New Endowed Chairs Honor Four Faculty Members


Dartmouth’s first endowed chair, the John Phillips Chair in Divinity, was established in 1787. Since then, endowed chairs have helped keep Dartmouth at the forefront of higher education by honoring and allocating resources to faculty, who return the gift of learning to the ultimate recipients: their students.

Four new endowed chairs in the arts and sciences have recently been established, with inaugural faculty appointments. In addition, nine faculty have been recently appointed to existing endowed chairs.

The James Frank Family Professorship: Prasad Jayanti

Professor of Computer Science Prasad Jayanti is most interested in discovering the boundary between solvable and unsolvable tasks, developing optimal algorithms for solvable tasks, and understanding further assumptions needed to solve otherwise impossible tasks. His areas of expertise are concurrent algorithms and lower bounds, and his research involves asynchronous concurrent systems, with emphasis on synchronization and fault-tolerance. Jayanti is a recipient of an Alfred Sloan Research Fellowship and the Dartmouth Distinguished Teacher award.

Prasad Jayanti, the inaugural holder of the James Frank Family Professorship. (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Jayanti is currently working with PhD student Vibhor Bhatt to design new algorithms that enable concurrent processes to efficiently share data on modern multiprocessors. A second project, in collaboration with Sam Toueg of the University of Toronto, concerns failure detectors for distributed systems. It seeks to define new models of failure detectors that are free from the anomalies afflicting current models.

“Computer Science has beautiful ideas and it gives me joy and fulfillment to share what I know with young and curious minds,” Jayanti says. “Sometimes interactions with students in class have even led to new ideas and new published research.” He has recently taught the undergraduate courses “Introduction to Computer Science” and “Theory of Computation.”

The James Frank Family Professorship was established in March 2010 with gifts from the J.S. Frank Foundation and Frank Consolidated Enterprises at James Frank’s direction and in conjunction with his sons, Dan ’92 and Jordan ’94. The professorship is held by a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, with special consideration for faculty who teach in the area of computation science.

Jayanti says he appreciates the support that will allow him to connect with peers at important conferences in his research area.

Lois L. Rodgers Professorship: James LaBelle

What’s it like to make discoveries so groundbreaking that textbooks need to be corrected? James LaBelle, professor of physics and astronomy, knows. Recently, LaBelle’s research group, the Space Physics Experiment, has found evidence that Earth’s most powerful radio emissions, previously thought to be observable only from space, can actually be detected at ground level.

James LaBelle, the inaugural holder of the Lois L. Rodgers Professorship. (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

LaBelle’s research interests includeionospheric and magnetospheric physics, plasma measurements in space, and remote sensing of ionospheric plasma processes. His group designs and builds instruments that measure high-frequency fluctuations of electric and magnetic fields. The instruments are used in two basic types of experiments: when deployed at ground level in Arctic and Antarctic locations, they detect electromagnetic radiation (radio waves) naturally emitted by the ionosphere. When installed on NASA sounding rockets launched 500-1000 kilometers into the ionosphere, they make direct measurements of fluctuating fields at locations where the radio emissions take place. The two complementary types of experiments have yielded discoveries of previously unknown radio emission processes and their underlying physics.

The Lois L. Rodgers Professorship was established by Dartmouth Trustee T. J. Rodgers ’70, in honor of his mother, to further Dartmouth’s commitment to maintaining scholarship and teaching excellence in the sciences.

LaBelle, who is teaching two sections of “Introductory Physics I” this fall, says that the Lois L. Rodgers Professorship “is a great honor for both me and my research group. The recognition that it represents is much appreciated and boosts our spirits.”

The Niehaus Family Professorship in International Studies: Nina Pavcnik

Professor of Economics Nina Pavcnik has made extensive contributions in the field of economics and has established a reputation as one of the profession’s leading scholars on the issue of trade liberalization.

Nina Pavcnik, the inaugural holder of the Niehaus Family Professorship in International Studies. (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Pavcnik’s research interests include international trade and labor markets and trade and child labor. She serves as associate editor for the Journal of International Economics, the Journal of Development Economics, and the American Economic Review. Pavcnik holds appointments as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and as a research affiliate at the Centre for Economic Policy Research, two of the world’s leading economic research organizations. Her scholarship has been supported by grants from prestigious institutions such as the World Bank, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.

The Niehaus Family Professorship was established by Chris ’81 and Joe ’85 Niehaus and their families to support the growing interest in the area of international studies at Dartmouth.

“One of the aspects I most enjoy about working at Dartmouth is the close link between research and teaching,” says Pavcnik. “The enormous generosity of the Niehaus family and their strong commitment to both teaching and research in the area of International Studies will allow Dartmouth faculty and students to create and disseminate new knowledge about globalization—then to apply it to some of the world’s most pressing policy issues.”

Sandra and Arthur Irving A’72, P’10 Professorship of Economics: Andrew Samwick

Professor of Economics Andrew A. Samwick is currently in his seventh year as director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth. He studies financial markets, managerial behavior, pensions and social security, saving, and taxation. Samwick’s current research focuses on household saving behavior in the presence of the multiple motives for saving that take place over a household’s life cycle.

Andrew Samwick, the inaugural holder of the Sandra L. and Arthur Irving A’72, P’10 Professorship of Economics. (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

“Young households might need to simultaneously consider saving for housing, education, precautionary, and retirement needs,” Samwick says. “My prior research has shown that household saving is surprisingly unresponsive to changes related to future income that should have a large impact on their behavior.” He proposes, in his current line of research, that some of this behavior can be explained both by borrowing constraints and competing needs for saving.

Samwick served a one-year appointment as chief economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers beginning in July 2003, and has testified before Congressional committees. In 2009, he was recognized as the New Hampshire Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

In recognition of Arthur and Sandra Irving’s generous support of the Undergraduate Business Initiative, the College created the professorship in their name to recognize and reward a member of the faculty whose teaching is true to the highest standards of Dartmouth’s educational mission and whose scholarship has contributed significantly to the advancement of interdisciplinary knowledge.

The following faculty members have been appointed to existing endowed chairs:


Edward Tuck Professorship of the French Language and Literature: Katharine Conley

Robert C. 1925 and Hilda Hardy Professorship of Legal Studies: William Fischel

Sherman Fairchild Professorship in the Humanities: Gerd Gemünden

Avalon Professorship in the Humanities: PeterHackett ’75

George Frederick Jewett Professorship in Art: Louise Hamlin

Lincoln Filene Professorship in Human Relations: Todd Heatherton

Mary Brinsmead Wheelock Professorship: Amy Lawrence

Patricia F. and William B. Hale 1944 Professorship in the Arts and Sciences: C. Robertson McClung

Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professorship in the Humanities: Donald Pease

(all photos by Joseph Mehling ’69)

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Elizabeth Kelsey