Southern Methodist University Seal
|Motto||Latin: Veritas liberabit vos|
Motto in English
|"The truth will make you free"|
|Established||April 17, 1911|
|United Methodist Church|
|Endowment||$1.66 billion (2019)|
|President||R. Gerald Turner|
|Provost||Peter K. Moore|
|807 (Fall 2017)|
|Students||11,824 (Fall 2019)|
|Undergraduates||6,710 (Fall 2019)|
|Postgraduates||5,114 (Fall 2019)|
|Campus||Urban, 237 acres (0.96 km2)|
|Athletics||NCAA Division I – AAC|
17 varsity teams
Southern Methodist University (SMU) is a private research university in University Park, Texas, with satellite campuses in Plano, Texas and Taos, New Mexico. SMU was founded in April 17, 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South—now part of the United Methodist Church—in partnership with Dallas civic leaders. However, it is nonsectarian in its teaching and enrolls students of all religious affiliations. It is classified among "R-2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity".
As of fall 2018, the university had 11,824 students, including 6,710 undergraduates and 5,114 postgraduates, from all 50 states and 85 countries. Its instructional faculty is 1,151, with 754 being full-time. The university grants degrees from eight schools: Edwin L. Cox School of Business, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman School of Law, Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, Algur H. Meadows School of the Arts, Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, Perkins School of Theology, and Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. It also awards a Master of Interactive Technology (MIT) in Digital Game Development from SMU Guildhall.
The university was chartered on April 17, 1911, by the southern denomination of the Methodist Episcopal Church. At the time of the charter, church leaders saw a need to establish a Methodist institution within a metropolitan area. Originally, this new institution was intended to be created in Fort Worth through a merger between Polytechnic College (now Texas Wesleyan University) and Southwestern University. However, the church's education commission instead opted to create a new institution in Dallas to serve this purpose after extensive lobbying by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce. Robert Stewart Hyer, previously president of Southwestern University, was appointed as the first president of the new university.
The effort to establish a new university in Dallas drew the attention of the General Conference of the Methodist Church, which was seeking to create a new connectional institution in the wake of a 1914 Tennessee Supreme Court decision stripping the church of authority at Vanderbilt University. The church decided to support the establishment of the new institution while also increasing the size of Emory University at a new location in DeKalb County, Georgia. At the 1914 meeting of the General Conference, Southern Methodist University was designated the connectional institution for all conferences west of the Mississippi River.
SMU named its first building Dallas Hall in gratitude for the support of Dallas leaders and local citizens, who had pledged $300,000 to secure the university's location. It remains the university's symbol and centerpiece, and it inspired "the Hilltop" as a nickname for the school. It was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge after the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. Dallas Hall opened its doors in 1915 and housed the entire university along with a bank and a barbershop. The hall is registered in the National Register of Historic Places.
Classes were planned to officially begin in 1913, but construction delays on the university's first building prevented classes from starting until 1915. In the interim, the only functioning academic department at SMU was the medical college it had acquired from Southwestern University.
As the first president of Southern Methodist University, Hyer selected Harvard crimson and Yale blue as the school colors in order to associate SMU with the high standards of Ivy League universities. Several streets in University Park and adjacent Highland Park were named after prominent universities, including Harvard, Yale (later renamed SMU Blvd.), Cornell, Stanford, Princeton, Dartmouth, Purdue, Tulane, Sewanee, Amherst, Bryn Mawr, Drexel, Hanover, Marquette, Southwestern, Vassar, and Villanova.
The university drew considerable media attention in 1987 when the NCAA administered the death penalty against the SMU football program for repeated, flagrant recruiting violations. The punishment included cancellation of the 1987 and most of the 1988 football season and a two-year ban from Bowl Games and all televised sports coverage.
On February 22, 2008, the university trustees unanimously instructed President R. Gerald Turner to enter into an agreement to establish the George W. Bush Presidential Center on 23 acres on the southeast side of the campus. The Center, which includes a presidential library, museum, institute, and the offices of the George W. Bush Foundation, was dedicated on April 25, 2013, in a ceremony which featured all living former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and then-incumbent U.S. President, Barack Obama. The library and museum are privately administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, while the university holds representation on the independent public policy institute board. The project raised over $500 million for the construction and endowment of the George W. Bush presidential center.
