UNIVERSITIES HAVE USED endowed faculty chairs for some 500
years to recognize the world’s top scholars—from Sir Isaac Newton
to Marie Curie to Stephen Hawking. The honor is no less prestigious
today, and actually serves as an important tool to bring the world’s
greatest minds to lead the labs and classrooms here at UC San Diego.
Typically funded by a philanthropic endowment, chair positions provide a
perpetual source of funds to support scholarly work, including research
and teaching, as well as graduate student fellowships. Endowed
chairs contribute to UC San Diego’s mission to improve the world by
training the students of tomorrow and fueling the scientific and medical
breakthroughs that will solve society’s most pressing problems.
Increasing the number of endowed chairs is a key initiative for the UC
system. In 2014, UC President Janet Napolitano allocated $40 million
in matching funds for eight endowed faculty chairs at each of UC’s 10
campuses. UC San Diego donors met the challenge and established
eight new chairs, bringing our current total to 185 chairs, 34 years
after UC San Diego’s first endowed chairs—the Irwin Mark and Joan
Klein Jacobs Chair in Information and Computer Science, and the
Chair of Judaic Studies—were established in 1981.
So pull up your own chair and meet some of the many minds making
a difference at UC San Diego. Their impact is made possible by
generous benefactors who believe in the power of an endowed chair.
For most of the world, it’s furniture. For a university,
it’s a promise of profound and lasting impact.
WHAT’S A CHAIR?
BY JADE GRIFFIN ’03 AND KRISTIN LUCIANI ‘09