Sept.7, 2007

Groundbreaking launches building program
at SMU's Perkins School of Theology

DALLAS (SMU) ó Perkins School of Theology at SMU launched a major expansion of its facilities with a groundbreaking ceremony Friday, Sept. 7. The building program includes extensive renovation of two classroom and office buildings, Kirby and Selecman halls, built in 1948 and 1952 respectively, and construction of a new building. The new 20,000-square-foot facility will be named in honor of donor Elizabeth Perkins Prothro of Wichita Falls, Texas.

Ground was broken Sept. 7, 2007, on improvements to the Perkins School of Theology quadrangle. See a video and a slide show of the event.

The new Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall will be constructed at the southern end of the Theology School quadrangle, just north of Highland Park United Methodist Church. It will house facilities for teaching, administration and community uses, including seminar rooms and classrooms, conference rooms, a preaching lab and a computer lab. The building will double the current community dining and meeting space and provide facilities for public programs that are an integral component of campus and community life. The renovation of Kirby and Selecman halls will provide additional classroom space, accommodate new technologies and update faculty and staff offices. The redesigned building complex will include two cloistered spaces for outdoor activities.

"Perkins School of Theology has been central to SMU's academic mission from the University's beginning, and its outstanding facilities in Perkins Chapel and Bridwell Library serve both the campus and the community," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "We are grateful to the Perkins-Prothro family and other donors for enabling us to enhance and expand the Perkins facilities as we approach our centennial."

A gift of $6 million from the Perkins-Prothro family is the lead gift for the project and provides nearly half of the funds being sought in the building program. It is a joint gift from the Perkins-Prothro Foundation and Elizabeth Perkins Prothro, a member of SMU's class of 1939. In addition to the Perkins-Prothro gift, the Texas Methodist Foundation, through the generosity of anonymous donors, has committed a total of $1.4 million for the new building program. Including these commitments, to date, nearly 300 donors have contributed more than $10.8 million toward the $13 million project goal.

Artist's rendering of the expanded Perkins School of Theology Quadrangle, including the new Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall (far left). Click image for high resolution version.

As SMU approaches the centennial of its founding, in 2011, and its opening, in 2015, it is increasing resources for students, faculty, academic programs and the overall campus experience. These gifts will support that effort.

"The enhanced facilities provided by this building program will help solidify Perkins' position at the forefront of Christian theological education in the United States," said William B. Lawrence, dean of Perkins School of Theology. "The generous gifts to the program support Perkins' commitment to combine higher learning with real experience in preparing women and men for vital global ministry in the 21st century."

SMU's partnership with the Perkins-Prothro family dates from 1913, when Joe and Lois Perkins, the parents of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro, made their first gift to SMU, two years before the University opened. In the mid-1940s, they provided funds for seven buildings and an endowment for SMU's Theology School, which was named in their honor in 1945. Including the new $6 million gift, the Perkins and Prothro families and their foundations have given more than $36.3 million to SMU, most of which has been designated for Perkins School of Theology, including Bridwell Library.


A private university located in the heart of Dallas, SMU is building on the vision of its founders, who imagined a distinguished center for learning emerging from the spirit of the city. Today, 11,000 students benefit from the national opportunities and international reach afforded by the quality of SMUís seven degree-granting schools.

Perkins School of Theology is one of five university-related official schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. The school was founded in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church South, now The United Methodist Church, and was one of SMU's three original schools that opened in 1915. Degree programs include the Master of Church Ministries, Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies and Doctor of Ministry degrees, as well as the Ph.D. in cooperation with SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.