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 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 the 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 W. Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs.
“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.
Truman Arnold is the founder of Truman Arnold Companies, which he started in 1964 in Texarkana. It is now one of the nation’s largest privately owned petroleum marketing firms. In 1995 Truman and Anita Arnold acquired First National Bank of New Boston, a $55 million community bank. The name was changed to Century Bank and grew to $1.4 billion when it was sold in 2008 to Wells Fargo. Currently, they are co-partners in TA Capital, a family private equity firm.
Truman Arnold has served as chair of the Board of Directors for Texarkana College and the Texarkana College Foundation, president of the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce and member of the Board of Regents of Lamar University. His professional leadership includes service on the National Petroleum Advisory Council and as president of the Petroleum Marketing Educational Foundation. In 2006 Governor Rick Perry appointed him to the Texas Tax Reform Commission, which changed the methodology for funding public education in Texas.
Anita Arnold is co-partner in TA Capital. Active in numerous civic and cultural organizations, she serves on the boards of SMU’s Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Baylor Health Care System Foundation, Texas Cultural Trust and Texas Women for the Arts and on the Steering Committee for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She previously served on the boards of the Texas Committee for the Humanities and Women for Texas A&M University-Texarkana. She was a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., chairing its Education Committee, and a member of the board of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas.
Anita and Truman Arnold were instrumental in the expansion of Texas A&M University-Texarkana, donating land for its recent relocation. In 2007 they received honorary Doctor of Leadership degrees from that university in recognition of their humanitarian activities. Their support of higher education includes the SMU President’s Scholars program, scholarships at Texas A&M-Texarkana and the Student Center at Texarkana College.
“We have a deep appreciation for higher education in our state and its impact on students,” said Truman Arnold. “We focus our efforts on projects and organizations that enhance the student experience.”
The $5 million gift for the Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons 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. The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.