July 24, 2009
TAOS, N.M. (SMU — Southern Methodist University today dedicated new and renovated student casitas, making possible SMU-in-Taos' first fall semester of classes at the historic site of Fort Burgwin in northern New Mexico.
Made possible by a $4 million gift to SMU from former Texas Governor William P. Clements Jr. (SMU '39) and his wife, Rita, this is the first phase of planned enhancements to SMU-in-Taos. The newly completed work also includes enhancements to the information technology infrastructure. The environmentally friendly housing is eligible for LEED Silver Certification.
In addition to the Clements, other donors who have given more than $1 million to support the student housing include Dallas residents Roy and Janis Coffee, Maurine Dickey, Richard T. and Jenny Mullen, Caren H. Prothro and Steve and Marcy Sands; Bill Armstrong and Liz Martin Armstrong of Denver; Irene Athos and the late William J. Athos of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Jo Ann Geurin Thetford of Graham, Texas; and Richard Ware and William J. Ware of Amarillo, Texas.
SMU-in-Taos historically has operated only during the summer because facilities were not suitable for use during cold weather. Approximately 300 students participate each summer in courses in the humanities; natural and social sciences; and performing, visual and communication arts.
The new fall semester program will follow a schedule tailor-made for SMU-in-Taos. It will emphasize close faculty-student interaction and coursework structured in four intensive course modules taken in sequence, each lasting three weeks. A fifth course module will consist of an independent study project.
The schedule will enable regular full-time SMU faculty to teach three-week modules in the fall at Taos while maintaining duties on the main campus in Dallas and without having to move their families. Other plans call for an expanded curriculum, development of internship programs and opportunities for community service in the Taos area.
The SMU-in-Taos master plan also calls for the addition of a student center and new faculty housing.
SMU-in-Taos has offered summer study programs since 1973 at the site of historic Fort Burgwin, a pre-Civil War fort near Taos. The 295-acre campus also includes the remains of 13th-century Pot Creek Pueblo, the focus of SMU's annual archaeological field school.
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