Eleven Vanderbilt University faculty members named to endowed chairs were honored Oct. 23 during a festive celebration at the Student Life Center.
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente noted in her opening remarks that an endowed chair—a tradition that began at least as early as the 16th century at the University of Cambridge in England—is the highest honor that a university can bestow upon its professors.
Wente offered the example of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge to illustrate the remarkable perpetuity of endowed chairs and the importance of these gifts to academic discovery.
“Sir Issac Newton was awarded the Lucasian Chair in 1669,” Wente said. “That very same chair was given to Stephen Hawking in 1979. Just imagine how many people held that chair between Newton and Hawking, and how many more will continue to hold it into the future!”
Wente also thanked Vanderbilt supporters who’ve invested in the power of education by establishing endowed chairs.
Wente then recognized Annette Eskind and Dr. Jeffrey Eskind, and Dolores Seigenthaler and other members of the Seigenthaler family, who were present for the celebration of the Annette Schaffer Eskind Chair in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and the John L. Seigenthaler Chair in American History. She also acknowledged Steve Turner, an emeritus member of the Board of Trust, and Cabot Pyle, director of the James Stephen Turner Family Foundation, which funded the Seigenthaler Chair.
Deans Lauren Benton, Mark Wait, Chris Guthrie, Camilla Benbow and Jeff Balser described the accomplishments of the chairholders in their respective schools: the College of Arts and Science, Blair, Law, Peabody College and the School of Medicine.
The following faculty members were honored:
- Erik William Carter, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair
- Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair
- Heather Conner, Chancellor’s Chair for the Blair School
- Donna Y. Ford, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair
- Joni Hersch, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair
- Atsushi Inoue, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair
- D. Borden Lacy, Edward and Nancy Fody Chair in Pathology
- Jeffrey L. Neul, Annette Schaffer Eskind Chair in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
- Jonathan G. Schoenecker, Jeffrey W. Mast Chair in Orthopaedics Trauma and Hip Surgery
- Kevin M. Stack, Lee S. and Charles A. Speir Chair in Law
- Rhonda Y. Williams, John L. Seigenthaler Chair in American History
This was the 23rd celebration at Vanderbilt to honor faculty members named to endowed chairs. A total of 231 chair holders have been recognized since the initiative to recruit and retain outstanding scholars and teachers was announced by Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos in August 2010.