On This Day: Erik Jonsson Was Born
Erik Jonsson at the 20th anniversary celebration of UT Dallas in 1989.
On Sept. 6, 1901, UT Dallas co-founder Erik Jonsson was born in Brooklyn, New York.
Jonsson helped create Texas Instruments and — along with his TI co-founders Eugene McDermott and Cecil Green — the research institution that would become UTD. On campus, the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, and the Jonsson Academic Center bear his name.
The trio sought to turn the tide on the “brain drain” in the southwest — when graduate students would leave the region to study at universities in other areas of the country.
Jonsson (right of center) and U.S. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew (center) meet with children at the Callier Hearing and Speech Center Dedication in 1969. The Callier Center would later become part of UT Dallas.
Jonsson also served as mayor for the city of Dallas from 1964 to 1971 during a pivotal time in its history. He led the city as it tried to right its image following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Fun fact: According to Al Mitchell, former UT Dallas archivist, Jonsson — whose full name was John Erik Jonsson — was known to wager journalists when first meeting them: “I’ll bet you can’t spell two of my names.”