Napolitano announces $50 million endowed faculty chair fund

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SAN FRANCISCO — UC President Janet Napolitano announced the creation of a fund at the UC Board of Regents meeting Wednesday that allocates $50 million to fund 100 new endowed faculty chairs across the system.

The fund, pooled entirely from private donations, will designate $4 million to each of the 10 campuses for the establishment of at least eight new chairs in the next five years. With a base total of $1 million per chair, half will go to the chair holder and the remaining half will be put toward the chair holder’s salary or graduate research in the chair’s field.

“The Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs is one of the efforts we are undertaking at the university to secure new revenue — specifically, revenue that connects to and fosters our academic excellence,” Napolitano said during the meeting.

A campus must have received at least $500,000 per chair from donors to be eligible for the funding opportunity. The program is funded through Napolitano’s endowment, which she can use at her discretion to fund university initiatives.

The selection methods for an endowed chair will follow a “normal recruitment process,” said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein, with a focus on recruiting a faculty member from outside the university. Endowed chairs have a guaranteed amount of funding reserved for research or other scholarly pursuits, according to Klein.

Napolitano will have an additional $10 million on reserve to put toward areas of interest at the state and global levels such as climate change and food. Once a campus depletes its $4 million, it can potentially look to the supplementary $10 million for additional funding.

Nathan Brostrom, UC executive vice president of business operations and interim chief financial officer, hopes the campuses will be able to establish their matching chairs quickly so the university can examine remaining priorities.

“It’s private support, but it’s also private support that helps us in our mission,” Brostrom said. “What we’re trying to do is have private philanthropy that reflects donor interests and our core operating values.”

Campus spokesperson Jose Rodriguez said UC Berkeley welcomes the program and believes the establishment of the endowed chairs will be a positive addition to the campus, but logistics are still being worked out.

“Berkeley is very excited for this initiative,” Rodriguez said. “As far as how it would work on campus though, we’re still in the process of formulating our plans and how the chairs will be allocated.”

While Napolitano said the matching fund is a step in the right direction to fully balancing the university’s budget, she stressed the necessity for an unwavering commitment from the state.

“Put simply, the state of California will not thrive if this university does not thrive,” Napolitano said during the meeting.

Contact Natalie Meier at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @nat_meier.