The Fincher Building at the Edwin L. Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University is about to get a big upgrade, thanks to a $10 million commitment from Dallas businesspeople Aurelia and Brad Heppner and their family to establish the Heppner Family Commons there. Through their foundation, the couple is also giving the business school $1.5 million to support Cox faculty research.
The generous gift was just announced at SMU’s Armstrong Fieldhouse.
The Heppners’ $10 million gift will create an expansive, “light-filled” hub for teamwork and problem-solving among students, faculty and corporate partners at the Fincher Building, which is the original home of the Cox School. Among facilities in the Heppner Family Commons will be new study rooms and furnished workstations.
The Heppners’ faculty-research gift is being made through the couple’s Heppner Endowment for Research Organizations (HERO), a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life of Texans through conservation, academic fieldwork and investment in the arts.
“With this gift, the Heppners will give SMU business students the space to work together with each other and our faculty, making critical connections and sparking inventive ideas,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said in a news release. “We also thank HERO for supporting the pioneering research of Cox faculty.”
Added Brad Heppner: “SMU’s Cox School of Business is a vital part of Dallas’ thriving business community. We are proud to invest in the next generation of business leaders who are building their skills in the Cox School, and in faculty who conduct ambitious research.”
Brad is the founder, chairman and CEO of The Beneficient Co. Group LP, a Dallas-based company that provides individual and smaller institutional investors with a platform offering a way to access liquidity from their alternative assets. Aurelia is the company’s enterprise program manager. Both have years-long connections to The Hilltop. Brad, a member of the Cox School board, holds a BBA, B.B.S. and B.A. from SMU, where he was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and in student government. Aurelia, who’s a member of the Junior League of Dallas, originally moved to Texas to attend SMU on an academic scholarship.
The Heppners’ gift was hailed by Brad E. Cheves, SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs. The couple’s “generosity will have a tremendous impact on the Cox School of Business for years to come,” Cheves said. “Countless students and faculty will benefit from their investment in collaborative problem-solving and important business research.”
Last year, SMU netted its two largest-ever single gifts — $100 million from the Moody Foundation and $50 million from Carolyn and David Miller and their foundation. David Miller, who’s chair of the Cox School Executive Board, said the Heppners’ commitment “will help shape future business leaders, and we are grateful for their generosity.”
* Photo credit: Hillsman Jackson