McDermott’s $10 Million Gift Creates New Name for Honors College

Editors’ Note: This feature appears as it was published in the spring 2017 edition of UT Dallas Magazine. Titles or faculty members listed may have changed since that time.
Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, center here with current students and alumni, was feted at a luncheon in January 2017 announcing the Honors College being named for him.








The University’s Honors College is now the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College, in recognition of its long-serving chief academic officer. The college is the administrative home of many programs created for outstanding undergraduates.

University President Richard C. Benson announced the naming at an event in January to celebrate a gift of $10 million from Mrs. Margaret McDermott to support undergraduate research. The terms of Mrs. McDermott’s gift included recognition of Wildenthal’s many contributions to the University’s success.

“I can think of no greater honor than having Margaret McDermott link her latest gift to a request that our Honors College be named in my recognition,” Wildenthal said. “The endowment is perfectly targeted at our great students. Undergraduate research is the core to the future of a great university. What a lifetime privilege it has been to work with Margaret McDermott and [her daughter] Mary McDermott Cook. This great occasion is yet another that marks the University’s ongoing climb to greatness.”

The Honors College, led by Dean Edward J. Harpham, was formally established in 2014. It houses eight programs that promote excellence in undergraduate education. Located in the Cecil and Ida Green Center at the heart of campus, the college serves almost 1,000 students. Mrs. McDermott’s prior major benefactions to UT Dallas — the university founded by her husband, Eugene McDermott, and his partners Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green, the men who also created Texas Instruments — include the McDermott Suite in McDermott Library, the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program, many major endowed professorships, the epochal UT Dallas Campus Enhancement Project, designed by renowned landscape architect Peter Walker, and the Eugene McDermott Graduate Fellows Program.

Wildenthal has served as chief academic officer of UT Dallas with UT Dallas Presidents Robert Rutford, Franklyn Jenifer, David Daniel and now Richard Benson, and served as president ad interim between the tenures of Presidents Daniel and Benson. He has worked closely with Mrs. McDermott over the years to ensure that the University fulfills the aspirations that motivated her impactful gifts to UT Dallas.

Mrs. McDermott, remarking about this latest gift, noted: “I have enjoyed the many hours, days and years that I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Hobson Wildenthal, past, present and future. His commitment to my husband’s dream of a great university has been steadfast, and he has been a trusted and candid friend and advisor as we have worked to make those dreams reality.”