January 3, 2014

Anita and Truman Arnold have given $5 million toward construction of the Dining Commons in SMU’s new Residential Commons complex.

ArnoldDiningHallOpening in fall 2014, the Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons facility joins five new residence halls and a parking garage. The complex will accommodate 1,250 students and several faculty members in a shared campus community.

“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,” says President R. Gerald Turner.

The new Residential Commons complex is located in the southeast quadrant of the campus adjacent to Ford Stadium and Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports. The addition of the residential facilities will enable SMU to implement a new requirement that sophomores, as well as first-year students, live on campus. The new complex is part of a larger SMU initiative to establish a residential commons living-learning model that will include renovation of six current residence halls as 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,” says 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,” adds 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 will be open to other students as well. The 29,658-square-foot dining commons will have a seating capacity of 500.

Truman Arnold is founder of Truman Arnold Companies, which he started in 1964 in Texarkana and is 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. 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 Texarkana College Foundation, president of the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce and member of the Lamar University board of regents. Anita Arnold serves on the boards of SMU’s Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series, the AT&T Performing Arts Center and Baylor Health Care System Foundation, among others.

The Arnolds donated land for the recent relocation of Texas A&M University-Texarkana. 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,” says Truman Arnold. “We focus our efforts on projects and organizations that enhance the student experience.”