Ask Benny

What's so special about endowed professorships?

Dear Benny,
In light of President Amy Gutmann’s announcement that the University will seek to create 50 new endowed professorships over the next four years, could you please define and explain “endowed” professorships? Do endowed professorships differ from “term” professorships?
—Curious Bob

Dear Curious,
Thanks for your email. To answer your questions, we turned to the Office of the Provost, who told us that an endowed professorship is one that is supported by a permanent endowment that provides support for the chair holder’s salary, scholarly activities, or some combination of them.

According to the Office of the Provost, appointments to endowed professorships may be for a fixed term or for the duration of the chair holder’s tenure at Penn. Usually “term chairs” or “term professorships” refer to endowments that provide support for a specific period of time.

As part of the new plan to create as many as 50 new endowed professorships over the next four years, the President’s Distinguished Professorship Fund will provide matching funds from the University to leverage philanthropic support from donors for three distinct types of professorships.

Those three types include Donor-named Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) University Professorships, which will recruit faculty who hold joining appointments between two schools and who exemplify multidisciplinary research and teaching; Donor-named Distinguished Professorships, which will be created in any of Penn’s 12 schools to recruit and retain faculty with research and teaching expertise in areas identified by the President as high priorities for the Penn Compact 2020; and Donor-named Presidential Professorships, which will recruit and retain tenured faculty who contribute to the diversity and preeminence of Penn.

To learn more, visit the Penn Compact 2020 website.