Contact: Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650

Dec. 6, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University today dedicated its new Dedman Life Sciences Building, an $18 million project that will enhance opportunities for biological research and teaching and premedical education.

The three-story, 68,100-square-foot building is one of the most modern and technologically advanced facilities of its kind in the region. It is the first science building and the first new building constructed for SMU’s Dedman College since 1969.

The new science building, like Dedman College, is named after the family of Dallas businessman Robert H. Dedman Sr. and his wife, Nancy. The Dedman Foundation designated $12 million for the new building when they gave the university $30 million four years ago at the kickoff for the Campaign for SMU: A Time to Lead. Other major gifts for the building include $1 million from the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, $1 million from Dr. Bob and Jean Smith and $1 million from Lynda and Leighton Steward.

The building houses classrooms, research and teaching labs, computer labs and faculty offices for SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences as well as space for the university’s premedical studies program and its interdisciplinary biochemistry program. The building will make it possible to offer new courses, to add research programs and to increase the size of the biology faculty.

“The new Dedman Life Sciences Building will support two of SMU’s major priorities -- advancing scientific research and strengthening the university’s contributions to the region’s leadership in the health sciences,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “It will provide the best possible resources and environment for faculty research and teaching in the life sciences. We are deeply grateful to Robert and Nancy Dedman and other donors for their generosity in enabling us to realize our dream for this splendid building.”

Dedman College Dean Jasper Neel said, “SMU’s Biological Sciences Department and premedical studies program have long-standing reputations for excellence. The new building will help us remain nationally competitive in recruiting top-quality faculty members and students interested in pursuing careers in teaching, research, biotechnology and various health-related fields.”

The new science building is located on Airline Road at the southeast corner of the Fondren Science Building. It was constructed in the collegiate Georgian architectural style that is featured throughout the SMU campus.

The first floor of the building houses the Bob Smith, M.D. Foundation Pre-medical Studies Center, which includes core teaching facilities with specialized equipment for microbiology, biochemistry/toxicology, immunology/tissue culture and microscopy. The center is named in recognition of a $1 million gift from the Bob Smith, M.D. Foundation, which is chaired by Dallas physician Bob Smith (‘44, ‘46). The center will provide resources to prepare students for careers in medicine, dentistry and other health professions. More than 350 students currently are involved in SMU’s premedical program.

Also located on the first floor are classrooms, departmental offices, a computer laboratory and a conference room. The largest of the first-floor classrooms -- the 98-seat Harold Jeskey Lecture Hall -- is equipped with interactive computer access at each seat; computer access for lecturers; and computer projection, video and multimedia components. The classroom is named in honor of Harold Jeskey, the R.S. Lazenby Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, and is the gift of more than 350 of the professor’s colleagues, friends and former students.

The second and third floors of the Dedman Building include faculty offices, research laboratories, two seminar/meeting rooms, offices for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and support facilities.

Larry Ruben, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, said the new building is designed to be flexible so that the size and dimensions of laboratory spaces can change as the field changes.

“This building is a whole new way of approaching biology,” Ruben said.

Ruben said students will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the expanded faculty research space. “We will have the kind of space to hire the caliber of faculty members who will present extraordinary opportunities to students,” he said.

Ruben said he hopes to hire new faculty members with expertise that extends the capabilities of the current program for research in molecular biology.

The Department of Biological Sciences at SMU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in molecular and cellular biology and biochemistry. It currently has 116 undergraduates majoring in biology or biochemistry, 12 graduate students and 6 postdoctoral fellows.

Faculty members in the department are engaged in research on the aging process, regulation of gene expression, mechanisms of cellular energy conservation, antibiotic target proteins and infectious diseases. For 2000-2001, the department had nearly $1 million in research grants from such agencies as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

The new building was designed by the Dallas-based architectural firm of F&S Partners Inc. and constructed by Centex Construction Company. The laboratories were designed by Earl Walls Associates of San Diego, Calif.

SMU plans to renovate the space in the Fondren Science Building vacated by the Department of Biological Sciences and will reallocate that space to other departments.


Press kit materials: