Great professors are the backbone of a great university. Their research advances knowledge on issues of global importance, and their teaching inspires students to pursue new avenues of intellectual exploration. The highest honor for these academic pioneers is an endowed professorship.
As Penn seeks to attract exciting talent in every field, being able to offer endowed professorships helps to secure and retain superb faculty for the benefit of the University overall. Growing the number of endowed positions across our schools is a top priority of The Power of Penn Campaign.
Investing in Excellence
“The prospect of an endowed professorship made Penn an especially appealing location for a mid-career move,” says Sophia Rosenfeld, the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History at Penn Arts & Sciences. “It suggested that the University wanted to make a real investment in me and in my work. It is a great honor to be part of the legacy of Annenberg Professors at Penn.”
An endowed professorship also provides a stable source of funding support that enables these faculty members to pursue novel projects. While writing her current book on how choice has become a proxy for freedom in the modern world, the funding from Rosenfeld’s professorship enabled crucial research travel overseas, and her title opened doors both at home and abroad.
Empowering Future Scholars
Making connections is crucial in an academic arena where collaboration and knowledge-sharing are key. And faculty aren’t the only ones who benefit. The prestige of an endowed professorship can “pay it forward,” bringing increased attention to the scholarly work of a faculty member, and in turn enhancing the academic reputations of students under their tutelage.
“One of the benefits of the funding stream provided through this endowed chair is that I can support students to work with top researchers around the world and present their work at national and international conferences,” says Joseph S. Francisco, a President’s Distinguished Professor in Earth and Environmental Science at Penn Arts & Sciences. “The increased visibility within the research community is beneficial for undergraduates applying for admission to graduate programs and for graduate students who are competing for academic jobs and building their own teaching and research portfolios.”
Forging Meaningful Connections
Endowed professorships can also create an enduring connection between the donor, the chairholder, and the impact of their work. For Christopher Yoo, current holder of the John H. Chestnut Professor of Law, Communication, and Computer and Information Science and future Imasogie Professor of Law and Technology at Penn Law, mutual respect makes the connection more meaningful.
“Osagie Imasogie, GL’85, PAR’17, is a model of dedication as a University Trustee and Penn Law Overseer,” says Yoo. “This, in addition to his own career exploring the relationship between law and technology, add an entirely new dimension to the honor of holding the professorship bearing his name.”
Creating Enduring Impact
Across the University, named chairs honor bold and influential professors like Angela Duckworth; strengthen Penn’s reputation for exceptional scholarship in fields like ancient history and quantitative finance; and promote creativity and diversity through endeavors like Penn Integrates Knowledge Professorships and Presidential Professorships.
By endowing a professorship, a donor has an immediate impact while also creating an enduring legacy of scholarship and teaching that has a ripple effect over time, reaching far beyond the boundaries of the University.