SMU Opens New Centennial Quadrangle and Exhibit

SMU dedicates a new quadrangle and opens a special exhibit as SMU's Second Century celebration continues.

Turner Pavilion at SMU

DALLAS (SMU) — SMU’s Second Century celebration began anew Friday with the dedication of a quadrangle and exhibit paying tribute to the University’s 100-year history while focusing on the future. This year SMU is celebrating the centennial of its founding and in 2015 will mark the 100th anniversary of its opening.

The new R. Gerald Turner Centennial Quadrangle, located on the west side of the Blanton Building, was dedicated in formal ceremonies, followed by the public opening of Centennial Hall on the first level of SMU’s Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The Centennial Hall exhibits include a historical timeline, videos, interactive features and tributes to the various communities associated with SMU, such as Dallas and the Park Cities. In addition to displays, the centennial exhibit includes electronic quizzes about SMU throughout the years and opportunities for visitors to add their reflections and hopes for SMU’s future.

These and coming celebrations and events, including a special centennial book and symposia, provide opportunities for Dallas and the SMU community to experience the present and anticipate the future of the University.

“I believe SMU today is what our founders and supporters hoped it would be when they envisioned a leading university in Dallas,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Our charge is to build on our first 100 years with a second century of achievement. Visitors to campus this fall will see a university celebrating its progress but with its vision set squarely on the future.”

Current and former members of SMU’s Board of Trustees provided funding to construct the new quadrangle, which has been part of SMU’s master plan for the campus, and chose to name it in honor of Turner.

“We wanted not only to recognize the tremendous progress President Turner has achieved for SMU since 1995, but more importantly to celebrate his ongoing leadership for many years to come,” said Board of Trustees Chair Caren Prothro when the gift was announced in May.

Turner Pavilion at SMU
The Gail O. and R. Gerald Turner Centennial Pavilion
with the Cooper Centennial Fountain and
the R. Gerald Turner Quadrangle in the background.

The 1.5-acre R. Gerald Turner Centennial Quadrangle is located in the eastern quadrant of the campus, an area Turner identified early in his presidency for improvement and development. Five new buildings have been constructed around the site of the quadrangle during the past several years as a result of Turner’s successful fundraising. The Centennial Quad is bounded by the Laura Lee Blanton Building, the Collins Executive Education Center and Fincher Memorial Building, both part of the Cox School of Business, and Caruth Hall, part of the Lyle School of Engineering.

The quadrangle includes the Cooper Centennial Fountain, funded in 2010 by a gift from Susan and William Cooper, as well as the Gail O. and R. Gerald Turner Centennial Pavilion.

“We also wanted to recognize the tremendous role that (Turner’s wife) Gail Turner plays in the life and progress of the University,” Prothro said. “It’s especially fitting that Mrs. Turner be honored with a pavilion that will serve as a wonderful gathering place for the University community.”

Inside the 20-foot octagonal pavilion, the dome is covered by a recreation of the night sky pattern an observer would have seen on the centennial date of SMU’s founding on April 17, 1911. A bronze SMU logo marks the center point of the pavilion floor. The building is clad in cast stone with a gray slate roof and sits atop a red- and cream-colored granite base.  

The Cooper Centennial Fountain is designed in the form of an architectural terrace overlooking the Quadrangle and Pavilion. The fountain features five arched niches that repeat the visual structure of the Blanton Building’s classical colonnade. Night lighting of the fountain and uplighting of the Blanton facade integrate the building and landscape.  

SMU’s Rise

In the past several years, SMU has risen in national rankings, and business programs have placed in the top 15 in several rankings. The SAT scores of entering students have increased by 125 points in the last 10 years, and applications to the University have risen. Increasing research productivity among faculty has resulted in SMU’s rise to the “high research activity” classification of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Under Turner, SMU’s “Time to Lead” campaign (1997-2002) and the current Second Century Campaign have attracted more than $1 billion to date for scholarships, faculty positions, academic programs and the campus experience. SMU facilities have grown from 60 in 1995, when Turner became president, to 90 in 2011.

R. Gerald and Gail Turner
Gail O. and R. Gerald Turner

“Gail and I want to emphasize that SMU’s tremendous progress has been a team effort with the vision and support of a forward-looking board, generous donors and the commitment of the entire University community,” Turner said. “What pleases us most about this new quadrangle is that it will provide a peaceful and attractive gathering place for our students and others, especially as we welcome growing numbers of visitors to campus during our centennial celebration years. We are excited to be a part of SMU’s ongoing progress at this historic time.”

            The $2.5 million Centennial Quadrangle project is fully funded by 100 percent of the current trustees and several former members of the Board who have served during Turner’s presidency. The gift counts toward SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised more than $538 million in gifts and pledges toward its goal of $750 million.

Opportunities to Participate

Alumni and friends of SMU can participate in several ways throughout the University’s centennial celebration.

  • Centennial Pavers – SMU alumni, faculty, staff, students and supporters of the University can make their mark on the SMU centennial by making a special $100 gift. SMU will recognize those gifts by installing personalized pavers on SMU’s Centennial Promenade on Ownby Drive to be constructed for the 100th anniversary of SMU’s opening in 2015. Visit for more information and to order a paver.
  • Centennial Book – SMU: Unbridled Vision includes more than 160 pages of photography of the SMU campus, historical photos and facts about SMU’s colorful history. Advance copies of the book are available for purchase online at The book will be available in bookstores in October.
  • Centennial SymposiumThe University and the City: Higher Education and the Common Good will feature local and national experts discussing how institutions of higher learning can help to shape the trajectory of a city’s growth and continued success. Topics for the Nov. 10-11 event include educating tomorrow’s workforce, the multicultural city, technology and the future, and the role of urban universities. For more information, visit

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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.