History of  SMU

This page starts the discussion of the detailed history, development and growth of Southern Methodist University.

  Note: Pictures and Background Pictures on this site except those shown on links were taken from The Dallas Public Library, the book Reflections, the book Journey toward Prominence, the book A History of Perkins School of Theology, the book Southern Methodist University Founding and Early Years or the SMU Web Site http://www.smu.edu/. Author and Publisher details of the books are shown throughout the site.

If anyone thinks they own any pictures anywhere on this web site and want them taken down, I will do so.

References are shown for all material on all pages of this web site.


   The Early Years


There is no one person who can be given credit for the founding of S.M.U. It did, however, began with persons associated with the Methodist Church in Texas. Southwestern University in Georgetown was the primary school for education sponsored by the Methodist Church in Texas. It was founded in October of 1873. It evolved from four other colleges that did not succeed. At the time of its founding, it was thought to be the closest to the center of the population of Texas, but as time went on the center of the population became North Texas. As early as 1905 there was much thought among the leaders of the church that Southwestern University should be moved to Dallas. The fact is, however, that the trustees of Southwestern resisted all efforts to move their school, and the Methodist Church had to come up with a different solution. 

In the spring of 1911 The Methodist Church founded Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. There was some disagreement that the school should be established in Fort Worth since there was already a Methodist College there. The name of this college was Polytechnic College founded in 1893. At this same time the city of Dallas proposed that Polytechnic College be moved to Dallas.

After much heated discussion the Fort Worth faction agreed to abide by the decision of the Methodist Church Commission with the responsibility to establish a great University in the North Texas area.. The Commission decided in favor of the proposition from Dallas over Fort Worth. The proposition from Dallas included a 300 acre tract of land adjacent to Highland Park, a new residential site north of Dallas,   and a cash bonus of $300,000. In the last five minutes of the meeting a member of the Dallas group informed everyone that he had just been told a private citizen of Dallas had offered a half interest in 725 acres ( donated by W. W. Caruth) acres just north of the original 300 acres. The Commission decided in fairness that Fort Worth be allowed to amend their proposition, but they declined. This land was later become a part of the city University Park.

In the end the commission decided that besides the establishment of S.M.U in Dallas that Southwestern remain in Georgetown and that  Polytechnic College would be converted to a Women's College and remain in Fort Worth when S.M.U began operations.

There again began a heated discussion on the actual name for S.M.U. The names Texas Wesleyan and the University of Dallas were suggested, but in the end the name Southern Methodist University was finally decided upon.

Finally the plans for the construction of the buildings on the campus could begin.

On December 9, 1911 construction of first building was to start. The name Dallas Hall was chosen, because the citizens of Dallas had contributed the money required for its construction.

Southern Methodist University first opened its doors to students on Wednesday, September 22, 1915. A total of 706 students registered and classes were delayed until Tuesday, September 28, 1915. This number of students was a national, if not an international record for number of students registered by an institution in its first year.

The first three presidents on the university were Dr. Hyer, Dr. Boaz, and ad-interim president Dr. Kilgore who served until Dr. Charles G. Selecman was elected March 21, 1923. The first three presidents were primarily concerned with organization. The second period under Dr. Selecman was occupied with development and expansion.

Before Dr. Hyer's retirement, he reported to the board of trustees that the University was in financial trouble. He told the board that despite the University's brilliant achievements and prospects, that it would be necessary for the school to obtain money from its friends to prevent the school from closing. This was on February 20, 1920. Dr. Hyer did not think that he was the man to manage this crisis. He offered them his resignation. He believed that he could best serve the University in the field of science. The board agreed and he served as the head of the physics department until his death May 29, 1929.

At a meeting with 20 good friends of the University on June 23, 1919 Dr. Hyer had told them that, if they could not pledge $2000 each the University would not be able to pay its teachers the next fall and would have to close. The 20 friends agreed to make the pledge. On July 7, 1920 an additional $2000 pledge was received from each of the 20 friends.

