UC San Diego: 40 Years of Endowed Chairs at UC San Diego

Forty years ago, UC San Diego created its first three endowed chairs: the Irwin Mark and Joan Klein Jacobs Chair in Information and Computer Science, the Chair of Judaic Studies, and the Quinn Martin Chair in Drama. These chairs were established in 1981 to bolster faculty recruitment and retention, emboldening the university’s mission of research, education and innovation. Since then, the number of endowed chairs has expanded to include 255 chairs across nearly 70 academic departments, divisions and schools.

Aerial shot of UC San Diego campus.
Funded by gifts to the university, endowed chairs are designed to support the chairholder’s scholarly activities, as well as research and activities of their programs, faculty salaries and graduate fellowships. Being named to a chair recognizes and rewards academic distinction and achievement, making it a strong incentive for faculty retention and recruitment.

“Endowed chairs are one of the most prestigious honors our faculty can receive,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “They recognize professors who are true leaders and innovators in their fields, helping to build our dynamic campus community and improving conditions around the world.”

Recognizing the importance of endowed chairs to a great university and their ability to help enable researchers to push the boundaries of human knowledge and educate the next generation of changemakers, Khosla launched the Chancellor’s Endowed Chair and Fellowship Challenge in 2016. Thanks in part to this initiative to expand the number of endowed chairs on campus and support the recruitment and retention of quality junior and senior faculty, more than 100 endowed chairs have been established over the course of the 10-year Campaign for UC San Diego, set to conclude on June 30, 2022.

To fuel this growth, UC San Diego has seen strong community support for endowed chairs across campus. Diverse donors—including local philanthropists and volunteer leaders, UC San Diego alumni, faculty and emeriti faculty members, groups of UC San Diego friends, and foundations—have a wide variety of motivations. These include honoring campus thought leaders, giving back to their alma mater, supporting innovation and empowering leadership. These gifts recognize distinguished faculty and enable them to focus on UC San Diego’s mission to transform the world through education, sharing knowledge, developing creative work, and engaging in public service.

“Our philanthropic community has come together in a truly inspiring way to invest in the future of our university,” said Jeff Silberman, chair of the UC San Diego Foundation Board. “Thanks to them, UC San Diego is continuing to attract and retain faculty and administrative leaders at all levels who are instrumental to our continued rise as a top public university.”

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