December 22, 2011

Alumni Elisabeth Martin Armstrong ’82 and William D. Armstrong ’82, of Denver, have committed a $5 million gift toward the construction of SMU’s new Residential Commons.

William D. Armstrong ’82 and Elisabeth Martin Armstrong ’82, of Denver, with daughters Leigh ’11 and Lindsey ’10.

The Residential Commons model represents a new direction in SMU student housing. The five Residential Commons will enable SMU to accommodate a sophomore residency requirement. First-year students are already required to live on campus.

Campus living beyond the first year has been linked to higher retention rates and the creation of a greater sense of camaraderie among students. Each Residential Commons will include faculty in residence, expanding opportunities for learning, informal interactions and mentoring, says Paul Ludden, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Construction of the Residential Commons will begin in early 2012. The living-learning complex will be located north of Mockingbird Lane near the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports and Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the main campus. It is expected to open in fall 2014 and will provide housing for 1,250 students, as well as a dining facility. Each Commons building will include classrooms, seminar space and faculty accommodations.

The plan also calls for existing residence halls to be renovated to achieve the Residential Commons model by 2014.

The living-learning communities will include faculty in residence and space for academic, social and cultural activities.

“The Armstrong family’s gift to SMU will help ensure that future students will benefit from a close-knit, living and learning community that will enhance their SMU experience,” says SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are grateful to the Armstrongs for funding the first Residential Commons, and we are pleased to name it in their honor.”

Supporting SMU is a family tradition for the Armstrongs, who are among three generations of family members to have attended SMU. The Armstrongs met as first-year geology students in Dedman College and as students attended geology field camp in Taos.

They serve as co-chairs of the University’s Second Century Campaign Steering Committee for Denver and served from 2008 through 2011 as chairs of the Parent Leadership Council.

In addition, they contributed to construction of the Armstrong Casita student residence at SMU-in-Taos.

Daughter Leigh graduated in May from Meadows School of the Arts, and in 2010 daughter Lindsey earned a Master’s degree in education from the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.