SMU’s new home for graduate education

Supported by a gift from the Moody Foundation, SMU breaks ground on the new Frances Anne Moody Hall, which will house SMU’s eighth degree-granting school, the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

Graduate education for a better world

On Friday, December 3, 2021, SMU broke ground on the new Frances Anne Moody Hall, named for Frances Anne Moody-Dahlberg ’92, SMU trustee and executive director of the Moody Foundation. Moody Hall will house SMU’s eighth degree-granting school, the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies. Backed by a $100 million gift from the Moody Foundation – the largest gift in SMU’s history – the Moody School began operations in fall 2020. This gift is already transforming graduate education at SMU. 

The expansion of research at SMU – a strategic priority that fuels the University’s steady ascent toward achieving Carnegie R1 status – gained momentum with the Moody gift. This bold investment supports SMU’s research mission by attracting outstanding graduate students – the workforce behind groundbreaking discoveries that bolster the University’s doctoral and research ecosystem. New positions that will help SMU graduate students win nationally recognized external fellowships, thrive in their programs and launch successful careers have been filled with extraordinary faculty and staff. The combination of SMU’s strengths in supercomputing and data science, the University’s growing externally funded research and the outstanding graduate education provided through the Moody School drives impactful ideas on the Hilltop and beyond.

“The Moody School and Frances Anne Moody Hall usher in an exciting new chapter of SMU’s history and launch the University to the next level of research and international renown,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The generosity of the Moody Foundation will empower innovation and discovery in countless ways.”

The Moody School brings doctoral and master’s degrees in four schools under one institutional umbrella and supports over 75 Ph.D. students across these schools with competitive fellowships. Embodying SMU’s commitment to shape world changers, the Moody School empowers Mustangs to meet grand challenges with innovation. Expanding graduate programs supports SMU’s goal to enrich teaching and research – one of the priorities of SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow, the University’s multiyear $1.5 billion campaign for impact. This fall, SMU welcomed its first class of nine Moody Graduate Fellows – top prospects who were drawn to conduct their Ph.D. studies at SMU by these competitive fellowships. SMU also recognized our second cohort of Moody Dissertation Fellows – high-performing Ph.D. students who will be empowered by these fellowships to complete groundbreaking research projects that will propel them to outstanding careers. 

“Graduate students fuel top-tier research by working with professors on groundbreaking projects and game-changing ideas,” said James Quick, dean of the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies and associate provost for research. “I am deeply grateful to the Moody Foundation for supporting our faculty and graduate students in their endeavors to make their marks in their chosen disciplines.”

The Moody Foundation is proud to partner with SMU as it enters a new era of bold research and empowers the next generation of world shapers.

— Frances Moody-Dahlberg, Executive Director of the Moody Foundation

Frances Anne Moody Hall

Expected impact

  • New home for SMU’s eighth degree-granting school – The Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.
  • Enriches teaching and research and empowers outstanding graduate students.
  • Provides modern and collaborative facilities to spur research and discovery.

Constructed in SMU’s signature Collegiate Georgian architectural style, Frances Anne Moody Hall is the first building located on the master-planned 10-acre property bounded by University Boulevard, Dublin Street, McFarlin Boulevard and Airline Road.

“The Moody Foundation is proud to partner with SMU as it enters a new era of bold research,” said Executive Director of the Moody Foundation and SMU Trustee Frances Moody-Dahlberg. “SMU has shaped world changers for more than a century. The Moody Foundation understands that an investment in graduate studies at SMU is an investment in a better future for all.” 

The 43,000 square-foot three-story building features an open core structure from the ground level up to the cupola, which allows natural lighting into the heart of the facility. The interior design is a crisp and professional palette of materials supporting collaborative – as well as quiet – research and study spaces. Moody Hall includes a 170-person auditorium for dynamic lectures and events in addition to state-of-the-art classrooms.

Faculty and graduate students will enjoy a new reading room to facilitate study and a seminar room for meaningful instruction. Moody Fellows and SMU Scholars offices will be located in the new facility, as will conference rooms. Moody Hall will also house the Graduate and Research office suites, the Assistant Provost of Research office, and the Dean’s Suite. A Social Hub will provide space for collaboration, and a Grab N Go Coffee eatery will provide fuel for Mustangs engaged in important research.

“I am thankful for the Moody Foundation’s long-standing commitment to propelling SMU toward its goals, whether they be in advancing science, becoming a leader in the arts and art education or invigorating graduate studies,” said Brad E. Cheves, SMU’s vice president for Development and External Affairs. “The new Moody Hall will become a center for ambitious thought, passionate teaching and cutting-edge research.”


William L. Moody, Jr. and his wife, Libbie Rice Shearn Moody, laid the groundwork for the family’s dedication to community involvement and philanthropy when they established the Moody Foundation in 1942 in Galveston, Texas. The foundation was created to benefit present and future Texans, and, starting in the 1960s under the leadership of Mary Moody Northen, it began awarding grants throughout the state, focusing on universities, K–12 education, the arts, community need and much more. Beginning in the mid-1980s, led by Robert L. Moody, Sr., now chairman emeritus, major investment in local foundation-initiated projects related to traumatic brain injury and the development of tourism in Galveston was a key focus. As the reach of the foundation expanded and strengthened, the need for a permanent location in North Texas became evident, and, in 1996, a Dallas office was established to oversee local initiatives.

SMU and the Moody Foundation have enjoyed a decades long partnership. During those many years, the two organizations have joined forces to make SMU facilities such as Fondren Science Building in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Owen Arts Center in Meadows School of the Arts and Moody Coliseum exceptional resources for the SMU campus and the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The two organizations have collaborated to empower faculty research at the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, aiming to quantify data and identify solutions to homelessness among students in the Houston/Galveston area as well as developing cutting-edge programs to help adults and students achieve literacy.


Frances “Francie” A. Moody-Dahlberg ’92, the Moody Foundation’s executive director since 1998 and chairman, oversees the foundation’s activities throughout the state. A graduate of SMU, she has strong interests in women’s and children’s issues and the arts. She has championed the foundation’s philanthropy in these areas with signature grants to Parkland Foundation, Family Place and a number of child welfare, early childhood and educational programs, as well as Moody Performance Hall and Moody Fund for the Arts. She serves on SMU’s Board of Trustees and is on the boards of Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Meadows School of the Arts, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Transitional Learning Center and Moody Endowment and the advisory board of Crystal Charity Ball.