facilities

Linda and Mitch Hart commit significant gift to SMU’s Ford Research and Innovation Building

Linda and Milledge 'Mitch' A. Hart IIIDallas business leaders Linda Wertheimer Hart ’65 and Milledge (Mitch) A. Hart, III have committed a significant gift to the Gerald J. Ford Research and Innovation Building at SMU. The new facility will house the University’s Linda and Mitch Hart eCenter, which includes SMU Guildhall, the world’s top-ranked graduate game design program. The building will be located on SMU’s main campus at the corner of McFarlin Boulevard and Airline Road.

“Thanks to the Harts’ generosity, we are one step closer to creating a world-class center for research and innovation on our campus,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are excited about the synergies we’ll derive from bringing advanced computer programs together under one roof.”

In 2000, the Harts made a generous gift to establish the Hart eCenter, currently located at SMU-in-Plano, as well as to endow the eCenter’s directorship. The Hart eCenter focuses on interdisciplinary research, education and innovation; it is the first university-wide initiative focused on interactive network technologies created at a major research university. Reporting directly to SMU’s provost, the Hart eCenter uses this freedom and flexibility to promote thought leadership at the intersections of multiple fields and disciplines.

The Hart eCenter’s most visible manifestation is SMU Guildhall. Since its founding in 2003, the program has graduated more than 700 students, who now work at more than 250 video game studios around the world. SMU Guildhall offers both a Master of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development degree and a Professional Certificate of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development, with specializations in Art, Design, Production and Programming. In 2017, the Guildhall was named the world’s “No. 1 Graduate Program for Game Design” by The Princeton Review, based on a survey of 150 institutions in the United States, Canada and abroad that offer game design coursework and/or degrees.

> Visit SMU Guildhall online: guildhall.smu.edu

“SMU understands the value of interdisciplinary research in creating new knowledge and discovering new approaches to solving the world’s challenges. With a new facility dedicated to building these research collaborations, the University is stepping forward as an innovation leader,” said Linda Hart. “The growth of SMU Guildhall, both in programming and in stature, has been a source of tremendous pride for Linda and me ever since we made our first gift to establish the Hart eCenter. I look forward to seeing the exciting work this internationally recognized program will produce as it extends and expands its cutting-edge research in interactive technologies,” said Mitch Hart.

The Ford Research and Innovation Building was established with a $15 million lead gift commitment from Gerald J. Ford ’66, ’69 and Kelli O. Ford to construct a campus research center supporting SMU’s goal to expand advanced computing and interdisciplinary research throughout the University.

“One of SMU’s strengths is the research and other work we do at the intersection of multiple disciplines,” said Steven C. Currall, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We plan to continue building on this strength to advance and expand our research capability.”

In addition to the Hart eCenter and SMU Guildhall, the new building will house the AT&T Center for Virtualization, which will allow researchers from across the University to conduct interdisciplinary work to address the technical, economic, social and security issues associated with virtual technologies and their applications. It also will be the home of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, established in May 2012 through a gift from the Dedman Foundation.

It is expected that the availability of the Ford Research and Innovation Building will encourage more faculty to use high-performance computing and attract greater levels of external research funding. The University’s Second Century Campaign added 54 new substantially endowed faculty positions, bringing SMU’s current total to 120, many of them senior-level scholars with active research agendas. Along with other faculty who are leading important research projects, these scholars need and expect the best facilities to support their work. In addition, high-performance computing will apply directly to the undergraduate curriculum in several disciplines.

“Linda and Mitch Hart have been visionary supporters of SMU for many years. This gift reaffirms their dedication to the University as a leader in interdisciplinary research and education,” said Brad E. Cheves, SMU vice president for Development and External Affairs. “We are incredibly grateful for their support of excellence and innovation among our faculty and students, and for the opportunity to share these world-changing capabilities with our North Texas and global communities.”

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SMU to dedicate Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, 2017

Robson and Lindley Aquatics Center, SMUSMU will dedicate the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center, the new home of SMU’s international championship swimming and diving programs, at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. The 42,000 square foot center, located on the East Campus at 5550 SMU Boulevard, makes a big splash in Division I swimming and diving with facilities, coaching and training technology designed to prepare men’s and women’s swimmers and divers for the highest level of competition.

“For more than 70 years, SMU swimming and diving has produced Olympians, All Americans and NCAA champions,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The completion of the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center affirms SMU’s commitment to providing first-rate facilities to support our student-athletes.”

The Aquatics Center natatorium, named for legendary Mustang swim coaches A.R. “Red” Barr and George “Mac” McMillion ’55, features an indoor Olympic-sized pool configured for eight 50-meter competition lanes or twenty-two 25-yard lanes. Its diving area boasts a 10-meter diving tower with four springboards. Just like cupolas on campus and the Mustang on Expressway Tower, the diving tower will be lit in red when Mustang swimming is victorious.

The natatorium also features seating for 800 spectators on the mezzanine level. Three large high-definition video boards across from the seating area display swimming times, live video or graphics and swimming and diving scores.

As a practice facility, the center features the SwimPro video system, with underwater and above-water cameras to analyze swimmers’ performances. Video can be viewed on the pool deck or downloaded for review by coaches and student-athletes. The diving well also features cameras to capture 1-meter, 3-meter and platform diving.

“The video can be shown on mounted TVs on the deck so the coaches can review technique with the swimmers while practice is going on,” said Steve Collins, head coach of Mustang women’s swimming. “Video can also be viewed in the conference room for more detailed study with the swimmers or divers. The U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is setting up a similar system.”

The pool deck also includes men’s and women’s varsity and visitor locker rooms, a student lounge and classroom, and coaches’ and administrative offices. Public locker rooms are also available for community events, such as competitions and swim lessons.

“Recruits will see SMU’s commitment to swimming and diving the minute they walk in the door of the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center,” said Eddie Sinnott ’76, head coach of Mustang men’s swimming. “Combined with SMU’s outstanding academic reputation and the great city of Dallas, SMU swimming and diving will offer a great opportunity to student-athletes for many years to come.”

“I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved with SMU swimming while attending SMU,” said donor Bruce Robson. “My family and I are honored to be part of helping honor the legacy of Coach Barr and Coach Mac and the swimmers and divers who built this incredible program. This new aquatics center will do its part in helping the current and future coaches at SMU to attract the top swimming and diving talent to SMU for years to come.”

— Written by Nancy George

> Read the full story from SMU News