Dear McDermott Alumni, With a heavy but hopeful heart, I realize this will be my first letter from the President’s Desk since the passing of Margaret McDermott at 106 years of age. When I last wrote to you, she was still with us, inviting us to events, introducing us to the philanthropic community in Dallas, and generally continuing to inspire us with her sharp wit and boundless generosity and curiosity.
In May, those alumni who live in the area or were able to travel to Dallas attended a beautiful memorial service in her honor, during which the Dallas Symphony Orchestra performed aptly soaring compositions to complement a celebration of her life. The Association received over $1100 in memorial donations from alumni in lieu of flowers. The Board is considering proposals from its Grants Committee about how best to donate those funds to UT Dallas in honor of Margaret McDermott’s memory. We will keep you informed once that decision has been made and welcome any of your suggestions. Thanks to all those who donated.
Since May, we have been busy reforming the structure of the Board of your Alumni Association, electing new Board Members, forming committees, ensuring the continued vitality of the Worsfold Grants Program, and contributing to a worthy new student led, EMT organization at the University of Texas at Dallas, among other activities.
First, we have changed the structure of our Board by reducing the number of board members and increasing the size and involvement of its committees. As we have grown into an organization that is managing a sizable endowment and making decisions with more momentous legal and financial implications, we have increasingly recognized the need for a smaller and nimbler board. We want to make sure that every Board member has clearly-defined responsibilities and has the time to be fully informed on the crucial decisions on which each Board member is asked to vote.
While we are in a transition year with a larger Board as some members serve out their elected terms, this change will ultimately mean that we have a 13- or 14-person Board, comprised of the officers who serve as President, President-Elect, Vice President of Development, Secretary, Treasurer, Committee Chairpersons, and members of the Finance and Investment Committee. This smaller board will be complemented by its Committee Members, who have begun to serve the Association in increasing numbers as our activities and tasks have grown. I am confident that this new structure will help us to efficiently and diligently address the growing responsibilities of our Association.
Our second-biggest news since May involves the Association’s grant of just over $14,000 to the University Emergency Medical Response (“UEMR”) organization, a student-formed, state licensed first responder organization that provides EMT services on the UT Dallas campus using trained student, faculty, and staff volunteers. UEMR was the brainchild of UT Dallas students and McDermott Scholars, including Umer Nadir, a 2015 McDermott Scholar, who writes about the organization here. UEMR stepped in to fill a void at UT Dallas, which previously lacked an on campus medical emergency response team.
Students, staff, and visitors formerly relied on the Richardson Fire Department (RFD) for any medical emergencies, which sometimes led to long wait times due to RFD’s heavy work load. UEMR works closely with the UT Dallas and its police department to provide 24-hour operations on campus. Since the fall semester began, in addition to answering approximately five to ten calls for assistance per day, UEMR has also provided dozens of hours of education and training to over 200 UT Dallas students.
As reported on this site, the Worsfold Grants Program continues to provide crucial support to enable meaningful student-initiated service and arts activities on the UT Dallas campus and beyond. Just this spring, students were sent to a migrant shelter in Ixtepec, Mexico as part of a Brothers Across/Over Borders Program, and medical equipment was purchased to assist the UTD Global Medical and Dental Brigades in bringing healthcare resources to rural communities in Central America through a free medical clinic, which they hosted in Panama this summer.
Finally, with sadness I report that our McDermott family suffered another tragic loss this year: in late August Marv Wurzer passed away. Among many other things, Marv was father to Maggie, Molly, and Jake, husband to Lynn, and former legal counsel to our Board. We will miss Marv’s kind spirit and wise counsel, and we extend our sincere condolences to his family in this difficult time.
As you can see, while it has been a difficult year in several ways, there are also many reasons to be joyful and hopeful as we champion the legacy of Margaret McDermott. Mary McDermott Cook embodies another of these reasons, and we continue to treasure our close relationship with her. I know all of you have many fond memories with Mary, beginning with war stories from the Chama River in Santa Fe and continuing throughout your time at UT Dallas and beyond. On Saturday, October 20, Mary graciously carried on the tradition of hosting the newest class of McDermott Scholars at the McDermott Ranch for a cookout. Several alumni were also invited to attend, and we enjoyed our traditional stroll around the ranch with Mary and a fireside chat with the 2018s.
For the remainder of the year, we will focus on analyzing potential projects and recipients for our next major donations to the UT Dallas and Dallas communities, raising funds for those donations and for our events and activities, selecting the alumni members of the Finalists Weekend Selection Committee, approving the Association’s 2019 Budget, and setting each committee’s goals and the schedule of events for the upcoming year. We are also working to make our website more informative, interactive, and up-to-date, with an events calendar, frequents posts about our activities, and more. We hope you like the new look and content! We look forward to catching up with you at an event soon, whether here in Dallas or in your region.
Megan Coker (’06), President
Eugene McDermott Scholars Program Alumni Association