“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.
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.