Transforming visual arts education

Meadows School of the Arts celebrates renovated facilities

Paving the way to the future of visual arts education on the Hilltop, the SMU Meadows School of the Arts celebrated the dedication of its enhanced visual arts facilities on September 16, 2022. Donors led by The Meadows Foundation, Gene and Jerry Jones, Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers, and G. Marlyne Sexton and family will fuel creative discovery by future generations of artists, visionaries and scholars from across the world.

“At SMU, we believe that inspired minds create an inspiring world,” said R. Gerald Turner, SMU president. “The improvements our donors have made possible will ignite the creative capacities of students as they hone their artistic skills and forge new avenues of educational opportunity and creative thinking.”

The $34 million redesign, which was announced in 2019, supports the major goals of SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow, the University’s multiyear $1.5 billion campaign for impact. These facilities will empower outstanding students in their artistic and academic endeavors, enrich teaching and research performed both on and off campus, and enhance our community through creative expression and collaboration.

“The Meadows Foundation has proudly supported the SMU Meadows School of the Arts since its establishment when Al Meadows saw its potential to impact the future,” said Peter M. Miller, The Meadows Foundation president and chief executive officer. “Beautiful buildings like this reflect the creativity of our community and our state. They spark curiosity and nurture imagination for generations.”

The school’s renovated facilities include a variety of dynamic spaces named for and made possible by the project’s donors. The facilities boast several sun-drenched indoor and lush outdoor spaces that welcome visitors to the center and inspire students and artists in their creative pursuits:

  • The Gene and Jerry Jones Grand Atrium and Plaza acts as the center’s grand east entrance and provides an enclosed space for formal and impromptu student performances, concerts, and events.
  • The Rogers North Entrance is the external access point for visitors and students to the new Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers Center for Visual Arts, which serves as the north wing of the visual arts facilities.
  • The Sexton Family Courtyard greets those approaching from Hillcrest Avenue to the west and acts as the main entrance for the Greer Garson Theatre, Margo Jones Theatre and the Hamon Arts Library.
  • The Paul W. Harris Promenade, funded by the Hoblitzelle Foundation, runs alongside the entirety of the visual arts facilities and serves as the central campus connection to the arts facilities’ new north entrance.

In addition, the facilities offer several updated and renovated educational and administrative spaces where students can utilize technology and collaborate or create independently, including the Sexton Family Art Studio and Terrace, the Sexton Family Suite for Creative Computation and the Mark S. Moussa Foundations Studio. Furthering the spirit of community, the Sewell Family Suite for the Algur H. Meadows Dean will provide student support services, while the Moody Foundation Gallery Conference Room is equipped for meetings with distinguished guests of the University and for faculty/student presentations and seminars.

Expected impact

  • Provide inspiring spaces for SMU’s artists, students and visitors in which to create.
  • Encourage innovative teaching, creation, exhibition and interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • Offer technologically and creatively equipped spaces for studying and creating art in a variety of media.

The visual arts facilities also house multiple galleries for exhibitions, including the William B. Jordan Gallery, named in honor of the founding director of the Meadows Museum, and The Meadows Foundation Gallery. Together, the school’s renovated spaces create an environment that inspires creativity, commitment and collaboration.

“This project was not only a labor of love, but also a commitment to excellence and to our students,” said Samuel S. Holland, Algur H. Meadows Dean of the Meadows School of the Arts. “Our expanded and improved facilities will enable new creative breakthroughs, inspire groundbreaking artistic innovations and promote artistic collaboration across our programs.”

SMU’s performing and visual arts complex has been home to the Meadows School of the Arts since its inception over 50 years ago. Located at the heart of the SMU campus between Bishop Boulevard and Hillcrest Avenue, the school’s initial facilities were designed in the 1960s by noted architect George Dahl. When it opened, the original Owen Arts Center included the Forbes Music Building, the Mudge Art Building and the Sharp Drama Building. Over subsequent decades, it has been expanded into an integrated complex, including the Garson Theatre and the Hamon Arts Library. Several rehearsal and performance facilities, teaching classrooms, studios and faculty offices, all made possible by numerous donors, complete the complex.

“These facilities further strengthen the Meadows School of the Arts as a premier artistic and cultural institution,” said Brad E. Cheves, SMU vice president for Development and External Affairs. “Through their generosity and passion for the mission at Meadows, our donors are building a new foundation for the future of art education and cultural research on the Hilltop, and we are grateful for their dedication.”

