Annette Caldwell Simmons ’57 said she envisions the time when the next generation of teachers and counselors would train for their professions in the facility bearing her name during an emotional groundbreaking ceremony December 5.

“It seems like just a minute ago, this building was a drawing,” said Simmons, referring to the plans for the new facility. “In just another minute, it will be a building with hundreds of students going in and out. And what a day that will be!”

Members of the Simmons family and the SMU Board of Trustees were joined by more than 300 SMU students, faculty, alumni, family and friends for the groundbreaking at the new building site east of the Dedman Life Sciences building. The new hall will house the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

The ceremony came a year after the announcement of a $20 million gift from Harold Simmons and Annette Caldwell Simmons to endow the previously unnamed school. The gift provided the lead commitment for Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall. Mrs. Simmons is an elementary education graduate of SMU.

The gift also established two endowed funds — the Fairess Simmons Graduate Fellowship Fund, named for Mr. Simmons’ mother, and the Leon Simmons Endowed Deanship and Faculty Recruitment Fund, named for Mr. Simmons’ father — to support faculty and student quality.

“The Simmons’ commitment will help establish SMU as a leader in addressing the educational challenges facing the nation,” said President R. Gerald Turner.

Turner added that the building will be funded in part by donors wishing to name a room or other feature of the hall in honor of a teacher who had a particular impact on their lives.

Turner was joined on the platform by Mr. and Mrs. Simmons, Second Century Campaign Co-chair Carl Sewell ’66, Brad E. Cheves, SMU vice president of development and external affairs, David J. Chard, the Leon Simmons Dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, G. Reid Lyon, distinguished professor of education policy and leadership, and Beverly Weiser, a Ph.D. candidate in education.

Richard H. Collins ’69 and Connie Blass O’Neill ’77, Second Century Campaign steering committee co-chairs for the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, joined the platform committee in using shovels to mark the groundbreaking as audience members applauded.

“I am pleased to support this innovative school, Annette’s alma mater,” Harold Simmons said when the gift was announced. “This represents our shared commitment to support teachers like the ones who made a difference in our lives.”

Chard said, “The Simmons’ generous gift has meant that we’ve been a le to strengthen our academic programs in a swift and steady way.”