One Hundred Years on the Hilltop

Join the Fondren Library Celebration

Friday, April 15

12:30 p.m.
Dedication Ceremony, Fondren Library Center (more details)

1 p.m. Open house to follow, including Centennial History Book Release Party

One Hundred Years on the Hilltop: The Centennial History of Southern Methodist University with author Darwin Payne ’68.

Order a pre-signed copy online


DALLAS (SMU) – SMU’s first comprehensive history, One Hundred Years on the Hilltop, by historian Darwin Payne, will be released April 15 as the University celebrates Founders’ Day. Payne, SMU professor emeritus of communications, will sign books at 1:30 p.m., April 15, at an open house celebrating the renovation of Fondren Library.

As SMU’s centennial historian, Payne spent more than five years researching and writing the 525-page hardback book, which begins with the debate among Texas Methodists that led to SMU’s 1911 founding, and ends with the 2015 conclusion of SMU’s Centennial celebration. In between, the book covers the strengths and weaknesses of University presidents, influential faculty members and alumni, campus reaction to world events, the highs and lows of intercollegiate athletics and student life.

“Anyone who enjoys a good story will like the book,” Payne says. “Researching and writing its history has been a genuine pleasure. As I undertook this work, I believed it would be a far more interesting story than most casual observers might realize. And indeed, it proved to be even more interesting than I expected.”

Payne used a wealth of primary materials, including the Board of Trustees minutes, University archives, newspapers, yearbooks, faculty members’ papers, oral histories and interviews conducted specifically for the project.

“Darwin tells the story well, never reluctant in lively style to delve into the university’s crises as well as its many successes, ” says Russell Martin, director of DeGolyer Library, publisher of One Hundred Years on the Hilltop.

 This is Payne’s second book on SMU. In 2011 he wrote In Honor of the Mustangs: A Centennial History of SMU Athletics. Payne earned an M.A. degree in history from SMU and a Ph.D. in American civilization from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to teaching journalism at SMU for 30 years, Payne’s career has included newspaper and television reporting, publishing a weekly suburban newspaper, and writing several books on Dallas history and biographies of leading Dallas citizens. Payne helped cover the Kennedy assassination as a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald and co-edited the book Reporting the Kennedy Assassination: Journalists Who Were There Recall Their Experiences. His latest book, published in 2014, is titled No Small Dreams: J. Erik Jonsson, Texas Visionary. His book, Indomitable Sarah: The Life of Judge Sarah T. Hughes won the Texas State Historical Association’s Liz Carpenter Award for the best book on the history of women in 2004. Payne is also the recipient of the 2016 Literati Award presented by the Friends of the SMU Libraries.

 One Hundred Years on the Hilltop: The Centennial History of Southern Methodist University was made possible by a grant from the Hoblitzelle Foundation. It may be ordered online for $39.95 at



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