The university's endowment surpassed $1 billion for the time in the university's history in 2005. Through its "Second Century Campaign" from 2008 to 2015, the university raised $1.15 billion and celebrated the centennials of its 1911 founding and 1915 opening through the renovation of Fondren Library, the construction of five new residential halls, and other campus revitalization projects.
The main campus of Southern Methodist University is located in Highland Park and University Park, both of which are incorporated enclaves of Dallas, Texas. It is located on 237 acres of land just west of US Route 75. Dallas Hall serves as the centerpiece for this campus and is the administrative center for the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Most of the campus is centered around Bishop Boulevard, an elongated, tree-lined loop road that also serves as the site for "Boulevarding," SMU's version of the tailgating seen on many American college campuses. The campus was ranked as the most beautiful campus in America by Condé Nast Traveler in 2016.
This campus also hosts the George W. Bush Presidential Center, located on the east side of the campus. The library and museum are privately administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, while the university holds representation on the institute board.
Since 1973, the university has owned a 423-acre campus located at Fort Burgwin, just outside of Taos, New Mexico. This campus hosts classes during intersessions between semesters and during the summer. Along with the normal academic courses offered at the site, students attending classes at this campus during the winter can opt to attend wellness classes centered around winter sports. Other courses offered at this campus are sometimes adjusted to utilize the surrounding environment, such as a course in field botany offered during some summers.
Southern Methodist University operates a small campus, consisting of 16 acres and 4 buildings, in Plano, Texas, in Legacy Business Park. This campus hosts SMU's video game design school, SMU Guildhall, and other graduate-level programs. After the university sold the Plano campus to a developer in 2019, SMU Guildhall and all other programs housed there are slated to move onto the main Dallas campus in the new Gerald J. Ford Research Center by 2020.
Administration and finances
The university is governed by a board of trustees. The University administration is composed of the University President, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Vice President, Development and External Affairs; Vice President, Student Affairs; Vice President for Business and Finance; Vice President, Executive Affairs; Vice President, Legal Affairs and Governmental Relations, General Counsel and Secretary; Chief Investment Officer and a Director of Athletics.
The university also has nine academic deans who report to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; the Dean of Lyle School of Engineering, dean of the Dedman School of Law, dean of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, dean of the Perkins School of Theology, dean of Meadows School of the Arts, dean of SMU Libraries, dean of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development; dean of the Cox School of Business and the dean of the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.
SMU has eight degree-granting schools each headed by a dean:
- Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development
- Cox School of Business
- Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences
- Dedman School of Law
- Lyle School of Engineering
- Meadows School of the Arts
- Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies
- Perkins School of Theology
All undergraduates enter the university in the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences as a pre-major.
Endowment and financial resources
Southern Methodist University's endowment of $1.664 billion ranks 67th largest among the endowments of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and makes it one of only 110 with an endowment greater than $1 billion as of June 30, 2019.
On October 18, 2019, SMU announced a $50 million donation to the Cox School of Business from Carolyn L. and David B. Miller, the largest individual non foundation gift, as well as the largest alumni gift in University history to transform business education.
On February 26, 2016, SMU announced that "The Centennial Campaign" which concluded on December 31, 2015 had raised $1.15 billion, the largest fundraising campaign of any institution in North Texas's history, the largest total for a private Texas university, and the fourth largest of any university in Texas. The Centennial Campaign, coinciding with the 100-year anniversary of the university's founding in 1911 and opening in 1915 also made SMU one of only 34 private colleges and universities in the United States to complete a campaign of $1 billion or more.
Its previous fundraising campaign, "A Time to Lead", which concluded in April 2002 and raised $542 million was the largest fundraising campaign in the school's history at the time. Under R. Gerald Turner's leadership and through two successive campaigns in under 20 years, SMU has received well over $1.6 billion in commitments in support of institutional priorities.
By 1986 as the university neared the 75th anniversary of its founding, SMU's endowment had grown from $60 million a decade earlier in 1976. to nearly $325 million - at the time the 27th largest in the nation. the previous "The Design for the Third Generation" fundraising campaign, which had been concluded in May 1983 raised nearly $120 million in gifts and pledges.
