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The University of Texas at Dallas, P.O. Box 830688, Richardson, Texas 75083-0688

News Release
For Immediate Release

News Contact: Jon Senderling, UTD, (972) 883-2565, [email protected]
Philanthropist Nancy Hamon to Endow
Aesthetic Studies Chair at U. T. Dallas

In Honor of Mrs. Margaret McDermott
First To Hold Position Will Be UTD Professor
And Modern Art Scholar Dr. Richard R. Brettell

Nancy B. Hamon, Dr. Richard R. Brettell, and Mrs. Margaret McDermott (Photo courtesy of Amy Conn-Gutierrez)RICHARDSON, Texas (May 3, 2004) — Dallas humanitarian, philanthropist and civic leader Nancy B. Hamon today announced she will endow a $1-million chair in aesthetic studies at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in honor of her longtime friend and UTD supporter Mrs. Margaret McDermott.

The first occupant of the chair, to be formally called the Margaret McDermott Chair in Aesthetic Studies, will be UTD Professor of Aesthetic Studies Dr. Richard R. Brettell, a world-renowned scholar of modern art, author of 15 books and catalogues and former McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art.

UTD President Dr. Franklyn Jenifer praised Mrs. Hamon “for her wonderful generosity to UTD and her ardent devotion to the arts in Dallas” and said her donation represented “the largest single gift to the interdisciplinary program in arts and humanities at the university,” which is better known to many – both in Dallas and in other parts of the United States -- for its engineering, business and science programs. “This plays to another of UTD’s strengths, one that many people may not know about.”

Brettell said he was “deeply honored” to be named the first recipient of the chair “because it will do so much to engage UTD’s superb program in arts and humanities with other important institutions in the city.”

With the funds provided by the chair, Brettell said, he will work to further the activities of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums (CISM), which he created at UTD in 1999 and to date has been funded through a five-year lead gift from the Felix and Elizabeth Rohatyn Foundation of New York. That program has resulted in the creation of two new graduate seminars at UTD devoted to the study of museums, workshops and lectures by artists and museum scholars from Europe and the United States, and, most recently, the appointment of Brettell as senior curator (adjunct) at the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University.

 In announcing the gift and creation of the $1-million chair in aesthetic studies, Mrs. Hamon said she insisted that the chair be named in honor of her friend Mrs. McDermott, because “no one has done more for UTD – or supported the university for a longer period of time -- than Margaret McDermott. She richly deserves this recognition.”

In 2000, Mrs. McDermott made the largest private gift to UTD in the university’s history -- $32 million to establish the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program, which was named after her late husband and modeled after the prestigious Morehead Scholars Program at the University of North Carolina. Eugene McDermott, who died in 1973, co-founded, along with former Dallas Mayor Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green, both also deceased, Texas Instruments and the research institution that in 1969 became The University of Texas at Dallas.

“The establishment of this chair is the result of the life-long friendship of Mrs. Hamon and Mrs. McDermott,” said UTD Provost Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, who worked with Mrs. McDermott on the establishment of the McDermott Scholars Program. “Both Mrs. Hamon and Mrs. McDermott are philanthropists who make crucially important gifts to institutions throughout the city of Dallas, and their friendship for each other extends to many others, including Dr. Brettell, who, as McDermott Director, oversaw construction of the Hamon Building at the Dallas Museum of Art.”

Since being named senior curator at the Meadows Museum, Brettell has brought a colleague, Dr. Edmund Pillsbury Jr., former director the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and current director of the Meadows Museum, into CISM, and both Brettell and Pillsbury are now involved in innovative joint teaching projects with SMU and UTD graduate students.

Brettell enthused that by “combining the superb facilities, programs and faculties of SMU and UTD, the two universities can work together to launch a joint graduate program focused on the history and theory of museums that has the potential of being the finest in the country.

“This gift from Nancy Hamon in honor of her friend Margaret McDermott will bring scholars, museum professionals and institutions together to do better for everyone who lives in this great metropolitan area,” Brettell said.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 13,700 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s Web site at www.utdallas.edu.


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This page last updated: May 3, 2004