2014 Archives

Commemorating 50th anniversary
of Mayor J. Erik Jonsson’s “Goals for Dallas”

Maguire Center event recalls that ‘Goals for Dallas’ spurred region's growth, public spirit


Maguire Center Director Rita Kirk and DART founder
Walter Humann talk about "Goals for Dallas."

Video of the Event:
Goals for Dallas: The Impact of Ethical Leadership

The following first appeared in the Feb. 6 edition of The Daily Campus.

Dream big: The impact of ethical leadership

Carolyn BartaBy Carolyn Barta
SMU Journalism Professor

“Dream no small dreams.”

That was the charge given to Dallas citizens 50 years ago by the city’s visionary mayor, J. Erik Jonsson, as he launched the inclusive program, Goals for Dallas, to map out the city’s future.

What kind of city did Dallas want to be? It was only two months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, when Dallas had become known as the “city of hate,” that Jonsson became mayor. He set about trying to bring change to a parochial, often intolerant and insular community virtually run by business interests.

Twenty-six community leaders answered his call to establish the citizen-based Goals program that would cut across economic, racial and geographic lines. Then, more than 100,000 residents attended neighborhood meetings to develop dozens of goals in areas ranging from education to transportation to public safety.

Some of the major accomplishments that resulted included DFW Airport, the I.M. Pei-designed City Hall, a new downtown library (named after Jonsson), air conditioned public schools, today’s University of Texas at Dallas, the beginning of the Arts District, more neighborhood parks, and eventually the creation of DART.

But the results weren’t just physical. Goals for Dallas was the first major effort by local leaders to encourage a broader participation by a diverse population in the destiny of Dallas.

Read the complete opinion piece.

Dreaming for our kids

Katelyn GoughBy Katelyn Gough
The Daily Campus

Mayor Mike Rawlings stood before a crowd of Dallas and SMU leaders, hosted by the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, Thursday to address his goals for DFW. Fifty years prior—nearly to the day—then-mayor J. Erik Jonsson presented his iconic Goals for Dallas program, conceived shortly after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in what was then called the “City of Hate.”

Jonsson’s program was, by Rawlings’ evaluation, successful. Rawlings made clear that a short six years later Dallas won the All-America City award by the National Civic League.

Dallas’ problems of division in 1964 may have changed, selectively, but today, in 2014, many divisions still exist, though they may manifest in different ways.

Read the complete opinion piece.

February 12, 2014

DALLAS (SMU) – Hundreds of Dallas’ leading public servants, including Mayor Mike Rawlings and DISD Superintendent Mike Miles, joined emerging leaders at SMU on Feb. 6 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mayor J. Erik Jonsson’s citizen-led “Goals for Dallas.”

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

Jonsson, a founder of Texas Instruments, became mayor of Dallas in 1964, shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Already a strong advocate for education, he worked to improve morale and the image of the city throughout his term.

Jonsson's “Goals for Dallas” initiative spurred the construction of DFW Airport, the Dallas Convention Center, the New Museum of Fine Arts and Dallas City Hall. The program helped establish public school kindergartens, citywide family planning, the University of Texas at Dallas, several branch libraries and neighborhood parks.

The sold-out event, “Goals for Dallas: The Impact of Ethical Leadership,” was sponsored by SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility and was held in the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom of SMU's Umphrey Lee Center.

“This 50-year anniversary accomplishes two goals. It celebrates the growth of Dallas envisioned by a mayor who saw it as his moral duty to bring people together to create a vision for the future. It also connects our city’s most accomplished leaders with the next generation,” says Maguire Ethics Center Director Rita Kirk.

Some 103 organizations represented the 12 focus areas/task forces within Mayor Jonsson’s original Goals for Dallas Plan: government, city design, health, welfare, transportation and communication, public safety, elementary and secondary education, higher education, continuing education, cultural activities, recreation and entertainment and the economy. Also in attendance will be students, faculty, and emerging leaders – purposely seated with city leaders to foster inclusiveness and progressive purpose.

Walter J. Humann, 2012 recipient of the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award and Maguire Ethics Center board member, was a young businessman who entered a life of public service after serving as the first White House Fellow from Texas in the late 1960s. He says the opportunity to serve both President Lyndon B. Johnson and the City of Dallas was due in large part to Mayor Jonsson, who would become his mentor. Humann, who leads WJH Corporation, is chiefly recognized for creating the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system and helping desegregate Dallas schools.

“Mayor Jonsson’s Goals for Dallas was an attempt to break the grip of siloed leadership on the city,” Humann says. “It aimed to attack the many problems we faced in an interconnected, holistic way, and help Dallas reach its fullest potential.”

The Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility heightens ethical awareness throughout the campus and in the greater Dallas community. The center serves as a forum for the exploration of issues bearing on the public good. It brings together those who confront issues of social importance with resources and opportunity for ethical reflection. For more details, visit smu.edu/ethics.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

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