in memoriam

SMU remembers Dallas philanthropist Margaret McDermott

Dallas philanthropist Margaret McDermottMargaret Milam McDermott, philanthropist and ardent supporter of Dallas education and arts institutions, died May 3, 2018, at the age of 106.

“Margaret McDermott epitomized the best of humanity,” says R. Gerald Turner, SMU president. “She was smart, curious, caring and devoted to helping others through her philanthropy in education and the arts. She will forever hold a special place at SMU for her support and gifts to the University, but most importantly as a remarkable example of how one person can benefit so many.”

In 1976, McDermott received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from SMU, honoring her steadfast community leadership and generosity. In 2000, she was among the first to receive the Profiles in Leadership Award given at the SMU Women’s Symposium. During her long association with SMU, she provided leadership and guidance to a number of areas across campus, including service on the SMU Fine Arts Council, Central University Libraries Advisory Board and Friends of the SMU Libraries. Most recently, McDermott developed a keen interest in the Meadows Museum, supporting art acquisitions, facility enhancements and Museum fundraising galas.

The Dallas Morning News: Margaret McDermott’s giving spirit and kind heart left all of Dallas better

McDermott’s husband, Eugene, who died in 1973, was a member of the SMU Board of Governors in 1961-73 and the SMU Board of Trustees in 1965-73. He was co-founder of Geophysical Service, Inc., the predecessor of Texas Instruments, Inc. In 2009, McDermott named the sweeping entry for the Meadows Museum, the Eugene McDermott Grand Terrace in the Meadows Museum Sculpture Plaza, in honor of her late husband.

The McDermotts’ gifts to SMU included support for the Central University Libraries, the Foundation for Science and Engineering, the Margo Jones Theatre in Meadows School of the Arts, and several annual funds. After her husband’s death, Mrs. McDermott continued her personal support with gifts to the Meadows School and to Meadows Museum. And through the Eugene McDermott Foundation, she contributed to the Hamon Arts Library Building, the Luís Martín Fellowship in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and a variety of Meadows School and Meadows Museum programs.

By | 2018-05-10T10:04:18+00:00 May 10, 2018|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

Memorial service for Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler ’48 held Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017

Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler '48 at a ceremony where she received SMU's 2011 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics AwardThe SMU community celebrated the life of civic and philanthropic leader Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler ’48, former chair of the SMU Board of Trustees, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Altshuler died Dec. 8.

As a leader, Altshuler was known for her intelligence, decisiveness, legendary fundraising skills and sense of humor. As a result, she became the first woman to lead numerous Dallas boards and organizations, including the Board of Trustees of her alma mater, SMU. Education, health and services for some of the most downtrodden members of society were areas that attracted her support, but her generosity touched nearly every Dallas civic organization. Her influence, however, went far beyond Dallas. Altshuler was recognized nationally and internationally as a dedicated civic leader and philanthropist.

“The loss of Ruth leaves a major hole in the hearts of us all,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Ruth was my dear friend as well as a tireless fighter for SMU and all causes she believed in. She didn’t do anything halfway. Her work on behalf of Dallas and SMU was legendary years ago, and yet she continued to lead and inspire us year after year. Her impact on her city and her University will live on forever.”

“Ruth was a wonderful member of the SMU Board of Trustees. She was high energy and full of enthusiasm in everything she did to help make SMU a leading global university,” said Michael M. Boone ’63, ’67, SMU Board of Trustees chair. “As a civic leader, Ruth fell into that special category known as the best of the best. The SMU community will miss her dearly.”

A Dallas native and 1948 SMU graduate, Altshuler served on the SMU Board of Trustees for 50 years. She brought knowledge and understanding of every aspect of University life to her position, along with a great love of SMU.

Altshuler has served on nearly every board or council at SMU, including individual schools, libraries, lecture series and search committees. She served on the executive boards of six out of SMU’s seven schools, as well as the executive boards of SMU’s libraries, Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series and the Maguire Ethics Center. In Altshuler’s 50 years of leadership, she worked with six SMU presidents, and helped select two of them as a member of the presidential search committees which appointed Dr. R. Gerald Turner and Dr. James H. Zumberge.

“I talked to Ruth almost every day,” said Brad Cheves, vice president for development and external affairs at SMU. “She was fully committed to this University — offering advice and counsel on all manner of topics. But ultimately what she was most committed to was helping get things done. It was never about Ruth; it was always about others and how she could help them accomplish more than they may have thought they could.”

Her understanding of SMU’s strengths and challenges led to intentional and thoughtful leadership and giving, benefitting student achievement and faculty teaching and research. The projects she supported were varied, but all struck a personal chord. They ranged from endowing business professorships in honor of brothers James M. Collins and Carr P. Collins, to providing research funds for history professors in honor of her son, history buff Charles Stanton Sharp, Jr. She and her husband, Dr. Kenneth Z. Altshuler, endowed the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center because of their interest in supporting the achievements of young people. In addition, she supported the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professors Award, which annually honors four professors for their notable commitment to fostering student learning, as well as endowing lecture series, scholarships and facilities for areas ranging from athletics to arts to academics.

