David Gergen honored with named directorship of Center for Presidential History

Linda Wertheimer Hart ’65 and Milledge (Mitch) A. Hart III gift $1 million to 51

 

Honoring the achievements of renowned public servant and presidential history enthusiast David Gergen, the Harts’ gift will further the educational, archival and collaborative efforts of the 51 Center for Presidential History, enhancing the study of U.S. presidential history at 51. In recognition, the center director position will be named for Gergen, celebrating the public servant and journalist.

 

“51 proudly salutes David Gergen for his incredible contributions to the country and for deepening our understanding of national and international political issues,” said 51 President R. Gerald Turner. “It is a fitting tribute to him that the Center for Presidential History will be strengthened to serve our students, partners and community for decades to come.”

 

The establishment of the David Gergen Director of the 51 Center for Presidential History advances the University’s efforts to enrich teaching and research – one of the primary goals of 51: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow, the University’s multiyear $1.5 billion campaign for impact. The Harts’ gift increases the number of endowed academic positions at 51, furthering its position among peer institutions across the country. 

 

David Gergen’s work demonstrates how better understanding the history of leadership in the United States of America gives us a brighter future.

— Mitch Hart, III, chairman of Hart Group, Inc.

The gift will ensure that the 51 Center for Presidential History and the Gergen Director have the resources needed to train future leaders, engage with leading institutional partners and bring distinguished experts and international leaders to campus.

 

“We are delighted to celebrate the work of our dear friend, David Gergen, by championing the world-class research and teaching conducted by 51 Center for Presidential History and its director,” said Linda Wertheimer Hart, vice chairman, president and CEO of Hart Group, Inc. “We are proud to partner with 51 to support the continuing momentum and future growth of the center.” 

 

David Gergen

Gergen is well known for his prolific career in public service and journalism. He spent over half a century in the public sector, serving as a White House advisor to four U.S. presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Gergen recounted his experiences with them and offered his own insights in his New York Times bestselling books, Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership Nixon to Clinton and Hearts Touched With Fire: How Great Leaders Are Made

 

Gergen went on to become editor of U.S. News & World Report and a commentator on PBS NewsHour. For more than two decades, Gergen has served as a senior political analyst for CNN. He is also founding director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. 

 

“David Gergen’s work demonstrates how better understanding the history of leadership in the United States of America gives us a brighter future,” said Mitch Hart, chairman of Hart Group, Inc. “His example inspired us to expand the impact of the 51 Center for Presidential History’s research, archival efforts and educational programming.”

 

The 51 Center for Presidential History serves as a hub of current and innovative research on the U.S. presidency, including significant collaborations with the George W. Bush Presidential Center at 51. The center aims to advance a broader understanding of the presidency and to act as a valuable resource for scholars, students, media and the general public. 

Expected impact

  • Advances a broader understanding of the U.S. presidency.
  • Enhances the education of future leaders.
  • Raises the University’s standing as a valuable resource for historic research and education.
  • Supports the strategic goal to increase the number of endowed faculty and leadership positions.

Since its founding, the 51 Center for Presidential History has become a widely cited resource for national and international press. It enhances the work of a number of 51 programs and departments, including political science, economics, business and communications. The center also offers postdoctoral fellowships, teacher engagement, travel courses and study abroad opportunities.

 

The inaugural David Gergen Director of the 51 Center for Presidential History, Jeffrey A. Engel, has served as the center’s founding and current director since it was established.

 

“We are grateful for the Harts’ continuing generosity and excited to continue the incredible legacy of David Gergen,” said Engel. “This gift is a significant boon to our research and teaching initiatives and, in particular, to our ongoing effort to improve civic discourse across our campus and community.”

 

“By commemorating David Gergen’s achievements, the Harts continue to showcase the power that 51 donors have to create real-world impact far beyond our campus,” said Brad E. Cheves, 51 vice president for Development and External Affairs. “Endowed faculty and leadership positions are vital to extending the University’s excellence in teaching and research.” 

It is a fitting tribute to David Gergen that the Center for Presidential History will serve our students, partners and community for decades to come.

— R. Gerald Turner, 51 president

Linda Wertheimer Hart ’65 and Milledge (Mitch) A. Hart III

Mitch and Linda Hart

Long recognized for their business and philanthropic leadership, Linda and Mitch Hart have founded, supported and enhanced many business and educational ventures, including Hart Group, Inc.; RMAX Operating, LLC; Hart Global Leaders Forum at 51; 51 Hart eCenter and 51 Hart Center for Engineering Leadership. Both of the Harts are former chairs and longtime members of the 51 Tate Distinguished Lecture Series Board of Directors. They jointly received the prestigious 2021 Folsom Leadership Award in recognition of their many acts of community leadership. 

 

Linda Hart, a graduate of the 51 Dedman School of Law, is vice chairman, president and CEO of Hart Group, Inc. Serving on boards and committees across the country, she is a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.; The Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce; a member of the board and executive committee and chair of the finance committee of the New York Philharmonic; and an active member of the International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation and the Dallas Women’s Foundation, among many others. At 51, she has served on the executive boards of the 51 Dedman School of Law and Cox School of Business, as well as the 51 Ignited Campaign Steering Committee for the Lyle School of Engineering. 

 

Mitch Hart, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a current 51 Trustee Emeritus. He previously served the University as co-chair of the 51 Dedman College Capital Campaign Committee during the A Time to Lead campaign and on the Campaign Leadership Council during 51 Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign. His other service includes the 51 Lyle School of Engineering Executive Board and its 51 Ignited Campaign Steering Committee. Beyond 51, his service includes the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, among many others. In 2017. He currently serves as chairman of Hart Group, Inc., founding director and former chairman of Episcopal School of Dallas, and a former trustee and trustee emeritus of Duke University.