For the class of 2023 (entering Fall 2019), 13,959 students applied, 6,601 (47.3%) were admitted, and 1,544 enrolled/matriculated (23.9%) - including 757 women and 787 men. The 1 year retention rate (entering Fall 2018) was 92%. The middle 50% SAT range for enrolled students was 640-720 for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 660-760 for math, while the ACT Composite range was 29–33.
University Honors Program
First-year undergraduate students admitted to SMU are automatically reviewed for admissions into the highly selective University Honors Program (UHP). Generally, first-year students that rank in the top 10% of their incoming class will receive a formal invitation to join the UHP. Students that do not receive an invitation must have completed at least one full-time semester on campus with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher before formally applying for admissions. The University Honors Program is a liberal arts honors experience that serves to supplement the basic SMU University Curriculum. Students are required to take honors courses throughout their time at SMU, and the program culminates with a final senior project or experience. Each student's experience can be unique, and students are encouraged to pursue projects in their area of study or about their passions.
Southern Methodist University's video game design graduate program is hosted at SMU Guildhall, a part of the university's Plano campus. It was founded in 2003 as one of the first graduate programs for video game design in the United States. The Princeton Review currently ranks it as #1 for graduate video game design schools.
Rankings and recognition
|U.S. News & World Report||64|
|U.S. News & World Report||477|
As of 2019, the university is ranked 64th in the U.S. News & World Report rankings and 91st in the Forbes rankings. The Princeton Review also ranks SMU as one of the "Best Western Colleges" and as 8th in "Lots of Greek Life."
USNWR graduate school rankings
USNWR departmental rankings
- Business Information Center (BIC) – Business school library. Some resources are available to the public.
- Bridwell Library – Named for the philanthropist Joseph Sterling Bridwell of Wichita Falls, the Bridwell Library (established 1950) is one of the leading theological research collections in the United States.
- Central University Libraries – Central University Libraries is the largest of the SMU library administrative units, with holdings of more than 2.1 million volumes. It comprises the Fondren Library Center, the Jake and Nancy Hamon Arts Library, the DeGolyer Library of Special Collections, the SMU Archives, the ISEM Reading Room, the Norwick Center for Digital Services, and the Fred Wendorf Information Center at SMU-in-Taos, New Mexico.
- CUL Digital Collections – Central University Libraries Digital Collections provide anyone around the world the ability to access a variety of text, videos and images. These collections are part of CUL's ongoing effort to digitize and make available SMU's unique special collections on the Web.
- DeGolyer Library – The DeGolyer Library is the principal repository at SMU for special collections in the humanities, the history of business, and the history of science and technology. Dedicated to enhancing scholarship and teaching at SMU, the DeGolyer Library is charged with maintaining and building its various collections "for study, research, and pleasure." Established in 1957 by gifts from geophysicist Everette Lee DeGolyer, DeGolyer Library houses one of the strongest collections in the United States on the Trans-Mississippi West, Texas, the Spanish borderlands, transportation with an emphasis on railroads, and business history.
- Fondren Library Center – The largest collection of resources on campus, Fondren Library houses materials in the humanities, social sciences and business, as well as government information resources. Fondren Library also houses the Science and Engineering Library which includes collections in biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, mathematics, statistics, computer science, and civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering. The library has particularly strong collections in the earth sciences, electronics, general science and technology. The Norwick Center for Digital Collections is also housed in Fondren. Fondren Library is open 24 hours, and is a common study place for students. Students have been known to call Fondren Library Center "Club Fondy" due to the social nature of the library. Fondren Library is also home to a Starbucks Cafe that serves faculty, staff, and students.
- Edwin J Foscue Map Library – Located in Fondren Library Center, this is one of the largest map collections in the Southwest.
- Fort Burgwin Library – The Fort Burgwin Library, located on the SMU-in-Taos campus in New Mexico, contains approximately 9,768 books and small collections of journals and maps.
