Dedication Ushers in New Beginning for UT Dallas
Redesign Praised as Making University a Place of Beauty as Well as Achievement
Sep. 30, 2010
Under sunny skies, UT Dallas celebrated the start of a new chapter in its history Wednesday with the dedication of a two-year redesign project that has transformed central campus.
University President David E. Daniel, speaking in a trellis-covered plaza built as part of the project, called the campus improvements the physical manifestation of the excellence UT Dallas embodies.
UT Dallas President David E. Daniel and Student Government President Grace Bielawski welcomed the changes that have transformed the campus landscape.
“We’re on the path to becoming a premier university in our state and nation—achieving enrollment gains while building even greater excellence, recruiting stellar faculty and growing our research efforts,” Daniel said. “With the dedication of our newly enhanced campus, we move forward on our declared goal of being a place with looks that measure up to its brains.”
The $30 million project was made possible by private philanthropic support. The University is particularly grateful for the Eugene McDermott family’s nearly 50-year commitment to UT Dallas. McDermott, along with fellow Texas Instruments founders Cecil Green and Erik Jonsson, created the research institution that formally became UT Dallas in 1969.
Members of the McDermott family attended the dedication, including Mrs. Margaret McDermott, who shared her first memories of visiting the lonely cotton field that eventually became UT Dallas.
“This project is dear to my heart,” Mrs. McDermott said.
“It makes me think of 40 years ago, when I visited here to see some land my husband and his business partners had purchased for a proposed university," she said.
Mrs. Margaret McDermott (left) confers with architect Peter Walker and Colleen McHugh, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents.
“He asked me what I thought, and I told him it needed trees. Today, we have trees,” she said to the applauding crowd.
Daniel reflected on the long relationship the McDermott family has had with the University.
“Margaret, your vision was instrumental to this project. Your discerning eye and your insistence on excellence will benefit generations of students yet unborn. UT Dallas has been forever influenced for the good by your guiding hand. This University knows no greater friend, no stronger ally and no more steadfast and generous supporter than you.”
Begun nearly two years ago, the transformation includes elements that will grow with the University and continue to improve through the years, including:
- More than 5,000 trees and native plants.
- A mall with rectilinear ponds, an innovative columnar misting system and walkways lined with magnolias.
- A new entrance, featuring a crescent stand of oak trees.
The project has been led by landscape architects Peter Walker and Partners, a world-renowned design firm chosen for its understanding of Dallas and for its record of visionary work in venues ranging from university campuses to corporate headquarters to private gardens. The firm was recently chosen to carry out the design of the World Trade Center Memorial in New York.
“This has been quite elaborate and quite a wonderful process,” Walker said at the dedication. “This campus needed a strong new identity, an emblem of its importance and stature. The growth and shape of any fine university changes, and this will be a place to enjoy through year after year of activities and learning.”
The chancellor of the UT System, Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, and four UT System regents came to see the changes.
Spectators made use of the plaza's redesigned bleachers, made from sustainably grown and milled Ipe wood.
“Pride is an outgrowth of a sense of a welcoming place — time spent walking across campus, pausing to speak with friends and professors, moments of contemplation and anticipation between classes,” Cigarroa said. “It brings a stronger identity to a campus and gives students a chance to appreciate the atmosphere of quiet power and potential that every great university should radiate.”
Student Government President Grace Bielawski predicted great benefits for students.
“What does the completion of this campus enhancement mean for students - besides quick access between the library and the Student Union? It means our campus is approaching the future in the same way we do, with a sense of enthusiasm, innovation, and Comet pride,” Bielawski said.
“This campus enhancement takes a competitive academic environment and adds a memorable campus experience. A great education is our top priority, but fostering community and school spirit isn’t far behind.”
For additional details about the enhancement, including downloadable photos and collateral materials, visit utdallas.edu/enhance.
Crowds at the dedication saw – and felt – the cooling effect of the plaza's misting column. This section of the mall eventually will be shaded by wisteria growing on the trellis overhead.
Regent Brenda Pejovich and Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa were among UT System officials attending.
The musical accompaniment was provided by Vivaldi, as interpreted by a UT Dallas Camerata student string ensemble.