2016 Archives

New history of SMU traces first 100 years on the Hilltop

Written by Professor Emeritus Darwin Payne

April 12, 2016

One Hundred Years on the HilltopDALLAS (SMU) – SMU's first comprehensive history, One Hundred Years on the Hilltop, by historian Darwin Payne, was released Friday, April 15, as the University celebrated the first Founders' Day of its second century. 

Payne, SMU professor emeritus of communications, signed books at an open house celebrating the renovation of Fondren Library, 6414 Robert S. Hyer Lane..

As SMU's centennial historian, Payne spent more than five years researching and writing the 591-page hardback book, which begins with the debate among Texas Methodists that led to SMU's founding in 1911, and ends with the 2015 conclusion of SMU's Centennial Celebration. In between, the book covers the strengths and weaknesses of University presidents, stories of influential faculty members and alumni, campus reaction to world events, and the highs and lows of intercollegiate athletics and student life.

Darwin Payne
Darwin Payne

"Anyone who enjoys a good story will like the book," Payne says. "Researching and writing its history has been a genuine pleasure. As I undertook this work, I believed it would be a far more interesting story than most casual observers might realize. And indeed, it proved to be even more interesting than I expected.”

Payne used a wealth of primary materials, including minutes from SMU Board of Trustees meetings, University archives, newspapers, yearbooks, faculty members' papers, oral histories and interviews conducted specifically for the project.

"Darwin tells the story well and in lively style, never reluctant to delve into the university’s crises as well as its many successes, " says Russell Martin, director of DeGolyer Library, which published One Hundred Years on the Hilltop.

This is Payne’s second book on SMU. In 2011 he wrote In Honor of the Mustangs: A Centennial History of SMU Athletics.

Payne earned an M.A. degree in history from SMU and a Ph.D. in American civilization from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to teaching journalism at SMU for 30 years, Payne’s career has included newspaper and television reporting, publishing a weekly suburban newspaper, and writing several books on Dallas history and biographies of leading Dallas citizens.

Payne helped cover the Kennedy assassination as a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald and co-edited the book Reporting the Kennedy Assassination: Journalists Who Were There Recall Their Experiences. His latest book, published in 2014, is titled No Small Dreams: J. Erik Jonsson, Texas Visionary. His book, Indomitable Sarah: The Life of Judge Sarah T. Hughes, won the Texas State Historical Association’s Liz Carpenter Award for the best book on the history of women in 2004.

One Hundred Years on the Hilltop: The Centennial History of Southern Methodist University was made possible by a grant from the Hoblitzelle Foundation. It may be ordered online for $39.95 at www.smu.edu/100/gifts.

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