On June 9, for the first time in its history, the SW Graduate School of Banking (SWGSB) held its commencement at the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The banking industry executives, representing more than 70 financial institutions and regulatory agencies, were members of the 64th class to earn their certificates from SWGSB.
The SW Graduate School of Banking at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University provides leadership development for these professionals to lead the industry forward, with an eye toward strategic planning, regulatory challenges and unimpeachable values. Class 64 includes senior-level bankers from around the nation, representing community banks, larger financial institutions and regulatory agencies. Completing this rigorous certificate program ensures graduates are up-to-date on the latest management strategies and initiatives, credit risk management, regulations and other issues essential in navigating the complexities involved in delivering outstanding banking services to their communities. They also come away well-versed in the unique ethical considerations they face as trusted financial officers.
The keynote address at the commencement was by Jelena McWilliams, a managing partner with Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from 2018 to 2022. She shared her experiences navigating the FDIC through the COVID-19 pandemic and her perspective on issues facing bankers and regulatory agencies.
Jill Castilla, president and CEO of Edmond, Oklahoma-based Citizens Bank of Edmond, was the graduate school’s 2023 “Wine and Wisdom” speaker. As board chair of the SWGSB Foundation and prominent banking executive, she shared her unique perspective leading a thriving community bank while navigating economic uncertainties in a talk entitled “Bank Innovation, Fighting Complacency and the Battle for Relevance.”
Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, commander of the U.S. Army National Guard and decorated combat veteran, was the leadership speaker at the graduates’ awards banquet. He leads a force of nearly 335,000 soldiers.
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond was the class’ commencement speaker. His daughter, Madeline, one of this year’s graduates, introduced him. Drummond was a longtime rancher, businessman and banker before being elected Oklahoma’s 19th attorney general. He shared his inspiring story and timely advice as a community banker.
Jeffrey R. Schmid, president and CEO of the SWGSB Foundation, noted the broad education graduates receive and the ways the program prepares them for the rapidly challenging banking industry. “The SW Graduate School of Banking…provides participants with the ‘big picture’ of banking. Not only does it give them a true appreciation of how everyone in their organizations come together to reach their shared goals, it also advances their careers and the banking industry as a whole,” he said. “Graduates develop a unique perspective on banking’s challenges, technologies and mission to grow consumer wealth. They return to their banks, financial institutions and regulatory agencies better equipped to build and manage their executive teams, lead the industry forward and contribute to their communities.”
As a national graduate educational program drawing on a large number of financial institutions and regulatory agencies, SWGSB recruits a diverse student body of top executives who either currently serve on their institution’s leadership team or are tapped to do so. Each has been nominated by a senior executive officer in a financial institution or regulatory agency. SWGSB’s admissions committee has vetted and approved every participant. All have a fundamental knowledge—through education or experience—of bank operations, credit administration, accounting, financial statement analysis and economics.