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Endowing a Legacy of nontradition

UC San Diego marks 40th anniversary of endowed chairs, empowering excellence through philanthropy


For more than 60 years, UC San Diego has made its mark on the world through a legacy of innovative collaboration and transformative impact. This culture of challenging convention helped us attract founding faculty made up of groundbreaking thinkers and fearless pioneers, changemakers who were instrumental in forging our reputation for meeting complex challenges with nonconventional approaches. And in 1981, we cemented that legacy for faculty excellence with the first endowed chairs on campus.

jacobs family

Irwin and Joan Jacobs

Forty years ago, the Irwin Mark and Joan Klein Jacobs Chair in Information and Computer Science, the Chair of Judaic Studies, and the Quinn Martin Chair in Drama were established to bolster faculty recruitment and retention — efforts critical not only to our expansive research enterprise, but also to our mission to educate the next generation of leaders. The faculty members who have held these endowed chairs have had a lasting impact on society through their work advancing network security, examining the role of literature in cultural exchange, and expanding whose stories are told in theatrical performances, as well as inspiring students to look deeper at ways to make our world a better place.

These first endowed chairs also represent a wide breadth of areas on campus where our faculty and students excel, demonstrating not only UC San Diego’s historic strength in these areas, but also how support for endowed chairs can foster continued excellence and ongoing growth in diverse fields. From those three chairs, we have expanded to 255 across nearly 70 academic departments, divisions and schools. And since the beginning of the Campaign for UC San Diego in 2012, we have added 100 new endowed chairs to support our efforts to push the boundaries of knowledge, seek unconventional ideas, and educate future leaders.

As one of the most prestigious honors bestowed upon faculty, endowed chairs recognize professors whose innovative work leads their field, impacts our dynamic campus community, and transforms our world. Endowed faculty chairs provide a dedicated, ongoing source of funds for the chair-holder’s scholarly activities as well as support for research and activities of the program or department, faculty salaries and graduate fellowships. Similarly, administrative endowed chairs are the campus’s highest distinction, used to reward and recognize senior faculty and enhance the attractiveness and academic prestige of an administrative position for a distinguished scholar.


Endowed chairs provide clear benefits to the academic and service mission of the university: Supporting faculty members allows academic leaders to focus on their research and teaching, and in the case of health sciences appointees, provide compassionate care. But for some donors, the connection between these broad benefits and concrete outcomes are more tangible. Iris and Matthew Strauss have seen the impact first-hand and are using their experience to encourage others to support endowed chairs.

Iris and Matthew Strauss

Iris and Matthew Strauss

Iris and Matthew’s 2020 gift to establish the Iris and Matthew Strauss Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Head and Neck Surgery will help ensure that physician-scientists within Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, like Joseph A. Califano III, MD, inaugural chair-holder and director of the Hanna and Mark Gleiberman Head and Neck Cancer Center, are able to pursue transformative health care innovation and practice, today and long into the future. For them, this effort is deeply personal: Two of their daughters have received a cancer diagnosis, and one died from ovarian cancer. Support for endowed chairs allows UC San Diego Health to recruit and retain world-class experts and equip them with the resources they need to improve treatment options for patients with cancer, like the Strauss’ daughters.


Just as Iris and Matthew have encouraged others to support endowed chairs, a number of volunteer and alumni leaders have also led efforts to endow faculty chairs. And together, these groups of donors have been able to make an outsized impact, preserving the legacy of instructors who inspired them and expanding on our university’s pioneering foundational research.

A number of UC San Diego alumni contributed to the Sir Clive W.J. Granger Endowed Chair in Econometrics, including John Iorillo ’88 and Kim Iorillo ’87 and Jennifer and Ken Kroner, PhD ’88. Named in honor of Nobel laureate Sir Clive Granger, whose fundamental discoveries while on the faculty at UC San Diego revolutionized the way economists analyze financial and macroeconomic data, this term chair supports a new faculty member every five years and helps ensure that the powerhouse Department of Economics is able to recruit leaders, like Granger and current chair-holder Yixiao Sun, who continue to inspire the next generation of economists.

