Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University
Seal of Southern Methodist University
Motto Veritas liberabit vos
Motto in English
"The truth will make you free"
Type Private
Established April 17, 1911 (1911-04-17)
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church[1]
Academic affiliations
Endowment $1.514 billion (FY 2018)[2]
President R. Gerald Turner
Provost Steven C. Currall[3]
Academic staff
807 (Fall 2017)[4]
Students 11,789 (Fall 2017)[4]
Undergraduates 6,452 (Fall 2017)[4]
Postgraduates 5,337 (Fall 2017)[4]
Location University Park, Texas, United States
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]
Newspaper The Daily Campus
Colors SMU red and SMU blue[6]
Athletics NCAA Division IAAC
17 varsity teams
Nickname Mustangs
Mascot Peruna

Southern Methodist University (commonly referred to as SMU) is a private research university in metropolitan Dallas, with its main campus spanning portions of the town of Highland Park and the cities of University Park and Dallas.[7] Founded in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, SMU also operates satellite campuses in Plano, Texas and Taos, New Mexico. SMU is owned by the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.[8] As of the Fall 2017 semester, the university's 11,789 students are 6,452 undergraduates and 5,337 postgraduates.[4]

The university comprises seven schools, including the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, Meadows School of the Arts, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Perkins School of Theology, Cox School of Business, and Dedman School of Law.[9] SMU's main campus in Dallas is also home to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which opened on April 25, 2013 and includes former President George W. Bush's presidential library and museum, the George W. Bush Policy Institute, and the offices of the George W. Bush Foundation.


Early history

The university was chartered on April 17, 1911, by the southern denomination of the Methodist Episcopal Church. At the time of the charter, church leaders saw a need to establish a Methodist institution within a metropolitan area.[10] Originally, this new institution was intended to be created in Fort Worth through a merger between Polytechnic College (now Texas Wesleyan University) and Southwestern University. However, the church's education commission instead opted to create a new institution in Dallas to serve this purpose after extensive lobbying by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce. Robert Stewart Hyer, previously president of Southwestern University, was appointed as the first president of the new university.[11][12]

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.[11][13] The church decided to support the establishment of the new institution while also increasing the size of Emory University at a new location in DeKalb County, Georgia. At the 1914 meeting of the General Conference, Southern Methodist University was designated the connectional institution for all conferences west of the Mississippi River.[14]

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, and it inspired "the Hilltop" as a nickname for the school. It was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge after the Rotunda at the University of Virginia.[15] Dallas Hall opened its doors in 1915 and housed the entire university along with a bank and a barbershop.[16] The hall is registered in the National Register of Historic Places.

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.[17]

As the first president of Southern Methodist University, Hyer selected Harvard crimson and Yale blue as the school colors in order to associate SMU with the high standards of ivy league universities.[6] Several streets in University Park and adjacent Highland Park were named after prominent universities, including Harvard, Yale (later renamed SMU Blvd.), Cornell, Stanford, Princeton, Dartmouth, Purdue, Tulane, Sewanee, Amherst, Bryn Mawr, Drexel, Hanover, Marquette, Southwestern, Vassar, and Villanova.

In 1927, Highland Park United Methodist Church, designed by architects Mark Lemmon and Roscoe DeWitt, was erected on campus.[18]

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.[19]

Recent history

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.[20]

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.[21] The institute was completed on April 25, 2013, in a ceremony which featured presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.[22]

From 2011 to 2015, the university celebrated its centennial through the renovation of Fondren Library, the building of five new residential halls, and other campus revitalization projects. The administration, led by President Turner, also raised the university's endowment to above $1 billion through its Second Century Campaign.[23][24]


Rankings and recognition

University rankings
Forbes[25] 98
U.S. News & World Report[26] 61
Washington Monthly[27] 254
ARWU[28] 601–700

