Rich and Mary Templeton, longtime supporters of SMU, have committed $5 million for research at SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. Their generous gift provides a major boost to the University’s externally sponsored research, which is critical to the University’s global academic prestige.
This gift, which includes $4 million for an endowment and $1 million for operations, creates the Templeton Endowed Research Excellence Fund. The fund is flexible, allowing for support of the most pressing and important research needs in the Lyle School at any given time. It covers a range of project essentials, including postdoctoral researchers, doctoral and graduate student stipends, equipment and supplies.
Working in collaboration with SMU’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies, the Lyle School will select projects that benefit the University’s research portfolio, along with faculty who have strong track records for significant external research funding and success in recruiting elite graduate students. Metrics of success will be defined by the school and the research teams.
“This investment in research is critical to strengthening SMU’s academic quality and attracting top graduate students who will seek solutions to some of the world’s most stubborn problems,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Rich and Mary have a long history of supporting successful initiatives to advance technological innovation. They understand what is required to be a premier research university, and their generous gift will play an important role in moving our University closer to the global reputation we desire.”
“Research is essential to SMU’s ability to make an impact through technology. We’re delighted to help make that happen,” said Mr. Templeton, who is chairman, president and CEO of Texas Instruments and also serves on SMU’s Board of Trustees.
“Our family has deep connections to SMU,” said Mrs. Templeton, renowned community philanthropist and volunteer. “The University’s goals and strategies to bolster research are aligned with our vision for higher education and technology.”
Brad E. Cheves, SMU’s Vice President for Development and External Affairs, said the University is honored to count the Templetons as supporters. “We are grateful that Mary and Rich are advocates for SMU and our educational and research aspirations. They have accomplished much in their lives, and their generosity is rooted in a desire to help others make a difference in the world.”
SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven C. Currall said the gift addresses important University goals. “A robust and productive portfolio of externally sponsored research is key to reaching our collective vision of SMU’s future.”
Lyle Engineering Dean Marc P. Christensen said, “This gift can mean the difference between advancing research or watching a good idea die on the vine. It allows us to recruit the most talented students and faculty, and enables them to lead the way in emerging areas of research.”
SMU continues to raise its academic quality and standing through deliberate efforts to enhance scholarly research, including more postdoctoral researchers in targeted areas and increased support.
“These practices will attract stronger applicants and help doctoral students complete their programs more quickly,” said James E. Quick, dean of Research and Graduate Studies at SMU.
The Templetons’ gift is their latest to SMU.
In May 2014 the couple delivered the Lyle School Commencement address, at the same ceremony during which their son Jim Templeton ’14 received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. That same year in September, their $2 million gift to the Lyle School established the Mary and Richard Templeton Centennial Chair in Electrical Engineering. In May 2016, the University received another Templeton gift in the form of an inspirational SMU Commencement address they delivered to the entire graduating Class of 2016.
Mary Templeton is a philanthropist and community volunteer who had a 14-year career with General Electric (GE) as a financial analyst before moving to Dallas. She has served on the board of trustees for the University of Dallas, John Paul II High School, Ursuline Academy of Dallas, Ursuline Academy Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Southwest Region, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, and her alma mater, Union College, from which she holds degrees in computer science and economics. Mrs. Templeton is a member of the Advisory Council of The Catholic Foundation. In 2011 she received the 29th Catholic Foundation Award for her extensive service to and support of Catholic education.
Rich Templeton has been chairman of the board of Texas Instruments since 2008, and president and CEO since 2004. In addition to his corporate duties, Mr. Templeton serves on the board of the Semiconductor Industry Association, and the board of trustees for the Southwestern Medical Foundation. He also is a member of the Business Roundtable. He is a member of the SMU Board of Trustees and also serves on the executive boards for the Lyle School of Engineering and the Cox School of Business. Additionally, Mr. Templeton served as chair of the 2012-13 United Way of Metropolitan Dallas campaign, and Mr. and Mrs. Templeton are co-chairing the 2018-19 campaign.
Under Mr. Templeton’s leadership, TI and the TI Foundation have invested generously in programs designed to strengthen global education, including K-12 STEM teaching and student achievement. The TI Foundation maintains a strong partnership with SMU, supporting ambitious programs to bring high-quality STEM education to underserved and economically disadvantaged students and to support innovation in engineering education. The TI Foundation endowed the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair in Engineering Education and the directorship of the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education at SMU’s Lyle School in 2008. Executives of TI have served on SMU’s Board of Trustees and provided guidance to other University committees and groups for decades.