SMU Breaks Ground on Home for Digital Explorers

SMU has taken a leap forward in the digital frontier with the groundbreaking of the Gerald J. Ford Hall for Research and Innovation. The new facility will be located on SMU’s main campus at the corner of McFarlin Boulevard and Airline Road.

The 50,000-square-foot interdisciplinary research hub is a critical step in the university’s journey to strengthen its research capabilities.

Groundbreaking on the new hall took place Feb. 22.

“With this gift, Gerald Ford is continuing his extraordinary legacy as a catalyst for excellence and growth for the University,” said SMU president R. Gerald Turner. “His earlier vision and lead gift for the Ford Stadium has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to SMU each year and energized the campus and wider communities. Now, with the construction of the Gerald J. Ford Hall for Research and Innovation, SMU’s student and faculty research initiatives will be transformed, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and innovation.”

ABOVE: Confetti streamers fly at the announcement of Gerald J. Ford’s $15 million gift to establish a new research center at SMU. Ford’s new commitment brings to $800 million the total raised to date by the University’s Second Century Campaign.

SMU Trustee Gerald J. Ford ’66, ’69, his wife, Kelli O. Ford, and The Gerald J. Ford Family Foundation provided a $15 million lead gift to help fund construction of the new building.

Ford hall will serve as the home to the AT&T Center for Virtualization, the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, high-performance computing and data science, and the Visualization Lab. 

As digital explorers, both undergraduate and graduate students will work alongside faculty and industry professionals in this new data-driven nerve center. Ford Hall will expand the University’s use of high-performance computing for interdisciplinary collaborations and help SMU attract greater levels of external research funding.

“Ford Hall will give us the capacity to offer new programs and explore opportunities in the thriving gaming ecosystem in Dallas,” said SMU Guildhall Director, Gary Brubaker.

Ford Hall also will bring to SMU’s main campus the Hart eCenter, which includes SMU Guildhall, the world’s top-ranked graduate game design program. (Click here to read more about that program)

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