Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist redirects here. For the unrelated denomination, see Southern Methodist Church.
Southern Methodist University
Motto Veritas Liberabit Vos
Motto in English
The Truth Shall Set You Free
Type Private
Established 1911
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church[1]
Endowment $1.50 billion (June 30, 2015)[2]
President R. Gerald Turner
Provost Steven C. Currall[3]
Academic staff
Students 11,643[4]
Undergraduates 6,411[4]
Postgraduates 5,232[4]
Location Dallas, Texas, U.S.
32°50′28″N 96°47′02″W / 32.841°N 96.784°W / 32.841; -96.784Coordinates: 32°50′28″N 96°47′02″W / 32.841°N 96.784°W / 32.841; -96.784
Campus Urban, 237 acres (0.96 km2)[5]
Colors SMU red and SMU blue[6]
Athletics NCAA Division I
American Athletic Conference
Nickname Mustangs
Mascot Peruna

Southern Methodist University (SMU) is a private research university in Dallas, University Park, and Highland Park, Texas.[7] Founded in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, SMU operates satellite campuses in Plano, Texas, and Taos, New Mexico. SMU is owned by the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.[8] Of the university's 11,643 students, 6,411 are undergraduates.[4]


The university was chartered on April 17, 1911, by the five Annual Conferences in Texas of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Classes were originally planned to start in 1913 but were postponed until 1915.

SMU was established as the attempt to relocate Southwestern University from Georgetown, Texas, to either Fort Worth or Dallas was unsuccessful. The first relocation effort by Polytechnic College president Hiram A. Boaz and spearheaded by Southwestern president Robert Stewart Hyer involved merging Southwestern with Polytechnic College (now Texas Wesleyan University). The post-merger university would retain the Southwestern name while occupying Polytechnic's campus in Fort Worth.

Central Campus Quadrangle, Southern Methodist University (postcard, circa 1915–1924)

The merger never came to fruition, primarily because the Dallas Chamber of Commerce set up a committee to raise funds and entice Southwestern to relocate to Dallas. This proposal gained considerable traction since Southwestern was operating a medical school in Dallas. Plans were drawn for the campus's first building, Memorial Hall, which inspired SMU's first building, Dallas Hall. Southwestern's trustees rejected the relocation plan, prompting Hyer's resignation and move to Dallas to establish Southern Methodist University.[9]

SMU retained close connections to Southwestern and Polytechnic. Southwestern president Hyer became SMU's first president and Hiram A. Boaz, a Southwestern graduate, resigned as president of Polytechnic to become SMU's second president. Polytechnic attempted to become a feeder school of SMU before becoming a women's college. SMU acquired Southwestern's medical school in Dallas and operated it until 1915. Southwestern and SMU were athletic rivals until Southwestern became a small liberal arts college.

The effort to establish a new university in Dallas drew the attention of the General Conference of the Methodist Church, which was seeking to create a new connectional institution in the wake of a 1914 Tennessee Supreme Court decision stripping the church of authority at Vanderbilt University. The church decided to support the establishment of SMU and dramatically increase the size of Emory University at a new location in DeKalb County, Georgia. At the 1914 meeting of the General Conference, SMU was designated the connectional institution for all Conferences west of the Mississippi River.[10]

Classes were planned to officially begin in 1913, but construction delays on the university's first building prevented classes from starting until 1915. In the interim, the only functioning academic department at SMU was the medical college it had acquired from Southwestern University.[11]

SMU named its first building Dallas Hall in gratitude for the support of Dallas leaders and local citizens, who had pledged $300,000 to secure the university's location. It remains the university's symbol and centerpiece. Designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge after the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, Dallas Hall opened its doors in 1915 and housed the entire university as well as a bank and a barbershop. It is registered in the National Register of Historic Places. SMU's nickname "The Hilltop" was inspired by Dallas Hall, which was built on a hill.

The university's first president, Robert Stewart Hyer, selected Harvard crimson and Yale blue as the school colors in order to associate SMU with the high standards of ivy league universities.[12] Several streets in University Park and adjacent Highland Park were named after prominent universities, including Harvard, Yale (later renamed SMU Blvd.), Stanford, Princeton, Dartmouth, Purdue, Tulane, Amherst, Bryn Mawr, Drexel, Hanover, Marquette, Southwestern, Vassar, and Villanova.

In 1927, Highland Park United Methodist Church, designed by architects Mark Lemmon (1889–1975) and Roscoe DeWitt (1894-1975), was erected on campus.[13]

In 1939, SMU was placed under the South Central Jurisdiction of the Methodist Church.

