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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

$10 million gift sponsors three profs

Three new professorships, endowed by gifts from three donors totaling $10 million, were announced by the College last week. Two of these professorships honored current members of the Dartmouth faculty, while the third helped attract a new scholar to the College.

James Haxby, currently a professor of psychology at Princeton University, received the Evans Family Distinguished Professorship, endowed by Barbara and Brad Evans '64. Brad Evans is a member of the College's Board of Trustees.

Haxby will join the Dartmouth faculty in January 2008, when in addition to teaching, he will take over the position of director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. He said he hopes he can use this post to expand the Center's growth with an eye towards interdisciplinary efforts.

Haxby, who has been at Princeton since 2003, focuses his research on the brain basis of visual perception as well as attention and memory. He has previously served as a research psychologist section chief for the section on functional brain imaging in the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md.

Though the endowed professorship was an appealing part of the College's offer, Haxby said, the honor was only a part of his attraction to Dartmouth.

"It's an excellent school with fantastic students to work with," Haxby said. "The College and the research community are great people. These are people I've known for years, so I'm looking forward to working in the same building with them."

The other recently announced professorships were given to two members of the Dartmouth faculty. Andrew Friedland, chair of Dartmouth's environmental studies program, received the Richard and Jane Pearl professorship in Environmental Studies, created by a $2.5 million gift from Jane and Richard Pearl '54 Tu'55.

Friedland said that he hopes to use the stipend that accompanies the professorship to further his research on the effects of energy combustion on forests, a topic he has been studying since graduate school.

The stipend will also allow Friedland to explore areas including human contributions to greenhouse gases -- an issue Friedland said he believes is of interest to the Pearls, whom he has met several times.

"One of the nice aspects of an endowed professorship [is that it] gives you the encouragement and the resources to move out in new directions," Friedland said.

He said that being the recipient of an endowed professorship, while it is an honor, will likely not change his day-to-day role at Dartmouth.

"One professor I know went out and bought a chair," Friedland joked. "I don't think I'll do that, but it might get a few laughs."

Dean of the Faculty and professor of biology Carol Folt was announced as the recipient of the Dartmouth professorship of Biological Sciences, endowed by an anonymous donor.

Folt's research in environmental biology centers on the proliferation of toxic metals through aquatic foodwebs, which can lead to human exposure, as well as the restoration of Atlantic salmon in New England.

Though much of this research is currently supported by federal grants, Folt said the professorship stipend will allow her to explore new subject areas and support her students in more varied and unconstrained ways.

Recipients of endowed professorships are nominated by the Dean of Faculty and other associate deans, and then approved by the Faculty Committee Advisory to the President " a group that includes College President James Wright. Folt's selection was made by the CAP alone, without her input, according to Michael Mastanduno, associate dean for social sciences.

Mastanduno said that large-scale contributions like the three that endowed these professorships, though not routine for the College, are being "aggressively pursued" in an effort to add to the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience -- a $1.3 billion fundraising effort, the largest in Dartmouth's history.

These professorships also play an important role in attracting faculty to the Dartmouth community, Mastanduno and Folt agreed.

"These endowed professorships are essential to Dartmouth because they allow us to support the growth of the faculty, to recruit outstanding scholars such as Jim Haxby from other institutions and to recognize the accomplishments of individuals on our faculty," Folt said in an e-mail message to The Dartmouth.

Ben Nunnery contributed reporting to this article.