Endowed Professorships

Endowed Professorships first came into being at Princeton in the middle of the last century. In 1827 the newly formed Alumni Association of Nassau Hall stressed the importance of collecting funds for the endowment of professorships, but it was not until 1857 that Silas Holmes of New York City gave Princeton's first endowed chair -- in ``belles-lettres'' -- which was named for him. Others soon followed: in 1864 John I. Blair gave a professorship in geology that bears his name; in 1869 Samuel Bayard Dod 1857 gave one in mathematics in memory of his father, Professor Albert Baldwin Dod; in 1870 John N. Woodhull 1828, a local physician, founded a chair in modern languages; and in 1872 John C. Green gave a physics professorship in honor of Professor Joseph Henry.

With the growing prosperity of the country, gifts for new chairs increased steadily and by 1900 there were sixteen. Thereafter, the number increased more rapidly: by the end of President Hibben's administration in 1932 there were thirty-five, by the end of President Dodds' in 1957, sixty-five; when President Goheen left office in 1972 there were eighty-seven. By 1976, there were ninety-eight professorships supported by special funds -- ninety endowed by gifts or bequests, five supported by the Higgins Trust (established in 1950), and three by current grants. Named for professors, trustees, alumni classes, individual alumni, and other friends of the University, they were fairly evenly distributed among the several areas of learning. About a third of the University's full professors occupy these specially designated chairs.

From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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