The University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson has publicly announced the second major fundraising campaign in its history: a $750 million initiative dedicated to transformative priorities across campus.
New Dimensions: The Campaign for UT Dallas aims to raise enough money to help meet the needs of students, expand the impact of research, and create a destination for cultural dialogue in North Texas. The co-chairs are John Olajide BS’04, founder and CEO of Axxess, and Ron Nash MS’79, a veteran business executive in the tech industry and senior advisor to the Department of Defense, and presenting sponsors are Axxess, Texas Instruments, the Eugene McDermott Scholars Alumni Association, and the O’Donnell Foundation.
It’s a new approach for the university, which, for its first 50 years, primarily focused fundraising efforts on becoming a hub for research and technical training. The founders’ vision was to make UTD an establishment that could support the growth of Dallas-Fort Worth. Since, it has become a Tier One research institution and destination for best-value academic programs.
UT Dallas is today known for its STEM and management education disciplines. Over the last decade, the university has expanded its reach into artistic study and creation: In 2014, the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History was founded, and in 2015, the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication opened.
Now, the university is hoping to redefine its impact on students, faculty, and the North Texas community with New Dimensions.
“This is a campaign primarily about people,” Dr. Richard C. Benson, UT Dallas president and the Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership, said during the virtual launch this week. “It’s about students whose lives will be changed by the opportunity a scholarship provides. It’s about the inventors who make their dreams a reality on our campus and then go out and change the world. It’s about patients who receive unparalleled care from our clinicians backed by cutting-edge research and technology.”
At the heart of the campaign is three main priorities: attracting the best and brightest students, enhancing lives through research, and transforming the arts on campus.
With the arts, UTD envisions the construction of the first major art museum north of Interstate 635. To be called the UT Dallas Athenaeum, the complex would house a performance hall and gallery space for internationally renowned art collections to create a “destination unlike anything currently available in North Texas.”
Anchoring the project would be two gifts UTD previously received, the Barrett Collection of Swiss art and the entire collection of the Trammell and Margaret Crow Museum of Asian Art.
For students, UT Dallas hopes the campaign will ensure comprehensive affordability across all its schools. The university is seeking to bolster its endowments for scholarships and fellowships, with the intent to expand educational opportunities for students of all backgrounds, enable social mobility, and add talent in the DFW region long after graduation.
“People in Dallas know that UT Dallas delivers the educated graduates, innovative technology and entrepreneurial ideas that can power the future growth of North Texas,” Olajide said in a statement. “We bring in talented students from around the world. Once they get here and live in the vibrant community this campaign will help shape, they’ll stay and power Dallas’ future growth.”
New Dimensions will also seek to generate new avenues of interdisciplinary inquiry that could expand collaboration between faculty and local institutions. That goal involves establishing endowed professorships to attract and retain leading researchers and funding the construction of a joint translational biomedical engineering and sciences building with UT Southwestern Medical Center.
“In a university, the point is not just to have ideas from the sciences and engineering, but to integrate them with the social sciences, arts and humanities to look at new ways we can change the shape of our future,” said Dr. Shalini Prasad, professor and head of bioengineering and the Cecil H. and Ida Green Professor in Systems Biology Science in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
In its stealth phase, New Dimensions already raised more than $311 million. That began in late 2017.
“UT Dallas is committed to serving our communities, and this campaign will define what that impact looks like for the next 50 years and beyond,” Kyle Edgington PhD’13, vice president for development and alumni relations, said in a statement. “I invite all of our alumni, corporate partners, neighbors and friends to join us in shaping this new era.”
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