SMU dedicates new Residential Commons complex May 9

SMU dedicates new Residential Commons complex May 9

$146 million project launches campuswide initiative to enhance student living and learning

Residential Commons


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Armstrong Commons
Armstrong Commons

Kathy Crow Commons
Kathy Crow Commons

Crum Commons
Crum Commons

Loyd Commons
Loyd Commons

Ware Commons
Ware Commons

Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons
Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons

May 9, 2014

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU dedicated its new Residential Commons complex May 9, enabling all first-year and sophomore students to live on campus and launching the Residential Commons model campus-wide.

The $146 million complex is the largest capital project in SMU’s history, part of a larger initiative to enhance students’ living-learning experience, starting in fall 2014.

New facilities for the nine-acre Commons complex include five residence halls – Armstrong Commons, Kathy Crow Commons, Crum Commons, Loyd Commons and Ware Commons – as well as the Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons and the 800-space Mustang Parking Center. The complex will provide campus housing for an additional 1,250 SMU students, enabling nearly 2,750 students to live on campus.

"Today's dedication of the Residential Commons complex signifies an exciting new chapter in SMU history," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "Each Commons is designed to seamlessly combine the intellectual and social aspects of University life, a concept that will be implemented campus-wide in the fall. We are grateful to six generous families for transforming the SMU campus experience."

[See Residential Commons facts and video]

Lead gifts of $30 million in total giving have been provided by Liz Martin Armstrong '82 and Bill Armstrong '82, Anita Ray Arnold and Truman Arnold, Katherine Raymond Crow '94 and Harlan R. Crow, Sylvie P. Crum and Gary T. Crum '69, Penny R. Loyd and Paul B. Loyd, Jr. '68 and Richard Ware '68 and family.

Each five-story Commons in the new complex will be home to 250 students, a residence life director and a faculty member in residence.  The faculty member will serve as mentor and intellectual leader of the community, and has the opportunity to teach a class or host study sessions in the classroom included in each Commons.

Differences in floor plans, colors and views have been deliberately incorporated into the new complex, and students will find a variety of nooks and gathering places in each Commons. A study room, lounge and smaller gathering areas are located on each floor, ranging from a large window seat at the end of each hallway to banquette-style booths for group study or gatherings. In addition, each Commons will include an entry-level living room, a kitchenette, a game room and a laundry room.

The two-story Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons, open to all members of the SMU community, will seat 500 students in indoor and outdoor settings. Multiple types of seating areas include booths, counter seating, high-top tables and seating in a naturally lit rotunda, where all residents of each Commons will meet for monthly dinners. Most meals will be made-to-order and served from seven stations including a wood-burning pizza oven, home cooking station, fresh produce station and international menu station. Quiet areas for study are included, as well as projection televisions to enable students to gather at the Dining Commons to watch sporting events, concerts and political events.

The new construction is key to implementing the Residential Commons model of campus living at SMU, creating 11 SMU Residential Commons campuswide through the new complex and six existing residence halls that have been renovated in the Commons model. These include Boaz Commons, Cockrell-McIntosh Commons, Mary Hay-Peyton-Shuttles Commons, McElvaney Commons, Morrison-McGinnis Commons and Virginia-Snider Commons. Residents of each Commons will be comprised of first- and second-year students representing all academic majors and varied backgrounds. Each Commons will develop traditions and host activities, creating a sense of community among residents and an affiliation that begins during the student years but continues into their lives as alumni, said Lori White, SMU vice president for student affairs.

"The Residential Commons model supports a strong residential community, one enabling students to make friends more easily, transition more smoothly to campus life, enhance personal exploration and growth and benefit from new leadership opportunities," she said. "The model also promotes a sense of identity and belonging."

Students, faculty and staff have been essential in planning for the new model since it was first proposed in the 1990s, from testing furniture, to visiting other schools with similar programs, to selecting faculty in residence, to designing individual crests for each commons.

Living in campus housing, particularly in a living-learning community, has a significant positive effect on students' learning outcomes, according to a report from the National Symposium on Postsecondary Student Success.

