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Endowed Chairs

Recommended By: Academic Senate
Approved: Ruben Armiñana, President
Current Issue Date: December 10, 2004
Effective Date: December 10, 2004
Contact Office: Academic Affairs

Policy #2004-2

  1. Introduction
    The purpose of this policy is to facilitate and provide guidelines for the establishment and administration of endowed chairs. An endowed chair is a faculty position, with or without perquisites and staff or administrative assistance, supported by income from an endowed fund established by a gift or gifts from private sources. The University may create endowed chairs to recognize the interests and contributions of benefactors and/or to honor particularly distinguished members of the faculty. Only the President may authorize the establishment of an endowed chair.
  2. Establishment of Endowed Chairs
    1. The purpose of the endowed chair must be consistent with the curriculum and mission of the University. The purpose of the endowed chair shall be specified in writing, as part of the endowment agreement, at the time the chair is established. It should include a participation that enriches broadly the life of the university community.
    2. An endowed chair normally will be established within a department or program, but may be multi-disciplinary in scope. An endowed chair will be established only after consultation with the appropriate school dean, department chair (or program coordinator) and the tenured faculty of the department(s) or program(s) with which the endowed position will be most closely associated.
    3. An endowed chair will be established only upon acceptance by the President of (1) cash or a binding pledge that within a prescribed period of time a fund will be created to provide sufficient income to meet the purpose(s) of the endowed chair, or (2) a binding commitment to provide income from an equivalent fund held inviolate by a trustee. The position will not be filled until sufficient funds are available to meet the purpose(s) of the endowment. A donor may be encouraged to donate funds toward the establishment of an endowed chair position even if the funds at the donor's disposal are not sufficient to meet the purpose(s) of the endowment agreement. A donor may give funds to be invested until the fund is sufficient to meet the purpose(s) of the endowment agreement. During this investment period, funds may be added to the endowment, but the income may not be withdrawn for other uses except by explicit directive of the donor.
    4. The endowment fund normally will be held and administered by the Sonoma State University Academic Foundation, Inc. The endowment may provide for the basic salary and/or salary augmentation, fringe benefits, office space, clerical assistance, supplies, equipment, travel, computer use, library support, or other suitable purposes as described in the endowment agreement. Expenses incurred in the management of the endowment will be covered by endowment funds. Any commitments on the part of the University will be described in the endowment agreement.
  3.  Appointment of an Endowed Chair
    1. Endowed chairs are intended for scholars and teachers distinguished by wide recognition of their professional accomplishments. A chair may be used to honor a distinguished faculty member or to attract a new faculty member to the University.
    2. The holder of an endowed chair shall be designated as the (benefactor) Professor of (field) and will be so designated in official correspondence and University publications.
    3. An endowed chair may be designated for (1) a probationary appointment; (2) a tenured appointment; (3) a temporary appointment for a specified period of time; or (4) a series of temporary appointments. Appointments may be made on a semester, academic-year, or twelve-month basis.
    4. University policies and procedures applicable to full-time faculty--temporary, probationary, or tenured as appropriate--will be followed in the search, selection, appointments and review processes. The appointment shall be made by the President. If the recruitment process does not produce a fully qualified, viable candidate, it shall not be necessary to make an appointment.
    5. Subject to the terms of the appointment, the holder of an endowed chair will occupy the chair for the period of time specified in the endowment agreement, or until retirement, or reassignment by the President.
    6. Inasmuch as the University's primary mission is to provide instruction to qualified students, it is expected that normally the holder of an endowed chair will teach at least three weighted teaching units per academic year.
  4. Periods When an Endowed Chair is Not Occupied
    During periods of time in which an endowed chair is not occupied (e.g., during a search), the income from the endowment may be used for any purpose consistent with the endowment agreement if such use is approved by the appropriate consultative body, department chair (or program coordinator), school dean, and the Provost.
  5. Disestablishment of an Endowed Chair
    1. The establishment of an endowed chair is contingent on completion of the funding level specified in the endowment agreement. A chair whose endowment has not reached full funding either by the end of the specified pledge period or the maturity of the deferred gift or bequest shall be reviewed. Such a review will include any alternative uses for the payout prescribed by the gift or allocation instrument and/or through discussions with the donor. If appropriate, the President may propose the disestablishment of the chair and the alternate use of the chair funding.
    2. Subject to the donor’s approval, the President is authorized to disestablish an endowed chair in the event that: (1) the subject area ceases to be consistent with the University’s mission and the academic plan of the campus; or (2) the endowed chair remains vacant for a period of three years and the President, after consultation with the appropriate dean or Provost and the department chair (or program coordinator), determines there is no likelihood of filling the chair.
    3. Upon disestablishment of an endowed chair funded through a gift, the fund payout shall be reallocated to the alternative purpose stated in the gift instrument or as subsequently specified by the donor in consultation with the President. If a donor is deceased and has not specified an alternative purpose, the President shall seek legal counsel for an alternative use of fund payout in a related field.
  6. Annual Reporting
    The holder of an endowed chair shall submit each year, through appropriate channels to the President, a brief narrative report of accomplishments for the past year and of goals for the next year. The report shall include an accounting of expenditures of endowment funds. The report is due by June 15th of each year.
  7. Policy Review
    Faculty Standards and Affairs shall review the Endowed Chairs policy every five years to ensure statements in the policy have been realized. The first review will be due in 2009.

Updated December 10, 2004 by SSU.policies@sonoma.edu