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Policy on Endowed Chairs and Professorships

Current Endowed Chairs and Professorships

The endowment of chairs and professorships provides a means by which West Virginia University can recruit and retain, on a competitive basis, outstanding faculty who make significant contributions in teaching, research, scholarship, the creative and performing arts, and public service. The following policies are applicable to such endowments.

I. Creation and Assignment of Endowed Positions

A. Endowed positions created from a general university endowment or from an endowment established without specification of a particular academic unit of the university shall be assigned, and reassigned when vacated, by the President of the University, on the recommendation of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

B. A donor may expressly assign an endowment to a particular academic unit. The university will accept donor assignments to particular subject matters within academic units only after consultation with the dean of the unit concerned. Endowments may be refused by the university after consultation by the President's designee with the dean of the assigned academic unit on the premise that acceptance would not further the academic mission of the university or unit.

C. All appointments of individuals to endowed positions shall be made in accordance with the standards and procedures set forth in Part III of these policies.

II. Classification of Endowments

A. The minimum dollar amounts required to activate endowed positions and the scope of support from those may vary over time, and are subject to change.

      • An endowed chair (e.g., the John Landers Chair in Biology) is a position that is jointly funded by state funds and endowment income.
      • An endowed University professorship (e.g., the Albert Lee Jones University Professor) is a state-funded position to which a salary supplement is added from the endowment income. Such professorships are normally housed in the Office of the Provost and may be used throughout the University to recognize exceptional faculty.
      • An endowed distinguished professorship (e.g., the Anna May Summers Distinguished Professor in Economics) is a state-funded position to which a salary supplement is added from the endowment income. Research support is also provided from the income.
      • An endowed professorship (e.g., the Mary Smith Professor in History) is a state-funded position to which a salary supplement is added from the endowment income. 

Visiting chairs and professorships are also subject to the respective endowment requirements listed above.

B. Whenever agreeable to the donor, the endowment agreement should provide that a portion of the income generated by the endowment be devoted to providing secretarial and research support, library support, and support for professional travel to the holder of the endowed position. 

C. All privately funded endowments are established through and administered by the West Virginia University Foundation. Consistent with the fiduciary role of the WVU Foundation, representatives from the Foundation must be involved in the preparation and execution of agreements under which endowed funds will be administered.

III. Standards and Procedures for Appointments

A. In the absence of a clear specification by the donor to the contrary, all endowed positions may be filled from either within or outside the university faculty.

B. At the outset of the search process, a position announcement that describes the standards and expectations to be used in determining the candidate pool will be developed.

C. Appointees to endowed positions must have a record of distinguished academic or professional work in an appropriate field. Such distinction will be judged in national terms, as compared with colleagues in peer institutions. Satisfaction of this standard must be verified at the departmental and college levels, and confirmed by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, before a nomination is submitted to the President.

D. Internal peer review is essential for all nominees for endowed positions.

E. The university’s commitment to affirmative action and goals of the affirmative action program will be considered in appointing nominees to endowed positions.

F. The following procedures will be followed normally in the case of nominees for endowed positions within a department in a college when the position is being filled from within the university faculty:

      • The chairperson or colleague that nominates an individual for an endowed position will compile a file on the nominee that will contain a review of supporting evidence for the nomination and a list of five external individuals qualified to evaluate the nominee. The nominator(s) will include in the nominee’s file a specification of the nature of his or her distinguished work. The file will then be submitted to the dean.
      • The dean will establish an ad hoc review committee of five persons, including, if possible, endowed position holders, to review the department’s nomination. The review committee will be composed of at least two faculty members outside the discipline, and at least two members outside the college. (These two criteria may be met by the same individuals.)
      • The review committee will review the supporting evidence and seek external letters of appraisal either from the list of names submitted by the department or from other eminent scholars qualified to evaluate the nominee. The committee will then make a recommendation to the dean as to approval or disapproval of the nomination. A rationale for either action must be presented in writing to the department as well as to the dean.

G. Nominees for college-wide positions or whose skills cover multi-disciplinary subject areas and who will serve the university across departments within a college or across colleges will be reviewed at the college or university level, respectively. The review committee, consisting of five people, will include three faculty members closely aligned to the nominee’s primary focus as well as two endowed position holders. The committee will be appointed by the dean or the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or the Vice President for Health Sciences, as appropriate.

H. When persons external to the university are sought for an endowed position, a faculty search committee will be appointed by the dean of the college or school. That committee will consist of at least five members, two of whom will be from disciplines other than that in which the position is based. The faculty search guidelines of the university will be observed during the search. External appraisals of the quality of the work of nominees will be sought by the search committee. The search committee will forward its recommendations to the departmental chairperson and college dean.

I. After initial approval by the dean or a review committee, each nomination will be submitted to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs who will review the file and, after consultation with the President of the University, approve or disapprove the nomination.

J. Rejection of a nomination at any level will be accompanied by a written justification. If a nomination is rejected, it may be resubmitted with a response to the reasons for rejection.

K. The letter of initial appointment will specify the duration of and expectations for the particular endowed position, including performance criteria and performance review procedures.

L. In general, conditions and expectations stated in the appointment letter will be the principal basis for reviews.

      • Consistent with present policies and procedures on faculty evaluation, an annual review will be conducted at the department level by the peer evaluation committee and the department chairperson. This review will take into account one’s productivity over time in addressing the expectations of the appointment letter and/or subsequent agreements.
      • Consistent with practices of good stewardship, the dean will annually send to the donor or the donor’s representative a brief report, written by the endowed title holder, that summarizes major activities and accomplishments in the previous year. Consistent with the line of reporting, the dean should provide a copy of the report to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the WVU Foundation. The WVU Foundation will be responsible for providing an annual fiscal report to the donor(s).
      • Holders of endowed and named chairs are expected to maintain exceptional levels of productivity that are characterized as excellent in order to retain the title and privileges.
      • If the holder of an endowed or named chair is not performing as expected, a recommendation to revoke continuation of the title and its privileges may be forwarded by the dean to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Adopted June 1989
Modified January 1998
Modified March 2002
Currently Under Review 2017