Investiture Ceremonies Begin New Tradition
A Week of Events Brings Thanks to Scholars, Donors Who Are Making Contributions to the University
Feb. 20, 2012
At the investiture ceremony for the School of Engineering and Computer Science (from left): Dean Mark Spong, Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham and Dr. Gopal Gupta.
Dr. Marion Underwood paid tribute to her father, who was present at her ceremony.
Dr. Emily Tobey and Dr. Aage Møller confer after the investiture ceremony for the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
The winter chill that kicked off a week of Investiture Ceremonies at UT Dallas eventually yielded to sunnier weather befitting the warm atmosphere at the University’s celebration of chaired faculty members.
The ceremonies acknowledged both the achievements of accomplished scholars and the generosity of far-sighted donors, said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel.
More than 50 faculty members from four schools celebrated investiture this week, including President Daniel and Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, the University’s executive vice president and provost. Investitures of those who hold endowed positions in UT Dallas’ other schools will be celebrated at a later date.
One by one, dressed in full academic regalia, each investee was introduced to crowds of colleagues, family members, students and mentors before receiving a medallion signifying the honor of their investiture. Each thanked those who had mentored them along the way and family members who had supported their careers, which began at universities throughout the country and around the world.
Strong themes emerged in their comments, from excitement about the energy of the quickly growing University, to appreciation for a smart and curious student body, to gratitude for the support that professors have received from the top to pursue their research.
“When I received tenure here at UT Dallas, one of my colleagues congratulated me on having become dead wood,” said Dr. Robert Xavier Rodriguez, world-renowned composer, aesthetic studies professor and holder of a School of Arts and Humanities Chair in Art and Aesthetic Studies. “It’s rewarding to me to see that dead wood has become a chair – and I’m grateful for the opportunity to sit in it.”
Rodriguez joined 14 of his colleagues in the School of Arts and Humanities at the ceremony, including Dean Dennis Kratz.
“The arts and humanities teaches us to look beyond surfaces,” Dr. Kratz said. “The medal to me represents years of conversation and prodding.
Dr. Emily Tobey was invested as the holder of the Nelle C. Johnston Chair in Communication Disorders in Children.
“Thank you, Abby!” he added, nodding to his wife, Associate Provost Abby Kratz. “She’s the one who did the prodding.”
These group ceremonies were planned to honor both recently recruited faculty chair and professorship holders, and those whose appointments had never been so celebrated. Dr. Roger Malina, the Arts and Technology Distinguished Chair, joined UT Dallas in 2011 and has dual appointments as a professor of arts and technology and a professor of physics.
“Excellence is not enough,” he said. “We must make UT Dallas unavoidable, and I am happy to help make this happen.”
A few of the honorees had arrived at UT Dallas more than 30 years ago. Dr. Stephen Rabe, a 35-year member of the UT Dallas faculty, reflected on the growth of the campus.
“There have been a lot of changes since the ’70s, and I’m very proud of the transformation,” he said.
Students celebrate with Dr. Dongsheng Brian Ma, an associate professor of electrical engineering and holder of the Erik Jonsson Distinguished Chair.
Dr. Dongsheng Brian Ma, associate professor of electrical engineering, shared his honor with his students.
“Most of these students are international students,” he said. “So when they move to this country, they have no relatives, no family, but they put their full trust and belief in me. So when I decided to move to UT Dallas from [the University of] Arizona, all of them had no hesitation and decided to move with me.”
After he described his students packing up their luggage and driving 1,000 miles on a hot summer day in 2010, the audience at the ceremony for the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science gave the students a round of applause.
One of those students is Chen Zheng, who is from China. “It was very emotional,” Zheng said of the ceremony. “We are so glad to see Professor Ma have such a great honor, and we are also happy we can be part of this achievement.”
Dr. Bruce Gnade, the University's vice president for research, was invested as the holder of the Distinguished Chair in Microelectronics.
Perhaps the person who traveled the farthest to attend was Dr. C.V. Ramamoorthy, a professor emeritus at UC Berkeley, and mentor of Dr. Farokh Bastani, who holds an Excellence in Education Chair in Computer Science. Bastani thanked his 90-year-old mentor, a “visionary pioneer in computer science.”
The honorees also thanked the donors who made their chairs possible.
Dr. Ross Roeser acknowledged longtime Dallasite Lois Wolf for the gift that created his Howard B. and Lois C. Wolf Professorship of Pediatric Hearing. He said the support made it possible for him to “do the things that would have been unimaginable 40 years ago.”
