msu’s endowed chair positions draw top talent and create opportunity
MSU’s fundamental mission is to develop solutions and advance knowledge to make a better tomorrow for students and our global society. The caliber of MSU’s faculty is critical to that mission and to ensuring the university’s future as one of the top-100 research universities in the world.
Endowed chair positions are invaluable when it comes to furthering scholarship, attracting funding — as well as the best graduate students and faculty — and opening possibilities for collaboration across campus and with partner institutions.
“Being able to offer endowed chairs helps us compete for top talent and to support the culture of excellence that today’s challenges demand,” says MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.
To increase its ability to compete, MSU’s $1.5 billion Empower Extraordinary capital campaign includes a $350 million segment focused on academic innovation and the addition of 100 endowed chairs.
Meet a few of the Spartan faculty whose endowed positions have enabled them to conduct vital research, create productive collaborations and provide opportunities for the next generation of scientists and scholars.
Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair of Water Research, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
The 2016 recipient of the Stockholm Water Prize, the world’s top prize for water research, Joan Rose is an international authority on water microbiology, water quality and public health safety. She co-directs MSU’s Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment and the Center for Water Sciences.
“This position allows MSU to highlight and address water research, in particular degrading water quality, as a very important problem that needs to be solved at a local, regional, national and now global scale, bridging the gaps of the funding agencies. It is often difficult to create the momentum to address new and emerging contaminants in water and their health effects without resources. For me, water quality is all about maintaining the bio-health of the planet. And the endowment allows one to elevate the scientific questions and the translation of the science to a global platform.”
— Joan Rose
Knight Center for Environmental Journalism Chair, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
Pulitzer Prize-winning professor of journalism and former associate dean of International Studies and Programs at MSU, Eric Freedman teaches environmental journalism and serves as director of MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.
“Being chair networks me with some of the top journalism educators in the United States who hold Knight Chairs at leading universities across the country and gives me access to Knight Foundation expertise, resources and innovative journalism strategies and analysis. It recognizes that MSU was the first university in the country to create an endowed chair and center for what was then the new field of environmental journalism. It also elevates the reputation of the environmental journalism program and the journalism school while attracting high-caliber applicants from the United States and other countries to our master’s and doctoral programs.”
— Eric Freedman
John H. McConnell Chaired Professor of Business Administration, Broad College of Business
David Closs is a nationally known supply chain management leader in the development and application of computer models and information systems for logistics operations and planning. He heads MSU’s top-ranked supply chain management program.
“I am not a traditional business school faculty member, as I do much more outreach across the university, with businesses and with the public sector. The McConnell chair has provided me the position and the resources to work with other faculty and graduate students to provide these services. I have been able to support conferences, research projects and workshops to facilitate the application of supply chain principles to non-typical supply chain settings such as economic development, food safety and talent management.”
— David Closs
Rudolph Hugh Endowed Chair in Microbial Pathogenesis, College of Natural Science
Victor DiRita leads approximately 50 faculty members as chair of MSU’s Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, one of the oldest and largest microbiology departments in the country. An independent investigator, his research—continuously federally supported for 25 years—is at the forefront of studying diarrheal pathogens in an effort to identify new approaches to controlling infectious diseases.
“The Hugh Endowed Chair provides resources that enable me to expand my lab’s research into new areas of investigation, which we are doing by studying antimicrobial-resistant pathogens encountered in the hospital. Funds from all endowed chairs help MSU attract faculty who have been highly successful elsewhere and to retain our best faculty.”
— Victor DiRita
Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine
Stephanie Valberg researches neuromuscular disorders in horses and is director of the Neuromuscular Diagnostic Laboratory in the MSU Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. Her research has led to the discovery of previously unknown muscle disorders in horses.
“This position ensures equine research is a fundamental part of the research culture at MSU. It opens the door to collaborative research projects, provides a platform to train undergraduate and graduate students, and it brings in scholars from around the world to enhance MSU’s reputation. The endowed chair allows me to focus on diseases common to dressage horses and sport horses, investigate their genetic basis and devise strategies to improve their health and performance. Many of these disorders overlap human disorders and allow us to study the molecular basis of disease with results having implications across species.”
— Stephanie Valberg
W.F. Patenge Endowed Chair, College of Osteopathic Medicine
Suresh Mukherji’s work focuses on biological aspects of head and neck cancers. He serves as chair of the Department of Radiology and is a senior editor for three journals and a consulting editor at the Neuroimaging Clinics and Magnetic Resonance Imaging Clinics of North America.
“Being an endowed chair allows me to build the research infrastructure here at MSU and encourage young investigators. It allows me to support others throughout the department. It allows for creativity and for recognition for those who are holding that chair, and it allows for an everlasting memory for whom the chair is named. There are so many benefits of an endowed chair. What are we going to leave on this earth that others will benefit from? That endowed chair creates a lasting legacy, which I think is very important.”
— Suresh Mukherji
Michael and Elaine Serling and Friends Chair of Israel Studies, James Madison College
Yael Aronoff is director of the Jewish Studies Program at MSU. She has served as assistant for regional humanitarian programs in the Pentagon’s Office of Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs and in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow.
“MSU was the sixth university in the country to establish such an endowed chair. It’s important because it allows me to contribute in my teaching and research to a growing, dynamic and interdisciplinary field of study for which there is much student demand and allows me to bring MSU students to Israel on our faculty-led study abroad programs. I am able to conduct research in Israel practically every summer, to bring top scholars in the field to MSU and to promote collaborative research in the field.”
— Yael Aronoff
For more about MSU’s Empower Extraordinary campaign and supporting faculty chair endowments, visit go.msu.edu/faculty-chairs.
Special thanks for assistance with photography locations to: Wyn Farm, Meijer Distribution Center, Mid-Michigan MRI, Sparrow Hospital, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and MSU Department of Radiology.