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2021-22 Institute Chairs and Professorships

three men smiling

Col. Turk McCleskey, Ph.D., is the Major General John W. Knapp ’54 Chair for Academic Excellence, the newest chair endowed under the General J.H. Binford Peay III 1962 Endowment for Academic Excellence. Pictured are (from left) Knapp, former VMI superintendent; McCleskey; and Brig. Gen. Bob Moreschi, dean of the faculty.—Photo courtesy VMI Communications & Marketing.

Institute chairs and professorships are yet another way private support significantly strengthens VMI’s academic excellence. When a private donor endows a chair or professorship, the donor provides a higher salary for an outstanding member of the faculty. The chairs and professorships are instrumental in retaining top-notch, dedicated faculty and enhancing VMI academics.

“One of the reasons that VMI’s academic program enjoys its current high level of excellence is the generosity of donors,” said Steve Maconi, Alumni Agencies chief operating officer.

Professorships and chairs ensure VMI’s ability to recruit, retain, and reward a faculty renowned for its intellectual rigor, mentorship, and academic relevance. It is an opportunity to recognize faculty who have distinguished themselves by their wise stewardship and evolution of the academic program for which they are responsible. At the same time, the state-provided salary for the faculty member holding the chair or professorship is spread among the rest of the faculty, raising compensation for all faculty members.

According to Brig. Gen. Robert W. Moreschi, deputy superintendent for academics and dean of the faculty, “The foundation of a strong academic program at any school, large or small, is a strong faculty—men and women who are excellent teachers, sound scholars, and active researchers, committed to the development of their students in the classroom, the lab, and the field, as well as for life.”

Below this article is a list of the 2021-22 Institute chairs and professorships and the professors who hold them. There are two lists: The 27 permanent faculty who hold chairs or professorships, and the five visiting scholar chairs. Numbers 23-27 on the permanent faculty list are funded through the General J.H. Binford Peay III 1962 Endowment for Academic Excellence, which began in 2017.

Chairs and Institute Professorships, Academic Year 2021-22

1. Benjamin H. Hardaway Jr., ’13 Institute Professorship in Engineering
Col. Gerald Sullivan, 2017-22

2. Benjamin H. Powell, Jr., ’36 Institute Professorship in Engineering
Col. Joseph R. Blandino, 2020-25

3. General Edwin Cox ’20 Institute Professorship in History and Economics
Col. Jeffrey S. Smith, 2020-25

4. Charles S. Luck, Jr. ’20 Institute Professorship in Engineering
Col. Charles D. Newhouse, 2020-25

5. Jamison-Payne Institute Professorship in Electrical Engineering
Col. James C. Squire, 2018-23

6. John Biggs ’30 Cincinnati Chair in Military History
Col. R. Geoffrey Jensen, 2004-present

7. Navas-Read Institute Professorship in English Literature
Col. Emily P. Miller, 2021-26

8. John C. Allen 1962 Distinguished Professorship in Chemistry
Col. Stanton Q. Smith, 2020-25

9. Henry King Burgwyn, Jr. Chair of Military History
Col. Timothy C. Dowling, 2020-25

10. John W. and Jane M. Roberts Professorship in Free Enterprise Economics
Col. Atin Basuchoudhary, 2018-23

11. John W. and Jane M. Roberts Professorship in Free Enterprise Business
Col. Barry R. Cobb, 2019-24

12. Cameron Professorship in Physics and Astronomy
Col. Stacia K. Vargas, 2021-26

13. Colonel Beverly M. Read 1941 Institute Professorship in Arts and Sciences
Col. Scott T. Frein, 2020-25

14. George J. Collins ’62 Chair in Military History and Strategic Analysis
Col. Bradley L. Coleman ’95, 2012-present

15. Charles Luck III ’55 Institute Professorship
Dr. Duncan Richter, 2017-22

16. Jackson-Hope Distinguished Chair in Information and Social Sciences
Col. Dennis Foster, 2017-22

17. Jackson-Hope Distinguished Chair in Life Sciences
Col. James T. Gire, 2018-23

18. Jackson-Hope Distinguished Chair in Arts and Humanities
Colonel Christina R. McDonald, 2019-2024

19. Jackson-Hope Distinguished Chair in Natural Sciences
Col. John A. David, 2020-25

20. Jackson-Hope Distinguished Chair in Engineering
Col. Matthew K. Swenty, 2021-26

21. Colonel Alexander Morrison 1939 Professorship in Economics and Business
Col. Tinni Sen, 2018-23

22. Nannette & Thomas Watjen 1976 Chair in Economics and Business
Col. Valentina P. Dimitrova-Grajzl, 2019-24

23. Commodore Matthew Fontaine Maury Chair for Academic Excellence (1)
Col. Gregory A. Topasna, 2018-23

24. Major General James M. Morgan, Jr. ’45 Chair for Academic Excellence (2)
Col. Troy J. Siemers, 2018-23

25. Jonathan Myrick Daniels ’61 Chair for Academic Excellence (3)
Col. Ryan R. Holston, 2019-24

26. Bruce C. Gottwald, Sr. ’54 Chair for Academic Excellence (4)
Col. Richard A. Rowe, 2019-24

27. The Major General John W. Knapp ’54 Chair for Academic Excellence (5)
Col. Turk McCleskey, 2021-26

Visiting Scholar Chairs

1. Wachtmeister Chair in Science and Engineering
Col. Dean Kershaw ’68, 2021-22

2. Mary Moody Northen Chair in Arts or Social Sciences
Col. Robert James, 2021-22

3. Edwin P. Conquest ’14 Chair in the Humanities
Ms. Claudia Smigrod, Fall 21

4. Thomas Bahnson and Anne Bassett Stanley Professorship in Ethics and Integrity
Colonel James E. Turner ’65, 2021-22

5.. Eugenio Lopez Visiting Chair for Asian Studies
Dr. Glenn Shive, Fall 2021