WHAT: Supported in part by a $2 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Presidential Term Professorships at Penn were established in 2011 as a key feature of the University’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence, an initiative that will help the University recruit, retain, and mentor distinguished and diverse faculty. Presidential Term Professors are recommended by the deans of Penn’s 12 schools, who can submit a nomination to the Office of the Provost.
ADVISE AND CONSENT: After an individual is nominated for a Professorship, he or she is considered by the Presidential Term Professorships Advisory Committee, made up of senior Penn faculty. The nomination process helps to bring to the committee’s attention outstanding faculty members at other institutions at all levels. The awards are approved by President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price.
ATTRACTING EXCELLENCE: “The point is to use these Professorships to go outside the University to identify excellent new hires, and to attract them here,” says Vice Provost for Faculty Anita Allen, whose office oversees the Professorship process.
TOP NOTCH: Allen says the committee has been “extremely impressed” by the quality of the applicants that have been proposed. “These are extremely competitive individuals who have exceptional careers, and who have an outstanding future,” she says.
GEORGE WASHINGTON: Benjamin Garcia was named the first Presidential Term Professor in March of 2012, and serves as the Presidential Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Perelman School of Medicine. He came to Penn from Princeton. Garcia has earned numerous awards, including a Presidential Early Career Award, the highest honor bestowed by the federal government on young scientists and engineers.
JOHN ADAMS: Chyke Doubeni was appointed the second Presidential Term Professor in October 2012, and is the Presidential Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at Penn Medicine. Formerly an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, he says he came to Penn because of the “strong environment” that supports his research interests. An expert on colorectal cancer, his work focuses on “understanding how to improve the effectiveness of screening for colorectal cancer in all populations.” Doubeni, who is also a clinician, was a 2010 recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award.
THOMAS JEFFERSON: Enrique Mendoza was named the third Presidential Term Professor in October of 2012, and serves as the Presidential Term Professor of Economics in the School of Arts & Sciences. Prior to coming to Penn, he was a professor of economics at the University of Maryland, and served for several years as an economist for the International Monetary Fund and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
JAMES MADISON: The most recent Presidential Term Professor, Daniel J. Mindiola, was appointed in July 2013, and serves as the Presidential Term Professor of Chemistry in the School of Arts & Sciences. He was previously a chemistry professor at Indiana University-Bloomington. Mindiola, whom Gutmann called “one of the true stars in organometallic chemistry,” says he was attracted to Penn’s East Coast location in a diverse city like Philadelphia, Ivy League status, and long and storied history. “Also, the [Department of Chemistry] is a lot more dynamic,” he says. “There is a lot of ambition from the department and the University toward recruiting faculty in energy-related science, which is a big plus for me.”
Originally published on January 16, 2014