150 ENDOWED CHAIRS: Honoring faculty members and donors

The numbers added up nicely for the UC Davis Centennial celebration in 2008-09: The university had established 100 endowed chairs and professorships in its first 100 years.

Now, in just four years, 2009-13, UC Davis has added 50 more, for a total of 150, an achievement that coincides with the continuing Campaign for UC Davis.

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter made the announcement to loud applause the night of April 3 at the annual Endowed Chairs and Professorships gala.

“This number is a testament to UC Davis’ academic stature, international prominence and important contributions, and to the visionary donors who established these endowed faculty positions,” Hexter said.

Donors and family members were among the 200 people who attended this year’s gala, a dinner event held in the ARC Ballroom. The guest list also included volunteer leaders in university development, and members of the UC Davis Foundation Board, as well as students, faculty and administrators.

Each year’s program specifically honors recent appointees to chairs and professorships, including those faculty members who have been unable to attend previous celebrations.

“Tonight we honor exceptional faculty members — faculty whose professional achievements place them among the world’s leading authorities in their fields,” Hexter said.

“And while we honor them, we also honor generous donors — those whose philanthropic gifts support faculty achievement. … Thank you for being partners in our vision.”

The 2013 faculty honorees included Karen Kelly, appointed to Chair No. 150, the first person to hold the Jennifer Rene Harmon Tegley and Elizabeth Erica Harmon Endowed Chair in Cancer Clinical Research. A video presentation told about the cousins for whom the chair is named, and included comments from family members on why they decided to endow a chair at UC Davis.

“It’s so inspirational to see a family, who took a tragedy and turned it into something positive that will benefit others,” Hexter said.

The program also acknowledged seven other new chairs and professorships that helped push the total to 150.

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said endowed chairs and professorships are forged from “visionary philanthropy and passionate ingenuity,” resulting in important contributions to society.

“It is clear that endowed faculty are critical to the growing achievements of our university and to the advancement of knowledge for generations to come,” the chancellor said.

Michael Chapman, a UC Davis alumnus and retired faculty member, addressed the audience as a member of the UC Davis Foundation Board — and as someone who held an endowed chair. It was established in 2001, in his honor: the Michael W. Chapman Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery.

“The individuals who hold our endowed chairs and professorships are leading the way in their respective fields through the combination of passion, knowledge and creativity,” Professor Emeritus Chapman said. “They represent the university as inspiring teachers, innovative researchers and dedicated public servants, and each brings distinction to UC Davis.”

Indeed, Hexter said the impact of each chair and professorship extends far beyond the individual holding the position.

“Whatever his or her discipline or specific area of research, an endowed chair or professor attracts other top-notch individuals — highly regarded faculty from peer institutions and highly sought graduate students and post-docs from the best graduate programs in the country

“Clearly, UC Davis benefits, but more importantly, the public that the university serves ultimately benefits, as these great minds continue their work into finding new ways to cure disease, new methods of growing safe food, new approaches to teaching science and math, and so much more.”


• Danika Bannasch, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor, Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine — The first to hold the Maxine Adler Endowed Chair in Genetics. A veterinary geneticist, Bannasch focuses her research on the identification of the molecular causes of inherited diseases in dogs and horses.

• Satya Dandekar, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, with a joint appointment in the Department of Internal Medicine — Dean’s Chair in Medical Microbiology and Immunology. Dandekar’s research is focused on understanding how AIDS attacks the gastrointestinal tract and is an early target of HIV, serving as a persis­tent viral reservoir and hiding place.

• Charles DeCarli, M.D., professor of neurology, UC Davis Health System; and director, Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and Imaging of Dementia and Aging, or IDeA, laboratory — The first to hold the Victor and Genevieve Orsi Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Research. DeCarli’s research focuses on using advanced structural and functional brain imaging to study normal aging, mild cognitive impairment and dementia, and the role of genetics, cerebrovascular and Alzheimer’s disease on these processes.

• Karen Kelly, M.D., associate direc­tor for clinical research, Comprehensive Cancer Center, and professor of medicine, School of Medicine — The first to hold the Jennifer Rene Harmon Tegley and Elizabeth Erica Harmon Endowed Chair in Cancer Clinical Research. Kelly is an internationally recognized lung cancer expert dedicated to providing enhanced cancer care through cutting-edge clinical trials. Her research spans the spectrum of this disease from prevention to treatment.

• Kit Lam, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine — Harold Albin Johnson Chair in Biomedical Research. Lam started at UC Davis in 1999 as a professor and chief of hematology-oncology, and is both a practicing medical oncologist and a laboratory investigator. He is also an expert on the development and application of combi­natorial chemistry and their chemical methods to solve biomedical problems.

• Diana L. Miglioretti, Ph.D., professor, Department of Public Health Sciences — Dean’s Professorship in Biostatistics. Miglioretti is the ultimate team player: collaborating with other faculty members; teaching in the School of Medicine; promoting cross-departmental research and training; and working with the Department of Public Health Sciences and the broader university community.

• Colin Milburn, Ph.D., associate professor of English — The first to hold the Gary Snyder Endowed Chair in Science and Humanities. Milburn’s research focuses on the cultural rela­tions between literature, science and tech­nology. His forthcoming book, Mondo Nano: Fun and Games in the World of Digital Matter, explores connections between molecular science and video game culture.

• Susan Murin, M.D., M.Sc., vice chair, Clinical Affairs, Department of Internal Medicine; chief, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine; vice chief of the medical staff, UC Davis Medical Center — Gordon A. Wong, M.D., Endowed Professorship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. A nationally recog­nized expert in pulmonary medicine, Murin oversees nearly 100 faculty, staff and fellows who provide critical care, pulmonary, sleep and hospitalist services, and do research on diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, bronchiectasis and pulmonary fibrosis.

• Lorenzo Rossaro, M.D., professor and chief, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology — Lena Valente Professorship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Rossaro focuses on hepatitis C, and the use of telemedicine technology to close the gap of access to specialty care for underserved and rural areas.

• Carl J. Schramm, Ph.D., J.D. — The first to hold the Arthur and Carlyse Ciocca Visiting Professorship in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Management. Named the “evange­list of entrepreneurship” by The Economist, Schramm has played important roles in advancing entrepreneurial capitalism globally and is one of the world’s leading experts on entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth.

• Garen J. Wintemute, M.D., M.P.H., professor of emergency medicine — The first to hold the Susan P. Baker and Stephen P. Teret Chair in Violence Prevention at the UC Davis Health System. Wintemute is recognized as one of the nation’s foremost scholars addressing violence as a public health problem, and is a national expert on firearm violence and public policies and attitudes related to firearms.

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Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556, dljones@ucdavis.edu

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