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.
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.
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.
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 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.
SMU's endowment of $1.425 billion as of May 31st 2014,  makes it one of only about 80 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada with an endowment above $1 billion, and was ranked number 61 in 2013.
The University is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise $1 billion by the end of 2015; one of only 34 private Universities in the United States to raise at least $1 billion.
Research and graduate studies
During 2007–08, SMU received more than $19 million in external funding for research.
SMU's Fort Burgwin campus in Northern New Mexico offers summer and fall credit courses, including the SMU archaeology field school program. Past archaeological work has included excavations at Pot Creek Pueblo, a 13th-century ancestral pueblo home of both Taos and Picuris Pueblos. The annual SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute also uses the campus for a weekend of informal classes taught by SMU faculty members.
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.
Study abroad programs
International study is offered through 150 programs in 50 countries, in addition to research and service projects abroad.
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. 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.
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.
1st In the 2009–10 National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Directors Cup Division I Final Standings, SMU is ranked as the top school in its conference.
SMU Cox School of Business Rankings
1st The Economist ranks the Cox School No. 1 in the United States for "Potential to Network".
1st In the 2003 BusinessWeek ranking of the top 25 Executive MBA programs in the world, SMU Cox was listed No. 1 for entrepreneurship course offerings.
5th In 2005, Entrepreneur magazine ranked the Caruth Institute No. 5 among the top 100 entrepreneurship programs in the nation, as ranked by program directors, faculty & alumni.
5th BusinessWeek ranks Cox No. 5 for Global Business as "Best Subjects" in the world, as surveyed by EMBA alumni.
Top 5 Five Cox School of Business departments were recognized among the nation's top business schools for research productivity based on more than 1.5 million scholarly citations. Only seven schools ranked in the top 30 in all five categories: SMU Cox, Harvard, Stanford, University of Chicago, MIT, NYU, and UCLA.
6th BusinessWeek ranks SMU Cox No. 6 for highest SAT scores.
6th BusinessWeek ranks Cox No. 6 for Marketing as "Best Subjects" in the world, as surveyed by EMBA alumni.
7th The Economist ranks the Cox School No. 7 in the world for "Potential to Network".
9th U.S. News & World Report currently ranks The Cox Professional MBA program (PMBA) 9th in the nation
9th The Princeton Review ranks Cox No. 9 for best professors, based on interest and accessibility.
10th The Cox Professional MBA program (PMBA) is ranked is currently ranked No. 10 for return on investment by Forbes.
10th Forbes ranks Cox No. 10 in the nation for ROI, the only program in Texas and the South on the list.
Top 10 Financial Times also names Cox among the top 10 in the U.S. for enrolling the most experienced students and for highest salaries five years after graduation.
12th U.S. News & World Report ranks Cox No. 12 in the nation, the highest ranked program in Texas named in the category.
13th U.S. News & World Report ranks Cox No. 13 in the nation.
13th BusinessWeek ranks Cox No. 13 in the U.S., praising faculty members for real-world experience brought to the classroom.
15th Financial Times ranks Cox No. 15 in the U.S.
16th BusinessWeek ranks Cox No. 16 worldwide praising faculty members for real-world experience brought to the classroom.
20th BusinessWeek ranks SMU Cox No. 20 for sending the most undergraduates to top MBA programs.
Top 25 Hispanic Trends names Cox one of the 25 best business schools for Hispanic MBAs.
29th The Wall Street Journal ranks Cox No. 29 regional, and students are commended by recruiters for their ambition and people skills.
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. 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.
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."
In 2008, SMU was named No. 3 among all U.S. colleges for "Most Conservative Students", No.3 for "Lots of Greek Life" No.7 for "Most Beautiful Campus", No.15 for "Little Race/Class Interaction", No.10 for "LGBT-unfriendly" and No. 15 for "Happiest Students" by Princeton Review.
Southern Methodist University has approximately 45% of the student body affiliated with Greek System.
