Honorary Degrees
1918 - Present

Herbert David Kelleher 
Doctor of Laws  2003
Status: conferred

Herbert David Kelleher, entrepreneur, has opened the skies for his employees and customers. Dallas is home to his brainchild, Southwest Airlines, whose good-natured attitude infects both its customers and its workers just as it reflects the upbeat mood and faith in American patterns of success fostered by Mr. Kelleher. The nation's fourth-largest air carrier in terms of domestic passengers boarded, Southwest flies to 58 cities in 30 states. The company's focus on employee esprit de corps, with fast aircraft turnarounds and low fares, has been key to its success. A much-loved boss, Kelleher is known for pitching in wherever needed - behind the ticket counter, aboard planes, or on the baggage ramp. When it began in 1971, the small, no-frills airline was perceived as an underdog in the industry. In January 2003 Southwest announced its 30th consecutive year of profitability, with annual net income of $241 million. For his entrepreneurial élan, embodying the best traditions of Dallas and the American spirit, SMU is honored to award Herbert David Kelleher the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.