Ritual Honors Chaired Scholars and Their Benefactors

Investiture Salutes Engineering Dean and Head of Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

May 1, 2009

Marking the beginning of a new academic tradition, UT Dallas has recognized a dean and a professor in the University’s first investiture ceremony for professors holding named chairs.

Dean Mark W. Spong was invested as the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering and as the Excellence in Education Chair in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Dr. Li Zhang, head of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and professor in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, was invested as the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology Science.

Ceremony Links UT Dallas
to Historic Academic Tradition

In establishing an investiture tradition, UT Dallas has become part of a venerable academic tradition.

One of the most notable examples is the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge University, once held by Sir Isaac Newton and currently by Stephen Hawking. 

“Now investiture is part of UT Dallas’ tradition of excellence,” Daniel said. “By recognizing our faculty with these chairs, we reinforce the University’s imperative to seek out and retain the highest caliber faculty.”

Provost Hobson Wildenthal and Dean Myron Salamon presented Spong and Zhang with special medallions associated with their respective chairs.

President David E. Daniel explained that an investiture is a formal conferring of honors celebrating the achievements of the distinguished professor as well as the generosity and memory of an endowment’s founders. “We expect to have many, many more ceremonies like this as investors in the future of Dallas continue to invest in the premier faculty of UT Dallas,” he said.

Representatives from Ericsson and the Cecil H. and Ida Green estate attended the ceremony. Attending from the Excellence in Education Foundation was Gifford Johnson, former president of the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, the research institute that would later become UT Dallas.

Spong’s mentor, Dr. T.J. Tarn, said that the dean’s research in mathematical systems and robotics had created an “elegant solution” to some key problems of robotic control and that virtually every academic paper on robotics since 1989 has referenced Spong’s work.

The dean said he felt fortunate to be at UT Dallas.  “I am also very much aware that chaired professorships are not given – like gold watches – for past contributions, but with the expectation and promise of future success,” he said.

Zhang’s family friend and colleague, Dr. Zhi-Chun Lai, described Zhang as exceptionally dedicated, spending her entire career exploring a specific area of biology.  “She has the ability and the vision to identify important research questions,” he said.

Zhang also thanked her colleagues and said, “I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful new tradition.”

The ceremony was made possible by the University’s decades-old partnerships with Ericsson, the Excellence in Education Foundation and the late Cecil and Ida Green.

From left: UT Dallas President David E. Daniel and representatives of the Green estate: Peter Smith, Trisha Smith and Rust Reid.

The Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering was established in 1986 for the dean of the new School of Engineering and Computer Science, which was established the same year.  Dean Spong was appointed as the third chair holder last year. Previous holders were Dr. Robert Helms and Dr. William Osborne.

“Ericsson is delighted to be participating in the further development of UT Dallas through our endowment of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering,” said Arun Bhikshesvaran, senior vice president Multimedia and Infrastructure Solutions at Ericsson. “The appointment of Dr. Mark W. Spong to the Chair signifies UT Dallas' commitment to attracting top-notch faculty members and is in line with Ericsson's interests to strengthen the academic and research environment in the North Texas region. As society continues to evolve through the rapid adoption of mobility and broadband applications, we look forward to continued collaboration with the UT Dallas' ever-growing expertise in these domains.”

The Excellence in Education Chair in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science was established in 1992 by the Excellence in Education Foundation.  The chair was previously held by Dr. William Osborne.

The Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology Science was established in 2005 at the request of legal representatives of the Green estate. Li Zhang was appointed as the first holder of this chair in 2007.


Media Contacts: Lindsey Bacon, UT Dallas, (972) 883-6507, lindsey.bacon@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

Text size: Increase text sizeDecrease text size

Dean Mark Spong and Dr. T.J. Tarn

Dean Mark W. Spong, wearing medallions signifying his two separate chairs, praised his mentor, Dr. T.J. Tarn.

Dean Myron Salamon and Dr. Li Zhang

Dean Myron Salamon congratulates Dr. Li Zhang, head of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and professor in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

UT Dallas President David E. Daniel and Arun Bhikshesvaran, senior vice president Multimedia and Infrastructure Solutions at Ericsson, display the medallion honoring the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering.

Gifford Johnson (left), representing the Excellence in Education Foundation, is the former president of the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, the research institute that would later become UT Dallas.

Share this page

Email this article.

Wednesday,
August 20, 2014