SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering Gets ‘Landmark’ $20M Gift from TI CEO and Former GE Analyst

The Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering at SMU

Southern Methodist University’s $1.5 billion fundraising campaign ‘SMU Ignited’ just got a big jolt of ignition. 

Texas Instruments President and CEO Richard Templeton and his wife Mary Templeton, a former longtime financial analyst at General Electric, have given a “landmark” $20 million gift to SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering.

The philanthropic couple have allocated $15 million to support engineering education and research, “providing endowment and operational support for strategic initiatives such as postdoctoral fellowships and research, financial assistance for doctoral students and undergraduate scholarships for women and students from underrepresented populations,” SMU announced.

A further $5 million will go to endow and name the school’s dean position, “supporting the Lyle School’s future-focused vision and student-centered approach, and providing funding to address pressing and immediate needs,” the university said.

‘Building future leaders’

Mary and Richard Templeton

“SMU provides the kind of robust education and research opportunities that are vital to the success and growth of Dallas,” Richard Templeton, who’s also an SMU trustee, said in a statement. “Mary and I are proud to be a part of SMU’s mission to inspire greatness in its students, its faculty, and its Mustang community members around the world.”

“Giving back to the community has always been a priority for our family,” added Mary Templeton, president of the Richard and Mary Templeton Foundation. “The Lyle School has a proven reputation for building future leaders who are unafraid to ask big questions. Rich and I are eager to see how our gift will support that kind of innovative thinking.”

Helping to ‘build a brighter tomorrow’

“As the SMU Ignited campaign continues to gain momentum, gifts like this advance the university’s strategic vision to enhance our research and teaching,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said in the statement. “Through their enduring commitment to the Lyle School of Engineering and its mission, Mary and Rich Templeton are helping our faculty and students build a brighter tomorrow.”

The Templetons’ gift combines with their prior gift commitments to the Lyle School to create the new Mary and Richard Templeton Engineering Excellence Program. The program includes support for postdoctoral fellowships, scholarships for doctoral candidates, undergraduate scholarships, research support, and a Mary and Richard Templeton Centennial Chair in Electrical Engineering to support an outstanding teacher and researcher who designs sophisticated technology.

“The Templetons’ generosity to the Lyle School is invaluable to SMU’s commitment to excellence and to reaching Carnegie R1 status,” said Elizabeth G. Loboa, SMU provost and VP for academic affairs. “With this gift, the Templetons are extending their legacy of pushing SMU into the upper echelons of higher education.”

Nader Jalili to be inaugural Mary and Richard Templeton Dean

SMU said the inaugural Mary and Richard Templeton Dean will be Nader Jalili, who is expected to join the school March 1. Jalili currently serves as professor and head of mechanical engineering at the University of Alabama.

With the naming of the Lyle School’s dean position, SMU now has donor-supported deans in all of its eight degree-granting schools, the university said.

Partnering since their college days

The Templetons go way back. They met as students at Union College and graduated together in 1980, SMU said. They’ve made education and research initiatives a focus in the decades since, founding the Richard and Mary Templeton Foundation in 2004. The couple’s other recent philanthropic efforts include co-chairing the 2018–19 United Way of Metropolitan Dallas campaign and donating generously to the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, according to SMU.


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