Highland Capital Management Gifts $2 Million to SMU Tower Scholars Program

DALLAS – A $2 million gift to the SMU Tower Scholars Program has been made possible by Highland Capital Management, L.P. (“Highland,”) a Dallas-based investment management firm, which together with its affiliates has approximately $19.5 billion in assets under management. The donation will kick off the new Highland Capital Management Endowed Tower Scholars Program Fund at Southern Methodist University (SMU). The program will provide outstanding undergraduate students, recognized as Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars, with a unique immersion experience in public policymaking through SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies.

“Transformative education initiatives are a key focus of our philanthropy,” said James Dondero, co-founder and president of Highland. “We have deep respect for the role that SMU plays in the community. This program will offer students extraordinary opportunities to interact with global and national leaders, influential policymakers and top employers that call Dallas home.”

Ten sophomore students will be selected as Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars every year, and they will be steeped in domestic and foreign affairs as well as the international political economy. The program hallmarks include access to global leaders, study abroad opportunities, and meaningful senior-year internships. Scholars will develop mentor relationships with public policy practitioners, work with clients on actual cases, and have access to local businesses and decision makers. Students may apply to the program during the fall term of their sophomore year with the first applications being accepted in fall 2014. The first scholars selected will begin their studies in spring 2015, leading to a minor in public policy and international affairs.

“Few American universities offer a program designed for undergraduates with as much real-world policy education and experience as does the Tower Scholars Program,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The gifts that make this program possible allow students to begin gaining professional perspectives while working toward their undergraduate degrees, bridging the usual gap between graduation and career development. We are proud to partner with Highland Capital Management on this unparalleled program for our students.”

In addition to the $2 million contribution made possible by Highland Capital Management, a gift of $1 million from the Hamon Charitable Foundation will endow the Jake L. Hamon Endowed Internship Program in the Tower Scholars Program Fund, and a $1 million gift from the Berry R. Cox Family Foundation earmarks $850,000 for endowment and $150,000 for operational support of the program.

“These generous gifts to the Tower Scholars Program will have a profound impact on its success, helping mold strong leaders armed with an unwavering sense of ethics, global perspectives, and experience,” said Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs.

The primary mission of the Tower Center, named for the late U.S. Senator and SMU alumnus John Goodwin Tower ‘53, is to promote the study of politics and international affairs and to stimulate an interest in ethical public service among undergraduates. All parties and views are heard in a marketplace of ideas, and the Center pursues its mission in a nonpartisan manner. The Tower Center offers academic courses and seminars, research opportunities, and lectures and symposia featuring prominent academic experts and government officials including an annual National Security Conference. The Tower Center bestows as its highest honor the Medal of Freedom, in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the advancement of democratic ideals and to the security, prosperity and welfare of humanity. Recipients have included former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, U.S. Senator John McCain, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and former First Lady Laura Bush.

Since 2005, Highland and its partners have committed more than $8 million to organizations around the world. “Highland proudly invests in the communities where its employees live and work, and is committed to making a difference through volunteerism, advisory board involvement, and financial donations to both local and national philanthropic organizations,” said Dondero.

About Highland Capital Management, L.P.

Highland Capital Management, L.P. is an SEC-registered investment adviser which, together with our affiliates, has approximately $19.5 billion of assets under management. Founded in 1993 by Jim Dondero and Mark Okada, Highland is one of the largest and most experienced global alternative credit managers. Highland specializes in credit strategies, such as credit hedge funds, long only funds and separate accounts, distressed and special situation private equity, and collateralized loan obligations (CLOs). Highland also offers alternative investments, including emerging markets, long/short equities, and natural resources. Highland’s diversified client base includes public pension plans, foundations, endowments, corporations, financial institutions, fund of funds, governments, and high net-worth individuals. Highland is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and maintains offices in New York, Sao Paolo, Singapore, and Seoul.