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February 21, 2002


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DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University today broke ground on the new $13 million Laura Lee Blanton Student Services Building which will offer convenient "one stop shopping" for student administrative services now located in separate buildings across campus.

Made possible by a $5 million gift from Jack S. Blanton and the late Laura Lee Blanton of Houston and generous gifts from other SMU alumni, parents and friends, the 63,000-square-foot 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; SMU's Office of Information Technology Services; a new International Center; and the SMU-in-Taos program.

Designed by OmniPlan Architects of Dallas in the traditional style of Collegiate Georgian architecture, the Blanton Building will be the centerpiece of the university's new East Quad planned at the intersection of SMU Boulevard and Airline Road. The location offers more convenient parking for visitors to campus and is accessible from North Central Expressway.

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.

"It is critically important that the university make significant improvements in the broad area of student services to continue recruiting and retaining students on the basis of a 'value-added' approach to the total SMU experience," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "The new Laura Lee Blanton Student Services Building will help us to meet this need. We are deeply grateful to the Blantons for their generous support of the university and their strong commitment to its students."

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.

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