Meadows Museum photo by Danny Fulgencio

Southern Methodist University’s president Gerald Turner last week accepted a prestigious honor — the Encomienda de la Orden de Isabel la Católica, a decoration granted by King Felipe VI of Spain—recognizing his “extraordinary civil character and accomplishments that have benefited Spain,” the university announced.

Santiago Cabanas, ambassador of Spain to the United States, and Julia Olmo y Romero, consul general of Spain presented the award during a ceremony at the on-campus Meadows Museum, which reportedly is the leading U.S. institution focused on the study and presentation of the art of Spain.

“Dr. Turner’s unwavering support of the Meadows Museum and steadfast support of Spain through his backing of numerous Spanish programs has enabled SMU to become a beacon for the promotion of Spanish culture in America,” says Janet Kafka, honorary consul of Spain for Dallas-Fort Worth (Advocate interview with Kafka here).

Turner’s support of the Meadows Museum has included vision, fundraising and support of artistic collaborations and scholarly activities throughout his 26 years as president.

(The Meadows’ longtime director the late Mark Roglán also was a force when it came to Spanish art at the university.)

Turner led fundraising efforts, including a 1998 gift of $20 million from The Meadows Foundation, for construction of a new museum building. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were honored guests at the 2001 opening ceremonies.

Miguel Zugaza, director of the Museo de Bellas Arts de Bilbao has called Meadows a “member of the family of the institutions which look after the Spanish art in the world.”

Under Turner’s leadership, the Meadows Museum also developed curatorial fellowships both at the Meadows and with partner institutions around the globe.

Turner’s leadership also has strengthened academic, arts and cultural ties between SMU and Spain.

Undergraduate students and continuing education students at SMU may enjoy a robust Spanish language program, which includes Spanish film clubs.

SMU-in-Madrid was the University’s first study abroad program and remains its most popular program. Cox business students regularly participate in summer internships with businesses in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville.

Visit the Meadows Museum or take a virtual tour, here.

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