On Thursday afternoon, President Turner, Annette Caldwell Simmons and four other individuals cut the ribbon for the official dedication of the Harold Clark Simmons Hall building.
The dedication featured speeches by several platform members such as SMU President Gerald Turner, Annette Caldwell Simmons, one of the two donors for this building, and Nike Boone, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees. The event featured a video honoring Harold C. Simmons and explaining his history with SMU.
Turner spoke of his longstanding friendship with Harold Simmons and how he discussed the idea for the development of the new education buildings with Harold Simmons years ago. This friendship could be seen as Turner smiled when a video clip of Harold Simmons played in the video.
Annette Simmons then shared more about Harold’s background and passion for education through her speech.
“It’s fun to look at this innovative building of think of the one room school building Harold went to in Golden,” said Annette Simmons, wife of Harold Simmons and namesake of the first Simmons education building.
Over two hundred faculty, students, administration and guests gathered for this ceremony. Majority of the Board of Trustees were also in attendance as well as students from Sidney Lanier elementary school as they provided entertainment before the ceremony began.
Following the dedication, David D. Char, the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development Dean, hosted a reception in the new building. The reception included handmade, sweet potato donuts in honor of the popularity of the sweet potato in Harold Simmon’s Texas hometown, Golden. Attendees were then encouraged to explore the new facility and see demonstrations of its technologies.
The three-story, 40,000 square foot education building on Airline Drive is the home of the Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education, the Teacher Development Studio and the Department of Teaching and Learning.
“It’s pretty amazing and hi-tech,” said Jessie Ackerman, an SMU student studying international education. “You can write on the walls, and it’s useful to get ideas out.”
The building also features classrooms, labs, offices and conference rooms that contain the newest classroom technology. The building contains 3-D printers, 70-inch touch screens and copiers that create life-size images. The classrooms also contain classroom simulation technology that allows students to teach a class in a simulated environment.
“It’s incredible,” said Annette Caldwell Simmons. “It’s the newest, most innovative education facility in the country.”
After their initial gift of $20 million to the construction of the Annette Caldwell Simmons building and to the school’s endowments in 2007, the Simmons donated an additional $25 million in February 2013 to see the completion of this new building. The two buildings were in response to requests from Dallas teachers seeking better preparation to adapt to the diverse and innovative Dallas elementary and high school education system.
These two monetary gifts make the Harold and Annette Simmons’ some of the largest contributors to the SMU’s Second Century Campaign. Both have made several donations in the past and have been involved members of the SMU community for years. Annette Simmons graduated with a B.S. degree in elementary education from SMU in 1957 while Harold opened a drug store in 1961 on Hillcrest years ago, interacting with SMU students daily.