Smith Gift Provides Health Center With New Lease On Life
With a $5 million gift from the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation, SMU will transform the aging Memorial Health Center into an updated health care resource to accommodate the needs of the growing campus community.
As the 52-year-old facility begins a fresh chapter, it will be renamed the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center in honor of the distinguished Dallas pediatrician and SMU alumnus whose foundation is making the upgrade possible.
When Memorial Health Center opened in 1960 as a 30-bed infirmary, the University’s enrollment was approximately 8,000. Today the outpatient facility serves approximately 11,000 students, about 2,400 of whom live on campus. By the time renovations are completed in 2014, an estimated 3,650 students will reside on campus, including those living in the new Residential Commons.
“Bob and Jean Smith have a strong history of generous support for SMU priorities and have always kept the welfare of students uppermost in their minds,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner says. “This new gift will dramatically improve campus health care resources and provide support services that enable students to do their best academic work and fully enjoy the campus experience.”
SMU’s health center provides medical services for the diagnosis and treatment of illness and injury, along with counseling and psychiatric services. The center is staffed by full-time physicians, mental health counselors, registered nurses, pharmacists, and laboratory and X-ray technologists. It also houses SMU’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention.
“It is an honor to align the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation with SMU in combining superior academic facilities with excellent student life resources,” says Sally Smith Mashburn ’77, Foundation president and treasurer, and daughter of Dr. Bob and Jean Smith. “After all, one of SMU’s greatest responsibilities is to nurture the well-being of students.”
Among improvements to the health center will be interior remodeling to increase the number of patient procedure rooms, counseling offices and private waiting rooms.
“This new gift is a natural outgrowth of the dedication of the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation to improve resources for health care and education. In addi- tion to providing students with outstanding health care facilities, the gift will improve student access to education and counseling on health-related issues,” says Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. “As we prepare to house more students on campus, this facility will be of increasing value to our campus community.”
Other changes will include medical equipment and technology upgrades and enhancement of pharmacy and laboratory spaces.
“The renovations and upgraded equipment will greatly augment our ability to serve the SMU student community, complementing the high-quality staff members and specialists already in place,” says Patrick Hite, Memorial Health Center executive director.
Dr. Smith established the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation in 1989 to support higher education, medical education and research, and health projects. He served as the Foundation’s chair and chief executive officer until his death in 2006. His wife now serves as the Foundation’s chair and CEO.
In 2001 the Smith Foundation provided $1 million to establish the Bob Smith, M.D. Foundation Pre-Medical Studies Center in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Later that year another $1 million gift provided for the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Auditorium in the Meadows Museum. The Foundation also established a $2.5 million challenge grant for the SMU Annual Fund, which supports University operating expenses.
Dr. Smith earned two degrees from SMU, a B.A. in 1944 and a B.S. in 1946, followed by an M.D. degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He served on the SMU Board of Trustees from 1992 to 1996. He received SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995. In 2003 SMU honored Dr. and Mrs. Smith with the Mustang Award, which recognizes those whose service and philanthropy have made a lasting impact on the University.