Through newly updated and renovated facilities, the Meadows School will further bridge the classic, the contemporary and the emerging frontiers of artistic expression, elevating the school as a national leader in arts education, attracting a gifted community of artists, scholars and visitors from across the region and around the world.

Visit the project page for the Meadows facilities’ transformation to learn more about this historic project and to view the full list of its donors.

The improvements our donors have made possible will ignite the creative capacities of students as they hone their artistic skills.

— R. Gerald Turner, SMU President

The Meadows Foundation

The Meadows Foundation is a private family philanthropy established in 1948 by Algur H. and Virginia G.S. Meadows with a mission to improve the quality and circumstances of life for the people of Texas now and in the future. The foundation strives to exemplify the principles of its founders in addressing basic human needs, protecting the environment, providing cultural enrichment, encouraging excellence, and promoting understanding and cooperation among Texans.

Since its inception, The Meadows Foundation has provided more than $1.3 billion in grants and charitable distributions to 3,700 institutions and organizations serving the people of Texas. The foundation grants funds in the areas of arts and culture, civic and public affairs, education, environment, health, and human services.

The Meadows Foundation traces its historic partnership with SMU back to the early 1960s, when Algur Meadows, an avid art collector, donated his Spanish art collection to SMU in honor of Virginia Meadows after her passing, along with a $1 million endowment to create the Virginia Meadows Museum within the Owen Arts Center. Algur Meadows later donated his collection of sculptures by contemporary Italian artists to SMU to establish the Elizabeth Meadows Sculpture Garden, named in honor of his second wife. He gave an $8 million endowment to the SMU School of the Arts, and in gratitude for his gift and previous generosity, the SMU Board of Trustees renamed the school Meadows School of the Arts in 1969.

In 2015, as part of a significant commitment to SMU, The Meadows Foundation provided a leadership matching grant for the renovation of the visual arts facilities within SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, which became a catalyst to attract other significant donations to the project. In honor of the foundation’s generous support, the restored gallery, formerly the first home of the Meadows Museum, was recognized as The Meadows Foundation Gallery.

Gene and Jerry Jones

Gene and Jerry JonesGene and Jerry Jones have impacted the SMU community through their generosity and leadership across the University. In 2017, they announced a leadership gift to support the creation of the Gene and Jerry Jones Grand Atrium and Plaza, transforming the east entrance to the visual and performing arts wings within the visual arts facilities at Meadows School of the Arts.

SMU Trustee Emerita Gene Jones has served as co-chair of the Meadows School Executive Board and as a member of SMU’s John G. Tower Center for Public Policy and International Affairs Board. Beyond SMU, she serves on the boards of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the Texas Cultural Trust and Children’s Medical Center Dallas. She is also an involved member of the Sweetheart Ball and served on the George W. Bush Institute Women’s Initiative Policy Advisory Council.

Gene Jones has spent a lifetime in the pursuit of helping others. Under her enthusiastic direction, the Jones family has taken a major leadership role in their involvement with the Salvation Army – both at the local and national levels. She also played a key role in the design and construction of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Gene Jones’ vision and commitment to the arts is responsible for the Dallas Cowboys Art Collection, composed of 93 paintings, sculptures and photographs by 63 artists, including 18 specially commissioned pieces at AT&T Stadium and The Star in Frisco.

Jerry Jones has been the owner, president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys since 1989. In 2017, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as just the 15th owner in history to earn a bust in Canton, Ohio. Also in 2017, Jones was selected as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds in commemoration of Forbes magazine’s 100th anniversary and was recognized for his career contributions to sports in America with the Sports Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gene and Jerry Jones are the parents of three successful children – Stephen, Charlotte and Jerry Jr., ’95, a graduate of SMU Dedman School of Law – and the proud grandparents of nine.

Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers

Nancy C. and Richard R. RogersNancy C. and Richard R. Rogers have generously supported SMU and the University community through donations to Meadows School of the Arts, SMU Athletics and general support.

In 2019, the couple announced a leadership gift to establish the Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers Center for Visual Arts and the Rogers North Entrance to the center, part of the renovation of the visual arts wing within SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. The gift extends their long-standing support of the arts and artists in Dallas and across the country.

In addition to leading NCR Capital, Nancy C. Rogers is an internationally recognized philanthropist and contemporary art collector. She has chaired TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art, a signature fundraising event for both its beneficiaries, the Dallas Museum of Art and amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS research.

