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


February 7, 2002


Click on the photo below to view or download a high-resolution .jpg version.


DALLAS (SMU) -- As the centerpiece of the university’s new East Quad, the new $13 million Laura Lee Blanton Student Services Building at Southern Methodist University will offer convenient “one stop shopping” for student administrative services now located in separate buildings that can be difficult to find by those not familiar with the campus.

A ground breaking ceremony on the new 60,000-square-foot building will be at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at the construction site at Airline Road and SMU Boulevard.

Designed by OmniPlan Architects of Dallas in the traditional style of Collegiate Georgian architecture, the Blanton Building will be home to the Division of Enrollment Services, which provides primary contact for prospective students with admission, enrollment, financial aid, and student account services; as well as SMU’s Office of Information Technology Services; a new International Center; and the SMU-in-Taos program.

Made possible by a $5 million gift from the late Laura Lee Blanton and Jack S. Blanton of Houston and generous gifts from other SMU alumni, parents and friends, the building will feature the SMU Family Terrace on the building’s second level facing westward, overlooking the university. The terrace will be the starting point for campus tours, an informal gathering place for the campus community and the site of a variety of campus events such as Homecoming alumni reunions, Family Weekend and Commencement activities.

A 1950 graduate of SMU, Mrs. Blanton was a longtime member of SMU’s Board of Trustees and was a 1989 recipient of SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award. She was a member of the Presidential Search Committee that recommended the selection of R. Gerald Turner as SMU’s 10th president in 1995. Active on numerous boards for 26 years, she was known for her love of students and her interest in student life.

The Blantons gave $2 million in 1997 for student academic support services, and in 2000 part of the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center was dedicated as the Laura Lee and Jack S. Blanton Academic Development Complex. The Blanton family also has provided funding for five endowed scholarships for SMU’s President’s Scholars Program.

A gift of $1.5 million from Kenneth R. and Linda A. Morris of Sonoma, Calif., will support the new Information Technology Center to serve the computing and telecommunications needs of the SMU campus.

“The construction of the Blanton Student Services Building is another reflection of SMU's dedication to providing our students with the highest-quality collegiate experience,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Its central position in the new East Quad will make it convenient for students and will provide an appropriate welcome for campus visitors.”

SMU’s Division of Enrollment Services comprises four key areas. The Office of Undergraduate Admission processes and evaluates applications for admission and determines eligibility for SMU scholarships. The Office of Financial Aid provides financial aid counseling and awards financial aid packages. Student Financial Services assists and manages student accounts and counsels students and parents on payment options. The Registrar’s Office facilitates enrollment, monitors credits regarding graduation requirements, prepares and sends transcripts and certifies enrollment status.

SMU’s Information Technology Services provides computing and communications services to support students, faculty, staff, alumni and patrons of the University. Its functions include a universitywide Help Desk, academic computing, telecommunications, applications support, technology training, computer sales, instructional resources applications, telephone and network support, security and SMU’s webmaster.

SMU’s International Office provides a variety of services to the more than 600 international students and scholars at SMU, as well as to international parents, visitors and prospective students. The center also is responsible for the SMU Study Abroad program, which has provided vital educational experiences for more than 10,000 students in its 30-year history. Students participate in international study through programs across Europe and Southeast Asia, as well as in Japan, China, Mexico and Australia.

The SMU-in-Taos program offers students the opportunity to study at the SMU campus located at Fort Burgwin in northern New Mexico where the facility offers summer courses in the humanities, sciences and studio and performing arts. The site includes excavation of a 13th-century Indian pueblo.

Construction of the Blanton Building is part of The Campaign for SMU: A Time to Lead, SMU’s $400 million capital campaign launched in April 1997.