Dr. Boaz was elected to succeed Dr. Hyer immediately after his resignation. Dr. Boaz was not willing to accept the position, because he had just been elected to serve four years as Secretary of the Board of Church Extensions and was living in Louisville. At a meeting in Dallas, Dr. Boaz was informed that, if he did not accept the position as president, the school would have to close because of the continuing financial crisis. Since he did not want the school to close, Dr. Boaz agreed to accept the presidency under the certain conditions. The first being that Dr. Hyer would approve his election and the second that he should be elected unanimously. On February 20th Dr Boaz was informed that he had been elected unanimously. From that date until May 1st he served at his present job and as the president of Southern Methodist University. In May of that year he began organizing a campaign to secure one million dollars for Southern Methodist University to liquidate its indebtedness and secure sufficient endowment.

The General Education Board of New York City pledged $333,333.00, if Dr. Boaz could raise $666.666.00.  By the following November the one million dollars was reported to be raised. From this date on the school's growth has been unabated.

During the summer of 1921 Dr. Boaz was given a ten week leave of absence to visit Europe. While he was absent a controversy over Dr. John A. Rice who was very popular with his students and the faculty arose. Opposition to Dr. Rice grew very strongly in the faculty. Dr. Rice did not want to be an object of controversy and resigned. He was given a pastorate in the East Oklahoma Conference.

Friends of Dr. Rice became very hostile to Dr. Boaz for accepting his resignation. In the Fall of  1921 and the Spring of 1922  another controversy occurred in the university circles concerning athletics. Dr. Boaz and the vice president were criticized severely in a number of ways. Also many unkind things were said in the April Fool issue of the "Dinky" about some members of the faculty and of the student body. These criticism was so disgraceful that a retraction was demanded by The Trustees.  This retraction was given and printed in the press of the city.

In May 1922 Dr. Boaz, having been elected to the Episcopacy, resigned as president of Southern Methodist University to take effect at the pleasure  of the board.

During the time that Dr. Boaz served as president an expansion of the curriculum to include a degree of bachelor of science was accomplished. In addition departments of business administration, journalism, and also the existing departments of Education, Home Economics, and Chemistry. During this time dissension on the faculty concerning the control of athletics continued.

It cannot be said that the University in 1923 was a great one, but its development had exceeded any other university in the same length of time, and its faculty and administration made many sacrifices to raise it standards of instruction. Its buildings and its appearance had not increased since its opening in 1915.

The campus still looked like an abandoned farm. There was only one paved road, Abbott, on the boundary of the 132 acre campus. There was only one  graveled road to Dallas Hall, Bishop Avenue. The University needed a president to oversee the  solutions to endowment, buildings, landscaping, paving, faculty and student and faculty management and the expenditures of about $2000 daily. The job was first offered  to Wayne Barton manager of the Methodist Publishing House in Dallas who turned it down. Dr. Charles C. Selecman pastor of the First Methodist Church was finally offered the job despite some objections to his ability to carry out the financial and other responsibilities. He accepted the job as a call to a difficult duty not as a promotion. President Dr. Selecman expressed his desire to the faculty to proceed upon a sincere, open, cordial friendship. The quarrel over athletics continued for a time, but after a few months it was forgotten.

The first problem addressed was the raising of the money necessary to pay off current debts and to offset reduced pledges made in the 1920 campaign. This was necessary for the University to qualify to receive the original third of a million dollars offered by he Rockefeller Foundation. The University had to raise $499,820 additional to the original pledges to reach that goal. This was accomplished in 1924 and the University received the Rockefeller Foundation grant.

In the Spring of 1924 the improper conduct by male members of an outlaw fraternity known as T.N.E. caused a disturbance in the harmony of the school. The profits of the annual publication of the "Dinkey" were used to finance a rowdy party at a place called Savage Lake near Dallas. Because of this, eight students were expelled, 26 suspended, and 22 put on probation. The student investigating body was able to get the sentences of fourteen of the students lightened.

This incident was a challenge to everything the university stood for, but the severity and promptness with which the school acted  discouraged future activity of this sort.

In 1925 the offerings of the institution increased by the establishment of the School of Engineering and the School of Law. In 1927 the School of Education was raised in rank to be a separate school.  Enrollment in 1915-1916 was 706.. The enrollments from 1915 to 1928 were respectively 706, 823, 779, 854, 1150, 1341, 1710, 2011, 2425, 2530, 2913, 3123, 3350, and 3168. The decrease in the third year was attributed to the World War. The very last year's decrease was thought to be  a result of the decrease in students throughout the country for reasons not known.

In 1919, the administration decided to make efforts to raise $4,000,000. $1,000,000 was to be used for School of Theology and $3.000,000 for a library building, a chemistry building, completion of the administration building and for other endowments and equipment of the different schools other than the School of Theology.

The original charter of the University in April 17, 1911 stated that it was to be owned, controlled and managed by the by the five conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, in Texas. The importance of the University attracted other conferences in other states to express an interest in having a part in the enterprise. The five conferences of Texas agreed to this and amended their charter to so state. Again interest was shown at the national level to be involved with the University and after many conferences, it was agreed by everyone that Methodist Church would identify a church east of the Mississippi and one west of the Mississippi to serve the national church. The school east of the river was identified to be Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and the one west of the river was identified as Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. This all occurred on June 8. 1916. This made the University of national importance.

Because of problems with their ownership of Vanderbilt University in the state of Tennessee (The state of Tennessee legislated that the University could not own Vanderbilt University, because it was in the state of Tennessee),  Southern Methodist University stated clearly in their charter that  Southern Methodist University was to forever be, owned, maintained, and controlled by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. They also stated that no amendment could be made to the charter unless authorized by the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South or by some authorized agency of said General Conference.

    Building and Grounds

My Photo.

The first building built on the S.M.U campus was Dallas Hall. Construction began on it in the summer of 1912. The contract was let on June 4 to Fred A. Jones Building Company for a price of $212,902. Additional equipment necessary brought the price to $257,586.85. " The building faces south with a frontage of 258 feet. The wings terminate in semi-circular porticoes of the Roman Doric order. The front entrance is a portico which leads directly into a rotunda which rises from the main floor to the dome.

The exterior walls of the ground floor are constructed of Bedford limestone; the upper walls are of vitrified brick with stone trimmings. For practical purposes, it is considered fireproof. "

In order to bring in construction materials, a spur was built from the main line of the Houston & Texas railroad east of the campus. The rails were taken out in 1925. Crowds came to see the laying of the cornerstone using this spur. For two years there was no street car service within a mile of the campus. Workman were delivered to the campus in a gravel truck from Knox street. On January 1, 1910 a short street car line became available from the main line in Highland Park. The single car operated came to be known as "The Dinkey" and the station "The Dinkey Station" and "The Dinkey", the scandal sheet published on April 1.

The second building constructed on the campus was Atkins Hall named for the Bishop James Atkins. The construction was started on November 27, 1912. This was the day before the Dallas Hall cornerstone was laid. The cost including equipment necessary was $176, 543.60. A large crowd attended the laying of the cornerstone for this building on April 30, 1913. The crowd arrived via the Houston and Texas Central spur, witch became known as the "Somethun Branch".

The Atkins building was one of two dormitories approved by the board. It was constructed of brick, stone and concrete. The second building was for a women students to cost approximately the same amount.  When the time came to build it, however, the funds were not available. Because of this the first building was built for the women and it was called the Women's Building.

My Photo.


It was called the Woman's Building until 1926 when a dormitory for the women was built. Afterward it was a dormitory for men and was called Atkins Hall. This hall was built to house 150 men. The president, Dr. Hyer, and one or two of his faculty members and their wives lived there in the early years in apartments. Before Atkins Hall was assigned to the men, they live in three two story buildings accommodating 150 men.. All were completed in September 1926.

The site was southwest of the Women's Building. These building were named North Hall, South Hall, and Rankin Hall. Unfortunately these three buildi9ngs burned down. They burned down so fast that a fire truck belonging to the town of University Park did not notice the fire until it was too late.

My Photo.
A picture of the women's dormitory in 1926 is shown to the left. It cost slightly less than  Atkins Hall, the men's dormitory. It was also downsized from its original plan. Later this building was named Virginia Hall in honor of Mrs. Virginia Johnson. Also at the same time a second Women's Dormitory was built alongside Virginia Hall. It was named Snider Hall in honor of Mrs. C. W. Snider.  It was the same size as Virginia Hall and cost the same $150,000.

Both buildings were completed in fall of 1926.


There was a major building program from 1925 to 1940. During this time the following additional to those discussed above were added to campus: Kirby Hall, Hyer Hall, Perkins Hall, Ownby Stadium, and Fondren Library.

Kirby Hall was built to house the administration offices and classrooms For the School of Theology for a cost of $142,000 and was completed in September 1924. It was named for the major contributors of the funds for the building Harper and Annie Kirby of Austin.

Hyer Hall was built a science building for a cost of $140,469 and was completed in 1926. It was named in honor of the first president of the University Dr. Robert Stewart Hyer.