Mrs. Wolf and her husband established the professorship in 2007 to increase research involving hearing disorders in infants, toddlers and young children at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders.
“I’m so honored and delighted to be a part of this ceremony,” said Ms. Wolf. “It’s such an important part of life to be able hear, and for little children to be able to grow up and really hear and be a part of the world.”
Representatives of Texas Instruments attended Tuesday’s investiture ceremony for the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. The company donated funds to create the chairs for Dr. Massimo (Max) Fischetti and Dr. Julia Hsu, both professors of material science and engineering who were recruited to the University in 2010.
Dr. Hongbing Lu, a professor of mechanical engineering, was invested as the holder of the Louis Beecherl Jr. Chair.
Texas Instruments also supports two other endowed positions in ECS, for Dr. Kenneth O and Dr. Yves Chabal, whose investitures were celebrated approximately two years ago.
Trisha Cunningham, chief citizenship officer at Texas Instruments, said the company made the investments because it wanted to support UT Dallas’ efforts to become a national research university and to maintain close ties with the institution that the company’s founders established.
“We enjoy our partnership with UT Dallas. We work with universities all over the world, and it is wonderful to work with an institution of this caliber so close to home. We are truly happy with the trajectory they are on,” she said.
Dr. Aage Møller, professor of cognition and neuroscience, not only holds a professorship, but also made gifts to support two other positions. He and his late wife created the Aage and Margareta Møller Distinguished Chair, held by Dr. Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brian Sciences.
“This is a great pleasure to be honored for doing work I love to do,” Møller said during a reception held after his ceremony. “And I’ve been very privileged in another way to have the economic means to help other people, my colleagues, pursue the important work that means so much to them.”
Dr. John Hart, medical science director at the Center for BrainHealth, thanked the couple who endowed his chair, Bud and Jane Smith. He said the Smiths were involved in his hiring and have been very engaged with him personally and professional ever since.
“They helped recruit me here. They have been actively involved in my family’s life and mine,” Hart said. “They are very special people.”
Dr. Hart said his move to UT Dallas has created opportunities in his research that weren’t possible elsewhere. Dr. A. Dean Sherry, holder of the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology, hit a similar note at the ceremony for the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
“I felt I’ve had golden opportunities to build something great here at UT Dallas,” Sherry said. “We truly have a lot of freedom to pursue great research.”
Dr. Hobson Wildenthal took a momentary break from his formal duty of draping each honoree with his or her medallion to enjoy his own investiture as holder of the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair of Academic Leadership.
“There is no finer provost or chief academic officer to be found anywhere,” President Daniel said during his introduction.
After stepping to the lectern, Wildenthal thanked several long-time donors to the University, including Mrs. Margaret McDermott, Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green.
“This ceremony is all about appreciation, and I have great appreciation and thanks for the vision of our donors,” he said.
The Investiture Tradition
An investiture is a ceremony celebrating the formal conferral of honors associated with academic and research accomplishment.
A chair or professorship is created through the establishment of an endowed fund, often by a private donor. The investiture ceremony honors both the achievement of the faculty member and the generosity donors who create the funds that support the chair.
Faculty who hold these chairs and professorships are among the University’s most distinguished and accomplished by virtue of their research or creative work. Donors responsible for the creation of these enduring opportunities to reward faculty excellence include individuals, corporations, foundations and The University of Texas System, all of which have made lasting contributions to the University’s excellence.
Investitures of those who hold endowed positions in UT Dallas’ other schools will be celebrated at a later date.
Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, the University's Executive Vice President and Provost, was invested as the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair of Academic Leadership.
President David E. Daniel congratulates Dr. Margaret Owen, Robinson Family Professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Dr. Bruce Novak was invested as the Distinguished Chair in Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the school for which he is dean.
Dr. Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Science, was invested as the Aage and Margareta Møller Distinguished Professor.
Dr. Aage Møller talks with well-wishers after the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences ceremony, at which he was invested as the Margaret Fonde Jonsson Professor.
Dr. Mario Rotea was invested as the Erik Jonsson Chair in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
Dean Dennis Kratz (left) and Provost Hobson Wildenthal help Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth with her medal on the stage with UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. Ozsváth holds the Leah and Paul Lewis Chair of Holocaust Studies.
Dr. Susan Jerger was invested as an Ashbel Smith Professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.