During World War II, SMU was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[14]

In 2008, SMU was selected as the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and the George W. Bush Policy Institute.[15]

Southern Methodist University football scandal

The university drew considerable media attention in 1987 when the NCAA administered the death penalty against the SMU football program for repeated, flagrant recruiting violations. The punishment included cancellation of the 1987 and most of the 1988 football season and a two-year ban from Bowl Games and all televised sports coverage.[16]

Academic profile

The Laura Lee Blanton Hall during a rare snow storm

SMU has seven degree-granting schools:[17]

Endowment and financial resources

SMU's endowment of $1.505 billion as of June 30, 2015, ranks #64 among the largest endowments of any university in the United States and Canada, and makes it one of only 95 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada with an endowment of $1 billion and above.[24] It is the 41st largest endowment of any private university in the United States as of June 30, 2015.[25]

On December 31, 2015, SMU successfully completed a $1 billion fundraising campaign, "The Centennial Campaign", coinciding with the 100-year anniversary of its opening. It was the largest fundraising campaign in North Texas's history and made SMU one of only 34[26] private colleges and universities in the United States to complete a campaign of $1 billion or more.[27] Its previous fundraising campaign, "A Time to Lead", concluded in 2002 and raised $542 million, the largest fundraising campaign in the school’s history at the time.[28]

On February 26, 2016, SMU announced that the "The Centennial Campaign" had raised $1.15 billion, the largest total for a private Texas university .[29]

Research and graduate studies

During 200708, SMU received more than $19 million in external funding for research.[30]

Special programs

The Guildhall at SMU

Located at SMU's Plano campus, the Guildhall at SMU is one of the very first video game graduate programs in the United States and is ranked as the #2 Graduate School for Video Game Design by The Princeton Review.[31]


SMU's Fort Burgwin campus in Northern New Mexico offers summer and fall credit courses, including the SMU archaeology field school program.[32] Past archaeological work has included excavations at Pot Creek Pueblo, a 13th-century ancestral pueblo home of both Taos and Picuris Pueblos.[33] The annual SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute also uses the campus for a weekend of informal classes taught by SMU faculty members.[34]

Engaged learning

Undergraduate students participate in scholarly research, civic engagement, professional internships and creative activity related to education goals. The university's Office of Engaged Learning provides an institutional framework and funding opportunities for undergraduates to pursue self-designed projects in research, service, internships and creative work, on campus and in local and global communities.[35]

Study abroad programs

International study is offered through 150 programs in 50 countries, in addition to research and service projects abroad.[36]

University Honors Program

The University Honors Program in the Liberal Arts serves the highest achieving undergraduate students in all departments and majors across campus. Those invited to participate fulfill a seven-course requirement of their University Curriculum in small, often discussion-based classes.[37] The Honors Program hosts many events throughout the academic year. It also offers considerable research grants, exclusive job opportunities, and other selective benefits to its student constituents.[38]

Center for Academic-Community Engagement (ACE)

Center for Academic-Community Engagement (ACE) – The ACE Center engages students in academic coursework that promotes scholarship through civic participation. Students enrolled in ACE Center courses work 2–3 hours a week staffing local agencies and community organizations dedicated to social and economic opportunity. The most remarkable part of the ACE Center is the ACE House, a four-student, off-campus residence in the low-income Dallas neighborhood of Garrett Park East. ACE House student-residents run weekly programs at the House for neighborhood children and their families.[39]

Rankings and recognition

University rankings
Forbes[40] 101
U.S. News & World Report[41] 56
Washington Monthly[42] 254
ARWU[43] 401–500
Overall university rankings
SMU Cox School of Business rankings

George W. Bush Presidential Center

On February 22, 2008, the University trustees unanimously instructed President R. Gerald Turner to enter into an agreement to establish the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the southeast side of the campus. SMU has courted Bush—whose wife, Laura, is an alumna—ever since Ray Lee Hunt broached the subject with the President a few months after Bush assumed office.[15] The museum is joined by the George W. Bush Institute.

Laura Bush and project architect Robert A.M. Stern unveiled the center's final design on November 18, 2009, on the SMU campus. Budgeted at $250 million, the 227,000-square-foot (21,100 m2) complex includes a museum, library, archive and private Policy Institute. The building is constructed of Texas limestone and red brick with a central landmark tower to blend with SMU's Georgian Revival architecture, and looks out onto a rolling terrain of native Texas wildflowers and grasses designed by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh.[48]

Specifications sent to prospective architects in June 2007 called for a 145,000-square-foot (13,500 m2) library and a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) institute to be built in an area bordered by SMU Boulevard to the north, Central Expressway to the east, Mockingbird Lane to the south and Airline Road and Dublin Street to the west. The specifications called for the buildings to comply with SMU's "distinct architectural character."[49]

The library and museum are administered by the National Archives and Records Administration while the institute is privately maintained.[50] The university has representation on the Institute board.[15]