Contributors from across the country, including Ernest and Evelyn Rady, helped fund the Dr. Harry Markowitz Endowed Chair in Finance and Investing. Named in honor of Nobel laureate and adjunct professor at the Rady School of Management, Dr. Harry Markowitz, this chair has supported the recruitment of experts in theory, data and econometric techniques, including inaugural chair-holder Allan Timmermann, whose work seeks to expand upon Markowitz’s foundational discovery of Modern Portfolio Theory while advancing research, teaching and public service activities at the Rady School.

Chancellor’s Associates have always come together to support the current chancellor’s most pressing priorities, including endowed chairs. The nine existing Chancellor’s Associates Chairs support the work of outstanding faculty members and help departments and divisions across campus remain competitive in attracting distinguished scholars and innovators of all kinds — including Division of Physical Sciences Dean Steven Boggs. Thanks to endowed chair support, Boggs has pursued work that has expanded our understanding of fundamental physics via gamma-ray telescopes.


UC San Diego’s volunteer leaders contribute to our campus’ growth in a number of ways, from serving on advisory boards to mentoring students. But one of the most fundamental ways they support our university’s vision is by establishing endowed chairs that enable faculty members to focus on their core mission to educate the next generation of changemakers, advance leading-edge research and provide public service.

Richard and Carol Dean Hertzberg are longtime supporters of UC San Diego, having supported engineering, medicine, science, Chancellor’s Associates and The Preuss School UC San Diego. Their 2015 gift to establish the Presidential Chair for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography reinforced their commitment to campus — and our planet. The chair supports the director of the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation, Mark Merrifield, whose leadership unites experts across disciplines to document the effects of climate change on the environment, ecosystems and people, and to devise practical solutions to consequences that are currently seen as inevitable.

Alumni Steven R. Hart, MA ’80, and Susan O. Hart, PhD ’86, are well-known for their leadership across campus, including Steve’s recently concluded service as the chair of the UC San Diego Foundation Board. Together their support established the S. Gill Williamson Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Computer Science, in honor of the former chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The chair, which is currently held by Mihir Bellare, supports research into security solutions and cryptography.


In just 60 years, UC San Diego has built a reputation for distinction. And endowed chairs serve as an opportunity to recognize some of the leaders who have contributed to our excellence through their research and teaching. In naming these chairs for some of our campus’ greatest thinkers and innovators, we also honor the long-term impact of their work while encouraging a new generation of scholars to build on and expand their legacy.

Bioengineering Professor Emeritus Shu Chien’s name is synonymous with foundational scientific discoveries. His career spanned more than 60 years, half of them at UC San Diego, where he made breakthroughs in blood flow, screening for adverse effects of small molecule drugs, and why sedentary lifestyles can be unhealthy. To honor this founder of mechanobiology — and a beloved mentor to generations of students — Samuel Yin established the Shu Chien Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Engineering and Medicine. Inaugural chair-holder Andrew McCulloch’s interdisciplinary investigations of cardiac function expand on Professor Chien’s legacy and inform new understanding, diagnostic tools and treatment options for disease.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

On the other side of campus, the eighth director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the late Edward A. Frieman, was not only a skilled researcher whose interdisciplinary work was among the first to identify global warming; he was also a focused leader who expanded Scripps’ research enterprise in climate change. And to carry forward and honor his passion for research and its impact on our understanding of the world, Edward’s wife Joy established the Edward A. Frieman Endowed Presidential Chair in Climate Sustainability, held by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, whose groundbreaking work on the greenhouse effects of cholorofluorocarbons contributes to the sustainability of world-class climate research taking place at Scripps.


For some faculty members, endowed chairs provide an opening for them to not only preserve their own legacy, but to pass the torch to a new generation of innovators. These kinds of endowed chairs secure our campus’ heritage of excellence, recognize individuals who have transformed their disciplines, and allow a new cohort of scholars to expand upon existing ideas and investigate new ones with the potential to redefine their fields.