Perkins Hall was built to be used as the administration building of the University, was completed in 1938, and was named for J. J. Perkins of Wichita Falls a member of the Board. He contributed $75,000 to add  two additional floors to the original one story building.

Ownby Stadium was built for football and was completed in the fall of 1926 for a total cost of 190,000. Jordon Ownby gave $10,000 toward the cost, and the stadium was named after him. The expectations were that the stadium would pay for itself from gate receipts. It is located on the south eastern end of the campus.

Fondren Library was completed in the fall of 1940 for a  cost of $485,000. The building was named for W. W. Fondren of Houston who gave 6.600 shares of Humble Oil stock estimated to be worth $400,000. Fondren was one of the founders of Humble Oil Company.

"With the completion of the library, the central group of buildings on the campus was completed. Dallas Hall stood in the center facing the open end of the quadrangle toward Bishop Boulevard. Hyer Science Hall and Fondren Library on one side of the quadrangle, and Perkins Administration Building and McFarlin Auditorium opposite. These five buildings formed and still form the heart of the campus, and all face inward to the fountain in the center of the quadrangle. All buildings are similar in architecture and follow the pattern set by the first president Robert Stewart Hyer. They are built of red brick Georgian style and are trimmed with white stone." Hyer Hall and Fondren Library are on the east side of the quadrangle and the Perkins Administration Building and McFarlin Auditorium are on the west side of the quadrangle. Dallas Hall is on the north side and faces south.


Financial Problems

Dr. Hyer the president of the University was asked to retire in 1920 due to the continuing problem of inadequate funds for the school. This was due partially to the lack of funds and the First Word War. The board appointed a new president H. A. Boaz. Dr. Hyer was an excellent intellectual and teacher, but was lacking in skills needed to raise money as he himself recognized. Dr. Hyer was given the title of President Emeritus and retained his professorship of physics at his presidential salary and taught at the school until his death in 1929. Dr. Hyer served the university well and was very respected and admired by the faculty. " He had vision of a great Methodist University in Dallas. Toward this goal he worked diligently for years. He designed the campus and buildings on a grand scale; he selected capable members of the first faculty; he organized the schools and departments; and he set high standards for scholarship. This kind of leadership is absolutely indispensable to a new institution."

Dr. Boaz was not initially interested in the job of president of the University. At the time hew was living in Louisville, Kentucky as secretary of the Board of Extension. At a meeting in Dallas he was told that SMU would have to close unless he took the job and got SMU out of debt. Boaz reluctantly agreed under certain conditions. Boaz wanted an increase in salary to $6000 a year and a house to provided him by the university. This was $1000 more in salary than Hyer was receiving. In return he was expected to raise a million dollars for the school.

During the World War  economic conditions of the United States were very weak. This made educational institutions very vulnerable. Because of this John D. Rockefeller gave the General Education Board a special gift. Dr. Hyer before his resignation was able to get an agreement that SMU would be one of the institutions that would benefit from this. SMU had to raise two thirds of a million dollars in order to receive a gift of a third of a million dollars. Another condition was that SMU had to fix its accounting system. This included  any endowment given to the University to be identified in the proper category. This required  the University to raise an additional $223,783 for the endowment and building funds.

This remarkable feat was achieved by the following year. The greater contributions were made possible by the discovery of oil  in the famous Spindletop oil filed in Beaumont, Texas in 1901. A lot of this money filtered into the hands of businessmen in Dallas who were very generous in their contributions  The citizens of Dallas by the mid 1920s began to take  pride in Southern Methodist University, and sent their children there. Approximately 50 percent of SMU students came from Dallas.

Boaz stayed at SMU only two years, just long enough to be given credit for saving the University financially. He was never interested in SMU as an academic institution. His only interest was providing a Christian atmosphere for religious training. In retrospective his accomplishments came at the price of future internal friction.

The Board of Trustees of SMU had a difficult time finding someone to accept the presidency after Boaz left and it was in the hands of Dr. James Kilgore on an interim basis. They finally reluctantly appointed Charles Claude Selectman the forceful and articulate minister of the First Methodist Church in Dallas. Two primary candidates turned them down. The first was John Wayne Barton a former a member of the original faculty who had left to work at the War Risk Insurance Corporation. He himself was a compromise candidate. The second to turn them down was Ivan Lee Holt the pastor at St. John's Methodist Church in St. Louis an original member of the theological faculty at SMU.

