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

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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President Turner: A SMU legend

On Sept. 9, the R. Gerald Turner Centennial Quadrangle and the Gail O. and R. Gerald Turner Centennial Pavilion were inaugurated as part of SMU’s continuing Centennial Celebration.

Current and past SMU Trustees decided to name the quadrangle and pavilion after a very surprised and touched President and Mrs. Turner. As the current Student Trustee, I could not have been more proud of the overly deserving namesakes and the attentive board who dedicated this gift to them.

As I walked around campus in the first weeks of school, I was astounded by the growth of the university just in the three years that I have been here. Year after year beautiful new buildings have appeared and thoughtful additions to existing facilities have materialized.

From Caruth Hall and its amphitheater, to the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education, from the additions to the Perkins School of Theology to the ground breaking of the Bush Presidential Center, none of these innovations would have come to fruition without relentless hard work and devoted perseverance. And it’s not hard to figure out who has led and will continue to lead such efforts.

The Quadrangle itself is surrounded by five buildings constructed during Turner’s tenure in an area of the campus that he had wanted to improve from the early years of his presidency. As he himself is known to say, “Life is too short to go to college on an ugly campus.” Well, President Turner has certainly ascertained that no SMU student is plagued by this concern.

As a member of the SMU Board of Trustees, I have had the distinct pleasure of working very closely with President Turner. His preparedness and polish never cease to amaze me. It is undeniable that there is no question about SMU to which President Turner does not have the answer. This is no easy feat given the size, breadth and depth of the university and its undertakings.

Yet, perhaps more importantly, I am in constant admiration of his ability to connect very personally with those with whom he works and to graciously greet each person he encounters.

Needless to say, it is not common for a president of a major university to invite student groups to his home or to eat lunch with students at the cafeteria. Yet, President Turner often says this is one of the favorite parts of his job. He is genuine and kind to all. This is only further complemented by the perfect grace and poise of his wife, Mrs. Gail Turner.

President Turner’s contagious enthusiasm for SMU,

especially as we enter our second century, has enlivened our centennial celebration. The 2011 – 2015 celebrations mark a momentous time in SMU’s history, both in terms of looking towards the past and the future. There is no better time to be a Mustang!

National rankings, SAT scores and prominent awards have never been so high. Under President Turner’s leadership, SMU will continue to rise in academic prestige and reputable stature, not to mention acreage.

I would like to join the Board of Trustees and the Faculty Senate in thanking the tenth President of SMU and Mrs. Turner for their devotion and passion to SMU. I too am grateful to “President R. Gerald Turner and Mrs. Gail Turner for their leadership, vision and determination in driving SMU to excel in the new century” (Faculty Senate First Centennial Resolution).

And, I entreat each student – when you see President and Mrs. Turner, take a moment to say thank you. Since 1995, they have dedicated innumerable hours and immeasurable efforts to guarantee the best experience for us.

Adriana Martinez is a senior majoring in political science, French, public policy, and history. She can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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