- Hamon Arts Library – Hamon Arts Library supports the undergraduate and graduate programs of the Meadows School of the Arts in the disciplines of art, arts administration, cinema, dance, music, and theater. The Library's circulating and reference collections contain more than 180,000 items relating to the visual and performing arts. In addition, the Library has some 300 subscriptions to arts periodicals and provides access to more than 40 online resources that are specific to the arts.
- Norwick Center for Digital Services – The Center includes a student multimedia center and screening room and supports a full range of digital services, production services and collaborative technology support, including the CUL Digital Collections.
- Underwood Law Library – The Underwood Law Library's more than 640,000 volumes support the instruction and research of the Dedman School of Law and the general SMU community. The Library's collection is particularly strong in the areas of international law, commercial law, securities, taxation, jurisprudence, oil and gas, and air and space law.
- Meadows Museum – The Meadows Museum's collection was assembled by its founder, Algur H. Meadows. It houses several collections including a collection of Spanish art from the 10th to the 21st centuries. The museum holds different exhibits for periods of time every year. Recently, it held the exhibition, Dali: Poetics of the Small,1929-1936 from September 9 of last year until January 6th. Currently it is displaying Mariano Fortuny y Masal's artwork in the "Fortuny: Friends and Followers" exhibit. This exhibit will run from February 19 to June 6. It also includes a sculpture collection including works by David Smith, Henry Moore and Claes Oldenburg, as well as by contemporary sculptors such as James Surls. Important figural sculptures by Rodin, Maillol, and Giacometti are also housed within the museum. It is also responsible for the university's art collection, including work by several important regional artists.
- Pollock Gallery – The Pollock Gallery provides an ever-changing display of works by the faculty and students of the Meadows School of the Arts, as well as by outside artists. It is located in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center.
- As of the Fall 2018 semester, the university's 11,649 students are 6,479 undergraduates and 5,170 postgraduates from all 50 states and 83 countries. The leading 10 states in descending order are Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, Connecticut, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, New York, Colorado without including non-US-residents; while the leading 10 countries in descending order are China, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Korea, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Nigeria, with 1,596 non-residents (521 undergraduate and 1,075 graduate) from 83 countries.
- 27% of the student body are members of a minority group.
- SMU's female to male ratio is approximately 1:1 and its student-faculty ratio is 11:1. The average age of undergraduate students is 20, while that of graduate and professional students is 30.
- Among students reporting a religious affiliation, 25% are Catholic, 13% are Methodist, 38% are from other Protestant denominations, and 15% are from other religions including Judaism and Hinduism.
Since the autumn of 2014, Southern Methodist University's undergraduate housing system has operated on a residential commons model rooted in similar systems at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England. Undergraduate students are required to live on campus for their first two years, and they must live their first year in one of the eleven residential commons that they are randomly sorted into after enrollment. Each commons houses a faculty-in-residence and a residential community director that organize events and interact with the residents. The eleven residential commons are Armstrong, Boaz, Cockrell-McIntosh, Crum, Kathy Crow, Loyd, Mary Hay-Peyton-Shuttles, McElvaney, Morrison-McGinnis, Virginia-Snider, and Ware. Built in 1926, Virginia-Snider Commons is the oldest of the current residence halls. It served as a women's dormitory in the university's early years, and it later served as the common residence hall for students in the University Honors Program before the implementation of the residential commons model. The youngest commons are those that opened in 2014: Armstrong, Kathy Crow, Ware, Loyd, and Crum.
After their first year, students have the option of moving into other on-campus housing facilities such as Greek Life houses, SMU Service House, and apartment-style upperclassman housing, such as Moore Hall and Daniel Two. After two years, students are able to live off campus if they would like.
Southern Methodist University is home to almost three hundred student organizations, including academic, professional, fraternal, sporting, ethnic themed, religious, service, and political diversity groups. Notable examples include the service organization Mustang Heroes, one of the largest organizations on campus, and the Embrey Human Rights Program. Student organizations such as Student Foundation and Program Council frequently sponsor all-student events on various weekdays and weekends as well as boulevard tents. Student Foundation helps put on popular events such as Family Weekend, the Tate lectures, Celebration of Lights, Homecoming, and Perunapalooza.
