Our founders knew that even a shining city needs brilliant minds to have a bright future.

Not quite 50 years ago, our founders—three visionaries whose work led to the creation of what would come to be called the Silicon Prairie—stood in the middle of a field and declared that one day a world-class University would rise there, becoming one of the region’s leading economic catalysts. UT Dallas helps make its namesake city one of the fastest growing in the country, a top-10 metropolitan area, and home of 21 Fortune 500 companies. Ingenious.

Creating Intellectual Capital

“Why should you care about UT Dallas?”

Former President David E. Daniel put the question to about 100 of Dallas’ leading business and community advocates at an event hosted by Texas Instruments at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Using examples of the once-prosperous cities such as Detroit, Dr. Daniel urged Texas to prepare for the future by building up its stock of national research universities and offered a summary of UT Dallas’ progress toward Tier One.

Former President David E. Daniel outlined the regional impact that a Tier One research institution would bring to North Texas for an audience of more than 100 area business leaders.

“Why should you care?” he said. “Or in the words of my teenaged son: ‘This affects me like how?’

“If you don’t care what the city looks like five years from now or aren’t concerned what this city might be like for your children or grandchildren or nieces and nephews, you can close your eyes and completely log out,” Daniel said. “But you’re here and that makes me think you do care.

“If we stop and think about what will be of value in the future, it’s human creative talent,” Daniel said. “If D-FW is to be a great city, we’ve got to have access to brilliant people.”

Among the 10 most economically productive cities in the nation, Dallas-Fort Worth is the only one without an Association of American Universities (AAU) member. These 62 research universities receive about 60 percent of all federally funded research, and their states and communities receive the economic boosts that come with it. AAU institutions generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual research expenditures, attract venture capital, produce outstanding graduates and drive regional economic development.

This is what three trailblazers—Eugene McDermott, Cecil Green and Erik Jonsson—had in mind when they founded the research institution that became UT Dallas in 1969.

“These men had a dream,” said Greg Delagi, senior vice president and general manager of embedded processing at TI, and the evening’s host. “They wanted to create for this region the ‘MIT of the Southwest’—a top tier university that would be an academic and research engine that would fuel the economy.”

The founders, who also created Texas Instruments, saw a glowing example in MIT. That institution’s alumni have started more than 25,000 active companies, employing 3.3 million people and generating $2 trillion in revenue.

“We at TI still believe that we need an engine like this,” Delagi said. “An engine that will boost our economy long into the future. And we believe that UT Dallas can be that engine.”

Friends of UT Dallas have supported that vision by contributing more than $256 million during the University’s Realize the Vision: The Campaign for Tier One & Beyond. During the five-year effort, support of faculty has increased dramatically so that more endowed positions are available to attract and retain highly qualified professors. The campaign has also seen a jump in the number of endowed chairs and professorships from 51 to 104. Realize the Vision, the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, will conclude this December.

“A state as great as we are should have more than three Tier One universities,” said Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who also spoke. Texas’ current AAU members are The University of Texas at Austin, Rice University and Texas A&M University. “Instead of importing brain power, let’s produce it here, capture it and keep it,” Fisher said.