Investing in the future

  • May 30, 2016
  • Faculty & Staff, Research, Chemistry, CREATE for STEM

Melanie Cooper being medaled as the first Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education by MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt.

Melanie Cooper being medaled as the first Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education by MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt.

While endowed chairs distinguish top faculty, the impact of these positions goes far beyond a title. Endowed chair holders are established leaders who squarely look the world’s most vexing problems in the eye and see a way through. Their vision, work and success — buoyed by the consistent funding an endowed chair position provides — build the academic capital that draws in other excellent faculty as research collaborators and partners. The brightest students are drawn in as well — and inspired to go out to do the same.

It safely can be said that endowing a chair is one of the most profound investments anyone can make toward creating a better future.

“Being able to offer endowed chairs helps us compete for top talent and to support the culture of excellence that today’s challenges demand,” President Lou Anna K. Simon says. “We are tremendously grateful for our donors’ support in building a foundation for achievement that will sustain and elevate our reputation as a global knowledge leader for generations to come.”

Melanie Cooper, professor of chemistry and a Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education in the College of Natural Science, is also part of the CREATE for STEM Institute, a collaboration between the colleges of Natural Science, Education, Engineering and Lyman Briggs, that seeks to improve teaching and learning of science and mathematics through innovation and research.

She joined the MSU faculty in 2013 after teaching at Clemson University, where she easily might have finished her career. But in 2012, she found herself suddenly mobile — and highly sought after — when her husband retired early. In the end, it was the endowed chair position that won her over.

“I was really honored that an endowed faculty position was offered to me,” Cooper said. “It does make a difference, because it means you will have support for what you do. That means a lot.”

“It isn’t so hard to recruit and retain the best in the country when you have the backing of the community and the backing of donors who are willing to help endow chairs and professorships,” June Pierce Youatt, MSU provost added. “The opportunities still would be here, but to get the attention of the best, you need to express the seriousness of your commitment.”

For more information on MSU endowed faculty positions and how to make a gift to support faculty, visit or contact the specific college you have an interest in.