About Our Donors
Both 1982 graduates of SMU, Bill and Liz Armstrong received their B.S. degrees in geology. During their time as students, they lived on campus and participated actively in Greek life – Mrs. Armstrong in Pi Beta Phi and Mr. Armstrong in Phi Gamma Delta – as well as in programs at the SMU-in-Taos campus. Though they met in Geology 101, it was their participation in Fort Burgwin’s geology field camp that brought them together as a couple. Their interest in geology and exploration continued past their time at SMU and led to their successful careers in the oil and gas industry and numerous entrepreneurial endeavors.
In 1984, the Armstrongs founded Armstrong Oil and Gas, Inc., an exploration company based in Denver, Colorado, conducting business throughout the United States, with a focus on the North Slope of Alaska. Twenty years later, they established EPOCH Estate Wines in Paso Robles, California, where they enjoy their roles as vintners focusing on ultrapremium Rhone-style wines. In Denver, the Armstrongs have a long history of nonprofit engagement serving as Trustees of the Denver Art Museum, Colorado Ballet and Central City Opera. Mrs. Armstrong also sits on the Boards of the School of American Ballet (NYC) and Westminster School (CT). They have three children: Lindsey ’10, Jack and Leigh ’11. As SMU parents, the Armstrongs chaired the Parent Leadership Council and re-energized their love of SMU. Mr. Armstrong serves as a member of the Board of Trustees, and Mrs. Armstrong chairs the Executive Board of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
In addition to their service, the Armstrongs have demonstrated their support and aspirations for the University through their generosity to SMU-in-Taos, athletics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, student initiatives and other areas across campus. The Armstrongs can be found with their extended family – nine Mustangs over the last four decades – on the Boulevard tailgating each fall.
In 2011, Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong provided the first lead gift for a new Residential Commons facility that would expand housing on campus to include both first-year students and sophomores. Mr. Armstrong’s deep admiration for SMU football legend Doak Walker, a Coloradoan, led the Armstrongs to fund the construction of the facility closest to the statue honoring the extraordinary running back. It is with deep gratitude that SMU recognizes their generosity with the naming of Armstrong Commons.
The Armstrong Crest
The key feature of our building’s design is our Armstrong cupola, the iconic architectural element of our commons and the most elevated point in the South East Area Commons, reflecting our goal to rise to the top.
The Armstrong Residential Commons Leadership Corps (RCLC) chose to feature the name “Armstrong” at the center of the crest within the ribbon, making a nod to classic crest design elements.
The color red was specifically chosen because it is a favorite of the Armstrong family and integral to SMU spirit. Additionally, red symbolizes strength, power, determination, passion and love–all qualities that students of Armstrong Commons strive to embody. The color gold was chosen to symbolize the gold dome of our cupola.
Underneath the Armstrong name sit five lines, representing the five inaugural members of the RCLC. As an extra special nod to the Armstrong family, these lines are also reminiscent of vineyard rows, as found in the Armstrong vineyard, Epoch Estate Wines.
The Armstrong Values
Armstrong Commons emphasizes kindness and caring, striving to support the holistic well-being of our community and its members. Our community honors and celebrates its members and affirms the many identities we each hold as well as the intersection of those identities. We strive to include and consider all community members, both of Armstrong Commons and SMU, in order to make Armstrong a pleasant, inclusive, and welcoming place to live.
Armstrong Commons is a just and disciplined community committed to respecting all of our members through authentic interactions. Through our Commons Council and Resident Assistants, Armstrong exercises shared governance and uphold our commitments to each other and to the common good.
As a purposeful and open community, Armstrong Commons enhances the academic mission of the University. Our community creates a space for our members to freely express themselves and explore challenging ideas.