Southern Methodist University is consistently ranked among the top 100 universities in the United States by both Forbes and U.S. News & World Report. It currently stands a #61 in the U.S. News & World Report Rankings and at #98 in the Forbes rankings.[29] The university usually ranks in the top five in the state of Texas. The Princeton Review also ranks SMU as one of the "Best Western Colleges" and as #8 in "Lots of Greek Life."[30]

USNWR graduate school rankings[31]

Business 52
Engineering 104
Law 46

Forbes ranks SMU's Cox School of Business as the #25 business school in the United States.[32] Additionally, The Economist ranked SMU Cox #6 for faculty quality.[33] U.S. News & World Report ranks the Dedman School of Law as the #46 law school in the United States.[34]

USNWR departmental rankings[35]

Biological Sciences 175
Clinical Psychology 124
Computer Science 112
Earth Sciences 69
Economics 55
English 108
Fine Arts 114
History 79
Mathematics 103
Physics 142
Statistics 60


Southern Methodist University is one of the more selective universities in Texas with an acceptance rate of 49%. The 25th-75th percentile ACT score range for admitted students is 28-32, and 1220-1440 for the SAT.[30]

University Honors Program

First-year undergraduate students admitted to SMU are automatically reviewed for admissions into the highly selective University Honors Program (UHP). Generally, first-year students that rank in the top 10% of their incoming class will receive a formal invitation to join the UHP. Students that do not receive an invitation must have completed at least one full-time semester on campus with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher before formally applying for admissions.[36]

Institutional organization

SMU has seven degree-granting schools:[37]

All undergraduates enter the university in the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences as a pre-major.

Endowment and financial resources

Southern Methodist University's endowment of $1.514 billion ranks #68 among the largest endowments of any university in the United States and Canada, and makes it one of only 100 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada with an endowment of $1 billion and above as of June 30, 2017.[42] It is the 41st largest endowment of any private university in the United States as of June 30, 2015.[43]

On February 26, 2016, SMU announced that "The Centennial Campaign" had raised $1.15 billion, the largest total for a private Texas university.[44] The campaign was commemorated on campus with the Crain Family Centennial Promenade and the R. Gerald Turner Centennial quadrangle.[45]

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[46] private colleges and universities in the United States to complete a campaign of $1 billion or more.[47] 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.[48]


Southern Methodist University's video game design graduate program is hosted at Guildhall, a part of the university's Plano campus. It was founded in 2003 as one of the first graduate programs for video game design in the United States.[49] The Princeton Review currently ranks it as #1 for graduate video game design schools.[50]


Main campus

The main campus of Southern Methodist University is located in Highland Park and University Park, both of which are incorporated enclaves of Dallas, Texas. It is located on 237 acres of land just west of US Route 75.[5] Dallas Hall serves as the centerpiece for this campus and is the administrative center for the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.[51] Most of the campus is centered around Bishop Boulevard, an elongated, tree-lined loop road that also serves as the site for "Boulevarding," SMU's version of the tailgating seen on many traditional college campuses.[52] The campus was ranked as the most beautiful campus in America by Condé Nast Traveler in 2016.[53]

This campus also hosts the George W. Bush Presidential Center, located on the southeast corner of the campus. The library and museum are privately administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, while the university holds representation on the institute board.

Taos campus

Since 1973, the university has owned a 423-acre campus located at Fort Burgwin, just outside of Taos, New Mexico. This campus hosts classes during intersessions between semesters and during the summer.[54] Along with the normal academic courses offered at the site, students attending classes at this campus during the winter can opt to attend wellness classes centered around winter sports. Other courses offered at this campus are sometimes adjusted to utilize the surrounding environment, such as a course in field botany offered during some summers.[55]

Plano campus

Southern Methodist University operates a small campus in Plano, Texas, in Legacy Business Park. This campus hosts SMU's video game design school, Guildhall, and other graduate-level programs.[56]The Guildhall is slated to move onto the main Dallas campus in the new Gerald J. Ford Research Center by 2020.[57]

Student life

Student demographics

  • 27% of the student body are members of a minority group.[58] There are students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • SMU's female to male ratio is approximately 1:1 and its student-faculty ratio is 11:1. The average age of undergraduate students is 20, while that of graduate and professional students is 30.[59]
  • Among students reporting a religious affiliation, 25% are Catholic, 13% are Methodist, 38% are from other Protestant denominations, and 15% are from other religions including Judaism and Hinduism.[60]
  • The international student population makes up 15% of enrollment, and the largest groups are from China, India, and Mexico.

