Work Begins on a More User-Friendly Campus

Nov. 21, 2008

Students, faculty, staff and city leaders were on hand Thursday afternoon to celebrate the groundbreaking of an historic campus enhancement project aimed at making the University more welcoming and user-friendly.

The yearlong project — which involves the overhaul of the perimeter and entrance roads to campus, as well as the central plaza, where the major north-south and east-west pedestrian routes meet — is expected to be carried out in four phases and completed by late fall 2009.

Onlookers packed a tent on a grassy area southwest of the library to hear details about the project and to share in appreciation for longtime UT Dallas supporter Mrs. Margaret McDermott, who helped bring the project to fruition with a lead gift. 

The initiative garnered praise from the event’s master of ceremonies, UT Dallas student Jessie Harpham.  A senior biology major, Harpham is a member of the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program, which was created eight years ago by a separate gift from Mrs. McDermott. 

“I’m excited because I believe this groundbreaking will set a tone and create an atmosphere on campus that will match the quality of work that takes place here,” Harpham said.  “I love campus just as it is today because of all the memories it holds for me.  But I look forward to returning as an alumna to see what this project can add for students to come.”   

Harpham was accompanied on stage by:

  • UT Dallas President Dr. David E. Daniel.
  • Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Hobson Wildenthal.
  • UT System Student Regent Ben Dower.
  • Richardson City Manager Bill Keffler.

Dr. Wildenthal reflected that the University has been privileged to be a benefactor of the McDermott family’s nearly 50-year commitment to the institution that eventually became UT Dallas.

“Mrs. McDermott’s commitment today is as strong as ever.  Her dedication has been transformative to the University, and this gift will help our campus to be on par with our great faculty and students.”

Mrs. McDermott’s late husband, Eugene McDermott, along with Cecil Green and Erik Jonsson, founded Texas Instruments and, later, the research institution that in 1969 became UT Dallas.

During the ceremony, Dr. Daniel noted the enhancement would add places of rest and reflection to recover from the hectic pace of a busy academic day.

“As we create our future, we must follow the example of our founders and do so thoughtfully, in a way that will build on the relationships between the University and the surrounding community,” Daniel said.  “That means providing a physical space that attracts and serves people well.” 

Dower brought greetings from the UT System Board of Regents and said he felt “privileged to be present at the beginning of a change that will bring its physical appearance to the level of the scholarship and research that take place at UT Dallas every day.”

Richardson City Manager Bill Keffler summed up the celebration by noting that the relationship between a university and its city is an important one, and he pointed out that the University is “blooming with improvements.” 

“I know that with these changes, UT Dallas will become a true destination, a place where Richardson residents will come to take their family photos and to enjoy the outdoors,” Keffler said.  “As a representative of the city, I’m honored to be part of the celebration.” 


Media Contact: Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, jennib@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Campus Enhancement Kick Off
UT Dallas President Dr. David Daniel, accompanied by (from left) Mary McDermott-Cook, Mrs. Margaret McDermott and University of Texas System Interim Chancellor Dr. Kenneth Shine, turn the first mound of dirt near a magnolia tree in celebration of the start of a year-long enhancement project that will completely change the look of campus.

 

Model Achievement
Ben Dower, UT System Student Regent and a senior at the University, listens as Julian Peterson points out features of the campus enhancement initiative.

 

Thoughts About Our Past and Future
Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president and provost at the University, reflects on the McDermott legacy at UT Dallas.

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