Imagine the chutzpah it took for the Mustang Band to be the first to play jazz music on a football field in 1930. One might think a bold move such as that would come from an avant-garde school; but Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, rated number three for “most conservative students” by Princeton Review, proves that conservative doesn’t mean stick-in-the-mud. Since 1959, the band’s instrumentation consists only of brass, drums and saxophones. They play actual jazz arrangements, and wear a coat and tie.
Southern Methodist University, or SMU, is a private university founded in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, although it is nonsectarian in its teaching. The school operates campuses just north of downtown Dallas; in Plano, Texas; and in Taos, New Mexico.
The university offers seven degree-granting schools. Its 11,000 students benefit from small classes, international study and innovative programs such as SMU-in-Taos, centered on the excavation of a 13th-century Indian pueblo.
The university is ranked by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a research university with “high research activity.” Bloomberg Businessweek ranks the university’s Cox School of Business in their top 15; and US News and World Report ranks SMU’s Dedman School of Law among the nation’s top 50 law schools.
The university’s Meadows Museum houses one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain, with works by such artists as El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Picasso and Miro´. The George W. Bush Presidential Center is expected to open on the SMU campus in early 2013.
Notable alumni include Payne Stewart, professional golfer; Aaron Spelling, TV and film producer; First Lady Laura Bush; and Kourtney Kardashian, professional celebrity.