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Endowed professorships attract scholars to SCU

One key to attracting talented students is the distinctive quality of Santa Clara University's teaching scholars. Endowed professorships funded by donors help attract prominent intellectual leaders with the talent and vision to invigorate their departments, inspire faculty, and raise the national profile of the University.

Dean Daniel Pitt holds the John M. Sobrato Chair in the School of Engineering. Endowed professorships like this help attract top scholars to SCU.

"The value of an endowed professorship to a university might be compared to a company's securing a major contract or an individual's inheriting a large estate," said SCU Provost Denise Carmody. "It presents opportunities not available before.

"An endowed professorship is the primary way of acknowledging scholarly preeminence. To receive such an honor at Santa Clara says that one is a recognized leader in his or her academic discipline and committed to the highest level of teaching."

There are several types of endowed professorships, including the distinguished chair, which honors outstanding scholars who possess national reputations in areas central to the University's mission; and university professorships, which honor faculty members who are recognized as among the most able senior scholars and teachers at SCU. Other types, such as the Clare Boothe Luce Professorships, are designed to benefit junior faculty members.

Some endowed professorships include funds to cover the purchase of equipment for research, or for hiring graduate-level assistants.

The University invests gifts donated for endowed professorships, with a portion directed to a professor's annual salary. The remainder is used to grow the endowment in perpetuity.

Honoring the past, aiding the future

University Trustee John A. Sobrato '60 established the John M. Sobrato Chair in the School of Engineering in honor of his late father. Sobrato is a prominent Santa Clara County real estate developer who runs Sobrato Development Companies, which specializes in business and industrial parks.

"Here we are in the geographic center of Silicon Valley and I felt that engineering was an essential area in which to have a leading-edge professional," says Sobrato, who has continued to support the University since his first major gifts in 1981.

Daniel Pitt, dean of the School of Engineering and holder of the Sobrato Chair, says, "Donors feel connected. They feel like they're making a difference. Many times, they feel like they're paying back to the University or society at large by supporting education."

Pitt says donors can also memorialize the name of a loved one or leave a lasting legacy in their own name by creating an endowed professorship.

He joined the University as dean in 2002, after a long career in industry and academia. Most recently, he was a vice president at Nortel Networks, and had also worked for Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, IBM, and ROLM. His expertise is in broadband telecommunications, multimedia services, local area networks, and computer architecture.

He helped found the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society at the University of California, Berkeley, and also served at the Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics and Communications at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. He also held posts as an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

A recruiting tool

The Fletcher Jones Chair in SCU's College of Arts and Sciences helped attract Patrick Hoggard to SCU from North Dakota State University eight years ago. Hoggard was already a full professor at the time of his move, and the endowed chair's salary offered an additional incentive for him to come to SCU. Hoggard, chairman of the chemistry department, is a professor of inorganic chemistry, with a research focus on photochemistry.

Patrick Hoggard and students 
Chemistry Professor Patrick Hoggard, far right, works in a lab with students (from left) Brian Witter, Mari Matsumura, Sharon Whang, and Janet Olsen.  Hoggard is the Fletcher Jones Chair in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

At SCU, he has taught innovative classes such as "Chemistry and the Ancient World," in which he teams with Classics Professor Bill Greenwalt to teach students how to make gold from an old alchemical recipe and examine such things as the chemistry of metal smelting and how it relates to the historical sequence of the Copper, Bronze, and Iron Ages.

He enjoys working with undergraduates, whose unbridled curiosity and enthusiasm seems to match his own. "Working with them is the most rewarding thing that I do," he says.

Hoggard and Assistant Professor Julie Mueller recently received a $53,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support research experiences for undergraduates at SCU. Mueller herself holds an endowed Clare Boothe Luce professorship.

"Having endowed professorships permits the University to enhance its academic quality by either recruiting such faculty or rewarding (and thus retaining) faculty who have reached this level of achievement," Provost Carmody says. "Universities with the resources to offer endowed professorships are far more likely to attract better students, broader recognition, and greater external funding."

As part of the Campaign for Santa Clara, the University is seeking funds to establish 18 additional endowed professorships, to add to the existing 42 endowed chairs.

For more information about establishing an endowed professorship, contact Heather Pastorini, director of constituent relations, in the Development Office at 408-554-4979 or by e-mail at
For more information about making a gift to Santa Clara University online, see or call the Development Office at 408-554-4400.

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