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SMU Gets $45 Million Donation, Largest Gift In Its History

Brad Wilson
Flickr Creative Commons
A Dallas foundation is giving Southern Methodist University a $45 million grant for the school's museum and arts school.

On Tuesday, Southern Methodist University announced the largest single gift in its history. The $45 million gift from the Meadows Foundation is going to the arts on campus.

To hear the announcement, trustees, students and faculty crowded the rotunda in Dallas Hall, the oldest building on campus. SMU president R. Gerald Turner noted this year is the school’s 100th anniversary.

"And since it all started here, we felt like it would be the appropriate place to make an announcement that really helps get our second century well under way," Turner said.

In fact, the $45 million grant from the Meadows Foundation goes toward the $1 billion campaign SMU started for its anniversary. But the grant specifically benefits the Meadows Museum of Art and the Meadows College of the Arts.

Of that, $20 million goes to the arts college. Sam Holland, dean of the college, said the money will directly affect Dallas communities.

"It gives us the ability to sustain our focus on deep community engagement, something that lasts in the community and makes a difference out there," Holland said.

Meadows Museum will get $25 million. Both Holland and Mark Roglan, the director of the museum, said the money will be spread around to upgrade their institutions – to attract top-notch faculty and students, enhance facilities, and acquire new art.

"This gift will enable us to go around the entire museum and make it a better institution," Roglan said. "The goal is that anyone that is interested in Spanish art in the United States sooner or later will come to the Meadows."

Algur H. Meadows, the oil man and art collector, donated the Spanish paintings and the money that started the Meadows Museum 50 years ago. And as the biggest benefactor of SMU’s arts program, the college’s arts school was named after him as well.

The new $45 million gift is the largest single grant in the foundation’s history.  

Earlier story from The Associated Press:

A Dallas foundation is giving Southern Methodist University a $45 million grant for the school's museum and arts school.

The gift from the Meadows Foundation is the largest single donation in SMU's 100-year history. The president and CEO of the foundation, Linda Perry Evans, who's great-niece of Meadows Museum founder Algur Meadows, tells The Dallas Morning News it's also the biggest gift the foundation ever has made.

Dallas businessman and philanthropist Meadows established the foundation in 1948. In 1962, his first donation established the museum at SMU to house Spanish art.

The donation announced Monday brings to $145 million the amount of money given to the school by the foundation.

The Meadows Museum will get $25 million. The Meadows School of the Arts will get $20 million.

Jerome Weeks is the Art&Seek producer-reporter for KERA. A professional critic for more than two decades, he was the book columnist for The Dallas Morning News for ten years and the paper’s theater critic for ten years before that. His writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, American Theatre and Men’s Vogue magazines.