Undergraduate housing

Since the fall of 2014, Southern Methodist University's undergraduate housing system has operated on a residential commons model rooted in similar systems at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England.[61] Undergraduate students are required to live on campus for their first two years, and they must live their first year in one of the eleven residential commons that they are randomly sorted into after enrollment.[62] Each commons houses a faculty-in-residence and a residential community director that organize events and interact with the residents.[63] The eleven residential commons include Armstrong, Boaz, Cockrell-McIntosh, Crum, Kathy Crow, Loyd, Mary Hay-Peyton-Shuttles, McElvaney, Morrison-McGinnis, Virginia-Snider, and Ware.[64] Built in 1926, Virginia-Snider Commons is the oldest of the current residence halls. It served as a women's dormitory in the university's early years, and it later served as the common residence hall for students in the University Honors Program before the implementation of the residential commons model.[65]

After their first year, students have the option of moving into other on-campus housing facilities such as Greek Life houses, SMU Service House, and apartment-style upperclassman housing. In their third year and onward, students have the option to reapply to live on campus or provide their own off-campus housing.[62]

Student organizations

Southern Methodist University is home to almost three hundred student organizations, including academic, professional, fraternal, sporting, ethnic themed, religious, service, and political diversity groups. Notable examples include the service organization Mustang Heroes, one of the largest organizations on campus, and the Embrey Human Rights Program.[66]

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:

  • The Rotunda, the official SMU yearbook.
  • SMU-TV, a student-run television station serving the Park Cities community.
  • The Daily Update, a weekday morning newscast that airs on SMU-TV and
  • Hilltopics, a publication sponsored by the University Honors Program that publishes periodically.
  • The Muddler, a satirical newspaper.
  • SMU LOOK, a student-run fashion magazine.

As of May 2018 the newspaper will be put under the control of the school's journalism department.[67]

Greek life

Southern Methodist University has approximately 43% of the undergraduate student body affiliated with its Greek system.[68]

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,[72] followed by Delta Delta Delta[73] and Chi Omega New House.[74][75]

As of February 15, 2018, Phi Gamma Delta has been ordered to cease all organizational activity pending a university investigation into hazing. Pi Kappa Alpha received a similar notice on February 9, 2018.[76] On March 26, 2018, Pi Kappa Alpha was officially suspended by the university until Fall 2022. This was the second suspension of a Greek Life organization in the 2017-2018 academic year after Kappa Alpha Order was suspended in October 2017.[77]


Southern Methodist University'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 Sonny Dykes and Tim Jankovich, having started in 2017 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. Head Coach Chad Morris led SMU to the Frisco Bowl in 2017 in his third season before departing for the University Of Arkansas. 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).[78]

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. SMU has won seven more games (48-41-1) than Rice in their rivalry.[79]

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.[80] 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.[81]

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.[20]

On November 11, 2006, redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Willis broke SMU's single-season touchdown pass record held by Chuck Hixson (21).[82] 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.