Panoramic view of the main quadrangle

Student life

In 2008, SMU was named No. 3 among all U.S. colleges for "Most Conservative Students",[51] No.3 for "Lots of Greek Life" No.7 for "Most Beautiful Campus", No.15 for "Little Race/Class Interaction", No.12 for "LGBT-unfriendly" and No. 15 for "Happiest Students" by Princeton Review.[51] In 2014, SMU was named No.3 among all U.S. colleges for "Lots of Greek Life", No. 7 "Most Beautiful Campus", No. 15 for "Little Race/Class Interaction", No. 7 for LGBT-Unfriendly".[52][53]

According to current Princeton Review Rankings, SMU is listed as being on "Best Alumni Network #18,Best Athletic Facilities #7,Best Career Services #12, Best Quality of Life #7, College City Gets High Marks #6, Little Race/Class Interaction #15, Lots of Greek Life #3, Most Beautiful Campus #7, Top Internship Opportunities #6"

Greek life

Southern Methodist University has approximately 50% of the student body affiliated with its Greek system.

SMU delays Greek recruitment until the spring semester, giving prospective members the ability to decide over the course of the fall which organization they would like to join. This places restrictions in the type of communication older, affiliated sorority members can have with non-members who are rushing. The fraternities place no such restrictions on the ability for the men to rush potential members. Several of the sororities place high emphasis on the grades that their members make.

Starting in 2010 the university has been updating and rebuilding the older sorority houses. The first house rebuilt was Pi Beta Phi,[56] followed by Delta Delta Delta[57] and Chi Omega New House.[58][59] In 2014 Delta Gamma moved so their house could be rebuilt, and the new Kappa Alpha Theta house is currently under construction. In SMU's Master Campus Plan the current arrangement of fraternity houses will be moved one street north from SMU Boulevard to Dyer Court. The only current fraternity that is listed to have a new house is Sigma Chi.

The Boulevard

During the Fall Football season the University hosts its own version of a tailgate call "The Boulevard" prior to home football games.[60] The Boulevard was started by President R. Gerald Turner in 2000 with the home opener against the University of Kansas in the new Gerald J. Ford Stadium. The idea for the Boulevard came from President Turner's time at the University of Mississippi and seeks to recreate The Grove (Ole Miss). Boulevarding starts about three hours before the game and is shut down thirty minutes after the start on Bishop Boulevard and the Main Quad from Dallas Hall to Mockingbird Lane. It includes tents that have been reserved by student groups, traditionally Fraternity and Sorority Groups, football players' parents and alumni, as well as the Law, Business and Engineering schools. In 2009 the University moved the Greek Life groups from Bishop Boulevard to the Main Quad SMU Boulevard in an effort to cut down on underage drinking and in effect separating the alumni and student sections from each other. As further measures to cut down on underage drinking a pull tab wrist band system has been proposed for the 2015 Season. This would allow for all members of student organizations over the age of 21 to be allowed 4 drinks per game with an additional 2 drinks per guest that has been pre-registered, up to a maximum of 2 guests.[61] The Boulevard continues to grow and is always welcoming of alumni and the public.

Student demographics


At SMU, the residence halls comprise a variety of room types, bathroom styles, and community areas.

Residence halls

Armstrong, Boaz, Cockrell-McIntosh, Crum, Kathy Crow, Loyd, Mary Hay, McElvaney, Morrison-McGinnis, Perkins, Peyton, Shuttles, Smith, Virginia-Snider, Ware.

Upperclass Housing and Other Housing

Daniel House, Hawk, Martin, Moore, Multicultural House, Service House, SMU Apartments

Residential Commons

In Fall 2014, SMU launched its new Residential Commons (RC) model.[64] The Residential Commons is an academic living-learning concept with roots in the residential college systems of Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England. The model is designed to create an academically-engaged residential community that promotes faculty/student interaction.

Incoming students are randomly assigned to an RC and will live in their RC for two years. Each RC houses students from across campus representing all the SMU colleges and schools. A student's RC continues to be his or her “home” for their college career, even after moving off-campus. Some students have the opportunity to live in their RC as juniors or seniors, but space is limited; however, students will continue to be affiliated with their RC throughout their time at SMU. SMU has other non-RC residence housing available specifically for juniors and seniors.

Each RC has a live-in faculty member called a Faculty in Residence (FiR), who works with students and staff members to create opportunities for students to know faculty members outside of the classroom and emphasize a culture of mentorship, intellectual discourse, and community that is cultivated inside and outside of the classroom.[65] SMU faculty is selected and assigned to RCs without regard for their academic disciplines.

RCs are located in existing undergraduate residence halls and in the five newer buildings completed in 2014 in the southeast quadrant of the campus. Some facilities were renovated to modify space for new common areas and Faculty in Residence and staff apartments.

Student organizations

SMU boasts nearly 200 student organizations, including academic, professional, fraternal, sporting, ethnic themed, religious, service, and political diversity groups.

