Realize the Vision: University Celebrates First Campaign
1st Comprehensive UT Dallas Campaign Sets $200 Million Goal to Support Tier One Plan
Apr. 9, 2012
President David E. Daniel launched Realize the Vision: The Campaign for Tier One & Beyond on March 29th.
Last summer, Xinyuan Zou sat aboard an international flight departing Shanghai for Texas to begin graduate studies at The University of Texas at Dallas.
He had done his homework, researching several graduate programs in applied sociology. Most of all, he knew of the University’s efforts to become a major research hub. “UT Dallas has all of the things I was looking for,” said Zou, 23. “A strong academic reputation, good leadership and a great location.”
Seven months later, Zou hurried to snap a smartphone picture of President David E. Daniel as he spoke of UT Dallas’ quest to become a national research university during an event launching the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign: Realize the Vision: The Campaign for Tier One and Beyond.
“Our top priority in this campaign is to specifically seek those resources that will directly advance our research mission,” Daniel said. “This campaign is one of the most important chapters in our history.”
During a campus-wide luncheon on March 29 that attracted hundreds of students, faculty and staff, and later during a dinner reception for 300 of the University’s top supporters, Daniel announced the effort to raise $200 million by 2014. For some it was a homecoming. For others it was a coming of age, and throughout the day, an overriding theme emerged: The time is now.
The campus buzzed with activity that afternoon, when approximately 700 people attended the lunchtime event.
Among them was Dr. James Carter, geosciences professor emeritus, who started work at UT Dallas 48 years ago, when it was still known as the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. He said funds are much needed for labs, faculty members, endowed positions, fellowships and scholarships.
“It’s been a long time coming. But the day is here,” Carter said of the campaign.
Community members Connie and Ted Dornseifer dined and reflected on the physical transformation of UT Dallas, which in recent years has included the construction of new academic buildings, residence halls and a $30 million campus enhancement project.
Sherine and Sani Mathew are longtime singers of the University's Alma Mater. A scholarship in their names was announced at a campaign launch event.
As residents of nearby Highland Springs Living Community, they participate in a walking group that often visits campus.
“It’s amazing to see how this has developed,” said Connie, who has lived in Richardson since 1968 with her husband, who serves as a volunteer on the Arts and Humanities Advisory Council.
Ted McPherson, a business strategist and UT Dallas Development Board member, attended the nighttime festivities with his wife, Sally. The McPhersons and other guests gathered at a reception flanked by budding magnolia trees and the bubbling sounds of the reflecting pools. There at Chess Plaza, music from the Texas Instruments Jazz Band drifted through the crowd as guests enjoyed the spring evening.
“UT Dallas is the biggest thing in Dallas since the DFW Airport,” he said. “UTD is a blue chip growth stock.”
He pointed to strong leadership and a growing student body as evidence of the University’s trajectory toward national prominence.
Harvey Wiggins, head of Plexon Inc. and longtime supporter of the University, donned a blue tie with white wavy lines representing the brain’s electrical signals – a nod to his career in the biomedical engineering industry.
“I look at it from the view that North Texas is like the next Silicon Prairie instead of Silicon Valley,” he said, adding that UT Dallas is the most logical source for providing the highly skilled technology employees of the future.
State Representative Stefani Carter and State Representative Jerry Madden attended.
State Rep. Jerry Madden MS ’78 also attended the evening reception. He was among the authors of the Tier One bill, formally known as House Bill 51, which is intended to establish more national research universities in Texas.
“We knew that UT Dallas would be a leading contender,” Madden said. “[The bill] put UT Dallas in a position to compete to be a Tier One university. It’s an important thing for our whole community, and for this whole area. It’s a standing that we need to have, certainly in the Dallas area, and in North Texas. We can’t do without it.”
Madden, who earned a master’s degree from UT Dallas, has seen firsthand the University’s growth as he lives about a mile from campus.
Two construction cranes crisscrossed under the darkening sky, ceasing work for the day on the new Arts and Technology Building as guests filtered toward a tented dining hall.
Hundreds of students attended the campus-wide launch event, including (from left): Isaac Butterfield, Sarah Hubbard, Lauren Marek, Liz Albert, Samantha Gedelian and Stephanie Marek.
At the evening event, Daniel and other speakers announced gifts from companies, foundations and individual donors totaling more than $20 million, part of the $110 million already raised toward the campaign goal. The gifts included funds for scholarships, research programs focused on the brain, construction of a center devoted to research and treatment of autism, further campus enhancement and a new biomedical device center.
Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of The University of Texas System, summarized the history of UT Dallas, acknowledging the vision of its founders, Texas Instruments pioneers Eugene McDermott, Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green. He personally thanked longtime supporter Mrs. Margaret McDermott, who was in attendance.
University Campaign Co-Chair Ron Nash
“Unlike many young public universities embarking on their first campaigns, this institution has the good fortune to be standing on the shoulders of giants,” Cigarroa said.
Campaign co-chair and Dallas business leader Ron Nash MS ’79 spoke, urging participation in the campaign as a benefit to the University, the community and the state.
“The reason it was so easy for all of us (the University Campaign Council) to join this campaign, is because we all believe in the leadership of David Daniel,” Nash said to fervent applause. “Capital campaigns provide the funding to bring talented professors here, to attract very bright students, to build research labs and to develop very innovative programs. We need to do all of those things to bring UT Dallas into Tier One.”
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