Southern Methodist University was founded in 1911 by a special educational commission of the five annual conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in Texas. (If you look at the brass plaque on the west side of the main entrance of Dallas Hall you'll see the names of these founders, led by Bishop Atkins, for whom Atkins Hall was named before it was changed to Clements Hall.)
SMU's founding president, Dr. Robert Stewart Hyer, conceived a magnificent building in the style, no less, of Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia to be the original home and forever the symbol of SMU. For a while, after the miracle of it being actually built, it would sit almost alone on the prairie campus and house the whole new university. Recognizing the early very real financial commitment of the city of Dallas to SMU, it would be named Dallas Hall.
The symbol and future reality of Hyer's vision was Dallas Hall and the entire scheme of other buildings he projected for the future. It remains an almost incredible vision. After the first pledges were in and the first buildings built, he said truly and prophetically, "While we rejoice over our success, we must remember that the task to which we have set ourselves has only begun. The victory we have won is Bunker Hill -- it is yet a long way to Yorktown, and Valley Forge may lie between. We review the past and make claim to victory only to encourage ourselves to press on to greater things." And he said, "The buildings under construction are being built for the ages. Architects, contractors and workmen are all agreed that Dallas Hall should last for a thousand years."
The Fondren Exhibits Committee is charged with providing educational exhibits for the SMU community that showcase special events, academic areas and individuals associated with the SMU campus.