May 9, 2008

SMU Builds On Its Dedication To Engineering
With Groundbreaking For New Caruth Hall

DALLAS (SMU) — Engineering education at SMU takes a major step forward today with groundbreaking for the new Caruth Hall for the School of Engineering.

To date, commitments totaling more than $18.4 million toward a goal of $22 million have been received for the building project. New gifts include $4 million from Robert Palmer of Houston, $2 million from the Hillcrest Foundation of Dallas and $1.5 million from the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa.

Rendering of the new Caruth Hall

Front View
See a video of the groundbreaking

The W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation of Communities Foundation of Texas has committed $7.5 million toward the new building, which will be constructed on the site of the original Caruth Hall, the historic home of SMU's School of Engineering since 1948.

"The new Caruth Hall will provide visible evidence of the growing national significance of SMU's School of Engineering," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "We are deeply grateful for the vision and generosity of these donors in providing facilities that support our efforts to develop a national center for educating engineers who will be future leaders in the global economy."

The new Caruth Hall will serve as home to the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education at SMU, established and endowed last October by an additional $5.1 million gift from the W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation of Communities Foundation of Texas. Building on current programs of the School of Engineering, the Caruth Institute is expected to become a national center of excellence to promote engineering and technology education in grades K-12 and beyond.

In March 2008, SMU announced that the Caruth Institute will be directed by Delores M. Etter, who recently stepped down as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisitions. She also will hold the new Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair in Engineering Education at SMU.

In addition to the Caruth Institute, Caruth Hall also will house the Department of Engineering Management, Information and Systems, and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The building will be constructed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Standards, featuring environmentally conscious design. It will include more than 64,000 square feet of space for teaching, research and innovation, nearly double the size of the current facility.

The Palmer Engineering Leadership Complex in the new building will include student leadership and co-op programs, an advising center and an innovation gym, where students can interact and seek innovative solutions to projects and issues. Other major elements of the building include the Hillcrest Foundation Amphitheater, the Mabee Foundation Foyer and the Vester Hughes Auditorium.

With the nearby Junkins and Embrey Engineering buildings, both constructed in the past five years, the new Caruth Hall will complete the final phase in development of SMU's engineering quadrangle.

"The new Caruth Hall will be a remarkable laboratory of innovation for our students, faculty and corporate partners," said Geoffrey Orsak, dean of the School of Engineering. "The building will offer new opportunities for collaborative research and hands-on learning, as well as providing high-performance space for engineering institutes and centers."

Donor Robert Palmer received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from SMU's School of Engineering in 1957. While he was an undergraduate, he started working for Rowan Drilling Company as a roughneck as part of the University's cooperative engineering program. After graduating, he joined the Rowan Company as a drilling rig mechanic and, after a brief stint with Gardner Denver, became director of engineering and purchasing for Rowan. He returned to SMU to earn a graduate degree in engineering administration in 1966 and soon after was placed in charge of Rowan's international operations. In 1972 he was elected Rowan chair and CEO, a position he held for 31 years. He was named chair emeritus for life upon his retirement in 2003. In addition to his gift toward construction of Caruth Hall, Palmer has provided an additional $1 million to the Palmer Endowed Scholarship Fund for undergraduate engineering students, which he and his wife, Rebecca, established in 2006.

The Hillcrest Foundation, founded in 1957 by Mrs. W. W. Caruth Sr., has long supported community institutions and causes, including SMU. In addition to its gift for the new Caruth Hall, the foundation previously has provided funding for the original Caruth Engineering Building, Caruth Auditorium in Meadows School of the Arts, technology enhancements for the Dedman School of Law and the Hillcrest Foundation Commons in the James M. Collins Executive Education Center. The Caruth family has been a major donor to SMU since its founding in 1911.

The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, Inc. created in 1948 by John E. Mabee and his wife, Lottie, supports Christian and charitable organizations, institutions of higher learning and hospitals in several states, including Texas. The foundation is a long-standing supporter of SMU; its new gift to Caruth Hall joins recent contributions to the Dedman Life Sciences Building and James M. Collins Executive Education Center.

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