In honor of the Department of Psychiatry’s 50th anniversary, then-chair Igor Grant, MD, and his wife JoAnn established the Dr. Igor and JoAnn Grant Chair in Psychiatry in 2019. The Grants wanted to support the innovative spirit that characterized the department when they joined in 1972. Today, the chair supports the head of the Department of Psychiatry, Zafiris J. Daskalakis, MD, PhD, and empowers the continued expansion of innovative research projects in genetic and molecular mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders, best practices in treatment, novel pharmacological and psychotherapeutics, and other projects.

Since coming to UC San Diego in 1977, C. Lowell Parsons, MD, built a reputation as a global expert in surgical treatments for urologic disorders. Using proceeds from Dr. Parsons’ patent for an implantable device for treating interstitial cystitis, the university established the Endowed Chair in Urology, later renamed the C. Lowell and JoEllen Parsons Endowed Chair in Urology in honor of Dr. Parson’s 35-year legacy as a caring clinician, inspirational mentor to up-and-coming health care leaders, and living example of breakthrough translational research.


Deans and other administrators are responsible for more than their own research and teaching; they ensure their division runs smoothly, empower student success and plan for the future. Administrative endowed chairs recognize senior faculty, signifying leadership in their field and their important role in laying the groundwork for the future of our campus and community.

As a leader in the San Diego community, as well as chair of the UC San Diego Foundation Board for many years, the late Pauline Foster was well-positioned to support the growth of UC San Diego Rady School of Management. And her gift to fund the Stanley and Pauline Foster Endowed Chair, in honor of her late husband Stanley, helped cement her legacy as a founder of the Rady School. The chair supports the dean of the Rady School, Lisa Ordóñez, and her efforts to expand programming, including the biennial Stanley Foster Symposium, to provide students with access to some of the world’s most respected business leaders.

cheryl anderson

Cheryl Anderson

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect communities across the nation and around the world, John and Sally Hood’s gift through their family foundation to establish the Hood Family Endowed Dean’s Chair in Public Health at the newly established Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science reinforced our campus’ public health infrastructure. And under the leadership of inaugural chair-holder, Cheryl A.M. Anderson, PhD, MPH, MS, the school is continuing to train the next generation of public health leaders while studying the impact of the economy, community relationships and individual circumstances on public health.


Foundations often focus on causes like basic science research, educational access or social justice. But when a foundation’s purpose dovetails so perfectly with our academic mission, the resulting endowed chairs can advance both institutions’ goals in revolutionary ways.

After longtime San Diego Charger and NFL Hall of Famer Junior Seau was diagnosed posthumously with chronic traumatic encephalopathy — a neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated blows to the head — the Junior Seau Foundation, together with a one-to-one match from The Kavli Foundation, established the Junior Seau Foundation Endowed Chair in Traumatic Brain Injury at UC San Diego in his memory. The gifts were also matched by campus, as part of the Chancellor’s Endowed Chair and Faculty Fellowship Challenge, and the dean of the Division of Biological Sciences. The university’s excellence in science and health makes it an ideal place for interdisciplinary research, and the chair supports UC San Diego Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind co-director Yishi Jin’s investigations into the molecular, cellular and neural circuit mechanisms of brain malfunction associated with traumatic brain injuries.

UC San Diego’s robust programming in developmental biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, nutritional sciences, biomedical technology, social sciences and other fields make it an excellent match for promoting research into the genetic and environmental factors that affect human milk composition. And as the only foundation in the world with the primary focus of investigating human milk composition, the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation established the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Chair of Collaborative Human Milk Research to support understanding of the molecular composition of human milk to help ensure optimal health, growth and development in babies — especially preterm infants — under the leadership of inaugural chair-holder Lars Bode, PhD.


UC San Diego Health is the top-rated health system in the region and one of the best in California and across the nation thanks to our internationally recognized faculty members across health sciences. This includes physician-scientists at UC San Diego Health as well as faculty at UC San Diego School of Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health. Whether they are shepherding new drugs through the discovery pipeline, providing clinical care to patients, exploring new public health interventions to minimize the impact of a pandemic, or inspiring the next generation of health care leaders, the work of our health sciences faculty improves all aspects of human health. Endowed chairs in these disciplines empower researchers to focus on science that translates to clinical breakthroughs, physicians to offer leading-edge care, and faculty to impart knowledge to up-and-coming health specialists.

