$5 million gift will help build new Residential Commons dining center

Anita and Truman Arnold have given $5 million toward construction of the Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons in SMU’s new Residential Commons complex.

Now under construction, this facility joins five residence halls and a parking garage, all of which will accommodate 1,250 students and several faculty as members of a shared campus community.

“We are deeply grateful to the Arnolds for their generous support,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “This dining facility will be the centerpiece of our new Residential Commons complex and will be an important element of the campus experience for countless present and future students.”

The Arnolds’ gift counts toward the $750 million goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised more than $732 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

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The new Residential Commons complex is expected to open in Fall 2014 in the southeast quadrant of the campus adjacent to Ford Stadium and Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports. The addition of these residential facilities will enable SMU to implement a new requirement that sophomores, as well as first-year students, live on campus.

The complex of new facilities is part of a larger SMU initiative to establish a residential commons living-learning model that will include renovation of six current residence halls that are being retrofitted to become residential commons. On-campus living beyond the first year has been linked to higher student retention rates at universities offering this benefit.

“By including facilities for live-in faculty members, who also will have offices and teach classes in the Residential Commons, this complex will provide students with an integrated academic and living experience,” said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs.

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“This model supports a strong residential community with a balance between academic and social aspects of campus life,” said Lori S. White, vice president for student affairs. “Each commons will develop activities and traditions that build a sense of community and encourage lasting ties among the student residents.”

All students and faculty living in the five residential units of the complex will share meals in the Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons, which also will be open to other students. The 29,658-square-foot dining commons will have a seating capacity of 500.

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