UT Dallas to Honor Faculty in Endowed Chairs, Professorships in Week of Investiture Ceremonies

UT Dallas will celebrate the achievements of dozens of its distinguished faculty members this week in Investiture Ceremonies recognizing more than 50 holders of endowed chairs and professorships.

New UT Dallas Website:
Endowed Professorships and Chairs

Endowed Professorships and Chairs Website

The University's new Endowed Professorships and Chairs website tells more about the investiture tradition and details the academic careers of the UT Dallas honorees.

The ceremonies, rich in symbolism, commence Monday and continue through Thursday. Establishing the tradition of investiture ceremonies signals a coming of age for the University of Texas at Dallas, which is  joining in the practice with other universities with much longer histories.

“The investiture ceremony that we’re about to have is a gigantic event for us to celebrate our exceptional faculty,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. “It is unusual for a university to invest so many professors at one time, but it's also unusual for a university to start out as a graduate research institute and evolve so quickly into a substantial research institution.”

Dr. Mark  W. Spong

The University's most recent investiture ceremonies were held in 2009, when  Dr. Kenneth K. O (front left) and Dr. Yves Chabal (front right) were congratulated by Bill Sproull (back left) of the Metroplex Technology Business Council and Rich Templeton, CEO of Texas Instruments.

A chair or professorship is among the highest academic honors that the University can bestow on a faculty member, and it lasts as long as the University exists. It is also an enduring tribute to the donor who establishes it. Endowed chairs and professorships are filled by faculty members who are recognized industry leaders, perform groundbreaking research, mentor PhD candidates and junior faculty, and attract talented undergraduates.

Only a handful of professors holding such positions at UT Dallas have already been invested, so the series of ceremonies marks the beginning of a tradition, honoring those in the School of Arts and Humanities, the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Another series of events will be held at a later date for the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Naveen Jindal School of Management

“The endowed professorships and chairs are important to the entire community and crucial to the success of the University,” Daniel said. “It's all about discovery, change and innovation. The very best scholars want to be at those institutions where they’re constantly re-inventing the future. The endowed professorships and chairs are crucial to attracting and retaining the best talent.”

The tradition of investiture dates back to the Middle Ages, when the practice marked the transfer of power, property or spiritual leadership and teaching. The formal ceremony is filled with pageantry. During the UT Dallas ceremony, Daniel, the stage party and the recipients will don full academic regalia to represent the history of the Academy and the importance of the event.

Daniel will introduce the faculty members and highlight their accomplishments as well as discuss the reasons they’re being invested. Each faculty member will step forward to receive a large, gold medallion – the symbolic mark of an endowed chair – from Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal and his or her school dean. Faculty members also will deliver remarks.

Dr. Aaron Conley, UT Dallas vice president for development and alumni relations, will recognize the donors and sponsors present at the ceremonies.

Faculty members’ family, friends and mentors will also be on hand to celebrate this  defining moment in their careers.

Nine former students as well as family members and mentors attended the investiture ceremony for Dr. Kenneth O, who was invested as the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair at UT Dallas in 2009. O’s honored guest and mentor, MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif, couldn’t attend, but sent his remarks via a video recording.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to see them again and to thank them for their impact on my life,” O said. “It was also a great opportunity to reflect back about the importance of mentors in my career and what I have done as a mentor to others.”

Dr. Susan W. Jerger, an Ashbel Smith Professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, looks forward to being an honoree of this week’s ceremonies.

“The endowed professorships and chairs are important to the entire community and crucial to the success of the university.”

Dr. David E. Daniel,
president of UT Dallas

“The investiture ceremony is a centuries-old academic tradition that allows us to honor our past and reaffirm our commitment to building upon its strong foundations as we grow into a recognized research university,” she said. “My life has been enriched by participating in the academic traditions that bond university communities together. Our community is a good place to live – good for the heart as well as the head.”  

The investiture ceremonies are an important part of achieving Daniel’s vision for UT Dallas, which is to become one of the great research universities in the nation and the world.

“The best and most healthy societies are going to be clustered around the world’s great research universities,” he said. “These are the places where innovation occurs, where new businesses are created, where the very best and brightest people aggregate. Research universities have been essential to our country's advancement, and they will define who is successful in the world going forward.”

Investiture Week

SCHOOL OF ARTS AND HUMANITIESMonday, February 13, 3 p.m.




All Ceremonies will be held at

Naveen Jindal School of ManagementDavidson Auditorium and Atrium

Investiture Ceremonies will be held at a later date for faculty members holding endowed chairs and professorships in the:

School of Economic, Political and Policy SciencesSchool of Interdisciplinary StudiesNaveen Jindal School of Management


Dr. Mark Spong (left), dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, was joined at his 2009 investiture ceremony by  his mentor, Dr. T.J. Tarn.

Dr. Li Zhang, professor of molecular and cell biologyin the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, was invested as the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology Science.

Nobel Laureate Russell Hulse will be recognized as a Regental Professor. 

Dr. Enric Madriguera (left) will be honored as the Russell Cleveland Professor in Guitar Studies. Dr. Ray Baughman is the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry.

Dr. A. Dean Sherry is a Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology Science.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].