Laura Bryant

In line with Miami University’s efforts to maintain and draw in strong professors, the university recently established a program to create endowed professorships – distinguished honors given to faculty members.

Miami’s initiative would keep donated money in an account over time to accumulate interest – which professors could use for salary, research, travel and other faculty needs.

According to President David Hodge, Miami, like other institutions, already offers professorships such as this. This money is currently held in an account totaling $2 million – an account, Hodge said, that is made up of gifts the university has received from wills.

“The challenge we have is that we don’t have very many of (professorships),” Hodge said. “We only have 34 of them which isn’t very many for a faculty of 800.”

Originally, private donors were required to give $400,000 to create a professorship. Now, donors only need to give $300,000, and the university will match the donation by supplementing the remaining $100,000.

Donors are able to give money to whatever aspect of the university they choose, and usually have a faculty member in mind when the money is given.

“Usually the donor has an idea of what kind of a person they want to hold it,” Hodge said.

According to Hodge, donors are able to decide what rank of faculty they can donate their money to, including full-time, part-time, or other status. Donors are also able to stipulate for how long their money will be used.

“We will be talking to the donor and getting to understand them,” Hodge said. “We will help the donor understand what the greatest impact of their donation will be.”

The new endowed professorship is a part of the Love and Honor Campaign that began in 2005. The idea for more endowments was particularly endorsed by Hodge, who saw an increase in professorships when he was the Dean of College of Arts and Science at University of Washington in Seattle.

“I think this is very exciting,” Hodge said. “We did something like this in Washington. We started with 18 professorships and reached 100 in five years.”

According to Mary Woodworth, a senior associate provost at Miami, the professorship program will encourage current professors to stay at Miami, as well as bring in new faculty.

“I think it’s a great idea because we want to help at the greatest extent we can, so this will give them more money,” Woodworth said. “It’s an incentive to not only recruit but also retain (professors).”

Increasing endowed professorship has been in the works since the start of the Love and Honor Campaign, Hodge said.

“Faculty support was one of the priorities from the campaign but we need to make this more tangible,” Hodge said.

The new matching system, where the university supplements the donations, applies to endowments offered after July 1, 2006. This provides a selling point for the university when talking to potential donors.

“We are spreading the word as quickly as we can,” Hodge said. “We are always trying to talk to potential donors. Now we have an additional item to talk about in those conversations.”