A $15 million gift from Gina L. and Tucker S. Bridwell (BBA ’73, MBA ’74) to SMU’s Cox School of Business will generate transformational economic research and cutting-edge business education for generations to come, through the creation of the new Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom, the school said in a news release.
The research institute within the Cox School will examine and promote free enterprise in markets around the globe.
The gift builds on the Bridwells’ legacy of support for SMU and promises to elevate the Cox School’s already outstanding global reputation.
“Mr. and Mrs. Bridwell’s leadership and commitment to the University speak to the strength of their feelings for SMU,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “They believe that SMU shapes world leaders and want students to have the opportunities Mr. Bridwell did to learn on the Hilltop and make their mark on the world.”
Of the Bridwells’ $15 million gift, $7.5 million will transform the current William J. O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom into the new Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom. The designation for the additional $7.5 million from the Bridwells will be determined later.
“Tucker and Gina’s gift will enrich existing programs, impact our understanding of free enterprise in global markets and generate countless opportunities for SMU faculty and students,” said Matthew B. Myers, dean of the Cox School and Tolleson Chair in Business Leadership. “We are grateful for their belief in Cox and for their service to SMU over the years.”
The newly named Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom continues and expands upon the original mission of its predecessor, The William J. O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom.
The O’Neil family fully endorses the new Bridwell Institute and its work to expand the impact and influence of the original center, SMU said in the news release. “We are forever grateful to William J. “Bill” O’Neil ’55 and his wife, Fay ’55, for their support of the O’Neil Center from 2008 to 2020,” Myers said.
Bridwell is president of the Mansefeldt Investment Corporation and the Dian Graves Owen Foundation. Additionally, he manages MDJ Minerals, one of the largest private oil and gas mineral positions in the Permian Basin. He is a board member of publicly traded Concho Resources, Inc., in Midland, and First Financial Bankshares, where he serves as lead director.
He received BBA and MBA degrees from SMU’s Cox School of Business, and continues to provide visionary leadership to his alma mater. He is a member of SMU’s Board of Trustees and vice chair of the Cox School Executive Board.
Recently, Bridwell led a $5 million tribute gift effort to honor fellow SMU alumnus and professional colleague Kyle D. Miller ’01, establishing an Energy Management Program and endowing a scholarship fund in Miller’s honor.
He was named a Cox School Distinguished Alumnus in 2006. SMU honored Mr. Bridwell with its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2018.
Bridwell has been instrumental in Abilene’s economic development efforts and active in local and state politics, and has led several Bible studies over the past 30 years. His civic accolades include an honorary doctorate of humanities from McMurry University, Abilene Outstanding Citizen of the Year, and the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America.”
Gina Bridwell served on the Governor’s Commission for Women, the Advisory Council of the Texas Conference for Women, as a Trustee for The Old Jail Art Center, The Grace Museum, and Hendrick Hospice Care.
She was President of The Cotillion Club and The Alumnae Panhellenic Association and chaired The Pastoral Council of Holy Family Church. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. The Bridwells have four children, one of whom graduated from SMU.
“SMU has truly made living the American dream possible for me.” Mr. Bridwell said. “SMU is a place that encourages students to think and lead. This was true 50 years ago when I came to SMU as a freshman; it is still true today. Gina and I are excited to support Cox and see the future impact of the Bridwell Institute. We can’t wait to see how future Mustangs, using their SMU education, change the business landscape.”