New Miller Campus Center at SMU-in-Taos provides centerpiece for campus and community

The Miller Campus Center at SMU-in-Taos will be a gathering place for campus and community groups.

Miller Campus Center in Taos

DALLAS (SMU) – The newest facility at SMU-in-Taos will create a comfortable gathering place for campus and community groups, ranging from 100 guests attending a lecture to a handful of students relaxing before a huge stone fireplace. 

The Carolyn and David Miller Campus Center was dedicated at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 17, at SMU-in-Taos. The Center is named for lead donors David B. Miller '72, '73 and Carolyn L. Miller

Miller Campus Center in TaosSeminar rooms, a fitness center, media room and a large gathering space are included in the Center, which is surrounded on three sides by a covered wrap-around porch. An outdoor plaza connects the facility to the campus dining hall, auditorium, chapel and newly renovated classroom space.

"The Miller Campus Center is the new heart of SMU-in-Taos," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "This Center will facilitate academic discussions, intellectual discovery and friendships for students, faculty and New Mexico community members who have the opportunity to spend time here. I am grateful to the Millers, the Clements Foundation and other generous donors who, with great foresight, have made this facility possible."

Designed to embrace its natural setting, the Miller Campus Center includes the William P. Clements, Jr. Great Hall, with outdoor views from large windows on three sides and a stone fireplace for chilly Taos evenings. The Sands Lobby, made possible by Marcellene Wilson Sands '69 and Stephen Sands '70, provides a welcoming entry. The Ubelaker Classroom, adjacent to the Center, was named by Barbara Hunt Crow and her son, Daniel Crow '12, in honor of John Ubelaker, SMU biology professor emeritus, longtime SMU-in-Taos faculty member and former director of SMU-in-Taos. Seminar rooms include the Dickey Seminar Room, given by Maurine Petty Dickey '67, and the Director's Seminar Room in the adjoining dining hall, given by the Mockovciak Fund of the Dallas Foundation in honor of Mike Adler, SMU-in-Taos executive director and associate professor of anthropology.

"The Miller Campus Center is the epitome of how we live in Taos," Adler said. "There is a constant osmosis between the indoors and the outdoors."

In addition to interior spaces, the Miller Campus Center includes plazas, portals and deep porches, which provide outdoor areas for lectures, discussion and reflection. The wide terrace and tiered steps of the Janis and Roy Coffee Terrace Plazuela will invite students and visitors to linger before entering the Center. On the north and east sides of the building, the Ware Portal, made possible by William Ware '01, overlooks a winding mountain stream. The Cecil Patio, a gift from Robert V. Cecil '62 and Sandra Garland Cecil '64, provides outdoor seating adjacent to the dining hall and Director’s Seminar Room.

"One of SMU’s highest priorities is enhancing the quality of the campus experience both inside and outside the classroom," said Brad Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs.  "The new Miller Campus Center brings this goal to fruition for those studying at SMU-in-Taos. We are grateful to the dedicated group of donors who have embraced the special character of this mountain campus and have enhanced it with this new facility.”

Carolyn L. Miller and David P. Miller '72, '73

Carolyn L. Miller and David B. Miller ’72, ’73 were inspired to support the campus center as regular participants at the SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute, a summer program for adults, which explores the art, history, culture and literature of Northern New Mexico. Longtime SMU supporters, the Millers also provided the lead gift for the renovation and expansion of Moody Coliseum on the main SMU campus in Dallas.

Carolyn Miller earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Hendrix College and holds master’s degrees in both elementary education and gerontology. She is a member of the SMU-in-Taos Executive Board, the Hendrix College Board of Trustees and a former member of the Women's Initiative advisory council for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

David Miller is co-founder of EnCap Investments L.P., a leading private equity firm based in Houston and Dallas, where he serves as managing partner. Miller is secretary of the SMU Board of Trustees, on which he has served since 2008, and is a member of the Second Century Campaign Leadership Council. He is chair of the Executive Board for the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, co-chair of the Second Century Campaign Steering Committee for Cox School of Business and serves on the Campaign Steering Committee for Athletics. Mr. Miller is president of the David B. Miller Family Foundation, with Mrs. Miller serving as vice president.

Through the foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Miller have supported Cox School of Business, SMU Athletics, Moody Coliseum and scholarships for students in several different areas of study. In 2012, they received the Mustang Award in recognition of their extraordinary philanthropy supporting SMU. Mr. Miller has been awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from both SMU and Cox School of Business, recognizing his professional success and leadership.

William P. Clements, Jr. '39

The late William P. Clements, Jr., former Texas governor, made possible SMU's acquisition  of Fort Burgwin, a pre-Civil War cantonment, leading to the development of SMU-in-Taos. His leadership kept the rustic beauty of the campus intact, while enabling development of learning and living facilities. Thanks to his vision, the Taos campus today is the setting of undergraduate and graduate courses, research, public lectures and academic conferences. The Clements Foundation honored Clements through its support of the Miller Campus Center and the naming of the William P. Clements, Jr. Great Hall.

Clements supported Southwest studies in several other ways.  In SMU’s Dedman College, he endowed the Department of History, which created a Ph.D. focused on the American Southwest. In addition, he funded the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, which provides fellowships for research and scholarly publications about the Southwest.  Other major gifts to SMU have supported programs in engineering, mathematics and theology.

As former chair of the SMU Board of Trustees, Clements also provided leadership guiding the academic planning, endowment management and physical development of the main SMU campus.       

About SMU-in-Taos

Since 1973 Fort Burgwin has been an SMU educational center. Its setting in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, surrounded by the Carson National Forest, provides a unique backdrop for the enrichment of body, mind and spirit.

Courses in anthropology explore local Native American and Hispanic cultures and the archaeology of the Southwest, including the continuing excavation and examination of Pot Creek Pueblo and historic Fort Burgwin. Native environments, as well as global environmental issues, are the scope and focus of biology courses taught at Fort Burgwin. Geologically, the region provides a diverse landscape to study. Courses in history, literature, music, painting, sculpture, theatre and dance, as well as professional and educational retreats, benefit from the natural surroundings, far removed from the distractions of the city. In addition, the program offers a variety of wellness activities, including hiking, biking, river rafting, rock climbing, horseback riding and fly-fishing.

SMU-in-Taos also offers programs to the northern New Mexico community, including a free Tuesday evening SMU-in-Taos Colloquium Lecture Series, established through an endowment in recognition of Mr. and Mrs. Clements, focusing on research related to the area. Student art is exhibited throughout the summer. A popular free concert occurs each summer, with additional concerts presented by music students and faculty. Dance and theatre students give performances when in residence, and the campus is home to community meetings and school and corporate retreats.

The gifts to fund the Miller Campus Center count toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign. To date the campaign has raised more than $987 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.