SMU breaks ground on Dr. Bob Smith Health Center

SMU broke ground Friday on the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center, which will provide care to students.

Rendering of the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center at SMU

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU broke ground Friday, Dec. 5, on the new Dr. Bob Smith Health Center, a 33,000-square-foot center designed to provide comprehensive outpatient health care to more than 11,000 SMU students on an ongoing basis throughout each school year. 

 (l. to r.) Brad E. Cheves, Vice President for Development and External Affairs; Lori S. White, Vice President for Student Affairs; R. Gerald Turner, SMU President; Sally Smith Mashburn '77, president of the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation; Scott Smith '79, director of the foundation; Marty Smith Kelley '81, director of the foundation; Katie Thompson '16, President of Mustangs Who Care; and Michael M. Boone '63 '67, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees.
(l. to r.) Brad E. Cheves, Vice President for Development and External Affairs; Lori S. White, Vice President for Student Affairs; R. Gerald Turner, SMU President; Sally Smith Mashburn '77, president of the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation; Scott Smith '79, director of the foundation; Marty Smith Kelley '81, director of the foundation; Katie Thompson '16, President of Mustangs Who Care; and Michael M. Boone '63 '67, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees.

A $5 million gift from the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation funded the new building named for Dr. Bob Smith, long-time Dallas pediatrician and SMU alumnus. The funding will enable center staff to increase promotion of student wellness through health education, medical services and counseling and psychiatric services.

"From caring for some of Dallas's youngest patients to establishing medical care facilities for patients of all ages, Dr. Bob Smith demonstrated his devotion to health care in Dallas his entire life," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "This gift to name the health center honors Dr. Smith's love of his alma mater and supports good health for all SMU students."

The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center is scheduled for completion in spring of 2016.

The new two-story building is designed to provide outpatient medical care for students, including laboratory, radiology and pharmacy services. Students will receive care from the center's full and part-time physicians as well as from part-time specialists in dermatology, gynecology and sports medicine in ten newly equipped exam rooms with private waiting areas. The medical care area of the facility also will include two new consultation rooms for physician-patient meetings, two rooms for patient observation and a treatment room. In addition, the expanded space includes offices for the addition of dental services at the center, as well as space for extended evening and weekend hours for student care.

"The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center will provide medical and mental health care with a focus on promoting wellness and sound health decision-making," said Lori White, SMU vice president for Student Affairs. "Research shows that there is an important link between a student's wellness and the ability to thrive academically. Encouraging students to make healthy lifestyle decisions while in college will provide them with a firm foundation for enjoying a healthy life post-college."

About the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center

Rendering of the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center at SMUA classroom in the new center will enable health educators to expand student health education to include more prevention, wellness and peer-education programs such as fitness classes, health screenings and programs aimed at substance abuse prevention. The classroom also will be available for other educational programs to the Residential Commons located in the North Quad area.

The  new health center also will include additional space for counseling and psychiatric services program to include 19 counseling offices and a sexual assault counseling office for the counseling psychologists, psychiatrists and other therapists and mental health professionals who serve students. 

The staff also will provide short-term individual counseling and psychiatric services to assist students in identifying, assessing and resolving other concerns that may interfere with their social and emotional growth and development.

The staff of the center's counseling and psychiatric services will provide short-term group counseling in two new group counseling rooms. Face to Face is a group for students who seek to improve their social interactions and Grad Life provides support for the pressures faced by SMU graduate students. The Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Education also will have new offices in the facility where it will sponsor its drug and alcohol abuse recovery groups as well as peer intervention training to prevent substance misuse on campus.

About Dr. Bob Smith and Family

Dr. Bob and Jean Smith
Dr. Bob and Jean Smith

The Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation was created in 1989 by the late Charles Robert Smith, a long-time Dallas pediatrician and 1944 and 1946 SMU graduate. The Foundation supports higher education, medical education and research and health. Dr. Smith served as its chair and CEO until his death in 2006. His wife, Jean, is the current Foundation chair and CEO.

Dr. Smith played an important part in the development of health care in Dallas, caring for many of the city's children during his 30-year career as a practicing pediatrician. He was a co-founder of Doctors Hospital in the White Rock area of East Dallas and served as its chief executive officer from 1959 to 1984. In addition, he founded Doctors Healthcare Center and headed it from 1964 to 1994. He also founded Arcady Health Services Corporation, a health care management company.

An active supporter of SMU, 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.

"A health center for SMU students is a perfect way to honor our father," said Sally Smith Mashburn, president of the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation. "He loved SMU and was dedicated to providing quality health care to young people. "

In addition to the Smith Foundation's $5 million gift to the new Health Center, the Foundation previously gave $1 million in 2001 to establish the Bob Smith M.D. Pre-Medical Studies Center in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, which enabled SMU to strengthen and expand its premedical studies program. The Foundation also gave $1 million in 2001 to name the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Auditorium in Meadows Museum on the SMU campus and established a $2.5 million challenge grant for the SMU Annual Fund, which supports operating expenses such as library resources and faculty salaries.

Four generations of the Smith family have attended or are attending SMU. Dr. Smith's father, the late Edgar Smith, attended the University in its early years. Edgar Smith, Jr., Dr. Smith's brother, and his sisters, Mary Ann Smith Sanders and Marty Smith Wynne, received undergraduate degrees from SMU, with his brother also earning a law degree from SMU. All five of the Smith children earned degrees from SMU. They include Sally Smith Mashburn '77, president of the foundation, and her daughter, Whitney Jean Wallace MS '13; Suzy Smith Welfelt '78, director of the foundation; the late Patricia Smith '79, MBA '80, MS '86, former president, chief financial officer and director of the foundation; Scott Smith '79, director of the foundation, and Marty Smith Kelley '81, director of the foundation and parent of current SMU sophomore Christiana Kelley.

“This project simply could not have been possible without the generosity and vision of the Smith family and Foundation," said Brad Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs.  "The construction of a new health center is a major priority of SMU’s Second Century Campaign, especially important given our recent expansion of the number of students living and learning on campus through the Residential Commons."

Student health care has been a priority at SMU since the University's founding. Two local physicians cared for students in 1915, one for women and one for men. The men's physician inspected men's dormitory rooms for cleanliness each day and a nurse lived in the women's dormitory to provide care to sick residents. When a temporary student health center was built on Bishop Boulevard, the location of the new Dr. Bob Smith Health Center, a nurse, receptionist and technician lived on site to provide 24-hour care. The Memorial Health Center, which opened in 1960, included a 40-bed infirmary and apartments for nurses who lived in the center.  By 1988, the size of the infirmary was reduced to add more space for students to be seen by medical specialists and for counseling services. The infirmary section of the health center closed in 1991 as student health care shifted to outpatient care and more services in counseling and psychiatric care were added.  The center was fully accredited in 1998 as an ambulatory care center.

The gift to fund the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign. To date the campaign has raised more than $902 million in gifts and pledges to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.  The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.

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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.

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