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Jon Senderling, UTD
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McDermott Donates $32 Million to UT Dallas

RICHARDSON, Texas (September 26, 2000) - Mrs. Margaret McDermott, wife of Texas Instruments co-founder Eugene McDermott, presented an historic $32 million gift to The University of Texas at Dallas.  The gift establishes and endows the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program which is designed to attract 20 of the nation's brightest students to the campus each year, according to Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, Executive Vice President and Provost of the University.

Ross Perot, Mrs. McDermott and President Jenifer

Ross Perot greets Mrs. McDermott while President Franklyn Jenifer looks on.

Leaders from around the nation and state were on hand to witness the event. Among the guests were Mary Cook, Mrs. McDermott's daughter and president of the Eugene McDermott Foundation; Ross Perot; state Representative Fred Hill;  Gary Slagel, mayor of the city of Richardson; Dr. Krish Prabhu, CEO of Alcatel and chairman of UTD's development board; Dr. William Friday, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill; Mr. R. Dan Burck, Interim Chancellor of the UT System; Dr. Ed Sharpe, Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs for the UT System; Mary and Rich Templeton, Texas Instruments Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; former Governor Bill Clements and Mrs. Rita Clements Vice Chairman of the UT Board of Regents.  Also in attendance were Louis and Julie Beecherl and Edith and Peter O'Donnell.

UTD officials hope that in time the McDermott Scholars will have the same recognition as Morehead Scholars.  The Morehead program is based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Winners of the McDermott award, like those of the Morehead, receive a full funding through the school year and summer.  The program pays for trips around the country and abroad to enhance the scholars' education.

"Many students will turn down Harvard, Yale and a whole host of private and public institutions just to be a Morehead Scholar because of all of the perks.  It literally takes care of you," said Dr. Franklyn Jenifer, President of UTD.

McDermott Scholars will come from the top 10 percent of their high school classes, score well on college entrance exams and show evidence of leadership.  Margaret McDermott expects scholars to be "well-rounded, ethical, smart, anxious to learn and curious."

Dr. William Friday, who was North Carolina's president from 1956 to 1986, noted that what happens in a program like this is, in a generation, one finds former recipients sitting on the state Supreme Court, in  legislative bodies, as CEOs and presidents of their companies.  "That's Margaret McDermott's legacy.  She is saying 'We are going to find the 20 most talented, well-prepared, hard-working young men and women, and we're going to give them the richest undergraduate experience they can find anywhere in the United States'."

Mrs. McDermott and Dr. William Friday

Margaret McDermott (with Dr. William Friday): contributions past and present.

The program at UTD is named for a man who was a key player in higher education throughout his life.  Mr. Eugene McDermott teamed with his business partners to transform an oil company into Texas Instruments.  He and those partners, J. Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green, created a private research institute in the 1960's, then donated the land to the state of Texas to become the University of Texas at Dallas in 1969.

Dr. Jenifer stated that the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program is a great boost to the University.  "At least, we're seeing now that the community is saying 'UTD, you've made it, and we're behind you.  As good as your past has been, your future is even better'."

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This page last updated April 5, 2001