  • Business Information Center (BIC) – Business school library. Some resources are available to the public.
  • Bridwell Library – Named for the philanthropist Joseph Sterling Bridwell of Wichita Falls, the Bridwell Library (established 1950) is one of the leading theological research collections in the United States.[83]
  • Central University Libraries – Central University Libraries is the largest of the SMU library administrative units, with holdings of more than 2.1 million volumes.[84] It comprises the Fondren Library Center, the Jake and Nancy Hamon Arts Library, the DeGolyer Library of Special Collections, the SMU Archives, the ISEM Reading Room, the Norwick Center for Digital Services, and the Fred Wendorf Information Center at SMU-in-Taos, New Mexico.
  • CUL Digital Collections – Central University Libraries Digital Collections provide anyone around the world the ability to access a variety of text, videos and images. These collections are part of CUL’s ongoing effort to digitize and make available SMU’s unique special collections on the Web.
  • DeGolyer Library – The DeGolyer Library is the principal repository at SMU for special collections in the humanities, the history of business, and the history of science and technology. Dedicated to enhancing scholarship and teaching at SMU, the DeGolyer Library is charged with maintaining and building its various collections "for study, research, and pleasure." Established in 1957 by gifts from geophysicist Everette Lee DeGolyer, DeGolyer Library houses one of the strongest collections in the United States on the Trans-Mississippi West, Texas, the Spanish borderlands, transportation with an emphasis on railroads, and business history.[85]
  • Fondren Library Center – The largest collection of resources on campus, Fondren Library houses materials in the humanities, social sciences and business, as well as government information resources. Fondren Library also houses the Science and Engineering Library which includes collections in biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, mathematics, statistics, computer science, and civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering. The library has particularly strong collections in the earth sciences, electronics, general science and technology. The Norwick Center for Digital Collections is also housed in Fondren. Fondren Library is open 24 hours, and is a common study place for students.
  • Edwin J Foscue Map Library – Located in Fondren Library Center, this is one of the largest map collections in the Southwest.
  • Fort Burgwin Library – The Fort Burgwin Library, located on the SMU-in-Taos campus in New Mexico, contains approximately 9,768 books and small collections of journals and maps.
  • Hamon Arts Library – Hamon Arts Library supports the undergraduate and graduate programs of the Meadows School of the Arts in the disciplines of art, arts administration, cinema, dance, music, and theater. The Library's circulating and reference collections contain more than 180,000 items relating to the visual and performing arts. In addition, the Library has some 300 subscriptions to arts periodicals and provides access to more than 40 online resources that are specific to the arts.
  • Norwick Center for Digital Services – The Center includes a student multimedia center and screening room and supports a full range of digital services, production services and collaborative technology support, including the CUL Digital Collections.
  • Underwood Law Library – The Underwood Law Library's more than 640,000 volumes support the instruction and research of the Dedman School of Law and the general SMU community. The Library's collection is particularly strong in the areas of international law, commercial law, securities, taxation, jurisprudence, oil and gas, and air and space law.


  • Meadows Museum – The Meadows Museum houses several collections including a collection of Spanish art from the 10th to the 21st centuries. It also includes a sculpture collection including works by David Smith, Henry Moore and Claes Oldenburg, as well as by contemporary sculptors such as James Surls. Important figural sculptures by Rodin, Maillol, and Giacometti are also housed within the museum. In addition it is also responsible for the University's art collection including several important regional artists.
  • Pollock Gallery[86] – The Pollock Gallery provides an ever-changing display of works by the faculty and students of the Meadows School of the Arts, as well as by outside artists. It is located in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center.

Notable people

  • The book A Payroll to Meet: A Story of Greed, Corruption, and Football at SMU is a literature account of the recruiting scandals and violations that ultimately led to the famous "Death Penalty" being instituted.[87]
  • While students at SMU, siblings Bill and Julie Ann Brice founded I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!,[88] a chain that grew to more than 400 locations throughout the United States and 17 foreign countries.
  • Nearly 100 SMU Mustang Band members & alumni, cheerleaders, and pom squad members performed in the George W. Bush 2001 Inauguration Parade.[89]
  • In the 2006 NBC reality television show Treasure Hunters, the victors of ten competing three-person teams were the members of team Geniuses, a team wholly composed of SMU students which won $3 million in the largest reality show prize ever to date.[90]
  • SMU appeared regularly throughout cult television show Dallas. Main character Lucy Ewing and other characters attended the university.
  • SMU appeared in the premier episode of season 13 of The Bachelorette. Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay is a Dallasite.
  • SMU alumna Whitney Wolfe Herd is founder and CEO of Bumble (app), and a co-founder of Tinder (app).


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