Rice mourns trustee emeritus Burt McMurtry

Longtime Rice philanthropist and trustee emeritus Burt McMurtry ’56 died Sept. 2. He was 83 years old.

McMurtry, who served 17 years on the Rice board, also left a lasting imprint on the university through his philanthropic efforts.

Burt McMurtry

Burt McMurtry

“Burt contributed to Rice in just about every way possible, from the time he was a student and as Student Association president helped lead the effort to create the residential colleges to recent gifts and advice that shaped the university,” said President David Leebron. “This is a tremendous loss for the Rice community.”

In 2006 he and his wife of 62 years, Ann Meck “Deedee” McMurtry ’56, pledged $32 million to Rice, a portion of which was combined with the couple’s earlier undesignated gifts to create a long-term operating and maintenance fund supporting the university’s 50-year-old residential college system. Burt McMurtry had an extensive history with the college system, having served as a student representative on the 1955 committee that established the original mission and basic organizational design of the residential colleges. McMurtry College, built in 2010, bears the couple’s name.

The McMurtrys established two endowed professorships and two endowed scholarships and have given generously to the Rice Annual Fund and the Class of 1956 Scholarship Fund. McMurtry Auditorium in Anne and Charles Duncan Hall is named in their honor.

In 1990, Rice awarded McMurtry its highest honor, the Gold Medal Award. In 1988, he was named a Distinguished Alumni Honoree.

Melissa Kean, Rice centennial historian described McMurtry as an “important trustees in the history of Rice.”

“His generosity is legendary but it was his incisive intelligence and independence of mind that were his greatest contribution to his alma mater,” Kean said.

Following the McMurtrys’ graduation from Rice in 1956, the couple moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Burt continued his education at Stanford, earning master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering.

McMurtry was a private investor who became a founding partner of Technology Venture Investors and Institutional Venture Associates in California. His venture firms backed such companies as Microsoft, Compaq, Intuit, KLA-Tencor, Adaptec, Altera and Linear TechnologyCorp.

McMurtry also served 11 years on the Stanford University board and seven years on the board of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

McMurtry is survived by Deedee McMurtry, two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Oct. 8 in California.

About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is a Web editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.