The Last Word: SMU’s Elizabeth Loboa on the Impact of a $30M Gift from The O’Donnell Foundation

“The exponential creation of data and the need to understand it is profoundly changing the way universities must approach both educating students and pursuing research.”

Elizabeth G. Loboa
Provost and VP for Academic Affairs
.…on the O’Donnell Foundation donating $30 million to the university to create 10 endowed academic positions in engineering and data science as well as to support research in those fields.

Loboa was explaining a critical need that SMU and other universities are addressing—one that was got a boost last week when The O’Donnell Foundation announced its donation of $30 million to SMU to create 10 endowed academic positions in engineering and data science, as well as to support research in those fields. 

“Data literacy for our students combined with the capability to use sophisticated computer modeling and artificial intelligence toward research is crucial to meeting many challenges here in North Texas and around the world,” Loboa said in a statement. “The O’Donnell Foundation’s gift is a major step for us in meeting those goals.”

SMU President R. Gerald Turner said the gift will be evenly split between SMU’s newly named O’Donnell Data Science and Research Computing Institute and an initiative for digital innovation in engineering and computer science.

You can read more about the gift and its impact in our story.

For more of who said what about all things North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

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R E A D   N E X T

  • A collaboration between the university’s Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business, the SMU Impact Lab aims to equip the next generation of SMU students to understand impact investing through education and practice. By aligning "profits and purpose," SMU said it's committed to advancing the idea of "investing for the greater good."

  • The Perot family’s support will expand the number of students admitted to UT Southwestern's dual-degree program as well as research disciplines in which they study, to include biomedical engineering, computational biology, bioinformatics, and data science. The funding will enhance the curriculum and experiences of Medical Scientist Training Program students and increase efforts to recruit students from elite U.S. colleges, including top international students who want to stay in the U.S. for their careers.

  • The Mark Cuban Foundation brings AI education to underserved high school students through free bootcamps hosted by companies in cities across the U.S.

  • UT Southwestern researchers have used gene editing technology to develop what could be a breakthrough for dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that affects one in 250 people worldwide. “The pace of this field is really breathtaking,” said Eric Olson, Ph.D., who co-led the study. “I expect that if this moves forward into patients, we’re not talking within decades—we’re talking within years.”​ 

  • With the aviation industry needing hundreds of thousands of new pilots in the coming decades, Texas Woman's University in Denton aims to soar to new heights in aeronautics education. A $15 million donation—the largest foundation gift in TWU history—will establish the Doswell School of Aeronautical Sciences—and help put more women in pilot's seats from coast to coast.