SMU delays Greek Recruitment till the Spring semester giving prospective members the ability to decide over the course of the Fall which organization they would like to potential 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. The Sororities of Delta Delta Delta and Chi Omega have a running contest of which chapter has the highest grades with Tri Delt having been on top of grade reports the longest.
During the Fall Football season the University hosts its own version of a tailgate call "The Boulevard" prior to home football games. 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. The Boulevard continues to grow and is always welcoming of alumni and the public.
19% of undergraduates are members of a minority group. There are students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 300 SMU students (5% of the student population) come from 90 foreign countries.
Daniel House, Hawk, Martin, Moore, Multicultural House, Service House, SMU Apartments, Fine Arts Community (Mary Hay and Peyton), Honors Community (Virginia-Snider).
In Fall 2014, SMU will launch its new Residential Commons (RC) model. 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 will be randomly assigned to an RC and will live in their RC for two years. Each RC will house students from across campus representing all the SMU colleges and schools. A student's RC will continue to be his or her “home” for their college career, even after moving off-campus. Some students will have the opportunity to live in their RC as juniors or seniors, but space will be limited; however, students will continue to be affiliated with their RC throughout their time at SMU. SMU will have other non-RC residence housing available specifically for juniors and seniors.
Each RC will have a live-in faculty member called a Faculty in Residence (FiR), who will work 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. SMU faculty will be selected and assigned to RCs without regard for their academic disciplines.
RCs will be located in existing undergraduate residence halls and in the five new buildings currently under construction in the southeast quadrant of the campus. Some current facilities will be renovated to modify space for new common areas and Faculty in Residence and staff apartments.
SMU boasts nearly 200 student organizations, including academic, professional, fraternal, sporting, ethnic themed, religious, service, and political diversity groups.
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.
SMU's nearest athletic rival 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).
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.
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. 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.
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 were due to repeated recruiting violations. These violations are characterized by university coaches and administrators teaming with others in the civic and college football arena to purchase students whose only purpose was to bolster the schools football rankings. These repeated violations over a period of five years did not go unnoticed by the NCAA.
On February 25, 1987 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.
On November 11, 2006, redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Willis broke SMU's single-season touchdown pass record held by Chuck Hixson (21). 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 with be outscored 88-6. On December 1, 2014 SMU named Clemson Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris as Head Coach of the Mustangs.
In December 2011, the Big East Conference (since renamed The American) 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
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.
Central University Libraries – Central University Libraries is the largest of the SMU library administrative units, with holdings of more than 2.1 million volumes. 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. Its rare books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and other materials are available to all SMU students, faculty, visiting scholars, and other researchers. DeGolyer Library’s holdings of primary sources are supported by exhibitions, lectures, publications, and seminars. 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.
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.
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.
Library Catalog – On line catalog of all SMU libraries
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.
Alternative Asset Management Center – The Alternative Asset Management Center is a teaching and research center devoted to corporate investing to maximize profits. Our student managed investment portfolios are handled under the oversight of the Alternative Asset Management Center.
Business Leadership Center – The BLC encourages MBA students to develop leadership skills.
Center for Land Use & Real Estate Economics – This specialized teaching & research center focuses on major issues in the real estate industry.
Research Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) – This specialized material processing center focuses on the interface between science, engineering, and industrial practice. The mission of RCAM is to promote and apply university lead R&D in advanced manufacturing research and development work. This center was established by professor Radovan Kovacevic
Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship – The Institute offers education and training for today's entrepreneur who competes in a rapidly changing, fast paced, technology-driven environment.
Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility – The Center supports research, writing and teaching in ethics at the graduate and undergraduate level.
Center for Drug Discovery, Design, and Delivery (CD4) – The Center is a novel multi-disciplinary focus for scientific research targeting medically important problems in human health. Using innovative approaches, CD4’s mission is to potentiate the development of new therapeutics, their delivery methods as well as the translation of these new therapeutics to clinical studies. Training new generations of biomedical researchers in state-of-the-art techniques completes the overall mission of the Center.
