December 4, 2007

When It Comes To Running SMU, There’s More Than Meets The Eye

By Kim Cobb
Illustration By Linda Helton

University of Virginia founder Thomas Jefferson once referred to a college campus as an “academical village.” He was right in more ways than one – a university is a small city, requiring everything from stores and eating establishments to police services and trash collection. More than 1,380 full-time staff members keep SMU running 24/7 for its 10,829 students and 726 faculty members. That in­cludes staff who raise the annual funds to pay for campus operations.

“It’s easy to take for granted all the work that takes place behind the scenes,” says Bill Dworaczyk, president of SMU’s Staff Association. “But whether it’s providing security for the campus, cooking meals in the cafeteria, counseling a student who’s struggling emotionally or programming a Web site, the work of staff is everywhere.”

Some interesting campus facts and figures help tell the story:

For the books. SMU libraries comprise more than 2.9 million books, about 2 million microforms and more than 500,000 photos. The old and the rare find a home here, too – such as a Christopher Columbus letter in Latin, published in Rome in 1493, now housed in DeGolyer Library, and a rare Bible collection in Bridwell Library.

Feeding the masses. Umphrey Lee dining hall serves about 3,000 meals daily during the fall and spring semesters. And while you might think that a thick juicy burger is the most requested meal, you would be wrong: Dining Services dishes out about 500 quesadilla orders a day.

House calls. Campus Planning and Plant Operations staff make more than 12,000 campus service calls a year, including changing 25,400 light bulbs and 4,000 filters.


Parking puzzle. The Hilltop includes approximately 5,700 parking spaces, but almost three times as many tickets were issued for parking violations during the past academic year.

Cleanliness is next to… It takes 100 custodians to keep 72 buildings on campus clean. Each custodian cleans an average of 32,000 square feet a day.

Showing our colors. The SMU Bookstore annually sells more than $1.5 million worth of clothing branded with SMU’s mascot, colors and logo. Pony up with pride.

No place like home. About 1,765 students are tucked into approximately 825 residence hall rooms, most of them double occupancy. Almost 2,000 students live on their own immediately surrounding the campus in zip code 75205, which includes Highland Park and University Park, and zip code 75206, east of North Central Expressway.

Red, blue and green. SMU recycles an average of 350 tons of material each year, part of an ongoing commitment to go green.

One ringy dingy… It’s not coming from pockets or purses, but from more than 5,000 land-line telephones wired into the main campus, from residence halls to staff and faculty offices.

Goin’ to the chapel of love. More than 200 couples marry in Perkins Chapel annually; about a third of those weddings include an SMU student or graduate.

Show-offs. Meadows School of the Arts hosts more than 500 events every year, including museum exhibits, art lectures and dance and musical performances ranging from

Bach to Basie. Theatrical productions in­clude classical dramas and hip urban comedies.

Flower power. The campus groundskeepers plant about 20,000 bulbs after Thanksgiving every year to produce those breathtaking blooms in the spring.

Snail-mail central. The U.S. Post Office at Hughes-Trigg Student Center processes about 70,000 out­going letters and packages a month. The incoming mail is massive – about 300,000 pieces of first-class mail and about 26,000 boxes – thanks to online orders by students and care packages from home.

Bodies in motion. The start of each semester at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports sees the most activity – the facility logged in 46,684 visits last September and 47,021 visits last February. [For visuals and more statistics, see pages 16-17.]

“What these numbers and more add up to is SMU’s dedication to maintaining a high-quality campus ex­perience for its students and faculty that helps keep us competitive,” Dworaczyk says.