May 4, 2010
DALLAS (SMU) – A $1 million gift from Mary Alice Shepherd and on behalf of her late husband, Texas Instruments pioneer Mark Shepherd Jr., provides a major component of the new Caruth Hall in SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering.
The Mary Alice and Mark Shepherd Jr. Atrium will be a defining interior feature for Caruth Hall. At 94 feet tall, the atrium will serve as both architectural focal point and a source of energy-saving sunlight for the building’s top three floors. The 64,000-square-foot building, constructed to LEED green design standards, was dedicated April 16 during an all-campus ceremony.
Mark Shepherd, who died in February 2009 at age 86, led Texas Instruments as it developed a global manufacturing market for semiconductors and consumer electronics. He began in 1948 as a project engineer for the company that would become Texas Instruments. By 1953 he was TI’s chief engineer, and by 1962 Life Magazine had named him one of the 100 most important young people in the nation. In his more than 40 years at TI, he served in a variety of leadership roles. He was head of the semiconductor team in 1958 when Jack S. Kilby invented the integrated circuit there. Shepherd became TI’s president in 1967, CEO in 1969 and retired in 1988 as company chairman. An SMU alumnus, he also spent two of his busiest professional decades as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.
“Mark Shepherd gave SMU invaluable guidance over the years, while at the same time helping to bring Dallas to prominence as a center for global trade through his inspired leadership at Texas Instruments,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Thanks to Mary Alice, Mark’s impact on SMU and engineering education will continue through Caruth Hall’s unique venue for creative collaboration.”
Shepherd was a precocious child. He built a vacuum tube in his garage when he was only six and built his first radio at age seven. Shepherd finished high school early and enrolled in SMU at age 14, attending on scholarship. He graduated at 19 in 1942 with a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He earned a Master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1947.
Mark Shepherd met Mary Alice Murchland in Fort Wayne, Indiana, while he was working with General Electric. They married in 1945 after Mark served in the Navy during World War II. They have three grown children, Debra Shepherd Robinson, Mary Kay Shepherd and Marc B. Shepherd. Debra and her husband, Roland King Robinson, graduated from SMU in 1972.
Mary Alice Shepherd founded a 1,000-acre longhorn cattle ranch, Rancho de Soledad, which she continues to own and manage. While her husband held leadership positions with TI, she traveled with him as he visited plants around the world. Mrs. Shepherd is active in many Dallas civic organizations including the Dallas Woman’s Club, the Standard Club of Dallas, the Dallas Garden Club, the Dallas Garden Center, the Northwood Club and the Shakespeare Study Club.
SMU awarded Mark Shepherd an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree in 1966. He joined the SMU Board of Trustees and Board of Governors in 1969, serving until May 1987, the same year he was honored with the SMU Distinguished Alumni Award. Shepherd served on the Lyle School of Engineering Executive Board from 2001 to 2004, and he was named to the Lyle School’s Hall of Leaders in 2003.
“Mark devoted his life to the advancement of technology as a way to improve human lives, and he was especially interested in opening opportunities for bright young minds to continue that progress,” said Mrs. Shepherd. “Now, every student who walks through the atrium to be inspired by the engineering programs in Caruth Hall will continue to feel his impact.”
Caruth Hall will house the departments of Engineering Management, Information and Systems, and Computer Science and Engineering. The building also will be home to SMU’s broad-based engineering outreach efforts. Among these are the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, the Center for Engineering Leadership, continuing education programs for alumni and corporate partners, the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® Lab and The Palmer Engineering Leadership Complex.
“Mark and Mary Alice’s shared enthusiasm for innovation is woven into the very fabric of the Lyle School,” said Geoffrey Orsak, Lyle School dean. “The atrium that carries their name will stand as testament to his vision as an engineer and his family’s commitment to keeping that vision alive.”
The Shepherds’ gift is part of the largest fundraising initiative in SMU history – SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign. Now in its second year, the campaign seeks $750 million to strengthen the University's student quality, faculty and academic excellence, and the campus experience.
A private university located in the heart of Dallas, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students from across the United States and around the globe through seven degree-granting schools. SMU’s School of Engineering, founded in 1925, is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. In 2008 the school was named in honor of Dallas business leader and SMU alumnus Bobby B. Lyle. The school offers eight undergraduate and 29 graduate programs, including both master’s and doctoral degrees.