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University Celebrates Benefactors, Newest Endowed Chairs at Investiture Ceremony
May 11, 2017
Dr. Francesca Filbey, an associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, has kept a photo in her office from the day her former dean and mentor Dr. Bert Moore presented her with a diploma from The University of Texas at Dallas. Moore, who was dean for 26 years, died in October 2015.
Now Filbey has another cherished reminder of the “tremendous impact” Moore has had on her career. She has been invested as the Bert Moore Chair in BrainHealth.
“It was really his leadership and reputation that made me think this was going to be a great place for me, and it has been. He really shaped my career from the very beginning, and having this chair really means a lot to me because it ensures me that I will have his steadfast support as long as I have this career,” Filbey said.
Moore’s widow, Dr. Lynne Kirk, was among the distinguished guests and family members who attended the April 7 investiture ceremony. Kirk holds an endowed professorship of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
In all, 13 of the most accomplished faculty members at UT Dallas were recognized with the highest award a university can bestow, as family members, colleagues, mentors and benefactors gathered to pay tribute.
The ceremony recognized the distinguished faculty members as well as the donors who helped establish the endowed chairs and professorships. UT Dallas has more than 110 chairs and professorships that recognize the contributions of senior-level faculty members and support their programs and research.
“These endowments are integral to the University’s ability to draw from the most distinguished scholars in their fields. Donors who create named professorships ensure the vitality of our academic and scientific efforts,” UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson said.
Dr. Ganesh Janakiraman, Ashbel Smith Professor in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, hugs his 10-year-old daughter Shruthi during the reception.
Faculty members who were invested hold professorships and chairs in the Office of the President; the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication; the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences; the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science; and the Naveen Jindal School of Management.
The investees took center stage as Benson described their professional accomplishments. Then their respective deans and Dr. Inga Musselman, interim provost, draped an investiture medallion around each recipient’s neck, signifying the honor of the investiture.
“These outstanding faculty members serve as institutional leaders; conduct innovative research; mentor junior faculty, graduate and undergraduate students; and help to attract the very best and brightest individuals to our University,” Musselman said.
Benson, who became president of UT Dallas in July 2016, was invested with the Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership, created by Margaret McDermott in honor of her late husband and University co-founder. Benson thanked Mrs. McDermott and Mary McDermott Cook for their longtime generosity and counsel.
Dr. Anne Balsamo, the inaugural dean of the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication, had two donors to thank: the Edith O’Donnell Foundation for establishing the ATEC Distinguished University Chair, and the Eugene McDermott Foundation for creating the Arts and Humanities Distinguished Chair.
“ATEC is one of the most exciting research learning efforts going on in higher education, a school that fosters collaborations among artists, scientists, humanists and technologists. I can’t imagine an adventure more worthy or more inspiring,” Balsamo said.
Dr. Lisa Goffman, Nelle C. Johnston Chair in Communications Disorders in Children, connected the dots between the name of her chair and UT Dallas. Nelle Johnston was chair of a pilot program in 1958 that was later to become Callier Center for Communication Disorders.
“I’m proud to occupy a chair that is named for a woman who, though clearly understated, contributed in a deep and sustained manner to the remarkable model of clinical programming and research that Callier Center maintains to this day,” Goffman said.
A benefactor’s family members were among those who witnessed the investiture of Dr. Donggyu Sul as the John F. Kain Professor of Economics, including Kain’s widow, Mary Fan Kain, and daughter, Joanna Gentsch, who is a director in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Gentsch reflected after the ceremony that the research her father contributed has come “full circle.” Kain did research on economics in South Korea, where Sul is from; Sul has researched Kain’s contributions to economics.
“We are all thrilled that my dad’s legacy will be carried on at UT Dallas. It’s wonderfully ironic that Dr. Sul will hold the chair,” Gentsch said.
Dr. Nicole L. Piquero, Robert E. Holmes Jr. Professor in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, expressed appreciation for her dean, colleagues, co-authors and grad students. “It’s nice to have your research recognized, but the most important thing to me is helping graduate students get the research bug,” she said after the ceremony.
She also credited her husband, Dr. Alex Piquero, Ashbel Smith Professor of Criminology, for being her “biggest cheerleader — sometimes annoyingly so.”
Piquero said her husband later teased her about her comments. “He said, ‘Really, you had to say annoying?’ I told him everyone who knows you gets it. He’s annoying in the best possible way.”
Media Contact: Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].