The Daily Campus has been the independent student newspaper since 1915. It was published on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the Fall and Spring semesters. It operates in conjunction with SMU-TV and The Daily Update, a weekday morning news program also produced by students. In recent years the number of publications decreased from four printings a week to three. As of 2018, The Daily Campus is only available in digital form on their website.
Other student media include:
- The Rotunda, the official SMU yearbook
- SMU-TV, a student-run television station serving the Park Cities community
- The Daily Update, a weekday morning newscast that airs on SMU-TV and smudailymustang.com
- Hilltopics, a publication sponsored by the University Honors Program that publishes periodically
- The Muddler, a satirical newspaper
- SMU LOOK, a student-run fashion magazine
- SMU Style, a student-run fashion and lifestyle blog
As of May 2018 the newspaper will be put under the control of the school's journalism department.
A student run radio station, KPNI (formerly KSMU) operated from 1964-1989 and again from 1995–2003.
Southern Methodist University has approximately 43% of the undergraduate student body affiliated with its Greek system.
- 10 North American Interfraternity Conference (Beta Upsilon Chi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Kappa Sigma, Phi Delta Theta, Beta Theta Pi, Phi Gamma Delta, Sigma Chi, Sigma Nu and Alpha Epsilon Pi)
- 8 National Panhellenic Conference sororities (Alpha Chi Omega, Chi Omega, Delta Gamma, Delta Delta Delta, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Pi Beta Phi)
- 7 National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) organizations (Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, and Phi Beta Sigma fraternities and Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta sororities)
- 5 National Multicultural Greek Council (NMGC) organizations (Sigma Phi Omega sorority, Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority, Kappa Delta Chi sorority, Omega Delta Phi fraternity, and Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity)
- 3 Professional Fraternity Association fraternities (Delta Sigma Pi, Alpha Kappa Psi, and Theta Tau)
- One Christian fraternity (Beta Upsilon Chi) and one Christian sorority (Sigma Phi Lambda)
- One Jewish fraternity (Alpha Epsilon Pi)
- One service fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega)
SMU delays Greek recruitment until the spring semester, giving prospective members the ability to decide over the course of the fall which organization they would like to join.
There are restrictions in the type of communication affiliated sorority members can have with potential new members throughout the fall semester set in place by the SMU Panhellenic Council. Fraternities place no such communication restrictions on the ability for the men to rush potential members. Formal recruitment occurs in mid-January after the university's winter break. The Panhellenic recruitment process takes place over four days where potential new members visit each house and on the last day they may receive a bid to join a house. After accepting a bid, new members are initiated into their chapter during the course of the spring semester.
Starting in 2010, the NPC sororities began updating and rebuilding their older sorority houses. The first house rebuilt was Pi Beta Phi, followed by Kappa Kappa Gamma, Delta Delta Delta, Chi Omega, and Kappa Alpha Theta Alpha Chi Omega began renovations in August 2019 and are expected to be complete by December 2020.
As of February 15, 2018, Phi Gamma Delta has been ordered to cease all organizational activity pending a university investigation into hazing. Pi Kappa Alpha received a similar notice on February 9, 2018. On March 26, 2018, Pi Kappa Alpha was officially suspended by the university until the fall of 2022. This was the second suspension of a Greek Life organization in the 2017–2018 academic year after Kappa Alpha Order was suspended in October 2017. Historical sororities that existed on the SMU campus before being removed or leaving of their own accord include the inactive chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha (whose house still remains on campus unoccupied), Alpha Delta Pi (whose house is used as Panhellenic housing for members of any sorority), and Phi Mu, whose house was eventually converted to the Alpha Chi Omega house upon their arrival to campus.
Southern Methodist University's athletics teams are known as the Mustangs and participate in the NCAA's Division I, with the football team competing as a member of Division I FBS. Rick Hart is the current Director of Athletics as of July 16, 2012. Current head coaches of the men's football and basketball programs are Sonny Dykes and Tim Jankovich, having started in 2017 and 2016 respectively. Previous head football coach June Jones arrived on the Hilltop in 2008, and helped bring the Mustangs to four bowl appearances in a row (2009–2012), winning the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl in 2009 and 2012 and the BBVA Compass Bowl for the 2011 post-season, held January 7, 2012. Head Coach Chad Morris led SMU to the Frisco Bowl in 2017 in his third season before departing for the University Of Arkansas. SMU is a member of the American Athletic Conference (The American) since 2013, when it left Conference USA (C-USA). Before that, the Mustangs participated in the now defunct Southwest Conference and the Western Athletic Conference. The football team plays at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the SMU campus.