"Research shows that living-learning university communities increase student retention and create an extension of the learning continuum," said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Faculty in residence will expand students' opportunities for informal interactions and mentoring."

The Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons will open for summer conferences and camps May 27, and the Armstrong, Kathy Crow, Crum, Loyd and Ware Residentiao Commons will open August 22, 2014, along with all campus Residential Commons.

"The dedication of the Residential Commons Complex represents an important milestone for SMU as we celebrate the centennial of the University's founding and opening," said Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. “The generosity of the Armstrong, Arnold, Crow, Crum, Loyd and Ware families has played an important part in making this possible."

About the Donors

Residential Commons donors group
Residential Commons donors and SMU officials: (Front row left to right) SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs Brad Cheves, SMU President R. Gerald Turner, Kathy Raymond Crow '94, Liz Martin Armstrong '82, Anita Ray Arnold, Sylvie P. Crum, Penny R. Loyd, SMU Board of Trustees Chair Caren Prothro, SMU Vice President for Student Affairs Lori White and SMU Provost Paul Ludden. (Back row) Richard Ware '68, Harlan R. Crow, Bill Armstrong ’82, Truman Arnold, Gary T. Crum ’69, Paul B. Loyd, Jr., ’68, and SMU Student Body President Ramon Trespalacios.

Armstrong Commons

Armstrong Commons is named in recognition of a 2011 gift from Liz Martin Armstrong '82 and Bill Armstrong '82. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong earned B.S. degrees in geology at SMU. During their time as students, they lived on campus and actively participated in Greek life – Mrs. Armstrong in Pi Beta Phi and Mr. Armstrong in Phi Gamma Delta – as well as in programs at the SMU-in-Taos campus.

In 1984, the Armstrongs founded Armstrong Oil and Gas, Inc., an exploration company based in Denver, Colorado, conducting business throughout the United States, with a focus on the North Slope of Alaska. They established Epoch Estate Wines in Paso Robles, California, where they enjoy their roles as vintners focusing on Rhone-style wines. In Denver, the Armstrongs serve as trustees of the Denver Art Museum, Colorado Ballet and the Central City Opera.

Mrs. Armstrong also serves on the Boards of the School of American Ballet in New York and Westminster School in Connecticut. Mr. Armstrong serves as a member of the SMU Board of Trustees, and Mrs. Armstrong chairs the Executive Board of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. As SMU parents, the Armstrongs chaired the Parent Leadership Council.

Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons

Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons is named in recognition of a 2013 leadership gift from Anita Ray and Truman Arnold. The Dallas couple focuses their philanthropic efforts on areas that enhance the higher education student experience, such as scholarship support and student life, including contributions to SMU’s President’s Scholars program and the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series.

Mr. Arnold is founder and chair of the board of Truman Arnold Companies, one of the nation’s largest privately owned petroleum marketing firms. His professional leadership also includes service on the National Petroleum Advisory Council and as president of the Petroleum Marketing Educational Foundation. In addition, he has served on the boards of several educational and charitable organizations. 

Mr. and Mrs. Arnold are co-partners in a family private equity firm, TA Capital, and also serve as trustees of the Truman and Anita Arnold Foundation, which primarily supports education and social and human services. Mrs. Arnold also is an active civic and community volunteer, serving on the boards of numerous health and cultural organizations, including the board of SMU's Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series.

The Arnolds have received many honors for their service and dedication to the Texas higher education community. Mr. Arnold was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2006 to the Tax Reform Commission, which resulted in legislation reforming public education funding in Texas. In addition, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold were awarded honorary Doctor of Leadership degrees in 2007 from Texas A&M University-Texarkana in recognition of their philanthropic efforts.

Kathy Crow Commons

Kathy Crow Commons is named in recognition of a 2014 leadership gift from Kathy Raymond Crow '94 and Harlan Crow, Dallas philanthropists who support the Dallas and SMU communities.

Mr. Crow earned his B.B.A. degree from the University of Texas at Austin and soon joined the Trammell Crow Company. He has worked with Crow-affiliated entities for nearly 40 years and currently serves as chairman and CEO of Crow Family Holdings. In addition, Mr. Crow is a member of several boards of directors, including the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Monticello Foundation Board.

