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2014 Archives

David And Carolyn Miller provide lead gift for new SMU-in-Taos campus center

January 23, 2014

DALLAS (SMU) – A $2.5 million gift from Carolyn and David Miller will help fund a $4 million new campus center at SMU-in-Taos in New Mexico. The center will feature a large, open gathering space for students and faculty, additional classrooms and a design that maximizes the campus' mountain setting.

Carolyn and David Miller
Carolyn and David Miller

The center will be a valuable addition to the 423-acre SMU-in-Taos campus, which opened in 1973 and includes the 19th-century Fort Burgwin and the 13th-century Pot Creek Pueblo archaeological site. Courses are designed to take advantage of the setting as students dig at archaeological sites, create artwork inspired by nature and study biotic communities that thrive at varied altitudes.

Students also take classes in subjects including business, history, ethics, religious studies and art history. Students earn course credit during three summer terms and, new this year, a January term, at SMU-in-Taos. Participation in summer terms has increased more than 40 percent in the last three years.

"SMU-in-Taos is a gem that offers SMU students a unique learning experience in a setting conducive to discovery. This generous gift from Carolyn and David Miller will enhance our students' experiences by providing a central place to gather, learn and explore in a facility that embraces its natural setting," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.

The Carolyn and David Miller Campus Center will include academic spaces, a media room and a gathering space for groups as large as 100. The great hall will have outdoor views on three sides and a fireplace for chilly mountain evenings. Outdoor spaces include a deck that surrounds the building, a plaza that connects the center to other buildings and an entry terrace with seating for events. A groundbreaking is scheduled for July with completion scheduled for May 2015.

"The campus center will add another facet to the classroom without walls experience at SMU-in-Taos," said Mike Adler, director of SMU-in-Taos and associate professor of anthropology. "The Millers' gift is a tremendous step toward the $4 million cost of the building. We look forward to the support of other generous donors."

David and Carolyn Millers' gift to SMU-in-Taos is the most recent example of their generous support of SMU in areas across the University. Their 2011 gift to create the 39,245-square-foot Miller Event Center expansion to Moody Coliseum enhanced facilities in the recently renovated and expanded coliseum, which opened Dec. 31, 2013. The Miller Event Center features a furnished entertainment area and premium guest suites with courtside views.

"David and I are delighted to play a part in enhancing the SMU-in-Taos campus," said Carolyn Miller. "We become SMU-in-Taos students each summer when we attend the Taos Cultural Institute and are thrilled to play a role in strengthening the SMU-in-Taos experience for all students."

David Miller fulfilled his dream of attending college and playing basketball at SMU after being awarded an athletic scholarship that paved the way for his success, both at SMU and in his career. He earned B.B.A. and M.B.A. degrees from SMU, where, as an undergraduate, he was a three-year starter and letterman on the varsity basketball team and a member of the 1971-1972 Southwest Conference Co-Championship team.

Mr. Miller went on to co-found EnCap Investments L.P., a leading private equity firm based in Houston and Dallas, where he serves as a Managing Partner. He also serves as president of The David B. Miller Family Foundation, with Mrs. Miller serving as vice president.

Through the foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Miller have supported the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, SMU Athletics, SMU-in-Taos, and scholarships for students in several different areas of study. In 2012, Mr. and Mrs. Miller received the Mustang Award in recognition of their extraordinary philanthropic support of SMU.

In addition to their financial contributions, Mr. Miller serves as an SMU trustee and as a member of the Executive Board for the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, and Mrs. Miller serves as a member of the Executive Board for SMU-in-Taos. Mr. Miller has been awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from both SMU and the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, recognizing his professional success and leadership.

The Millers' gift supports a new master plan for SMU-in-Taos. SMU began acquiring the New Mexico property in l964 and reconstructed the pre-Civil War Fort Burgwin to serve as an archaeology research center. The University added facilities to accommodate students and began offering summer classes in 1973. In 2009 support for new and renovated faculty and student casitas, as well as technology upgrades and improvements to winterize buildings, transformed the campus to a year-round facility. In addition to SMU students, SMU-in-Taos hosts the annual Taos Cultural Institute, which attracts nearly 150 adults for a summer weekend of informal courses taught by SMU faculty and other experts. The 28-building campus also hosts youth groups, conferences and retreats year-round. Other special events offered at the site include lectures, concerts and art exhibitions, all open to the public.

The gift to SMU-in-Taos counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised more than $820 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.


Related Link:

The Dallas Morning News: $2.5 million gift to SMU-in-Taos will bring it closer to Shangri-La


Media Contact:

Nancy George
ngeorge@smu.edu 
214-768-7650

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