VS HISTORY | 1926-2016

Virginia and Snider Hall were opened for students in 1926, and originally housed women only. Virginia Hall contained the common dining room for the campus at the time; it was in the basement. Originally, it was supposed to be the common dining room for women only, but men were allowed briefly to dine there due to overcrowding on campus, causing great consternation for some of the hall directors. Apparently, the men were cutting through the women’s floors to get to the basement, despite a special entrance established for them, and that was totally unacceptable in 1926. In 1926, SMU tuition and fees were $101.50/semester, and board (food) cost $126/semester. Snider Hall’s room rent was $100, and Virginia Hall’s was $62.50 to $75 each semester.

Much of the money for the new women’s dormitories in 1926 came from insurance money paid after a large fire burned three men’s dormitories that used to be on campus. After Dallas Hall was built, the Women’s Building was constructed to house women students. The Women’s Building is now Clements Hall. Men lived in the “hastily constructed” dormitories (North Hall, South Hall, and Rankin Hall) and fraternity houses. When the three dormitories burned, men were moved to local homes until a solution could be found. After Virginia and Snider Halls were completed, the women moved into those buildings, and the men were moved to the Women’s Building, which was renamed Atkins Hall.

Virginia Hall is described as having “a gable over the main entrance decorated with an oval window and festoons of fruit and drapery.” She is named for Virginia K. Johnson, a religious and social worker in the Methodist Church who established an occupational training school for at-risk women in Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood.

Snider Hall has “a central gable sporting an unusual polychromatic elephant, purchased overseas by a benefactor of SMU, and festoons of foliage.” Snider Hall is named for local real estate magnate C.W. Snider, of Snider Plaza fame. Mr. Snider was a shrewd businessman and loaned SMU the money for the new residence hall in the form of annuity contract. Though the original payments to SMU from Mr. Snider totaled $150,000, he, his wife, and then his daughter, have received roughly $357,000 in total to pay that annuity since that original payment.

The Residential Commons Leadership Corps (RCLC) was founded in the Spring of 2013 so that students could be directly involved in SMU’s transition to the Residential Commons system. The RCLC was comprised of two to three representatives from each Commons, and was advised by Jeff Grim, Associate Director of Academic Initiatives. In addition to other tasks, this group assisted in the selection process of the Faculty in Residence (FiR) and Faculty Affiliates, as well as, conducted research on collegiate housing at University College at Oxford in England. Most importantly, RCLC members worked with the FiR and Residential Community Director (RCD) of their respective Commons. For Virginia-Snider Commons, Matthew Anderson, Clark Holt and Marissa Sandoval worked with Dr. Ann Batenburg (FiR) and Michelle Madsen (RCD). Together, this group designed the crest, colors, motto, and traditions that VS knows today. They were inspired by VS’s rich history and former status as the University Honors Program’s residential community.