McDermott's $10 Million Gift Establishes New Name for Honors College
The Home for Programs for Outstanding Undergraduates Will Become the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College
Feb. 1, 2017
The University of Texas at Dallas, in accord with the terms of a gift creating an endowment of $10 million for support of undergraduate research, has announced that its Honors College is being renamed the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College, in honor of its long-serving chief academic officer. Philanthropist Margaret McDermott, in making her latest transformative gift to UT Dallas, stipulated that Dr. Wildenthal’s many contributions to the growth and enhancement of the University be recognized in this fashion.
The Honors College, led by Dean Edward J. Harpham, was formally established in 2014 as the administrative home of many programs that UT Dallas has created to further enrich and enhance the experiences of its outstanding undergraduates. The Honors College administers the National Merit Scholars Program, currently comprising 387 students, and the Terry Scholars Program with its 132 students, and has a close working relationship with the McDermott Scholars Program and its 97 students and more than 200 alumni. As the home of the Collegium V Honors Program, the college organizes and offers several dozen specially designed courses each semester for the more than 900 students in the program, offering them uniquely innovative enrichments to the standard curricula.
The college administers three internship programs that provide UT Dallas students with unique and intense exposures to national and state governments. The Archer Fellowship Program allows UT System undergraduates to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., studying and serving as interns in high-visibility offices. The Graduate Program in Public Policy provides analogous opportunities for graduate students during the summer semester. The Texas Legislative Internship Program operates in Austin during biennial spring legislative sessions.
The college also provides key assistance in organizing study abroad programs for both groups and individuals, and assists students in arranging individual research internships at leading laboratories worldwide. Its Office of Distinguished Scholarships provides students with individualized instruction and mentoring in preparation for applications for external awards and scholarships, and for graduate and professional school admissions. It administers the Carl J. Thomsen Endowment, created by Mrs. McDermott, that funds attendance of UT Dallas students at Dallas cultural events, in particular at the Dallas Symphony and the Dallas Opera. And it is the administrative home of the UT Dallas chapter of the national honor society Phi Kappa Phi and events sponsored for its members.
Dr. Hobson Wildenthal
Finally, the Honors College provides its students with a physical home for study and relaxing, and creates opportunities for UT Dallas undergraduates to make personal, social and professional connections with UT Dallas faculty. The relationships thus engendered are vital to the formation of student-faculty linkages that give rise to the individual undergraduate research projects that this new endowment will support.
Mrs. McDermott’s prior major benefactions to UT Dallas include the McDermott Suite in McDermott Library, the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program, many major endowed professorships, the epochal UT Dallas Campus Enhancement Project, designed by Peter Walker, and the Eugene McDermott Graduate Fellows Program.
Dr. Wildenthal has served as chief academic officer of UT Dallas with UT Dallas Presidents Robert Rutford, Franklyn Jenifer, David Daniel and now Richard Benson, and served as president ad interim between the tenures of Presidents Daniel and Benson. He has worked closely with Mrs. McDermott over all these years to ensure that UT Dallas fulfills the aspirations that motivated the many institution-defining benefactions she has provided to UT Dallas, the university created by her husband, Eugene McDermott, and his partners Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green, the men who also created Texas Instruments.
Mrs. McDermott, remarking about this latest gift, noted: “I have enjoyed the many hours, days and years that I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Hobson Wildenthal, past present and future. His commitment to my husband’s dream of a great university has been steadfast, and he has been a trusted and candid friend and advisor as we have worked to make those dreams reality.”
Dr. Wildenthal noted, “It has been a unique privilege to work with Margaret McDermott as we shared our mutual passion for UT Dallas to climb to the heights of educational excellence. Her vision, her judgment and her steadfast character are inspiring to all who have the opportunity to associate with her. Not only has her support of UT Dallas been of monumental generosity, it has also been strategically focused at every step of our progress. This latest gift is no exception. Our best undergraduates are fully capable of independent research, and need and deserve such opportunities. This gift ensures that the financial means for them to pursue their dreams will always be available.
“I can think of no greater honor than having Margaret McDermott link her latest gift to a request that our Honors College be named in my recognition, and there is nothing that could have given me greater pleasure. My admiration and affection for her is boundless, and hence my gratitude. And there is no recognition I could prefer than that of having my name associated with our great undergraduate students, who individually and collectively inspire and amaze me with their characters and achievements.”
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