A Return to Education Makes a Lasting Impact

By Heather Welder Russo

General Robert McDermott Professorship in Organizational Leadership

A young General McDermott as dean of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.

Although he loved the view from his desk overlooking the main plaza on campus, Brigadier General Robert F. McDermott, or “McD” as he was fondly called, did not like to be away from the action. He became a familiar sight on campus during his daily walks and at Mass and enjoyed being among the students. Even more, he loved the interactive nature of guest lecturing, allowing students to ask questions about his various business ventures, military experience, and leadership positions. These questions stimulated open dialogue between students and this well-respected man, conversations that not only educated the students but also energized his spirit.

In the short time McDermott spent at UIW, he left an indelible mark on the students and staff, drawing on his rich history as a visionary and leader and applying real world experiences to the study of Organizational Leadership. Over the course of his life, the General had been a fighter pilot, dean of faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy, chairman and CEO of United Services Automobile Association (USAA), and one of San Antonio's legendary leaders. It was only fitting that this “Father of Modern Military Education” would finish his life in education at the University of the Incarnate Word.

Endowing a Professorial Chair

To continue his efforts long past his lifetime, family, friends, and corporate leaders are joining together to endow the General Robert McDermott Professorship in Organizational Leadership in the Dreeben School of Education at UIW. McDermott was the first to fill the chair and provided several lectures to students in the doctoral program and the H-E-B School of Business and Administration. In the future, outstanding executives and leaders will be asked to carry McDermott's mantle as executives-in-residence at UIW and share their knowledge with students and faculty, creating a lasting link between university curriculum and the real world.

Having an executive-in-residence or renowned faculty member serve as a professorial chair plays a significant role in educating students and provides vital professional development for faculty.

Endowed professorial chairs carry the name of the person endowing the fund or are named in tribute to special people whose lives have impacted the UIW community. Professorial chairs provide income for the salary and research expenses of the chair holders and offer resources for chairs to give academic lectures or seminars to the greater community. Faculty who are invited to hold these professorial chairs are outstanding scholars in their fields and provide our students with the highest quality teaching.

UIW welcomes individuals, corporations, and foundations to endow a professorial chair, either through a one-time gift or through multiple donors and donations. Gifts may be made in cash, stocks and bonds, personal and real property, or through trusts or other planned arrangements. Gifts may be pledged over five years. Distributions will begin when the fund has reached an agreed upon level.

A Legacy of Educational Excellence

Education was McDermott's first love and his dedication to education is his legacy, not only for our university students but for all who were touched by him. With the support of his family and friends, UIW is working hard to make this last endeavor of his life a reality that touches our students and community for years to come.

To contribute to the McDermott chair or to discuss how you can create an endowed professorship, contact the Development Office at (210) 829-6013.