Give Now

2012 Archives

$5 Million gift from Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation
supports renovation of SMU's health center

February 24, 2012

DALLAS (SMU) — Southern Methodist University’s 52-year-old Memorial Health Center is set to receive a major upgrade, and it will be renamed in honor of the distinguished Dallas pediatrician and SMU alumnus whose foundation is making it possible. The Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation has given $5 million toward the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. Planning for the Center’s renovation will begin this year.

SMU Memorial Health CenterSMU’s Memorial Health Center opened in 1960 as a 30-bed infirmary. At the time, the University’s enrollment was around 8,000. Today the Health Center serves as an outpatient facility for approximately 11,000 students, about 2,400 of whom live on campus. Upon its completion in 2014, the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center will serve an estimated 3,650 students living on campus, including those who will live in the new Residential Commons complex to begin construction this spring. The complex, accommodating 1,250 students, in addition to SMU's current residential halls, will enable the University to implement a two-year residency requirement forall first-year and sophomore students.

“Bob and Jean Smith have a long history of generous support for SMU priorities and have always kept the welfare of students uppermost in their minds,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “This new gift will dramatically improve campus health care resources and provide support services that enable students to do their best academic work and fully enjoy the campus experience. We are deeply grateful for this gift, which will transform an important but outmoded facility into an up-to-date campus resource.”

SMU’s Health Center currently provides medical services for diagnosis and treatment of illness and injury, along with counseling and psychiatric services. The Center is staffed by full-time physicians, mental health counselors, registered nurses, pharmacists and laboratory and X-ray technologists. It also houses SMU’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention.

“It is an honor to align the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation with SMU in combining superior academic facilities with excellent student life resources,” said Sally Smith Mashburn, Foundation president and treasurer and daughter of Dr. Bob and Jean Smith. “After all, one of SMU’s greatest responsibilities is to nurture the well-being of students.”

Improvements for the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center include updated floor plans that will increase the number of patient procedure rooms, counseling offices and private waiting rooms and will better serve the needs of students with disabilities. The renovation also includes upgrades to medical equipment and technology and enhancement of pharmacy and laboratory spaces. The expansion will provide group meeting spaces to promote collaboration among health care staff members.

“The renovations and upgraded equipment will greatly augment our ability to serve the SMU student community, complementing the high-quality staff members and specialists already in place,” said Patrick Hite, SMU Health Center executive director.

“This new gift is a natural outgrowth of the dedication of the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation to improve resources for health care and education. In addition to providing students with outstanding health care facilities, the gift will improve student access to education and counseling on health-related issues,” said Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. “As we prepare to house more students on campus, this facility will be of increasing value to our campus community.”

“This will be a lasting tribute to a physician and leader whose main concern was the health and welfare of others,” said Lori White, SMU vice president for student affairs. “Now our students will be the beneficiaries not only of his generosity but also his foresight in understanding their needs and fostering a caring community.”

Dr. and Mrs. Smith and the Smith Foundation are longtime benefactors of SMU. In 2001 the Smith Foundation provided $1 million to establish the Bob Smith, M.D. Foundation Pre-Medical Studies Center in the new Dedman Life Sciences Building, which enabled SMU to strengthen and expand the pre-med studies program based in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Later that year another $1 million gift from the Foundation provided for the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Auditorium in the University’s new Meadows Museum. The Foundation also established a $2.5 million challenge grant for the SMU Annual Fund, which supports operating expenses such as library resources and faculty salaries.

“Naming the Health Center for Dr. Bob Smith is such a fitting honor for him,” said SMU Trustee Ruth Altshuler. “Not only did he care a great deal about SMU, he also was passionate about health care. The Smith family has a rich legacy of involvement with the University, and it will be wonderful to see them recognized in a prominent spot on Bishop Boulevard in the heart of SMU’s campus.”

Dr. Bob Smith earned two degrees from SMU, a B.A. in 1944 and a B.S. in 1946, followed by the M.D. degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He was co-founder of Doctors Hospital and Doctors Nursing Center in Dallas. In addition, he was founder and president of Arcady Health Services Inc., a health care management company.

Dr. Smith served on the SMU Board of Trustees from 1992 to 1996 and on the Texas Committee of the Campaign for SMU from 1997 to 2002. He received SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995. In 2003 SMU honored Dr. and Mrs. Smith with the Mustang Award, which recognizes those whose service and philanthropy have had a lasting impact on the University.

In 1989 Dr. Smith established the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation to support higher education, medical education and research, and health. He served as the Foundation’s chair and chief executive officer until his death in 2006. His wife currently serves as the Foundation’s chair and CEO.

The Smith family has SMU ties spanning three generations. Dr. Smith’s father, the late Dr. Edgar Smith, attended the University in its early years. All five of the Smiths’ children earned Bachelor’s degrees from SMU. They include the Foundation’s current president and treasurer Sally Smith Mashburn, Foundation directors Marty Smith Kelley and Scott Smith, and Suzanne “Suzy” Smith Welfelt. The late Patricia “Patty” Smith, who also earned two Master’s degrees from SMU, served as the Foundation’s president, CFO and treasurer until her death in 2011.

The Smith Foundation’s new $5 million gift counts toward the $750 million goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which as of December 2011 has raised more than $574 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. The campaign is part of 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.