Historic $51 million gift will transform engineering and the liberal arts at Union

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A $51 million gift from Class of 1980 graduates Rich and Mary Templeton will transform engineering and the liberal arts at Union College with the creation of the Templeton Institute for Engineering and Computer Science, President David R. Harris announced Friday.

It is the largest gift in Union’s 225-year history and among the biggest for engineering at a liberal arts school in the last decade.

In addition to the new institute, the gift will also be used in the recruitment and retention of women pursuing a degree in engineering or computer science, enhancements to the curriculum, faculty support and capital to further develop spaces and facilities.

Harris made the announcement in Memorial Fieldhouse during the public launch of Union’s new $300 million comprehensive campaign, “Powering Union: The Campaign for Multiple Tomorrows.”

Mary and Rich Templeton

Mary and Rich Templeton

Rich Templeton is chairman, president and CEO of Texas Instruments. He joined the company after earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Union. Mary (Haanen) Templeton, a philanthropist and community volunteer, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. She had a 14-year career with General Electric Company before moving to Dallas, the headquarters of Texas Instruments.

At Union, Mary and Rich met at the Rathskeller, the beloved social space in the basement of Old Chapel. Rich ran the place and Mary worked there. While Rich was on campus last spring as part of a Fortune 500 CEOs forum featuring alumni, the gift announcement was Mary’s first trip back to campus in 39 years. The couple received much acclaim for their 2016 commencement speech at SMU, which shared lessons learned after Mary’s tragic spinal cord injury in December 2013.

“Mary and Rich Templeton are tremendous examples of what we want for all our students at Union College,” Harris said. “They learned to lead, with wisdom, empathy and courage, through a series of anticipated and unanticipated opportunities and challenges. I am grateful that they appreciate they were more prepared for careers and life because they majored in engineering and computer science at a school that emphasizes the liberal arts, and even more so that they are committed to ensuring future generations have similar opportunities.”

Texas Instruments (TI) is a leader in the technology industry, focused on engineering, manufacturing testing and selling analog and embedded semiconductor chips. The company has long been committed to investing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Under Rich’s leadership, TI and its foundation have invested $150 million in education over the past five years to further attract young students, specifically women and underrepresented groups, to STEM careers, and provide educators with the resources and tools they need to prepare and guide students.

In 2012, Rich received the Semiconductor Industry Association’s highest award for his commitment and passion for STEM education.

“The greatest thing we can do to impact community is to build great educational institutions that are equipping students for the future,” Templeton said. “Mary and I were fortunate to be educated by Union, a wonderful college that did a great job of preparing us for successful careers. We believe Union has the opportunity to impact generations of future leaders, and we welcome the opportunity to do our part in ensuring that it is strong for decades to come.”

Mary Templeton believes that “having a strong technological background combined with a liberal arts degree is a successful formula. When you get into the business world, that background gives you a better understanding of how to interact and communicate with people. Union does a great job of preparing you for that.”

In 1845, Union became the first liberal arts college to offer engineering, and it continues to lead the way in the integration of the traditional liberal arts, science and engineering.

Previously, the largest gift to the College was $20 million from longtime Union benefactors John Wold ’38 and his wife, Jane, in 2002. It made possible the Peter Irving Wold Center, a 35,000-square-foot state-of-the-art research and education center named for John’s father. The gift also established the John and Jane Wold Professorship in Religious Studies, supported Wold House, and established the John and Jane Wold Professorship in Geology.

Union College is one of the nation's oldest and most distinguished liberal arts colleges. Chartered by the state of New York in 1795, the College offers an innovative, integrated liberal arts education that fully embraces STEM. Union provides a rigorous, holistic, and immersive residential education guided by its mission: “to develop every student to lead with wisdom, empathy and courage, in ways large and small, now and across multiple tomorrows.”