The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The crew of Egg Drop Soup poses with director Yang (bottom, center).
SMU student film highlights the Chinese-American experience
Lexi Hodson, Contributor • May 16, 2024

SMU, U.S. presidents then and now

Much change has come about in the 100 years since SMU was founded. Two world wars rocked the entire world, America ascended to its prominence as a superpower, and technology has advanced into our daily lives at an unprecedented rate. Not the least in things that have changed is the presidents that have come and gone in that century, both in our University and in our country overall.

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U.S. President then: Woodrow Wilson

In 1915, the year of our University’s founding, Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States of America. His term oversaw the start of the Lincoln memorial and the start of Babe Ruth’s career, which puts the time frame in perspective. More importantly, the early years of Wilson’s presidency oversaw numerous rejections of women’s right to vote on the floor of the U.S. House of representatives. Also, World War I had already started and America was on its way to eventually entering the conflict. Out of this conflict emerged Wilson’s “fourteen points” and the precursor to the United Nations, which would eventually have its influence on American policy.

U.S. President now: Barack Obama

Compared to 1915, we are living in a much-improved world as far as Civil Rights are concerned. We are living during the time of our nation’s first African-American president, and this president has done his best to continue advancements with legislation and supreme court decisions on same-sex marriage, income equality, and access to healthcare. In addition to his civil reforms, Obama has attempted to improve America’s economy while grappling with our involvement in wars overseas. The recent threats of ISIS and general global economic instability have challenged Obama’s presidency.

While many of the results of Obama’s presidency have yet to be seen, his is surely a presidency that will go down in the history books. Whatever his eventual legacy becomes in the next century, we were alive to witness these events and have a say in how future events are shaped.

SMU President then: Robert Stewart Hyer

Robert Stewart Hyer was SMU’s first president, serving from 1911-1920. He was in charge of getting the fledgling university off of the ground and planning the early stages of SMU’s existence. His mark is still seen on campus through Dallas Hall, which he helped set the architectural theme of. Therefore we have Mr. Hyer to thank for the beautiful nature of our campus.

While Hyer was eventually asked to resign amid “financial uncertainties” of the University, his role as the founding president in setting the direction of SMU surely is significant.

SMU President now: R. Gerald Turner

R. Gerald Turner has served as SMU’s president since 1995, overseeing what has been called an era of “unprecedented growth” for SMU’s campus. He has undertaken numerous fundraising and expansion efforts, overseeing the addition of 731 endowed scholarships and 170 academic programs. Additionally, Turner has undertaken 30 capital projects to build up and expand the university, most recently with the addition of the new Residence Commons and the Arnold Dining Commons on the south end of Campus.

In addition to the expansion of SMU’s physical structure, R. Gerald Turner has overseen a doubling of SMU’s endowment through his Second Century fundraising campaign and other efforts.

Furthermore, with the addition of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Turner has overseen a major addition to SMU’s campus which has raised its national prestige and provided numerous unique academic opportunities to SMU’s students.

The climb through the rankings and massive expansion that SMU has seen under R. Gerald Turner will definitely go down as one of the golden ages of our university, and he’s not even done yet! We have the second century to look forward to in order to find out how R. Gerald Turner can continue to influence the University and how it will grow in his absence.

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