Academic Chairs Feted, New
Endowed Chairs Announced
By Arthur Sorrentino
oday, as in the past, great discoveries often depend upon men and women of good will to provide the means for researchers in the sciences and humanities to pursue their ideas.
The growing group of scholars at the University of Connecticut who are supported by private philanthropy were feted April 19 during the Academic Chairs Dinner at The Farmington Club, that was attended by more than 200 donors, faculty, dignitaries and other invited guests. The dinner, an annual event,
honors both members of the University academic community and their benefactors, who together help fulfill UConn's goal to attract and retain the nation's most distinguished scholars, researchers, and teachers.
Since the inception of the UConn 2000 program, the number of endowed faculty chairs and professorships at the University has more than doubled. A portion of this growth can be attributed to the state's provision for matching endowment gifts.
During the evening's keynote address, President Philip E. Austin acknowledged the contributions of many people who have helped transform the University in recent years. "As in virtually every other area of endeavor, the University has made dramatic and rapid strides in adding men and women of extraordinary brilliance to an already strong corps of professors," he said. "The growth in the number of endowed chairs and professorships at the University has been one of our most remarkable achievements in a time of a great many achievements."
Five newly endowed chairs were celebrated during the ceremony, along with a number of chair holders named to previously established chairs and professorships. These included three new chairs at the Health Center: the Janice and Rodney Reynolds Chair in Neurobiology , the UConn Orthodontic Alumni/Ravi Nanda Chair in Orthodontics, and the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Chair in Academic Medicine. Two new chairs were unveiled in the School of Business: the Robert Cizik Chair in Manufacturing and Technology Management and the GE Capital Professor of Business.
The following members of the faculty were presented with a medallion signifying their appointment to an endowed chair:
Elizabeth Eipper has been named to the Janice and Rodney Reynolds Chair in Neurobiology. She is a professor at the School of Medicine, with appointments in the departments of physiology and neuroscience. Her research addresses a number of questions in endocrinology and neurobiology crucial to understanding the function of the endocrine system.
Richard H. Fortinsky now holds the Physician Health Services Endowed Chair in Gerontology at the UConn Health Center. Dr. Fortinsky is an associate professor of medicine and a social scientist whose research focuses on the health and functional status of older adults and their families.
Ram Gopal of the operations and information management department in the School of Business has been appointed the first GE Capital Professor of Business. He is a nationally recognized scholar, specializing in management information systems; database management; design and security issues; and economic and ethical issues relating to information technology.
Michie N. Hesselbrock is a professor and the director of the new doctoral program in the School of Social Work. She has been appointed to the Henry M. and Judith M. Zachs Chair in Social Work. Hesselbrock studies substance abuse and mental health, with a particular focus on co-occurring mental health problems and HIV infection.
Bruce Koeppen is professor of medicine and physiology and academic dean of the School of Medicine. His research deals with kidney physiology and pathophysiology. Dr. Koeppen is also a gifted teacher, and has won the Health Center's Outstanding Teaching Award numerous times in the past 15 years. He has been appointed to hold the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Chair in Academic Medicine.
V. Kumar is the holder of the ING Aetna Chair in Financial Services, and director of the ING Aetna Center for Financial Services in the School of Business. He is a recognized expert on marketing research methods, with special interest in measuring customer lifetime value, e-commerce, direct marketing, total quality management, and international marketing.
Bruce Liang has been appointed the Ray Neag Distinguished Chair in Vascular Biology. He directs the Division of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine, and leads the Health Center's Signature Program in Vascular Biology and Cardiovascular Medicine. Dr. Liang is a pre-eminent scientist, who studies fundamental signaling mechanisms that regulate cardiovascular functions.
Ravi Nanda is head of the Department of Orthodontics at the School of Dental Medicine. He has been appointed to the UConn Orthodontic Alumni/Ravi Nanda Chair in Orthodontics. On the faculty of the Health Center since 1972, Dr. Nanda is a productive investigator who has been able to bridge the worlds of biomechanical engineering and the practicing orthodontist.
David Pingry is the holder of The Treibick Family Chair for CITI (the Connecticut Information Technology Institute). His major interest is the management and evaluation of information systems and his current research interests include the economics of design, management of information systems, and decision support systems.
One quarter of Campaign UConn's $300 million fund-raising goal is intended to increase the level of faculty support to what is expected of a top national university. According to President Austin, academic chair awards represent a significant step in that development: "The generation of knowledge is as important to the mission of a research university as its transmission to new generations of students," he said. "Indeed, the closer the linkage between research and teaching, the more effective UConn will be in attaining excellence in both areas."