Students benefit from $45 million gift but can’t budget it

By Geoffrey Short

In March 2015, the Meadows School of the Arts and Meadows Museum received the largest single monetary gift in SMU history. When a $45 million donation from the Meadows Foundation, Inc. was announced last year, it came with specific guidelines budgeting its use.

Twenty million of the $45 million will go to the arts school, with the remainder designated for the art museum on the edge of campus. However, it appears as if students will be on the outside looking in as improvements are made in the coming years.

“The truth is, I don’t know exactly how students are involved at this stage, or what their involvement in the past has been,” said Meadows Student Senator Grant Dow. “$20 million is a lot of money, but there are a lot of needs that need to be taken care of in Meadows. Their goal is to stretch the dollar further for SMU students.”

The Meadows Foundation has granted over $775 million since it was founded on July 14, 1948, but as an independent entity from the school, not all of that money is spent on SMU. It is unclear at this time whether students will have the opportunity to provide input on spending in the future.

The money donated to the arts school will help the Owen Arts Center go through a renovation and maintain a high standard among faculty but will not change most of the wide-ranging goals of the school over the next 5-10 years, according to Associate Dean for Admissions and Enrollment Management Corinna Nash-Wnuk.

“One of the goals is to attract and retain top students and faculty,” said Nash-Wnuk. “We are working to permanently endow the Meadows Scholars Program, which brings many of the nation’s most artistically and academically gifted students to Meadows.”

The school is also not expecting any changes to be made to its size or admissions process. The hope is that the improvements made to the school will increase its visibility to potential students and lift the school’s prestige even further.

“While the MFI grant has given us a goal of maintaining Meadows enrollment at approximately 1,000 students, our hope for the long term is that the work and initiatives made possible by the gift will attract more applicants to the school, increasing our already great selectivity,” said Nash-Wnuk.

The Meadows Museum also has a budgeted format for how the $25 million it received will be used. According to SMU, the museum will allocate $13 million for exhibitions and educational programs, $6 million for acquisitions of artworks and another $6 million for acquisition challenge grant.

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