Selectman was elected by a simple vote of the board. The nomination committee did not nominate him. When the votes were counted he was elected in spite of his lack of education and experience. The Dallas Methodists primarily supported him. The faculty was probably skeptical.

The Depression Years 1930 to 1940

Southern Methodist University found itself struggling during these years just as other universities in the United States were struggling. This was compounded by controversy between Selecman and the executive committee of the board and the faculty on the other. Selecman found himself struggling to save his presidency and as a minister of the Methodist Church. He had to give some ground in this struggle with faculty.

Selecman had always controversial. His strong will and determination he had as a minister was an asset, but were a detriment in dealing with individualistic faculty. Another weakness he had was that he did not even possess a B. A. degree. He was only elected president with the backing of his Methodist friends.

Charles Ferguson in his novel Pigskin described Selecman as " a cross between the Apostle Paul and Benito Mussolini". He wanted the university to print a Christian view of the world in every class. He thought that the teacher of physics, mathematics, or literature should teach "deity, duty, and destiny". "Selecman could not tolerate criticism and tended to discharge faculty members for relative minor or insignificant reasons."

Selecman's concept of a university was obviously in conflict with the views of the faculty educated in the liberal arts. He developed fields such as business, education, and engineering fields at a rapid rate and gained support of the businessmen in Dallas by developing a winning football team and building a football field before adequate classroom space  or a library were made available for the university. The faculty of course thought the emphasis was put in the wrong place and resented Dallas business men's influence on the university.

Another problem was that Selecman had an overwhelming desire to be elected bishop. in the Methodist church which went against all tradition that it  was thought that a bishop was called by God. The church refused to elect him a bishop in 1930 and, he also found himself under attack from the businessmen of Dallas and the faculty of SMU. This attack came when he tried to fire R. Blackwell, the business manager of athletics. It had been reported that Blackwell had been accused of drinking on several occasions. It turned out that there were more serious accusations than this, but Selecman suppressed them rater than stir up more trouble. A compromise was reached where Blackwell would resign and the end of  January 1, 1932 when it was hoped, he would be able to find a new job. It was thought that this would save the university from criticism and would make  the citizens of Dallas happy.

Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened. The citizens of Dallas petitioned the board to retain Blackwell. The board took no action on this petition. In the end, however, the board did accept Blackwell's resignation. They did so in order to establish they  were in control of the school's affairs. This action was taken even though they did not want to offend the Dallas community whom they had depended upon for financial support. They believed they had to establish this fact.

Selecman was also being pressured from inside the university. The faculty began another movement to have him removed from the presidency. In 1930 a group met with Shuttles the chairman of the board. He listened and made them understand that he would consider their request carefully. The faculty objected to Selecman's methods of running the university so dictorial, but also had some very specific objections.

The board had raised the salary of selcman from $8000 to $10,000 and the football coach's, Ray Morrison, to $12,000. During this time a full professor received approximately $3,500 and an instructor $ $1,800. Five months after this Selecman asked the faculty to join with him in making a "voluntary contribution" to the university. The response from the faculty was poor. Eighty members, fifty five members, and twenty five members gave, respectively approximately 2 percent, 1 percent and 0 percent. This episode increased the bitter feelings between the faculty and Selecman.

At this time Horace M. Whaling Jr. the vice president was being pushed by Shuttles and others to take over from Selecman, however, Selecman became aware of this, and he informed the board that he could no longer work with Whaling. After a few months Whaling resigned and became the minister of Oak Lawn Methodist Church in Dallas.

By May, 1931, the school was in a crisis. The faculty presented a petition signed by forty one members to appear at the next board meeting in June. This petition stated:

"Realizing that the genuine cooperation and mutual confidence between the administration and the faculty which is essential to the sound development of any university does not and cannot exist at Southern Methodist University under the present President, we, the undersigned members of the faculty, agree that, if the Board of Trustees cares to consider our opinion, we stand ready to confer with the said Board at its annual meeting in June 1931"

The petition was signed by three deans and eight department heads.  Potts of law, Flath of engineering and Van Katwijk of music were the three deans. The petition had no chance of affecting the Board. It was made up of largely Methodist ministers. Even Chairman Shuttles who was in favor of firing Selecman could not convince them.

