The University of Texas at Dallas is home to bold innovators whose vision and accomplishments have paved the way for our bright future.
From left: Eugene McDermott, J. Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green.
March, 1961
The Seeds of UT Dallas

Eugene McDermott, J. Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green observe promising young Texans leaving the state to pursue education while their company, Texas Instruments, imports out-of-state talent to work at their Dallas-based headquarters. Hoping to create better higher-education opportunities in North Texas, the trio establishes the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest (GRCSW) — the foundation for what will become The University of Texas at Dallas.

September, 1961
GRCSW’s First President

The GRCSW appoints Lloyd V. Berkner as its first president. The Minnesota-raised engineer and physicist joined the Texas Instruments board in 1957. In 1966, he would go on to earn NASA’s highest civilian award: the Public Service Medal.

Students at the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest/Southwest Center for Advanced Studies meet with Dr. Francis (Frank) Johnson.
February, 1962
Atmospheric and Space Science Division Takes Flight

The GRCSW appoints Dr. Francis (Frank) Johnson to lead its atmospheric and space science division. Johnson is joined by William B. Hanson, Dr. Gilbert Plass, Dr. John Hoffman, Dr. Brian Tinsley and Dr. Walter Heikala.

Dr. Anton Hales
January, 1963
Geophysics Division Forms

The GRCSW appoints Dr. Anton Hales to lead the geophysics division. He is joined by Dr. Dean Presnall, Dr. Emile Pessagno Jr., Dr. James Carter, Dr. William Manton and Dr. Richard Mitterer.

July, 1963
New Mathematics Division

Ivor Robinson, Dr. Istvan Ozsváth and Dr. Wolfgang Rindler join the GRCSW and form the mathematics and mathematical physics (relativity) division.

November, 1963
A Presidential Speech

On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was scheduled to deliver a speech at the Dallas Trade Mart. His prepared remarks included a salute to the newly formed GRCSW:

“It is not a coincidence that those communities possessing the best in research and graduate facilities — from MIT to Cal Tech — tend to attract the new and growing industries. I congratulate those of you here in Dallas who have recognized these basic facts through the creation of the unique and forward-looking Graduate Research Center.”

Ivor Robinson, professor emeritus, at a chalkboard.
November, 1963
A Successful Conference

GRCSW faculty Ivor Robinson and Dr. Wolfgang Rindler organize the first Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics held in Dallas.

Vice President of the United States Spiro T. Agnew and Erik Jonsson were among the attendees of the Callier Hearing and Speech Center Dedication in 1969.
December, 1963
Callier Center Takes Root

Through the generosity of Lena E. Callier, the Callier Hearing and Speech Center opens as a community-based nonprofit housed at Parkland Hospital.

December, 1963
Breaking Ground

Crews break ground for the Founders Building on a stretch of blackland prairie in Richardson, Texas.

October, 1964
Origin of Founders Day

After a year of construction, the Founders Building opens its doors to a crowd of onlookers. Co-founders J. Erik Jonsson, Eugene McDermott and Cecil Green attend, and Jonsson speaks to the crowd. In honor of this extraordinary moment, Comets celebrate Founders Day every Oct. 29.

November, 1964
New Biology Division

GRCSW establishes the biology division, led by Carsten Bresch and joined by Dr. Claud Stanley Rupert, Dr. John Jagger, Dimitri Lang, Dr. Hans Bremer, Harms Harris and Dr. Royston Clowes.

Gifford Johnson (left) and founder Erik Jonsson
July, 1965
GRCSW’s Second President

GRCSW appoints Gifford K. Johnson as its second president. He serves until 1969, working closely with Dr. Harry Ransom of the UT System and founder J. Erik Jonsson to establish UT Dallas.

July, 1967
New Name, Same Mission

The Graduate Research Center of the Southwest changes its name to the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies.

Jay D. Jacoby, a Clark Foundation research trainee, adds finishing touches to a celestial globe.
July, 1968
New Summer Program

The Anson L. Clark Foundation establishes the Clark Summer Research Program, which provides first-year students with opportunities to join research groups and conduct hands-on experiments.

July, 1969
Frank Johnson Makes a Stellar President

Dr. Francis (Frank) Johnson becomes acting president of the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, and later of UT Dallas. Johnson comes to the center with an impressive space science career: he served in the Air Force during World War II, designed instruments to study German V2 rockets captured after WWII, served on NASA and National Science Foundation advisory boards, and invented a lunar atmospheric pressure gauge that flew on Apollo flights 12, 14, and 15.

August, 1969
From Southwest Center to UT Dallas

The 61st Texas Legislative Session passes HB 303, establishing a “state-supported institution of higher education to be known as The University of Texas at Dallas.” Gov. Preston Smith signs the bill, making UTD an official member of The University of Texas System effective September 1969.

September, 1969
First Students Under a New Banner

In September, 62 graduate students enter the campus underneath a handmade sign that reads, “The University of Texas at Dallas,” the first time the name is used on campus.