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UConn Advance

Endowed chairs increase with fund-raising boost
By Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu
May 23, 1997

The University has more than doubled the number of endowed chairs at Storrs and the School of Law in the past year, thanks to the fund-raising activities of the UConn Foundation and the generosity of donors, including the two largest single non-corporate gifts the University has received.

In the 1996-97 academic year, the University added four new endowed chairs, including the Connecticut Mutual Chair in Insurance Law, the Lynn and Raymond Neag Chair for Talent Development, the Robert Cizik Chair of Excellence in Manufacturing and Technology Management, and the University's first distinguished chair, the Harold S. Schwenk Sr. Distinguished Chair in Chemistry.

The University will recognize the philanthropists whose gifts created the endowments and celebrate the accomplishments of the scholars who hold the endowed chairs at a banquet today at the UConn Health Center. The banquet, an annual event, began in 1993.

"Chancellors Cutler and Emmert and I are working to enhance all aspects of the University, and we point with pride to our chair donors and our chair holders as the model for how philanthropy and academia can work hand-in-hand," said President Philip Austin.

Legend has it that the origin of endowed academic chairs can be traced back to the Greek philosopher Plato, who bequeathed a farm to his nephew with instructions to use the proceeds from the fields to support students and faculty at the academy he had founded. During the Middle Ages, the aristocracy applied the concept to benefit universities and support academic positions.

The prestige associated with an endowed chair allows the University to reward a faculty member for exceptional accomplishments or to attract a new faculty member into an existing position.

Interest from the endowment may be used for salary enhancement, professional travel, program costs or administrative and research support personnel. An endowment for a distinguished chair establishes a new position and enables the University to recruit from among the leading scholars in the field.

Since UConn established its first endowed chair in 1984, the number has grown steadily. Prior to this academic year, the Storrs campus and the School of Law had a total of three endowed chairs.

The Health Center, which has 23 endowed chairs, hired four new incumbents this year: Dr. Andrew Arnold, the Murray-Heilig Chair in Molecular Medicine; Thomas Babor, the Physicians Health Services Chair in Community Medicine and Public Health; Dr. David Papermaster, the John and Florence Mattern Solomon Chair in Vision Biology and Eye Diseases; and Pramod Srivastava, the Physicians Health Services Chair in Tumor Immunology.

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