The Koman family’s extraordinary generosity to cancer research across San Diego and beyond — from Pedal the Cause to the Koman Family Outpatient Pavilion at UC San Diego Health — has had a significant impact on the development of new treatments for cancer. And as a two-time survivor of lymphoma, William Koman is committed to ensuring every patient with cancer has access to leading-edge care options. Together with his wife Amy, William’s gift to establish the Koman Family Presidential Endowed Chair in Cancer Research supports the efforts of chair-holder Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, to develop personalized treatments for cancer.

Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology

Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology

Andrew J. Viterbi is a communications pioneer, but his gift to the Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology to establish six new endowed chairs are a tribute to his father, celebrated ophthalmologist Achille Viterbi, who began his career in Italy, but was forced to start from scratch in the U.S. after the beginning of World War II. The Viterbi Family Chairs will continue Achille Viterbi’s legacy of exceptional patient care and research into potential cures for blindness.


If philanthropy is a learned activity, for some, giving to endowed chairs is a tradition. And for the Jacobs family, it spans generations. When Joan and Irwin Jacobs established UC San Diego’s first endowed chair in 1981, it was merely the first step: Since then, they have established nearly a dozen endowed chairs in areas across campus from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering to the School of Global Policy and Strategy.

As one of Joan and Irwin’s most recently established chairs, the Marshall Saunders Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Global Climate Policy and Research honors the legacy of the late climate change advocate Marshall Saunders, who founded the Citizen’s Climate Lobby. Inspired by Saunders’ legacy and what he was able to accomplish through his nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy, the Jacobs hope that the chair will help inform national policies to address climate change, including inaugural chair-holder Jennifer Burney’s work on global food security and climate change.

Now, Joan and Irwin’s son, Gary Jacobs ’79 and his wife Jerri-Ann are bringing this family tradition full circle. Gary received his bachelor’s degree in management science from UC San Diego. He is following his parents’ footsteps as an active member of the university community, serving on a number of boards and committees. And like his parents, he and his wife Jerri-Ann are committed to the campus’ continued growth. The Jerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Endowed Chair in Social Sciences, held by Distinguished Professor of Political Science David A. Lake, not only supports research, it is also designed to help expand programs in the Division of Social Sciences that increase learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.


For 40 years, endowed chairs at UC San Diego have secured long-term support for faculty on the leading edge. As new ideas and grand challenges emerge, endowed chairs allow our university to adapt and prepare for the future. They continue to empower faculty members to pursue new ideas with the potential to improve our society and our world, like examining racial justice, scrutinizing the impact of our nation’s history, and honoring the contributions of individuals whose work has been long overlooked.

As chair of the Department of Music, Cecil Lytle was instrumental in the development of the undergraduate program in jazz, music of the African diaspora, and gospel choir. And as a mentor, he inspired generations of aspiring musicians. The recent community initiative — spearheaded by campus leaders Christopher and Patricia Weil and generously supported by Sandra Timmons ’81 and Richard Sandstrom ’72, PhD ’79 — to fund the Cecil Lytle Presidential Endowed Chair in African and African American Music will not only cement the legacy of Professor Lytle, but also ensure the story of African and African-American music in the U.S. continues to be shared and the contributions of these artists recognized and celebrated.

The 100 endowed chairs added during the Campaign for UC San Diego, concluding on June 30, 2022, bolster our campus’ efforts to enhance student support, ensure student success, transform our campus, connect our community, and redefine medicine and health care on a global scale by supporting our pioneering faculty. And as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of our campus’ first endowed chairs, we also look ahead: How will the next 40 years of nonconventional thinking and boundary-breaking discoveries change the world for the better?

If you are interested in learning more about supporting endowed chairs at UC San Diego, please click here. To see a comprehensive list of endowed chairs at UC San Diego, click here.