Honorary Degrees
1918 - Present

Edith and Peter  O'Donnell , Jr.
Doctor of Humane Letters  2008
Status: conferred

Edith and Peter O'Donnell Jr. - civic leaders and philanthropists - have played a pivotal role in advancing the arts and education in Dallas and beyond. Edith O'Donnell graduated from the University of Texas. Peter O'Donnell received a bachelor's degree from the University of the South and M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Together they founded the O'Donnell Foundation in 1957. He is chairman, president and CEO, and she is secretary/treasurer. The O'Donnell Foundation of Dallas develops and funds model programs to strengthen engineering and science education and research. Peter O'Donnell created the Advanced Placement Incentive Program, which has dramatically increased the rate of minority high school students passing college-level exams in mathematics, science and English. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April 2008. In addition, he serves on the Presidents' Circle of the National Academy of Sciences and is a founding member of the Academy of Medicine, Science and Engineering of Texas. Edith O'Donnell promotes arts education as co-founder of Young Audiences, now called Big Thought, and founder of the Advanced Placement Incentive Programs for art and music theory in Dallas area schools. She serves on boards of The Hockaday School and Dallas Museum of Art. The O'Donnells have been honored with the James K. Wilson Award for service to the arts in Dallas and the Linz Award, Dallas' most prestigious civic honor. For their generous and farsighted contributions to the arts, sciences and education in Dallas, Texas and the nation, Southern Methodist University is honored to confer upon Edith O'Donnell and Peter O'Donnell Jr. the degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa .