Professorships & Endowments

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust’s first grantmaking came in response to a belief Mr. Kenan expressed in his will that “a good education is the most cherished gift an individual can receive,” and his appreciation for the seminal role his own college instructors played in his successes. To honor and perpetuate Mr. Kenan’s conviction in the importance of transformative teaching, the trustees created the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorships at distinguished colleges and universities across the United States. The effort remains the Trust’s largest and most far-reaching to date.

In 1966, the trustees awarded a $5 million gift to Mr. Kenan’s alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for the establishment of 25 professorships bearing his name in the sciences and health sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities and fine arts, and smaller gifts for similar professorships in New York state, where Mr. Kenan had lived much of his life. By the time the Trust marked its 25th anniversary, the Kenan Professorships endowment had grown in value to $42 million, providing endowed professorships at 56 institutions.

The value of those endowment grants has continued to grow, with a current market value of more than $525 million. The endowments fund up to 131 William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorships at these 56 institutions per year.

Many of the colleges and universities have a connection to Mr. Kenan’s personal and professional networks. They represent a cross section of American higher education—large and small institutions, four-year colleges and universities, public and private schools. 

The list of over 450 preeminent scholars who have held a William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorship is equally impressive. Their collective scholarly works include more thousands of books, edited volumes, articles, chapters, patents, and software applications. Among the Professors are winners of the Nobel Prize; the Presidential Medal of Freedom; MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants; the Pulitzer Prize, the National Academy of Sciences Medal; the National Book Award; the National Inventor of the Year Award; and fellowships from the Ford, Fulbright, Guggenheim, and Rockefeller foundations and the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

As a student at UNC, Mr. Kenan studied under the chemist Francis Preston Venable, and that formative relationship between undergraduates and their professors is at the heart of the Kenan Professorships.  Many have won institutional and national awards for undergraduate teaching.

While the endowing of professorships has been common in American colleges and universities, the volume and scope of William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorships is unprecedented. Leading experts in the history of American higher education and education philanthropy say they know of no comparable example of giving that matched the size of Mr. Kenan’s in terms of the number institutions that benefited, and the number of professorships endowed.

The Kenan Professorships are rooted in the conviction that people working together, learning from one another, seeking new ways of living and thriving together, can change individual lives, generate new knowledge, and create a powerful ripple effect of good.

Dr. Ralph Baric

Kenan Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill, recently inducted into the National Academy of Sciences

His scientific discoveries made a significant impact on the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying antivirals to fight COVID-19 and collaborating with the National Institutes of Health to test vaccine candidates.

Dr. Albert S. Baldwin, Jr.

Kenan Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill

Dr. Baldwin with Dr. Jen Jen Yeh, a Lineberger Cancer Center at UNC physician-scientist/surgeon, examining a film which exhibits the expression of a particular protein in different cancer cells.

Current William R. Kenan, Jr. Professors

Agnes Scott College
John F. Pilger
Department of Biology

Amherst College
Leah C. Schmalzbauer
Department of Anthropology
& Sociology
Edward D. MelilloDepartment of History & Environmental Studies

Bowdoin College
Thomas Baumgarte
Department of Physics
Collin Roesler, Department of Earth and Oceanographic Science

Brandeis University
Jané Kondev, Department of Physics

Brown University
Sharon R. Krause, Department of Political Science 

Bryn Mawr College
Victor J. Donnay, Department of Mathematics

California Institute of Technology
Kevin M. Gilmartin, Department of English

Carleton College
Neil Lutsky, Department of Psychology
Constance Walker, Department of English

The Claremont Colleges
John G. Milton, Keck Science Department Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges

Colby College
Jeffrey L. Katz, Department of Chemistry
Tanya R. Sheehan, Department of Art

Colgate University
Adam Burnett, Department of Geography
Ellen Percy Kraly, Department of Geography

College of William and Mary
Francie Cate-Arries, Modern Languages & Literature
Melvin P. Ely, Department of History
Christopher MacGowan, Humanities & English
Adam S. Potkay, Department of English

Columbia University*
Lawrence A. Chasin, Department of Biological Sciences
Liang Tong, Department of Biological Sciences

Cornell University
Morten H. Christiansen, Department of Psychology

Dartmouth College*
Paul Christesen, Department of Classics

Davidson College
Gerardo Marti, Department of Sociology
John WertheimerDepartment of History

Drew University
Jonathan E. Rose, Department of History

Duke University
Michael Therien, Department of Chemistry
Stuart Knechtle, Department of Surgery, Director of the Duke Transplant Center

Emory University
Douglas A. Hicks, Department of Religion
John Lysaker, Philosophy
Robert N. McCauley, Department of Philosophy

Furman University
James Lee Guth, Department of Political Science
Scott Henderson, Department of Education
Min Ken Liao, Department of Biology

Hamilton College
Richard Bedient, Department of Mathematics
Sally CockburnDepartment of Mathematics
Margaret Gentry, Department of Women’s Studies

