Texas (May 3, 2004) — Dallas humanitarian, philanthropist and civic leader Nancy
B. Hamon today announced she will endow a $1-million chair in aesthetic studies at The
University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in honor of her longtime friend and UTD supporter
Mrs. Margaret McDermott.
The first occupant of the chair, to be formally called the Margaret McDermott Chair
in Aesthetic Studies, will be UTD Professor of Aesthetic Studies Dr. Richard R. Brettell,
a world-renowned scholar of modern art, author of 15 books and catalogues and former
McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art.
UTD President Dr. Franklyn Jenifer praised Mrs. Hamon “for her wonderful generosity
to UTD and her ardent devotion to the arts in Dallas” and said her donation
represented “the largest single gift to the interdisciplinary program in arts
and humanities at the university,” which is better known to many – both
in Dallas and in other parts of the United States -- for its engineering, business
and science programs. “This plays to another of UTD’s strengths, one
that many people may not know about.”
Brettell said he was “deeply honored” to be named the first recipient
of the chair “because it will do so much to engage UTD’s superb program
in arts and humanities with other important institutions in the city.”
With the funds provided by the chair, Brettell said, he will work to further the activities
of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums (CISM), which he created
at UTD in 1999 and to date has been funded through a five-year lead gift from the
Felix and Elizabeth Rohatyn Foundation of New York. That program has resulted in
the creation of two new graduate seminars at UTD devoted to the study of museums,
workshops and lectures by artists and museum scholars from Europe and the United
States, and, most recently, the appointment of Brettell as senior curator (adjunct)
at the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University.
In announcing the gift and creation of the $1-million chair
in aesthetic studies, Mrs. Hamon said she insisted that the chair be named in honor
of her friend Mrs. McDermott, because “no one has done more for UTD – or
supported the university for a longer period of time -- than Margaret McDermott.
She richly deserves this recognition.”
In 2000, Mrs. McDermott made the largest private gift to UTD in the university’s
history -- $32 million to establish the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program, which
was named after her late husband and modeled after the prestigious Morehead Scholars
Program at the University of North Carolina. Eugene McDermott, who died in 1973,
co-founded, along with former Dallas Mayor Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green, both also
deceased, Texas Instruments and the research institution that in 1969 became The
University of Texas at Dallas.
“The establishment of this chair is the result of the life-long friendship
of Mrs. Hamon and Mrs. McDermott,” said UTD Provost Dr. Hobson Wildenthal,
who worked with Mrs. McDermott on the establishment of the McDermott Scholars Program. “Both
Mrs. Hamon and Mrs. McDermott are philanthropists who make crucially important gifts
to institutions throughout the city of Dallas, and their friendship for each other
extends to many others, including Dr. Brettell, who, as McDermott Director, oversaw
construction of the Hamon Building at the Dallas Museum of Art.”
Since being named senior curator at the Meadows Museum, Brettell has brought a colleague,
Dr. Edmund Pillsbury Jr., former director the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and
current director of the Meadows Museum, into CISM, and both Brettell and Pillsbury
are now involved in innovative joint teaching projects with SMU and UTD graduate
Brettell enthused that by “combining the superb facilities, programs and faculties
of SMU and UTD, the two universities can work together to launch a joint graduate
program focused on the history and theory of museums that has the potential of being
the finest in the country.
“This gift from Nancy Hamon in honor of her friend Margaret McDermott will bring
scholars, museum professionals and institutions together to do better for everyone
who lives in this great metropolitan area,” Brettell said.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of
Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology
corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 13,700 students.
The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas
state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad
assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For
additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s Web site at www.utdallas.edu.