SMU’s 52-year-old Memorial Health Center is set to receive a major upgrade, and it will be renamed in honor of the distinguished Dallas pediatrician and University alumnus whose foundation is making it possible.
The Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation has given $5 million toward the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. Planning for the Center’s renovation will begin this year.
The Memorial Health Center opened in 1960 as a 30-bed infirmary. At the time, the University’s enrollment was around 8,000. Today the Health Center serves as an outpatient facility for approximately 11,000 students, about 2,400 of whom live on campus.
Upon its completion in 2014, the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center will serve an estimated 3,650 students living on campus, including those who will live in the new Residential Commons complex to begin construction this spring. The complex, accommodating 1,250 students, in addition to SMU’s current residential halls, will enable the University to implement a two-year residency requirement for all first-year and sophomore students.
“Bob and Jean Smith have a long history of generous support for SMU priorities and have always kept the welfare of students uppermost in their minds,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “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. We are deeply grateful for this gift, which will transform an important but outmoded facility into an up-to-date campus resource.”
SMU’s Health Center currently provides medical services for 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,” said Sally Smith Mashburn, 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.”
Improvements for the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center include updated floor plans that will increase the number of patient procedure rooms, counseling offices and private waiting rooms and will better serve the needs of students with disabilities. The renovation also includes upgrades to medical equipment and technology and enhancement of pharmacy and laboratory spaces. The expansion will provide group meeting spaces to promote collaboration among health care staff members.
“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,” said Patrick Hite, SMU Health Center executive director.
“This will be a lasting tribute to a physician and leader whose main concern was the health and welfare of others,” said Lori White, vice president for student affairs. “Now our students will be the beneficiaries not only of his generosity but also his foresight in understanding their needs and fostering a caring community.”
The Smith Foundation’s new $5 million gift counts toward the $750 million goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which as of December 2011 has raised more than $574 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.