UC Berkeley Web Feature
What a difference a chair makes: Hewlett Challenge
BERKELEY –The term "endowed chair" is well-established in the academic lexicon, but even those at institutions of higher learning might be hard-pressed to explain the many ways faculty and students benefit from the funds generated by these endowments. We asked a number of chair holders to explain what endowed professorships have enabled them to do in teaching and research.
"The big advantage of having an endowed chair is that it provides some flexibility in funding to try out new ideas that are sometimes too risky to get funding through regular proposals, but are still worth trying. It allows our group to explore a hunch or intuition, which is very important in research. My endowed chair allows me to support a student, or buy a small piece of instrumentation, or perhaps travel to a conference in a field that is not supported by existing grants."
– Arun Majumdar
Almy C. Maynard & Agnes Offield Maynard Chair in Mechanical Engineering
"The endowed chair has become the golden coin in the realm of academic recruitment and retention. Quite simply, it would not have been possible for me to achieve the dream of becoming a Berkeley faculty member had I not been offered an endowed chair here. It brings prestige not only to the chair holder but also to the philanthropist and the university. It also enhances the life and the work of the mind, making possible, among many other things, for me to acquire rare research materials or make impromptu research trips without the requisite, and often long, wait of grant applications."
– John Lie
Sociology & International and Area Studies
Class of 1959 Chair
"I was just appointed effective July 1, but the money has already come in very handy, financing a month's research and travel in Greece. I've also used some [of the funds] to defray the (now astronomical) cost of illustrations for my new book [from Cambridge University Press]…. and to pay my artist/draftsperson, an art history graduate student, for drawings and plans for research articles….I've also earmarked about $2,000 to give a first-year graduate student in ancient art a summer travel allowance."
– Andrew Stewart
Art History & Classics
Nicholas C. Petris Chair in Greek Studies
"I was the first holder of the Roy W. Carlson Chair (1985-90), designated for the dean of the College of Engineering. Because I was dean, it was difficult for me to continue a full-fledged research program requiring writing grant proposals and supervising a team of grad students. I therefore used the income from the chair to support a research assistant for my research program.
"When I became dean in 1980, there were no chairs in engineering. I was advised by the provost that one of my major responsibilities as dean was to gain endowed chairs. During my tenure I did secure 13 chairs in engineering, which were instrumental in retaining our senior faculty. [There are currently some 50 chairs in engineering.] They are crucially important in retaining our senior faculty and in encouraging younger faculty to remain at Berkeley."
– Karl Pister
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Roy W. Carlson Chair in the College of Engineering (Emeritus)
"One of the main things I do with my chair funds is run a weekly seminar, known as the
'Labor Lunch,' that features one-hour informal presentations by faculty, grad students, and some visitors. I use the funds to pay for the (modest) buffet lunch and to cover travel and lodging costs for off-campus presenters.
"I also use the funds, in combination with other funding, to support visitors to the Center for Labor Economics. We have one or two advanced graduate students from other countries each year, and one or two people (usually assistant professors) who are on leave and spending a year at Berkeley to learn about new developments in the field."
– David Card
Class of 1950 Chair in Economics
"Until the Logan endowment was created, the investigative program at the Graduate
School of Journalism lived hand to mouth. Building on the foundation created by the endowment, we have been expanding. This year we created three postgraduate fellowships dedicated to investigative reporting, the first in the nation, in large part because we no longer had to raise the money for my salary. And now we know that through this endowment, and the effort we are making to increase its resources, instruction in this vital form of reporting in the public interest will continue on long after I retire.
"For me, and journalists everywhere, the endowment means that reporting without fear or favor will be nurtured and preserved as we go into a period of uncertainty in the world of journalism."
– Lowell Bergman
Reva & David Logan Distinguished Professorship in Investigative Journalism
"I just received the Goldman professorship starting July 1. I've been able to help fund a year of leave with some of the money; it's also my intention to devote $10,000 to $20,000 from the endowment each year to help support graduate students in the classics department."
– Leslie Kurke
Classics & Comparative Literature
Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities
"I have used the yield from the chair for a variety of purposes, but most expenditures have gone to support grad students whose research funding has lapsed, and to send them and me to overseas conferences, [when travel] cannot be financed my research contracts."
– Karl Hedrick
James Marshall Wells Academic Chair in Mechanical Engineering
"From the very first year of the chair (1997), we were able to use the funds to establish a multimedia teaching lab on campus, which has a big sign, "Class of 1960 Multimedia Authoring Center for Teaching in Anthropology (MACTiA)," which has, over almost a decade now, developed into a real hub of student innovation. Several of my colleagues and I have taught new kinds of courses, and the students have produced magnificent and exciting multimedia projects ... . Each year, I allocate funds for upgrades and new equipment ….
"I have used the funds to help support undergraduate travel to conferences, to participate in field (archaeology) projects, and to have tutorials in new research methods. I have also contributed to our department's teaching budget to add new courses, and purchased films, equipment, and other teaching support for my colleagues and self. In addition, I annually use funds to support a dynamic outreach program in archaeology through the Archaeological Research Facility …. the funds help defray some of the costs of running the active program that reaches hundreds of Bay Area kids each year with teaching units, 'big digs,' and other activities here on campus or at local schools, all done by our archaeology graduate students…. And, of course, I have used funds for my own research projects ….
"I would like to think that the funds have been spread far and used to mobilize many activities and contributions to undergraduates, outreach, new teaching, and the scholarly life of Berkeley. It has been a real privilege."
– Meg Conkey
Class of 1960 Chair in Undergraduate Education
"Funds from my endowed professorship have enabled me to pursue new research areas that might be too speculative or 'risky' for the more conventional funding agencies. In addition, the funds have enriched the educational experiences of my students by providing the means to send them to conferences. In general, endowed chairs are critical for recruiting and retaining top faculty and ensuring that they can pursue cutting-edge-research directions and teaching approaches."
– Carolyn Bertozzi
Chemistry & Molecular and Cell Biology
T. Z. & Irmgard Chu Distinguished Professorship in Chemistry
"The support of the endowed chair [since 1998] has enabled me to expand my research efforts, addressing improving access to high-quality health care in California and nationally — particularly in regard to patients with chronic illness. I have used the funds from the chair to support many doctoral students who have gone on to establish their own careers. I have also used the chair funds to obtain additional outside support from foundations and other funding agencies. In this regard the chair has had a significant 'multiplier' effect.
"Endowed chairs supplement and extend state resources, enabling faculty and students to do things that would otherwise not be possible. The growth of endowed chairs on campus is critical to maintaining and extending the preeminence of Berkeley and our ability to serve the state, country, and the world.
– Stephen M. Shortell
Blue Cross of California Distinguished Professorship of Health Policy & Management
"I used the funds from the chair to create a lecture series named for [the late Berkeley folklore professor] Alan Dundes….The series helped to make Berkeley's folklore program visible across campus, honor Alan Dundes, and bring the most important figures in the field from around the world to help us create the broad, deep, and critical dialogue needed to shape the future of the program.
"The monies have also funded a meeting in Berkeley of a dozen of the leading folklorists from around the world to inaugurate a collaborative research-and-exchange program to create a new scholarly vision for folkloristics; Berkeley is now taking the lead in this effort. Funds have also been used this year to transform our website to provide a new global public face for the program, and to integrate the research functions of the Folklore Archive into the web, to increase access for scholars around the world."
– Charles Briggs
Alan Dundes Distinguished Professorship in Folkloristics