University Celebrates Supporters, McDermott Naming of Mall, Plaza
In the Last Fiscal Year, Donors Gave $59 Million, the Second-Highest Total in UT Dallas History
Margaret McDermott Trellis Plaza and Margaret McDermott Mall are named in honor of the longtime supporter of UT Dallas and wife of University co-founder Eugene McDermott.
Hundreds of alumni, corporate partners, faculty, staff and students gathered to recognize supporters of The University of Texas at Dallas during a recent celebration highlighted by the naming of the campus mall and Trellis Plaza in honor of the late Margaret McDermott.
After a nearly record year of fundraising for UT Dallas, there was much to applaud at the Celebration of Support, held Oct. 18 in the Davidson-Gundy Alumni Center. Over the course of the last fiscal year, more than 7,100 donors contributed over $59 million, the second-highest total in UT Dallas history.
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Dr. Kyle Edgington, vice president for development and alumni relations, stressed the critical role that supporters play in catalyzing the University’s success.
“UT Dallas is the fourth-fastest-growing public university in the United States,” he told the crowd. “We are extremely proud of that, and your philanthropic support is the engine driving everything we do.”
At the event, UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson announced the naming of the mall and plaza, recently approved by the UT System Board of Regents, for Mrs. McDermott. The wife of University co-founder Eugene McDermott, she helped transform UT Dallas through her visionary leadership, spirit and support.
With the $50 million Campus Enhancement project, Mrs. McDermott is credited with transforming a campus of concrete facades and corporate buildings into one of the most aesthetically distinct campuses in Texas. The focal point of her efforts can be found in the central mall and the plaza, two destinations that serve as the spiritual heart of campus.
Mrs. McDermott’s support also extended to the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program, which provides full scholarship support to some of UT Dallas’ most talented students. Scholars also enjoyed a personal relationship with Mrs. McDermott, which included invitations to her home for an annual cookout and weekly lunches.
Several of the more than 300 current and past McDermott Scholars attended the Celebration of Support to remember their benefactor.
McDermott Scholars past and present celebrated the legacy of Margaret McDermott, who endowed the scholars program in 2000, at the event.
“A lot of Mrs. McDermott’s support over the years was either anonymous or done in her husband’s name,” said Megan Coker BA’10, a 2006 McDermott Scholar and president of the program’s alumni association. “But she continued to take an interest in our lives even after graduation, so it’s nice to be able to see her legacy continue through this naming.”
Erica Yaeger MBA’02 also reflected on Mrs. McDermott’s contributions. “Mrs. McDermott was a visionary,” she said. “At a time when wives often remained in the background, Mrs. McDermott took a leading role at UTD and around Dallas. What a wonderful way to remember her legacy.”
Amid green and orange decorations and music of the Texas Instruments Jazz Band, Benson emphasized the importance of the Celebration of Support.
“This University is growing by leaps and bounds,” Benson said. “It is wonderful to recognize the people who have been so generous to UT Dallas. This includes individuals, longtime corporate sponsors, friends of our institution and especially students and staff who have also chosen to give back to our community.”
Issac Vilchis BS’18 echoed the president’s message.
A first-time donor to UT Dallas last year, Vilchis was motivated by his experience in the University’s Academic Bridge Program to begin helping future UTD students in the same way in which he benefited from past support from alumni.
“It’s important to recognize those people who use their time and resources to help others,” he said.