Mrs. Crow earned a B.A. degree from Princeton University and an M.B.A. from the Cox School of Business at SMU. She is an active philanthropist and member of numerous boards, and has a particular interest in education, health, children and women’s organizations. Mrs. Crow supports SMU as a member of the Board of Trustees, and the executive boards of the Edwin L. Cox School of Business and the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. She also served on the board of the Women’s Economics and Finance Series at the Cox School.

Crum Commons

Crum Commons is named in recognition of a 2013 leadership gift from longtime SMU supporters Sylvie Crum and Gary Crum '69. They have supported SMU through their leadership and financial gifts to athletics, the Cox School of Business and student initiatives, as well as other areas across campus. Mr. and Mrs. Crum received SMU’s Mustang Award in 2012 in recognition of their significant philanthropy to the University.

Mr. Crum received his B.B.A. from SMU in 1969, and was an active member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He went on to earn his M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1972. Before his retirement from private industry, Mr. Crum was co-founder of AIM Management Group and served as director of AMVESCAP PLC.

Mr. Crum serves on the SMU Board of Trustees and the Cox School of Business Executive Board. At the University of Texas he serves on several boards and councils. Mr. Crum has received Distinguished Alumni Awards from SMU and the Cox School of Business, as well as the McCombs Hall of Fame award from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Mrs. Crum is active in numerous civic activities in their home community of Houston. Graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in French, she formerly served as the Regent’s representative on the Intercollegiate Athletic Council for Women for the University of Texas at Austin and is a member and former chair of the Longhorn Foundation Advisory Council. She also serves as a director for the US Lacrosse Foundation.

Mr. and Mrs. Crum are the chief executive officers of the CFP Foundation, a Houston-based charitable organization focused primarily on Texas educational issues.

Loyd Commons

Loyd Commons is named in recognition of a 2012 leadership gift from Penny Loyd and Paul Loyd Jr. '68. Their contributions have made an impact across the University, including in athletics, student programs and scholarship support.

Mr. Loyd earned a B.B.A. degree from SMU and was an active member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He later earned an M.B.A. degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. While at SMU he was elected captain of the varsity football team and was a member of the 1966 Southwest Conference Championship team. Mr. Loyd has received Distinguished Alumni Awards from SMU and the Cox School of Business. He is founder and principal of a private investment firm in Houston and is past chairman and CEO of R&B Falcon Corporation, the founder of Carrizo Oil and Gas Corporation and co-founder of JVL Advisors.

Mrs. Loyd, a civic leader and community volunteer, graduated from St. Louis University and worked with several public and private organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Her extensive career includes positions in banking, computer analysis, insurance and foreign service in developing countries. Together they head The Loyd Charitable Foundation.

The Loyds’ involvement at SMU includes Mr. Loyd’s service as a member of the Board of Trustees, and both Mr. and Mrs. Loyd serve on several University boards and committees. The Loyds received the Mustang Award together in 1999 in recognition of their philanthropic support of SMU.

Ware Commons

Ware Commons is named in recognition of a 2013 leadership gift from Richard Ware '68 and family. Mr. Ware has four children: daughter Anne Clayton and triplet sons Patrick, William and Benjamin. Three of his children, Anne Clayton '97, '01, Patrick '01, '07 and William '01, have continued the family legacy at SMU, as well as his brother Bill Ware '70 and his daughters, Lizzie '00 and Savannah '04. All family members lived on campus while at SMU. The Ware Family demonstrates a long-standing tradition of supporting SMU in areas that include student leadership, Greek life, recreational activities and athletics.

Mr. Ware is the longest-serving non-Dallas member of the SMU Board of Trustees and served as vice chair of the Board from 2006 to 2008. He also has served on numerous University boards and committees. He was recognized with SMU's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008 and has been selected by the SMU student body multiple times as Outstanding Trustee of the Year.

The gifts from the Armstrong, Arnold, Crow, Crum, Loyd and Ware families count toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised more than $856 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.


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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.


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