Contact: Ann Abbas
SMU Public Affairs
(214) 768-7655

Dec. 30, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- A gift of $1 million from former Texas Governor William P. Clements Jr. will support construction of a new information commons building at SMU-in-Taos, home of summer study programs offered by the university at its Northern New Mexico campus.

The new 5,000-square-foot building will house state-of-the-art computing laboratories and a reference center including special collections of books, maps and other teaching and reference materials. The facility will provide wireless connections throughout the Taos campus, allowing students and faculty direct access to the Internet. Construction is in progress, and the building is expected to be completed during the summer 2003 season.

"Bill Clements has played a major role in the development of SMU-in-Taos over the past four decades," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "We are grateful for his generous and visionary support through the years and for this latest gift, which will enhance the academic programs offered at this extraordinary teaching and learning site."

Since 1973 SMU-in-Taos has offered summer study programs at the site of historic Fort Burgwin, a pre-Civil War fort. The grounds also include the remains of 13th-century Pot Creek Pueblo, focus of SMU's annual archaeological field school. Approximately 300 students participate each summer in courses in the humanities; natural and social sciences; and performing, visual and communication arts. Study is enhanced by the area's rich natural resources in biology, geology and archaeology and the interplay of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo cultures.

"The new facility will greatly strengthen the quality of courses offered at the Taos campus," said John Ubelaker, director of SMU-in-Taos. "Extending Internet access to individual student casitas will enhance the learning experience throughout the campus. An updating of these facilities will help us to attract the best and brightest SMU students for summer study at Taos."

Fort Burgwin, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in June 2002, was established in 1852 as headquarters for United States regional military operations. The fort housed a thriving community until it was abandoned at the beginning of the Civil War. Its colorful history came to light when the property was acquired in the 1950s by Ralph Rounds, an amateur archaeologist. Rounds enlisted distinguished archaeologist Fred Wendorf to excavate and rebuild the fort.

After Wendorf joined the SMU faculty in 1964, SMU envisioned Fort Burgwin as an ideal setting for an archaeological field school and other summer programs. The university began acquiring the property in 1964 with assistance from Bill Clements, then chair of SMU's Board of Governors. Since then, in addition to rebuilding much of the fort to its original state, SMU has added student and faculty housing, classrooms, a dining hall, an auditorium and other facilities.

Clements has continued to be actively engaged in the development of SMU-in-Taos and has provided more than $3.5 million, including the new $1 million gift, for property, facilities and programs at the Fort Burgwin campus. An additional $1 million commitment from an anonymous donor will help cover the $2 million cost of the facility now under construction.

Through the years, Clements has contributed more than $17.3 million for academic programs and facilities of the university, including his support of SMU-in-Taos. His principal gift was $10 million in 1994 to establish the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies and to endow the Clements Department of History, including funds for the development of a Ph.D. program in American history. His other gifts include $1 million to establish the Betty Clements Professorship in Applied Mathematics in honor of his sister and funds for renovation of a building that was renamed Clements Hall.

Clements began his relationship with SMU in the mid 1930s, when he was an engineering student. He later served several terms as a member and officer of the SMU Board of Trustees and its former Board of Governors, and he was named trustee emeritus in 1991.

SMU has honored Clements with the Mustang Award recognizing those whose longtime service and philanthropy have had a lasting impact on the university, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and the SMU Distinguished Alumni Award.

Clements, currently a private investor, served two terms as governor of Texas, from 1979-83 and again from1987-91. He was co-founder and co-owner of Southeastern Drilling Company, which later changed its name to SEDCO Inc. and became the world's largest oil drilling contracting firm.