Center for Teacher Education – Workshops and seminars provide lessons that are both useful in instructional delivery and applicable to required professional-development hours.
Center for Teaching Excellence – Achieving teaching excellence is not formulaic: in diverse areas of the University, different teaching strategies work best. Therefore, the Center encourages dialogs across schools and disciplines.
Clements Center for Southwest Studies – This center promotes research, publishing, teaching, and public programming in a variety of fields of inquiry related to the American Southwest.
The Center for Research in Real Estate and Land Use Economics – The Center was created in 1984 as an entity focusing on major issues in the real estate industry.
Center for Scientific Computation – This interdisciplinary research center is devoted to the application of computational techniques to problems in mathematics, engineering, and the applied sciences.
Center for Statistical Consulting and Research – Statistical consulting services include statistical data analysis and modeling, interpretation of the results, and presentation of conclusions using state-of-the-art statistical methods.
Ellen K. Solender Institute in Free Speech and Mass Media Law – Its focus is on media law and issues affecting the free flow of information with some emphasis on problems caused by the differences in the law of various democracies.
Center for the Advanced Study and Practice of Evangelism – It seeks to accomplish its mission by providing resources within the Field of Evangelism for scholars, local churches, and others engaged in evangelization, and by providing a strategic forum in which scholars and practitioners of evangelism can be in fruitful dialogue.
The Institute for Engineering Education – The Institute for Engineering Education at SMU has been established to pioneer an array of innovative programs designed to present engineering as a fun, challenging and rewarding career opportunity to a national audience of students in kindergarten through high school.
The Institute for Reading Research – The Institute's primary mission is to promote reading skills through research in the areas of developing reading interventions for children at-risk for failing to learn to read, children with mild to moderate mental retardation, and children who are either bilingual or who speak Spanish exclusively in the early primary grades.
Institute for the Study of Earth and Man – The ISEM was established nearly forty years ago to foster interdisciplinary research in geology and anthropology.
JCPenney Center for Retail Excellence – The JCPenney Center for Retail Excellence is the leading source of academic expertise on consumer shopping behavior and the effects of retailer activities on shopping behavior.
John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies – The Center was established to support teaching and research programs in international studies and national security policy, focusing upon the institutions that structure national and international decision-making.
KPMG Institute for Corporate Governance – The KPMG Institute will explore corporate governance and ethical decision making, and how those choices impact the market's perception of a firm and its future.
Law Institute of the Americas – NAFTA/FTAA-related Legal Studies, Latin American Legal Studies, Selective Canadian Legal Studies, Regional Intergovernmental Institutions, Related Rule of Law and Law Reform Issues, International Economic Law and Development Issues
Linda and Mitch Hart eCenter – The eCenter provides leadership in the development and use of interactive network technologies.
Maguire Energy Institute – Studies the economic, policy, marketing and management issues related to oil, natural gas, and electricity.
O'Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom – This specialized teaching and research institute studies political economics and how economic factors impact political decisions and outcomes.
SW Graduate School of Banking (SWGSB) Foundation – Focuses on providing education for all levels of bank officers.
Temerlin Advertising Institute – The Institute strives to advance the state of advertising communication through partnerships with both industry and government and through programs to blend the research interests of the academy and the profession.
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 residents run weekly programs at the House for neighborhood children and their families.
High Assurance Computing and Networking (HACNet) Lab – is a research facility in the School of Engineering. HACNet is a certified Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.
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 – 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.
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.
While students at SMU, siblings Bill and Julie Ann Brice founded I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!, a chain that grew to more than 400 locations throughout the United States and 17 foreign countries.
In the 2006 NBCreality television showTreasure 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.
SMU appeared regularly throughout cult television show Dallas. Main cast member Lucy Ewing and other characters attended the university.