New philanthropic fellowships honor legacy of TI founders


Erik Jonsson (middle) at a United Way event; Photo credit: J. Erik Jonsson papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist UniversityThe Texas Instruments Foundation has established a philanthropic fellowship program to honor our founders’ long legacy of giving back and leading nonprofit organizations in the community.

Funded by a total of $2.1 million in TI Foundation grants, the TI Founders Leadership Fellows program provides three annual nonprofit work experiences to university or graduate students planning a nonprofit career. The fellowships, designed to build a pipeline of nonprofit leaders in the Dallas area over the next 20 years, were established in collaboration with three local organizations with strong ties to our company’s founders – the Dallas Museum of Art, the University of Texas at Dallas and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

“Our founders created a legacy of deep community involvement and giving back,” said Andy Smith, executive director of the TI Foundation. “That legacy has strongly influenced our culture and has inspired decades of community service by TIers around the world. We want to honor their passion and commitment for making a difference and celebrate the impact their generosity has had on our community.”

Our company’s founders and their families have given tens of millions of dollars to better the lives of people around the world, especially in North Texas, championing education, investing in the arts and helping satisfy basic needs for those who are underserved. The TI Founders Leadership Fellows program is named in honor of Erik Jonsson, Eugene McDermott, Cecil Green and Pat Haggerty.

Our history with the United Way dates back to the early 1960s, when founder J. Erik Jonsson helped oversee the efforts of the American Red Cross and the Community Chest to create what was then called the United Fund. Jonsson was the first chairman of the United Fund board and was instrumental in its growth and direction to take care of the less-fortunate in the community.

In 1961, Jonsson and fellow founders Eugene McDermott and Cecil Green established the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, later renamed the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, in Richardson, Texas. Created as a school for students to complete their doctoral work and continue research, the center became part of the University of Texas System in 1969 and was renamed the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).

Erik Jonsson speaks at the UTD dedication ceremony for Founders Building on Oct. 29, 1964.

Supporting local arts and cultural programs remains a strong part of our philanthropic focus. TI and the TI Foundation have provided generous support to many nonprofit arts groups in Dallas, including the Dallas Museum of Art. Honoring a commitment that started with Eugene and his wife, Margaret McDermott, our company has continued to build on their legacy for more than 50 years by supporting exhibitions, programs and strategic initiatives at the museum.

“Following in the footsteps of our founders, we continue to ensure arts and culture programs remain a part of our community for all to enjoy, and to help make our city a more vibrant place to live and work,” Andy said.

Margaret McDermott served as president of the Dallas Art Association during the 1960s where she championed the nationally acclaimed 1962 exhibition The Arts of Man, an expansive overview of works from around the world.