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

A letter to the centennial class

As we welcome this year’s incoming freshmen to the Hilltop for the first time, it’s worth considering that when these first-years get their degrees four years from now, they’ll be graduating at nearly the same point a century ago that classes first began at SMU.

In 1915 when Dallas Hall first opened its doors, the school and the city surrounding it were certainly a bit different than they are today.

It’s funny to imagine what living on or around campus must have been like in 1915. Almost a hundred years ago the entire campus was housed solely in Dallas Hall (along with a bank and barbershop, of all things). Memories of misadventures in first-year halls like Boaz or McElvaney that might seem so universal among most of this generation’s students would be completely foreign to SMU’s first students. And, a hundred years ago you could forget about taking the highway to navigate the city. The stretch of the road from downtown to Mockingbird wouldn’t open until 1952, and before that, the idea of Central Expressway was barely a budding idea among city planners.

Do you think that when SMU’s original undergraduate students first walked on campus they would have guessed that the school would eventually extend from Hillcrest to Central Expressway and from Mockingbird almost to Lovers Lane? Or that the school would climb U.S. News and World Report’s rankings to be the 56th best university in the nation?

Moreover, do you think they would have predicted that the Cox School of Business and Meadows School of the Arts would grow into the nationally renowned institutions that they are. And for that matter, would anyone living in Dallas a hundred years ago believe that this city alone would be the home of a presidential library, much less our own school?

I wonder if SMU’s first president Robert S. Hyer would have believed us if we told him that we would eventually grow to include the Meadows Museum with its beautiful art collections or Ford Stadium, a venue so huge that it was capable of seating over 35,000 fans who came to watch the

Mustangs face off against TCU last football season.

Indeed, both the incoming freshman class as well as all other current students are fortunate to be attending SMU now of all times.

We’ve all been granted innumerable opportunities as SMU has grown over the past few years. It’s nothing short of astounding to think that the school can attract people to come and speak to the community like astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson through the Tate Lecture Series or U.S. Senator John McCain through the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies.

There’s no shortage of opportunities and events to take advantage of here at SMU, and freshmen would be wise to take note of all the different groups and activities they can get involved with at school. The Honors Program offers opportunities for independent research through the Richter Foundation, and the SMU Abroad program offers chances to travel and learn all across the globe. And if there’s not a student group on campus for your particular interest (which seems unlikely at this point) you’re free to start your own. So many of these opportunities would have simply been nonexistent for SMU’s original students. The SMU community has grown tremendously over the past century and it’s exciting to think about where the second century might take the school, but for now I think it’s vitally important for current students to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities they have standing before them. You’ll only be here for a short four years; do yourself a favor and take it all in while you still have the time!

Brandon Bub is a sophomore majoring in English. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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