(December 9, 1937 — May 9, 1996)
Alumnus Jerry Junkins led Texas Instruments as CEO into a new age for the company.
Jerry Junkins, a 1959 electrical engineering alumnus, Jerry was born December 9, 1937, in Fort Madison, Iowa, to Ralph and Selma Junkins and reared in Montrose, Iowa.
He was known for being soft-spoken, but determined and hardworking at the same time. During his summers, Junkins worked in his father’s garage, fixing tires and polishing cars. In high school, he played varsity baseball and basketball and played the clarinet for the band. He graduated 2nd in his class after Marilyn Schevers, who would eventually become his wife.
After graduating high school, Junkins came to Iowa State to study electrical engineering. He graduated in 1959 and started his career with Texas Instruments. While he was working at Texas Instruments, Junkins returned to school in 1968 and received his master’s in engineering administration from Southern Methodist University.
Junkins eventually utilized his calm and reserved demeanor as CEO at Texas Instruments (TI) in 1985. He revitalized the company’s management style, and many agree that his friendliness and warmth trickled down through the company and created a more open and creative environment. Though Junkins adamantly denied credit for this culture shift, many colleagues and co-workers agreed that he allowed Texas Instruments to progress into a new age for the company.
The new company culture, under Junkins’ leadership, also helped create business with the outside world, something that was absent with previous company leaders. This new business opportunity was absolutely necessary, because when Junkins took the helm, the company was on a downward spiral. Competition in Japan had pushed companies such as Intel and Motorola out of the memory-chip market. Junkins stood strong and overhauled operations at Texas Instruments and eventually led the company to recovery and success.
The success Junkins inspired through is career also followed into his personal life. He sat on the on the Citizens Council Education Committee, where he helped create the model for Head Start programs and fought for education reform in Texas Schools. The Jerry. R. Junkins Elementary School in Dallas, Texas, was named in his honor.
Junkins died on May 9, 1996, age 58 of a heart attack while on a European tour of TI manufacturing facilities.
The donations of $1.5 million from nearly 200 ECpE alumni and support from Texas Instruments created the endowed Jerry R. Junkins Chair position in 1996. The chair position is awarded to a professor who demonstrates understanding of the theory and application of digital signal processing and information technologies, provides leadership in developing digital signal processing and information technology courses and research programs, maintains high standards of excellence to build a program rich in innovation and educational effectiveness, and promotes communication and interaction with industry, especially with Texas Instruments.
Obituary, New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/1996/05/30/us/jerry-r-junkins-58-dies-headed-texas-instruments.html
National Academy of Engineering, tribute page: https://www.nae.edu/27939/Mr-Jerry-R-Junkins