Student media

The Daily Campus has been the independent student newspaper since 1915. It is published on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the Fall and Spring semesters. It operates in conjunction with SMU-TV and The Daily Update, a weekday morning news program also produced by students. In recent years the number of publications has decreased from four printings a week to three.

Other student media include:


Main article: SMU Mustangs
SMU football fans

SMU's athletics teams are known as the Mustangs and participate in the NCAA's Division I, with the football team competing as a member of Division I FBS. Current head coaches of the men's football and basketball programs are Chad Morris and Tim Jankovich, having started in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Previous head football coach June Jones arrived on the Hilltop in 2008, and helped bring the Mustangs to four bowl appearances in a row (2009–2012), winning the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl in 2009 and 2012 and the BBVA Compass Bowl for the 2011 post-season, held January 7, 2012. SMU is a member of the American Athletic Conference (The American) since 2013, when it left Conference USA (C-USA). Before that, the Mustangs participated in the now defunct Southwest Conference and the Western Athletic Conference. The football team plays at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the SMU campus.

SMU's closest rival in athletics is Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas. In football, SMU and TCU compete annually (with the exception of 2006) for the Iron Skillet. In 2005, a nationally unranked SMU beat then 24th-ranked TCU for SMU's first win against a ranked team in 19 years (since October 1986).[66]

SMU also competes annually with Rice University in football for the "Mayor's Cup", a traveling trophy that has been created to enhance the Rice-SMU rivalry, which dates back to 1916.[67]

The Doak Walker Award is an annual collegiate award given to the nation's "most outstanding college running back" for his accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community. It was established in 1989 and is named after SMU Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker.[68] In 1998, the PwC Doak Walker Legends Award was created, recognizing an individual whose extraordinary collegiate football career has been bolstered by an exemplary record of leadership in the community.[69]

The SMU football program has also produced many professional football standouts, such as Don Meredith, Doak Walker, Kyle Rote, Eric Dickerson, Jerry Ball, and Craig James. Nine Mustangs are currently active in the National Football League: wide receiver Aldrick Robinson (Washington Redskins), defensive back Bryan McCann (Baltimore Ravens), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos), cornerback Sterling Moore (Dallas Cowboys), punter Thomas Morstead (New Orleans Saints), wide receiver Cole Beasley (Dallas Cowboys), tackle Kelvin Beachum (Pittsburgh Steelers), offensive guard Josh LeRibeus (Washington Redskins), and defensive end Margus Hunt (Cincinnati Bengals).

From 1980 to 1985, SMU had one of the strongest programs in Division I-A (now FBS). They posted a record of 55–14–1, and finished these seasons ranked No. 21, #7, No. 2, #19, and No. 8 in the nation. These "winningest" years concluded with the Death Penalty on February 25, 1987 due to repeated violations conducted by boosters. The NCAA administered the "death penalty" for repeated, flagrant recruiting violations. Components included cancellation of the entire 1987 season, a two-year ban from bowl appearances, a two-year ban from television appearances, a limit of seven games, all on road, in the 1988 season, a loss of three assistant coaching positions for two years and a loss of 55 new scholarships over four years. Players were allowed to transfer without sitting out one season, per standard requirement. SMU responded to the combination of these conditions by canceling the 1988 season outright.[16]

On November 11, 2006, redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Willis broke SMU's single-season touchdown pass record held by Chuck Hixson (21).[70] Willis threw for three touchdowns in a 38–28 loss to the University of Houston, setting the new single season record at 23. At the end of the season, Willis set the new record at 26. He also broke the SMU single season touchdown record accounting for 29 touchdowns. He was named to the Freshman All-American team at quarterback.

On Monday, January 7, 2008, June Jones was named the head football coach at SMU. He brought a record of 76–41, all at the University of Hawaiʻi, where he won more games than any other coach in school history. He signed a five-year contract worth $10 million. The Mustangs went 1–11 in Jones' first season in 2008, but dramatically improved in 2009. The 2009 team finished the regular season at 7–5, earning the program's first bowl berth since the scandal. The Mustangs defeated Nevada in the Hawaiʻi Bowl, which also marked Jones' return to the stadium where he had coached before coming to SMU. On September 8, 2014 June Jones stepped down as Head Coach after a 0-2 start to the 2014 season, in which the team was outscored 88-6.

In December 2011, the Big East Conference (since renamed the American Athletic Conference) extended an invitation to SMU to join the conference for all sports beginning in the 2013–14 season. The school made the move alongside current C-USA rivals Houston, Central Florida, and Memphis. Three other C-USA rivals, East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa, joined SMU in The American a year later.

Research and related facilities


Fondren Library

Research centers and institutes

"A True Girl of the West," 1906 photo from Central University Libraries Digital Collections. CUL has an active outreach program at Flickr's The Commons.[74]


Performance venues

Notable people

In popular culture


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External links

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