SMU's closest rival in athletics is Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas. In football, SMU and TCU compete annually (with the exception of 2006) for the Iron Skillet. In 2005, a nationally unranked SMU beat then 24th-ranked TCU for SMU's first win against a ranked team in 19 years (since October 1986). SMU beat the Horned Frogs for the first time since 2011 on September 21, 2019, the score being 41–38.
SMU also competes annually with Rice University in football for the "Mayor's Cup," a traveling trophy that has been created to enhance the Rice-SMU rivalry, which dates back to 1916. SMU has won seven more games (48-41-1) than Rice in their rivalry.
The Doak Walker Award is an annual collegiate award given to the nation's "most outstanding college running back" for his accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community. It was established in 1989 and is named after SMU Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker. In 1998, the PwC Doak Walker Legends Award was created, recognizing an individual whose extraordinary collegiate football career has been bolstered by an exemplary record of leadership in the community.
The SMU football program has also produced many professional football standouts, such as Don Meredith, Doak Walker, Kyle Rote, Eric Dickerson, Jerry Ball, and Craig James. Eleven Mustangs are currently active in the National Football League: wide receiver Aldrick Robinson (Washington Redskins), defensive back Bryan McCann (Baltimore Ravens), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos), cornerback Sterling Moore (Dallas Cowboys), punter Thomas Morstead (New Orleans Saints), wide receiver Cole Beasley (Buffalo Bills), tackle Kelvin Beachum (Pittsburgh Steelers), offensive guard Josh LeRibeus (Washington Redskins), and defensive end Margus Hunt (Indianapolis Colts), wide receiver Courtland Sutton (Denver Broncos), and wide receiver Trey Quinn (Washington Redskins).
From 1980 to 1985, SMU had one of the strongest programs in Division I-A (now FBS). They posted a record of 55–14–1, and finished these seasons ranked No. 21, No. 7, No. 2, No. 19, and No. 8 in the nation. These "winningest" years concluded with the Death Penalty on February 25, 1987 due to repeated violations conducted by boosters. The NCAA administered the "death penalty" for repeated, flagrant recruiting violations. Components included cancellation of the entire 1987 season, a two-year ban from bowl appearances, a two-year ban from television appearances, a limit of seven games, all on road, in the 1988 season, a loss of three assistant coaching positions for two years and a loss of 55 new scholarships over four years. Players were allowed to transfer without sitting out one season, per standard requirement. SMU responded to the combination of these conditions by canceling the 1988 season outright.
On November 11, 2006, redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Willis broke SMU's single-season touchdown pass record held by Chuck Hixson (21). Willis threw for three touchdowns in a 38–28 loss to the University of Houston, setting the new single season record at 23. At the end of the season, Willis set the new record at 26. He also broke the SMU single season touchdown record accounting for 29 touchdowns. He was named to the Freshman All-American team at quarterback.
On Monday, January 7, 2008, June Jones was named the head football coach at SMU. He brought a record of 76–41, all at the University of Hawaiʻi, where he won more games than any other coach in school history. He signed a five-year contract worth $10 million. The Mustangs went 1–11 in Jones' first season in 2008, but dramatically improved in 2009. The 2009 team finished the regular season at 7–5, earning the program's first bowl berth since the scandal. The Mustangs defeated Nevada in the Hawaiʻi Bowl, which also marked Jones' return to the stadium where he had coached before coming to SMU. On September 8, 2014 June Jones stepped down as Head Coach after a 0–2 start to the 2014 season, in which the team was outscored 88–6.
In December 2011, the Big East Conference (since renamed the American Athletic Conference) extended an invitation to SMU to join the conference for all sports beginning in the 2013–14 season. The school made the move alongside current C-USA rivals Houston, Central Florida, and Memphis. Three other C-USA rivals, East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa, joined SMU in The American a year later.
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