Remembering Mrs. Margaret McDermott

May 20, 2018

On May 3, 2018, Mrs. Margaret McDermott passed away at the age of 106. There are very few who have contributed to MIT as much as Margaret and her family did. A co-founder of Texas Instruments, Eugene McDermott was a member of the MIT Corporation from 1960 to 1973. Since 1960, the Eugene and Margaret McDermott Scholarship Fund has supported nearly 3,000 MIT students. In addition, the McDermott family is the greatest arts patron of MIT. Among their gifts are Calder’s sculpture in McDermott Court and Henri Moore’s in Killian Court. The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT has greatly contributed to making MIT internationally recognized for nurturing creativity not only in the sciences but also in the arts.

In July 2012, I had the honor of being named the Eugene McDermott Professor at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, at MIT. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Mrs. McDermott and her daughter Mrs. Mary McDermott Cook, at their homes in Dallas - a city that has been changed so much by their illuminated philanthropy. My wife and I have enjoyed these visits very much and have come to think of the McDermotts as close friends. I have often thought that one of the most exemplary contributions of America to modern civilization has been the philanthropic tradition established by great American families such as the Rockefellers, the Sloans, the Fords, and the McDermotts. I feel an echo of what the Medici family did for Florence in the Renaissance times. I am very proud to be the Eugene and Margaret McDermott Professor at MIT.