Endowed Professorships: An Enduring Tribute to Excellence

July 24th, 2013 / Advancement

Princeton bestows its highest academic honor—an endowed professorship—on outstanding faculty members who break new ground in their disciplines and inspire a life-long love of learning in their students.

The prestige and recognition of an endowed professorship help the University attract superb scholars to campus from universities in this country and abroad, and encourage exceptional teachers to remain at Princeton. This ensures that Princeton students can work directly with some of the finest minds in the world—Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows, Pulitzer Prize winners, National Academy of Science members, and others who are expanding, not just explaining, their fields of study.

The Origin of Endowed Professorships

An endowed professorship at Princeton is a lasting tribute both to the accomplished scholars who hold it and to those in whose name it was created.

  • Princeton’s first endowed professorship, the Holmes Professorship of Belles-Lettres, was established by sea captain Silas Holmes in 1857. Over the past 150 years, 14 scholars, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Robert Frost, have held the title of Holmes Professor.
  • Generations of Princeton’s alumni, parents, and friends have followed in Captain Holmes’s footsteps, creating professorships through gifts and bequests.
  • These gifts ensure that Princeton’s core mission of teaching and research is fulfilled by exceptional faculty members—whether they are social scientists helping to guide public policy, engineers pioneering sustainable energy solutions, economists interpreting the growth of markets, or artists who inspire us to see the world in new ways.

McCosh Hall

Scholars Who Shape Their Disciplines

Among those who hold endowed professorships are:

  • Bonnie Bassler, chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology
  • Emily Carter, founding director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment
  • Jonathan Cohen, co-director of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, and the Robert Bendheim and Lynn Bendheim Thoman Professor in Neuroscience
  • Pablo Debenedetti, dean for research and the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science
  • Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and the Lawrence and Shirley Katzman and Lewis and Anna Ernst Professor in the Economics of Education

During the Aspire campaign, which concluded in 2012, gifts to Princeton created 26 professorships named in honor of family members, inspiring teachers, and lifelong friends. Over the years, these professorships—and new ones that will be established by thoughtful men and women who value the University’s mission—will join those created decades ago. They will be held by a succession of distinguished scholars, becoming part of the fabric of the University and commemorating the generosity of the extended Princeton family. A complete list of the University's endowed professorships is available on the Office of the Dean of the Faculty website.