The quarrel between Shuttles, Selecman and the Board continued. As a result Shuttles resigned from the board, but received the support of the conference. In February of 1933 a committee appointed by Selecman approved the formation of a University Council and reorganization of the College Council. The University Council consisted of all of the deans of the school, the dean of students, the registrar, and ten elected members. The elected members were to come from each of the six groups in the arts colleges, and one each from each of the other schools, engineering, law, theology and music. The effect of this was the ability gained by the faculty to  have a voice in the university, and the power to have some control over the policies and practices of the school.

In May 1931 Selecman was elected bishop. In that same year Umphrey Lee was the man most mentioned to become the next president of SMU. He was the dean of the school of Religion at Vanderbilt University.

He had received an M. A< degree from SMU in 1916 and was the first president of the student body at SMU. He  received a Ph.D. degree in history from Colombia University 1n 1931. He served as a Methodist minister in two small churches in Texas and became the pastor of Highland Park Methodist Church located on the campus of Southern Methodist University in 1922. During this time he taught occasionally in the School of Theology.

Although Lee had the faculty's support, several other very qualified candidates were interviewed by the board for the position. Since Lee was unamiously elected on the first ballot, there must not have been very much competition. His election was greeted with great enthusiam by the faculty, the student body, the aluni and the citizens of Dallas. He had earned his doctorate degree, the first presodent pof the svhool who had done so and was the author of several books. There was now grat hope for the future. This included higher academic standards and more interest in liberal studies. He was described by his bigraphers, Weiss and Proctor as:

" a versatile complicated man who exuded an aura of simplicity and unassailable dignity, [ and who] captivated those he met ionformally.....[He] also possessed a genius fro making you feel better, bigger, and more intelligenyt than you really were".

Lee expressed his desire  that SMU in the Southwest that Vanderbilt and Duke held in the Southeast and that Oberlin held in the Middle West in terms of liberal arts.  He stated that:

"the stability and future of this institution have been assured by the sacrificial work of people associated with the University and by its benefactors through the past quarter century. But I mention these things in order that you may see what is necessary if Southern Methodist University is to carry out the desires of the founders and dreams of those who have given largely in order that the a university of the Church might have a dominant position in a great region"

Because he had a vision of what SMU could become, the next quarter century could begin with great hope. The university had the opportunity to grow into a   real university leading the community or remain a local college. The struggling years up to 1940 were over. Under Lee's presidency and later under President William Tate's presidency, SMU became a  leading university.

"Events proved that Wallace Buttrick, secretary of the General Education Board, had been correct when he said in 1905 that a university would flourish in Dallas. Southern Methodist University and Dallas grew together, each one aiding the other...... The two collaborated during the first twenty five years of Southern Methodist's existence, and neither appeared in 1940 to regret the collaboration."

My Photo.

A Picture of the first five presidents of Southern Methodist University are shown to the left with a bust of Dr. Hyer shown in the middle.





SMU Benefits from Perkins-Protho Family ( Click on link just below)



List of Colleges with a Billion Dollar Endowment (SMU makes list)
Click on the link below to see the list and ranking:



Presidential Library Controversy

From a Dallas Morning News article Thursday April 5, 2007:

So far, 120 current and retired Southern Methodist University professors have gone on record opposing a partisanship institute SMU would house as part of the Bush presidential library.

" A partisan think tank located at any school, college, or university is contradictory to education as approached within a free and democratic society:", reads a letter posted online Wednesday, " The Bush institute should be completely separate from SMU".

Library organizers have indicated that the institute would answer to a Bush foundation, not SMU.

SMU has more than 1000 full- time, part-time, and retired professors.

Supporters , meanwhile, say the institute will benefit SMU and attract prominent scholars from around the world. Several professors have urged that their colleagues not sign the letter opposing the institute and say it could hurt SMU's attempts to land the library.

Debate about the institute has coursed through the campus since SMU became the lone finalist to host the library.

Opponents say the institute's mission--- which furthers the goals of the Bush administration---goes against SMU's tradition of open thought and research.

Organizer's are still accepting signatures for the letter, theology professor Susanne Johnson said. In a few weeks, they'll send the letter to President Gerald Turner and the board of trustees.

Dr. Turner has said that the institute is part of  package deal with the library and museum and that it makes sense for the institute report to a Bush foundation and not SMU, as outlined by a library selection committee.