Richard R. Rogers is executive chairman for Mary Kay Inc., which he co-founded with his mother, Mary Kay Ash, in 1963. His son, Ryan, graduated from SMU in 1998, while Nancy C. Rogers’ niece and nephews are also Mustangs. Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers are longtime supporters of Crystal Charities, the Family Place, the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Contemporary, North Texas Food Bank, Genesis Women’s Shelter, American Cancer Society and countless other causes.

Prior to this leading gift to the Meadows School, the family provided a leadership gift in support of SMU’s Moody Coliseum renovation and expansion project in 2013. Nancy Rogers was also actively involved in efforts to build the Chi Omega sorority house on SMU’s campus in 2014.

As the Meadows School shapes the future of arts education, the Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers Center for Visual Arts will become a vital part of elevating the artistic talent and the arts ecosystems in Dallas and beyond.

G. Marlyne Sexton and family

G. Marlyne SextonMarlyne Sexton is a philanthropist and civic volunteer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the owner of the Sexton Companies, a nationwide builder and developer of apartment homes and communities based in Indianapolis, founded by her late husband, Joseph Sexton, in 1962.

Sexton is active as a board member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and a sponsor of the 500 Festival Princess Program Scholarship Fund. Other organizations benefiting from her generosity include the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis as a donor and distinguished advisor, IU Health North Hospital, Riley Children’s Hospital, Best Buddies International and the International SeaKeepers Society. Sexton received the Indianapolis Opera’s Kathryn Taurel Woman of the Arts Award and is involved in producing and funding Broadway productions in New York and London.

Sexton’s daughters, Nicole Sexton and Tracy Copeland, graduated from SMU Meadows School of the Arts and currently serve on the Meadows Executive Board. Nicole earned her B.F.A. in art history in 1987. She currently serves as president and chief executive officer of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, and previously she held key positions at Central Park Conservancy in New York City and with Bono’s One Campaign. She established FEED Foundation as its first executive officer along with friend and collaborator Lauren Bush Lauren. Tracy earned her B.A. in journalism from SMU in 1982 and is an active philanthropist and volunteer for the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and other organizations in New Orleans. In addition to their current activities, both daughters, along with their mother, are active in the management of the Sexton Companies. All three women have joined in support of the Alzheimer’s Association, co-hosting various galas in the Hamptons and New York City.

The generosity of G. Marlyne Sexton and her family will establish the Sexton Family Courtyard, the renovated west entrance to the building; the Sexton Family Art Studio and Terrace, an expansive indoor-outdoor space; and the Sexton Family Suite for Creative Computation, where students will push the artistic boundaries of technology

SMU Meadows School of the Arts

The Meadows School of the Arts celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019. Formally established at SMU in 1964 and named in honor of benefactor Algur H. Meadows in 1969, it is one of the foremost arts education institutions in the United States. The Meadows School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in advertising, art, art history, arts management and arts entrepreneurship, corporate communication and public affairs, creative computation, dance, film and media arts, journalism, music, and theatre. The goal of the Meadows School, as a comprehensive educational institution, is to prepare students to meet the demands of professional careers. The Meadows School is a leader in developing innovative outreach and community engagement programs, challenging its students to make a difference locally and globally by developing connections among art, entrepreneurship and change. Meadows is also a convener for the arts in North Texas, serving as a catalyst for new collaborations and providing critical industry research.

SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow

SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and more than 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world. Building on its history of excellence, the University has launched SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow – a multiyear $1.5 billion campaign to empower outstanding students, to enrich teaching and research, and to enhance our campus and community.

SMU Ignited at Meadows

Through the SMU Ignited campaign, SMU’s donors are having a profound and lasting impact on Meadows School of the Arts and the Meadows Museum. Through significant capital improvements, SMU will support creativity and innovation while increasing Meadows’ presence as a destination for campus and community activity. Through the completion of this first phase of renovation, the school’s donors are transforming the visual arts fields of study, and through the upcoming second phase, they will fuel upgrades to spaces for the performing arts, arts management and arts entrepreneurship as well as corporate communications and public affairs.

In addition to these infrastructure improvements, SMU Ignited at Meadows will raise significant resources to enhance the impact and reputation of the school. With the past, present and future support from its generous philanthropic arts community, alumni and foundation grants, Meadows will expand its access to welcome the most talented students, recruit exceptional faculty from around the world and support programs that provide students with an experience uniquely preparing them for careers as creative leaders. Recent support toward these initiatives includes endowments to create the Custard Institute for Spanish Art and Culture in the Meadows Museum, the Alessandra Comini Endowed Professorship and the Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence program, among others.