Harvard University*
Marjorie Garber, Departments of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies
John T. Hamilton, Departments of Comparative Literature and of Germanic Languages and Literature
Harvey C. Mansfield, Department of Government
Daniel L. Schacter, Department of Psychology

Haverford College
Gustavus Stadler, Department of English

Johns Hopkins University*
Marc Kamionkowski, Department of Physics & Astronomy

Lehigh University
Michael D. Santoro, College of Business and Economics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Heather Paxson, Department of Anthropology

Middlebury College
Molly D. Anderson, Department of Food Studies
Noah Graham, Department of Natural Sciences

Mount Holyoke College
Katherine Binder, Department of Psychology

New York University
Finbarr Barry Flood, Institute of Fine Arts and Department of Art History

Northwestern University
Eddie Dekel, Department of Economics
Robert H. Porter, Department of Economics

Princeton University
Christine Boyer, School of Architecture
Sanjeev R. Kulkarni, Dept. of Electrical Engineering

Reed College
Lisa M. Steinman, Department of English Literature and Humanities

Rollins College
Lisa Tillman, Department of Critical Media & Cultural Studies

Smith College
Lauren Duncan, Department of Psychology

Stanford University
Robert L. Byer, Department of Applied Physics
Steven Chu, School of Medicine

Stetson University
Eric Kurlander, Department of History

Swarthmore College
Peter J. Schmidt, Department of English Literature
Kenneth Sharpe, Department of Political Science
Andrew WardDepartment of Psychology, Peace & Conflict Studies

Syracuse University
Lisa Manning, Department of Physics

Trinity College
Robert J. Corber, American Institutions and Values: Women, Gender and Sexuality

University of Chicago*
David Jablonski, Department of the Geophysical Sciences, Committee on Evolutionary Biology, and
The College
Judith T. Zeitlin, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and The College

University of Florida
John F. Stanton, Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Albert S. Baldwin, Jr., Lineberger Cancer Center and Department of Biology
Ralph S. Baric, Gillings School of Global Public Health-Epidemiology
James D. Beck, Department of Dental Ecology and Department of Epidemiology
Martin H. BrinkleySchool of Law
Kim Brouwer, School of Pharmacy
Samarjit Chakraborty, Department of Arts & Sciences-Chemistry
Greg Characklis, Gillings School of Global Public Health-Environmental Science & Engineering
John M. Conley, School of Law
Paul S. Dayton, School of Medicine-Biomedical Engineering
Joseph M. DeSimone, Department of Chemistry
Michael Emch, Department of Geography
Carl Ernst, Department of Religious Studies
Liesbet Hooghe, Department of Political Science
James H. Johnson, Jr., Kenan-Flagler Business School
Michael Kosorok, Department of Biostatistics
Herbert Peterson, School of Public Health
Barry Popkin, Gillings School of Global Public Health
Matthew R. Redinbo, Department of Chemistry
Jessica Smith, School of Government
Koji Sode, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
Michael E. Taylor, Department of Mathematics
Jenny Pan-Yun Ting, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Mark J. Zylka, Dept. of Cell Biology & Physiology

University of Notre Dame
Christian Smith, Department of Sociology

University of Pennsylvania
Jere R. Behrman, Department of Economics
Jeffrey Kallberg, Department of Music
Ann Matter, Department of Religious Studies and Department of Italian Studies

University of Rochester
John Tarduno, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

University of the South (Sewanee)
David George Haskell, Department of Biology

University of Virginia
Benjamin K. Bennett, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
Kevin Everson, Department of Art
Rita Felski, Professor of English
Jagdish Krishan Kumar, Department of Sociology
Kevin K. Lehmann, Department of Chemistry
Jeffrey K. Olick, Department of Sociology
Brooks H. Pate, Department of Chemistry
Andrea L. Press, Department of Media Studies and Sociology
Karen Van Lengen, School of Architecture
Penny Marie Von Eschen, Department of English
Peter D. Waldman, School of Architecture
Cynthia S. Wall, Department of English

Vanderbilt University*
Celia Applegate, Department of History
Jay Clayton, Department of English
Brandt F. Eichman, Department of Biological Sciences & Biochemistry
Cindy Kam, Department of Political Science
John Sides, Department of Political Science

Vassar College
Michele M. Tugade, Department of Psychological Science

Wake Forest University
Laura Mullen, Department of English

Washington and Lee University
William L. Patch, Department of History

Wellesley College
Guy M. Rogers, Departments of History and Classical Studies

Wesleyan University*
Sean McCann, Department of English
Joseph Siry, Department of Art and Art History

Williams College
Susan Loepp, Department of Mathematics
Lee Y. ParkDepartment of Chemistry

Wofford College
Christine S. Dinkins, Dept. of Philosophy

Yale University*
Daphne A. Brooks, Department of African American Studies
Michael Denning, American Studies Program; Program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration; Department of English Language and Literature
Lawrence G. Manley, Department of English Language and Literature

*Denotes institutions that also received special grants prior to 1978 to support the development of innovative teaching programs.CollAndrMarti