The University of Texas at Dallas recently opened the Davidson-Gundy Alumni Center, a 30,246-square-foot facility in the heart of campus designed to deepen bonds between students and graduates. Alumni, industry partners and friends joined the campus community for a series of events marking the occasion.
“This center, by design, is meant to welcome alumni home and to connect them with our bright, dynamic students — our future alumni,” Dr. Richard C. Benson, UT Dallas president, said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony recognizing the efforts of the many individuals who were instrumental in the development of the alumni center.
Named for Nancy Gundy Davidson BS’80 and Charles “Chuck” Davidson MS’80, in acknowledgement of their $15 million gift that made its construction possible, the center offers the University’s more than 100,000 alumni a place where they can connect with one another and the campus.
Dr. David Daniel, UT System deputy chancellor and former president of the University, also spoke at the ceremony, recalling conversations with the Davidsons in which they first imagined an alumni center for the University and deliberated over the facility’s physical location.
“To me, this is a deeply inspirational building and a place where people come together,” Daniel said. “So much life-changing activity will take place at this facility.”
Through their sustained support, the Davidsons, longtime supporters of the University and the Naveen Jindal School of Management, have made the creation of a number of endowed chairs and scholarships possible, and the Davidson Management Honors Program is named in their honor. Both served as members of the Realize the Vision Campaign Council, and Chuck Davidson is a member of the Development Board. Additionally, the two were recognized as School of Management Distinguished Alumni in 2002 and UT Dallas Distinguished Alumni in 2008.
“The idea of bringing an alumni center to UT Dallas was something that really resonated with Nancy and me,” Davidson said. “This beautiful building is going to serve our students, our faculty, our staff and our alumni for decades to come.” As the first campus facility solely designated for special use, the building is designed to accommodate rentals for meetings, conferences, weddings and other events.
“This substantial contribution allowed us to dream big and envision a resource our young University had not yet conceived,” said Dr. Kyle Edgington PhD’13, vice president for development and alumni relations. “In addition to making such a facility feasible, the Davidsons’ generosity served as a model and inspiration for others.”
To date, 12 gifts from alumni, industry partners and supporters have resulted in named spaces within the center. Texas Instruments Inspiration Hall, the center’s main thoroughfare connecting interior event spaces with outdoor areas, gardens and surrounding terraces, is a result of a contribution from the longtime corporate partner.
“Texas Instruments has a rich history of engagement with UT Dallas,” said Dr. Peter Balyta MBA’03, president of education technology and vice president of academic engagement and corporate citizenship at Texas Instruments. “More than 900 of our employees are UT Dallas graduates, so it makes sense to ensure our alumni continue connecting with today’s students and our future workforce.”
Alumna Ann Graves BA’83 made a gift through her family foundation to name the Ann and Jack Graves Ballroom on the building’s first level. The 5,785-square- foot ballroom can accommodate 400 to 800 people for banquets, lectures, meetings and other special events. Mike Redeker MBA’97, MA’01, Graves’ son and fellow UT Dallas graduate, also made a gift that resulted in the Mike Redeker Executive Boardroom on the second level.
“As we look forward, we hope for a great university that is supported by motivated and engaged alumni who know that they are critically important to the success of this institution,” Chuck Davidson said at a celebratory dinner to recognize alumni center donors. “I have already been impressed by how so many have stepped forward to support the facility.”
At 96, Jane Baldwin Yates BA’78 is UT Dallas’ second oldest alumnus. After a recent visit to campus to reconnect with her alma mater, she was afforded a sneak peek of the new alumni center.
“While I have been considering a gift to the University for some time, supporting the alumni center presented an exciting opportunity at just the right time,” Yates said. “I was pleased to be able to make a gift to the institution that has played a role in my life, as well as my family’s.” Her gift to name The Yates Family Conference Room on the first level of the center was announced at the dinner.
Beyond the physical façade, the alumni center represents a desire to create and nurture fuller, richer experiences for students, graduates, friends of the University and the entire region. At the dinner, Luis Hall-Valdez, a senior majoring in computer engineering and minoring in marketing, spoke about his path to the University and his experiences as a student and intern.
“Since coming to UT Dallas, I have achieved my life-goal of working for Texas Instruments — not once, but twice,” he said. “I am very, very thankful for UT Dallas. As such, it is my plan to give back to the University that has given so much to me.”
In the months and years ahead, activities at the Davidson-Gundy Alumni Center will engage current students and strengthen ties to the University’s growing alumni base.
“As envisioned by the Davidsons, this center will be a gateway to the future. It will be the front door for alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends, and it will serve as an epicenter for establishing more permanent ties with one another and the University,” Edgington said. “In essence, it will strengthen the entire Comet community.”
Learn more at davidson-gundy.utdallas.edu.