Some professors said another option would be making the institute nonpartisan and bringing it under SMU's control.

SMU officials say the Faculty Senate has already passed along its concerns about the institute to Dr. Turner and trustees and that Dr. Turner will discuss this with them with the library selection committee.

The letter is online at:


History of the Land SMU Now Occupies ******

The first pioneer family to settle on the land that is now known as University Park was composed of a widow, Frances Sims Daniel, her six children, her widowed sister, Mrs. Nancy Harlan, and three slaves. They arrived in 1848 with all of their possessions in a covered wagon. Frances' father had fought in the revolutionary war and her husband, the Reverend, John Daniel died in Alabama. She purchased 640 acres for $320. The land was bordered on the south side by what is now known as Haynie Avenue and by what is known now as Lovers Lane on the North. On the East it was bordered by what is now known as Central Expressway and on the West by what is now known as Turtle Creek. They first made camp on a hilltop on which Dallas Hall now sits, but it was not suitable for digging a good water well. They moved to another hilltop to the north where Milton Street and Airline Road are now. Their first house was built on land which was approximately where 6800 Airline Road is now. A newer house was built in 1853 approximately where 3544 Rankin is today. They were both built wooden and rested on blocks of bois d'ark (bodark). This land overlaps the current north side of the SMU campus as can be seen in the map posted on the "Map" page of this web site.

In 1908 Mrs. John Armstrong donated 100 acres of the land that is now part of the SMU Campus if the church would build a university there. R. w. Munger also donated sizable sums of money and land, but the largest gift came from W. W. Caruth, Sr,. son of William Caruth.  He gave 100 acres of land adjacent to the 100 acres Mrs. Armstrong had given plus a one half interest in 722 acres. Thirty two acres of the Caruth contribution was added to the 100 acres given by Mrs Armstrong to become the university campus. The other sixty eight acres of the Caruth land was developed and sold for home sites for the faculty and others. Another 30 acres of land were added to the campus many years after World War II after the University purchased it.

William Caruth had arrived in Texas in 1848 and started a general store with his brother near John Neely's Bryan's cabin near the Trinity River. As his business prospered he purchased land north of the Trinity River. He married Marie Worthington in 1864. Over time they became wealthy land owners and had room in their large home  for travelers to spend the night and have breakfast. Their caring for others included many philanthropies. SMU would have probably been located south of Dallas in Chalk Hill or Forth Worth instead in University Park without their influence.

In the 1870's outlaws such as Sam Bass, Joel Collins and his boys used a grove of trees now known as Arden's Forest to hide their horses. This grove of trees was located between where Perkins School of Theology and Highland Park Methodist Church are located now.  An outlaw den was a white house just north of where Mockingbird Lane is now. Sam Bass was killed by Texas Rangers in 1878 at Round Rock just north of Austin, Texas. He is buried in Round Rock.

Personal comments:

The changes in the school from 1955 to 2007 were dramatic and at an accelerated pace reflecting  changes in society in general. Of course when you go from an age of slide rules and mechanical computing machines to Personal Computers you can expect this. Both the Engineering and Business Schools revolutionized their quality of education to such an extent that they are highly regarded in the academic community now compared to 1955 when they were only considered marginal at best. The faculties of both schools have highly educated professors with most in the Engineering School holding PhD's whereas in 1955 there were a minority holding  PhD. Degrees. The Engineering School now has two additional Buildings representing cutting edge design of the buildings and their facilities. The Business School  has three additional Buildings representing the same quality.

The quality of life of the students has increased in some areas, and decreased in other areas. They have certainly changed. For instance in 1955 no student with a car had any problem finding a place to park anywhere on the campus. Today, it is very difficult to find a place to park even they have to purchase a parking permit from the school) with many students being late to class for this reason. This is due of course due to two things. A dramatic increase in the number of students who own cars and the increase of buildings on the campus. Parking Garages which are absolutely necessary still do not solve the problem


** The Story of Southern Methodist University 1910 to 1930 Volumes One and Two, compiled by A. F. Henning, March 1930.

*** Southern Methodist University, Founding and Early Years by Mary Martha Hosford Thomas. SMU Press, Dallas published 1974.

****** Building SMU 1915-1957 A Warm and Personal Look At The People Who Started Southern Methodist University From Stories Told by Stanley Patterson Compiled by Ruth Patterson Maddox, Odenwald Press 1995




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