Altshuler received nearly every award SMU offers, including the 2011 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics award, presented by SMU’s Cary Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility to individuals who exemplify the spirit of moral leadership and public virtue, and the 1966 Distinguished Alumni Award. With her husband, Kenneth, the Altshulers were presented the 1998 Mustang Award for extraordinary philanthropy to the University.

The family asks that instead of flowers, donations be made in her honor to the Salvation Army.

> Read the full story from SMU News

SMU remembers legendary swim coach George “Mac” McMillion

Known to most on the Hilltop as “Coach Mac,” legendary SMU swimming coach George McMillion has died. McMillion’s passing on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 came just days after the dedication of the new Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium last week.

McMillion was the head coach of the SMU men’s swimming team from 1971-88 after a standout career as a student-athlete and 14 years as an assistant coach. His impact on the SMU swimming program helped inspire the construction of the new center and led to his name being attached to the facility.

“I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved with SMU swimming while attending SMU,” said former SMU swimmer and a lead donor to the Aquatics Center, Bruce Robson. “Coach Mac made an impact on my life and the lives of so many others. His influence will continue to be felt at SMU for years to come.”

Another lead donor, Steve Lindley, said, “I always admired Coach Mac’s commitment and dedication to and passion for SMU, its swimming and diving programs, and especially his swimmers. You can’t put a value on this. Not only was he a very successful coach, but he was truly interested in and positively impacted all the people he touched. I am also very thankful to all those that helped make the new Aquatic Center and Natatorium a reality. This was Coach Mac’s vision and it is certainly a very fitting legacy to him.”

SMU President R. Gerald Turner echoed Lindley’s sentiments.

“Coach Mac’s legacy as a student-athlete, mentor and coach will live on has an enduring legacy at SMU and in the world of swimming,” Turner said. “His accomplishments at SMU are legendary, but it’s the positive impact he had on those around him that will forever define his greatness.”

Former SMU swimmer and lead donor Dr. Jody Grant said McMillion built on a history of winning at SMU.

“Coach Mac added to the outstanding swimming tradition established by Coach Red Barr many years ago,” he said. “It’s been an honor to be associated with the program over the years. Coach Mac will be greatly missed by all of us in the swimming community, but what he helped build here at SMU will live on forever.”

SMU Director of Athletics Rick Hart said McMillion was revered by the SMU swimming community.

“The Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center is a reality because his commitment and love of SMU swimming and diving inspired others to give back,” Hart said. “While we are saddened by his passing, and I will personally miss visiting with him on Thursday mornings, we take solace in knowing that the Barr-McMillion Natatorium will serve as a fitting tribute and a legacy to his influence and impact on our program.”

SMU men’s swimming coach Eddie Sinnott said McMillion’s relationships spread far and wide.

“Coach Mac was a fixture on the SMU campus for over six decades, as a student, athlete, teacher, coach administrator and alum,” Sinnott said. “He impacted literally thousands of lives, both young and old, throughout his time on the Hilltop.”

As a student, McMillion was captain of the 1954 SMU team, winning seven Southwest Conference individual championships. McMillion also helped the Mustangs to team championships in 1953 and 1954. He returned to SMU to become an assistant coach for 14 years, then succeeded Coach A.R. Barr in 1971. That same year, McMillion was honored as the Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy recipient, which is presented annually to an individual or organization which, in the estimation of the recipient’s peers, has contributed in an outstanding way to swimming as a competitive sport and healthful recreational activity.

McMillion led the program to eight consecutive Southwest Conference Championships and was named SWC Coach of the Year four times. He coached 78 All-Americans and 15 NCAA Champions, while his teams earned 14 NCAA top-10 finishes.

“Coach Mac was a big influence on my life and coaching career,” said head women’s swimming coach Steve Collins. “I came to SMU in the fall of 1977 to work as a graduate assistant with the SMU men’s team to learn from George McMillion. During the course of my career, Coach Mac was a mentor and a friend whom I will miss dearly.”

On the international level, McMillion mentored 10 Olympians, including five Olympic medalists – Steve Lundquist, Ricardo Prado, Rich Saeger, Jerry Heidenreich and Ronnie Mills. His Mustang swimmers earned a combined six gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

McMillion was inducted into the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011, the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Texas Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in 2009.

The Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium honors SMU swimming and diving’s tradition of excellence.

“Our dream of building an Aquatics Center has been realized, and I am so grateful that he was able to see the finished product shortly before his death,” Collins added. “His legacy will live on and be honored in the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium, and through the lives of the many people touched as a teacher, swim coach and friend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the McMillion family.”

Memorial gifts may be made to The Coach George McMillion Men’s Swimming Endowment Fund at SMU, online at www.smu.edu/giving or by mail to SMU Gift Administration; PO Box 402; Dallas, TX  75275-0402.

“From the Learn to Swim Program to the Olympic gold medal, he helped young men and women reach their goals, while helping them develop into the people they ultimately became. His legacy will forever be remembered in the hearts of those he touched. He has run his race, and he has won,” Sinnott concluded.