Chancellor: 60 endowed faculty chairs to be added over two years

Mark D. Abkowitz, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management Studies and professor of civil and environmental engineering, gave a presentation on disaster risk management at the Fall Faculty Assembly Aug. 26. Jeremy Spinrad, associate professor of computer science, was among 28 faculty members recognized for 25 years of service.

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos announced that Vanderbilt will invest substantial resources over the next few years to its faculty. This will include $15 million per year toward luring new faculty and the creation of 60 new endowed faculty chairs.

“No one knows better than you the importance of a university’s ability to award endowed faculty chairs,” Zeppos told faculty gathered in the Student Life Center Aug. 26. “They are the gold standard for acknowledging faculty achievement and distinction are essential to building a world-class faculty.”

The new endowed chairs will be added over the next two years, bringing the total number of endowed chairs at Vanderbilt to 267, Zeppos announced.

The School of Engineering currently has 9 endowed chairs.

A committee of leading faculty will help recruit new faculty. Zeppos said that Vanderbilt’s robust financial performance during the economic turndown had resulted in an opportunity to aggressively pursue scholarly talent.

“We must be cautious about our own vulnerabilities, but we should not shrink from the fact that, as other universities struggle, we will be … presented with rare faculty hiring opportunities across all disciplines,” Zeppos said. “We will be successful only if, as in the past, you are the ones who help us identify, recruit and evaluate these exceptional possibilities.”

Vanderbilt is achieving “exceptional” financial results given the economy, Zeppos said. Research funding increased 17 percent to $613 million and more than $117 million in philanthropic gifts were received in the financial year that ended in June.

Zeppos said that in addition to the faculty, spending priorities include maintenance of campus buildings, building up “rainy day” funds and capital building projects including a new Life Sciences and Engineering Buildin, Kissam Quad, two new residential colleges and an addition to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.