are grateful for David and Carolyn’s dedication and visionary focus in committing to a generous investment to make SMU and our great business school even stronger,” says SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs Brad E. Cheves. “David holds SMU close to his heart. As he describes it, his relationship with SMU is a ‘50-year love affair,’ which has spread among his family.”
Affection for SMU in the Miller family has deep roots. David’s mother, Fay Ann Miller, attended SMU in the 1940s. Four other Miller family members are alumni of SMU, including David’s son, Kyle D. Miller, ’01; his stepson, John M. Hasley, ’08; and his nephews, Matthew C. Miller, ’10, and Christian B. Miller, ’14. The Millers’ children and grandchildren are often on campus for basketball and football games and other activities.
Over the years, the Millers have had a profound impact on many other University priorities. Their continuing support for scholarships, which include the David and Carolyn Miller Annual Scholarships and Diversity Scholarships, springs from their personal experiences. As a student, David received an athletic scholarship as an undergraduate and a fellowship as a graduate student. Carolyn is a former teacher and community advocate.
“Bringing in students from many backgrounds uplifts the campus and the educational experience for all,” Carolyn says.
In addition to their academic patronage, the Millers have given $17.5 million toward Moody Coliseum’s expansion and renovation as well as construction of the Miller Event Center. Last year, SMU officially named the Moody Coliseum court in David Miller’s honor. The Millers have also provided operational funding for athletics programs, including men’s basketball. Most recently, they funded the Miller Boulevard Ballroom, a multipurpose space for campus and community events in the new Indoor Performance Center, featuring the Armstrong Fieldhouse.
The Millers have been longtime participants in the annual SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute. In 2014, their $2.5 million lead gift funded the Carolyn and David Miller Campus Center at the SMU campus in Northern New Mexico.
Carolyn L. Miller and David B. Miller, ’72, ’73
The Millers serve as ofﬁcers of the David B. Miller Family Foundation, which, in addition to making gifts to SMU, contributes to numerous charitable organizations.
David earned two degrees from SMU — a BBA in ﬁnance and an MBA. As an undergraduate, he was a three-year starter and letterman on the varsity basketball team and a member of the 1971-1972 Southwest Conference co-championship team. He received Distinguished Alumni Awards from the Cox School of Business in 2000 and from the University in 2011. In 2009, he received the Silver Anniversary Mustang Award from the SMU Lettermen’s Association. In addition to his service on the SMU Board of Trustees, David also serves as chair of the Cox School of Business Executive Board and as a member of the University’s Campaign Leadership Council.
In addition, David has been recognized for his business leadership and expertise. He was inducted into the Dallas Business Hall of Fame in 2015. In 2014, he was honored with the prestigious L. Frank Pitts Energy Leadership Award, presented by the Cox School’s Maguire Energy Institute, and was inducted into the Rocky Mountain Oil & Gas Hall of Fame. His service to the community has also been honored. He received the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award in 2017 and the Volunteer Leadership Center’s Achievement Award in 2013.
Carolyn graduated from Hendrix College in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and currently serves as a member of the Hendrix Board of Trustees. She also holds master’s degrees in both elementary education and gerontology. She transitioned from teaching into social work, serving as a program director at The Senior Source. She has served on the executive boards of SMU-in-Taos and the SMU Meadows School of the Arts and on the Women’s Initiative Policy Advisory Committee for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.