Anniversary Now a Day Dedicated to Founders

UT Dallas founders

From left: Eugene McDermott, J. Erik Jonsson and Cecil H. Green.

On Oct. 29, 1964, the directors of the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest joined business and elected leaders to dedicate the Founders Building  — the first facility built on the campus that would become The University of Texas at Dallas.

Dignitaries from Dallas and across the state were on hand to dedicate the building and honor the institution’s founders, Cecil H. Green, J. Erik Jonsson and Eugene McDermott. According to records marking the dedication, distinguished guests seated on the platform included Richardson Mayor and Mrs. Herb Ryan, Mr. and Mrs. A. Earl Cullum Jr., Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Tatum Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Marcus. President Lyndon B. Johnson officially dedicated the building via telephone circuit.

“The Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, under the leadership of Dr. (Lloyd V.) Berkner, helps to fill a very vital need for the vigorous future of Texas and the Southwest,” Johnson said. “It has long had my admiration and my support.”

Half a century later, UT Dallas is honoring the vision and legacy of its founders with a special Founders Day celebration at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Founders Building.

Upon the dedication of the original facility, Gov. John Connally said to the crowd, “The Graduate Research Center of the Southwest is one important response to the challenge of change. In the years ahead, we will honor the day that the seed for this institution was planted by people who recognize the true destiny of Texas.”

It was Green, Jonsson and McDermott, three scientific entrepreneurs who deeply valued education and were dedicated to the future of Texas, who paved the way for a world-class university in North Texas.

Before World War II, the three founded Geophysical Services Inc., a company focused on seeking out natural resources. Corporate priorities shifted to creating instruments to help locate enemy planes and submarines during the war, and Texas Instruments was born. While growing the company, the leaders were forced to recruit engineering talent from outside the state as they watched bright young minds leave the region to pursue their education elsewhere. Identifying a need to develop highly educated resources at home and provide a competitive edge for Texas businesses, the men envisioned an institution that would foster learning, further research and attract the most influential minds of the day.

With this vision, Green, Jonsson and McDermott established the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest in 1961, which was renamed the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies (SCAS) in 1967. The founders transferred the assets of SCAS to the state of Texas in 1969, allowing for the transition to The University of Texas at Dallas.

“We would not be where we are today as a university if not for the innovative ideas and determined energy of our founders those many years ago,” said Dwight Clasby, interim director of development and alumni relations. “We look at this occasion as the first of many to continue recognizing the creative minds who laid the groundwork for UT Dallas.”

The Founders Day ceremony will feature remarks from UT Dallas President David E. Daniel and special guests, including Philip Jonsson, son of J. Erik Jonsson, who will speak about the founders’ vision for the University. Alumni and Texas Instruments employees Bill Krenik PhD’93 and Fern Yoon Ghouse BS’07, MS’08 will also speak.

Henceforth, UT Dallas will celebrate Founders Day on Oct. 29.

Commemorative Book Marked Dedication of Founders BuildingFounders Book

When the Founders Building was dedicated 50 years ago, Cecil H. Green, J. Erik Jonsson and Eugene McDermott were acting on a vision to create an institution that would impact not only those directly associated with the entity, but the entire region. Numerous individuals and corporations supported that vision, making contributions to what was then the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. Those individuals and corporations were noted in a leather-bound, commemorative Founders Book gifted to dedication attendees.

The pocket-size publication was “gratefully dedicated to the donors and volunteer leaders … who contributed to the success of the Dallas Founding Fund.” That fund made the initial building a reality, providing a space devoted to furthering scientific knowledge and advancing graduate education in the Southwest.

The nearly 800 listed supporters are a testament to the founders’ vision for the institution. Many of the names in the book still resonate across North Texas today — Caruth, Crow, Cullum, Glazer, Harben, Hoblitzelle, Hunt, Marcus, Pearce and Sammons. Others, such as Braniff Airways Inc. and Collins Radio Co., represent a piece of the region’s history.

View a complete list of founding supporters here.

The Founders

Cecil H. Green1900-2003Education: Master’s degree in electrical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyTexas Instruments: Co-founder, vice president and a director (1951-1975), honorary directorUT Dallas Legacy: Cecil H. Green Hall, Cecil and Ida Green CenterEndowed Professorships and Chairs: Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair of Academic Leadership, Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology Science, Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology, Cecil H. and Ida Green Chair of Systems Biology Science, Ida Green Professor

J. Erik Jonsson1901-1995Education: Master’s degree in mechanical engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTexas Instruments: Co-founder, president (1951-1958), chairman of the board (1958-1966) and honorary chairman (1966-1977)UT Dallas Legacy: Erik Jonsson Academic Center, Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer ScienceEndowed Professorships and Chairs: Erik Jonsson Distinguished Chair, Erik Jonsson Chair, Erik Jonsson Distinguished Professor, Erik Jonsson Professor, Margaret Fonde Jonsson Professor

Eugene McDermott1899-1973Education: Master’s degree in mechanical engineering, Stevens Institute of TechnologyTexas Instruments: Co-founder, chairman (1951-57), chairman of the executive committee on the board of directors (1958-1964) and a director (1965-1973)UT Dallas Legacy: Eugene McDermott Library, Eugene McDermott Scholars ProgramEndowed Professorships and Chairs: Eugene McDermott Distinguished Chair of University Leadership, Eugene McDermott Chair, Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies, Mary McDermott Cook Distinguished Chair for Undergraduate Education and Research 

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].