Endowed positions elevate outstanding faculty

MSU celebrates the newest class of honored faculty and the donors who support their work

President Kevin M. Guskiewicz

Endowed positions elevate outstanding faculty

MSU celebrates the newest class of honored faculty and the donors who support their work

Kevin M. Guskiewicz began his tenure as Michigan State University’s 22nd president on Monday, March 4, by honoring and celebrating the accomplishments of some of the university’s most outstanding faculty at the 2024 MSU Investiture for Endowed Faculty. 
On his first day at MSU, Guskiewicz and hundreds of guests attended the investiture of the 2024 class of endowed chairs, endowed professors and MSU Research Foundation Professors to honor those faculty and the donors who support the esteemed positions. These faculty lead MSU in its commitment to academic excellence and innovation. 

In his address to the crowd, Guskiewicz noted:


At Michigan State, we are building a culture that celebrates and rewards faculty achievements and builds a community of bright minds, crossing disciplines and departments. Our faculty are not only doing incredibly impactful work in areas of great need and opportunity but also providing mentorship and inspiration to the next generation.


Faculty are recognized as endowed professors through their leadership in their classrooms and their respective field and for their growing body of research. Through resources to help fund and build their research, these faculty grow collaborative networks and deliver to students a rich classroom experience in the topics they specialize in. 
The honor of endowed and named chairs are awarded to faculty members with significant experience and accomplishments, a network of collaborators and an extensive body of research. Endowed chairs receive private funding, and named chairs receive grants allowing them to further their work, publish findings, travel to conferences and provide research experiences for promising students. The work of endowed chairs and named chairs helps MSU maintain its standing as a leader among other universities and research institutions around the world. 
The MSU Board of Trustees, through recommendations from the provost and president, award the title of University Distinguished Professor to faculty who are recognized nationally and, in some instances, internationally for their work and achievements. University Distinguished Professors hold superior teaching skills and a prominent record of public service, as well as scholarly, creative and artistic achievements. 
The MSU Research Foundation established the titles of MSU Research Foundation Professor and Red Cedar Distinguished Professor in 2014 and 2022, respectively. These titles are awarded to accomplished faculty, both current and incoming. The aim of the recognition is to enhance MSU’s stature in research and creative activity. 

Medaling ceremony

Nearly 40 outstanding faculty received a medal from Interim Provost Thomas Jeitschko at the 2024 Investiture.


“We take great pride in the commitment to academic excellence that is embodied by our honored faculty and in their many and diverse accomplishments in support of our great university,” said Interim Provost Thomas Jeitschko. “Role models and exemplars to us all, their discoveries and innovations continue to advance the university to ever-greater levels of excellence.” 
Generous support from donors makes the endowed chairs and endowed professorships possible. 
For decades, donors have supported these outstanding faculty through millions of dollars in support, allowing for excellence and innovation both inside and outside of the classroom. 
Among these donors is the Stephen and Sally Hickman family who, over 47 years, has donated more than $6.1 million in support of MSU and, predominantly, the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. The family and the S.L. Hickman Family Foundation most recently provided a $6 million gift to support cancer research and treatment at MSU, with $3 million used to fuel research and initiatives to advance the standard of care in veterinary and human medicine, including a clinical innovations program in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The other $3 million established the Hickman Family Endowed Chair in Oncology to take advantage of the synergy between veterinary and human medicine to develop diagnostic and therapeutic tools to fight cancer in humans and animals. Kurt Zinn, who was honored as the Hickman Family Endowed Chair in Oncology is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering whose research focuses on molecular imaging for cancer diagnosis and therapy as well as neuroimaging of drug delivery to the brain. 
 Sally, Tracy and Steve Hickman with Kurt Zinn

Donors Sally, Tracy and Steve Hickman enjoy conversation at the reception after the Investiture ceremony with Kurt Zinn, who was honored as the Hickman Family Endowed Chair in Oncology.


“We have a long history as students here at Michigan State and the family foundation that Steve and Sally (Hickman) set up has a very, very strong interest in cancer research. Like most families, we have a history with cancer, and Sally, in particular, has really wanted to be a part of making advances in the treatment of that so other people don’t have to deal with it the way our family has,” said son-in-law to Stephan and Sally Hickman, Chad Munger, who along with his wife Tracy Hickman, have also supported MSU medical research with an endowed scholarship
The support of donors, like the Hickmans, present opportunities for breakthrough research in a vast array of academic fields that could have impacts across the world. For faculty investee Tara Behrend, the John Richard Butler II Endowed Professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, the support from John and Susan Butler has made her research into the future of work possible. 
“I’m concerned with the psychological implications of emerging technologies for workers and that could be how workers learn to do their work, how they do their work, how they connect to each other, what their relationship is to their work and what the implications are for workforce development in general,” Behrend said. “The Butlers and their generosity, it is incredibly inspiring to see their faith in this kind of research. This work is incredibly important, not just for the academic community but also for our larger community. Part of the benefit of working at a land-grant university like Michigan State is our direct outreach to the citizens of Michigan, and I’m very happy to be able to do that work.” 
During his first hours as MSU’s president, Guskiewicz was able to honor Behrend and her colleagues and learn more about the work and research they have completed leading to the honor of endowed professors and chairs. 
 Honorees at the 2024 Investiture

Karen Perry, the newly named Pat Carrigan Chair of Feline Medicine attended the 2024 Investiture.


“I am delighted to share this recognition of accomplishment with you today — the first public appearance of my presidency at Michigan State University,” Guskiewicz said. “As it happens, today is the traditional date for the inauguration of presidents of the United States. In his 1793 second inaugural address, George Washington said, ‘I shall endeavor to express the high sense I entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the confidence which has been reposed in me.’ Likewise, as we ‘march forth’ toward the challenges and opportunities before us, I pledge to work in a spirit of servant leadership to support all Spartans’ aspirations, the reputation of our university and to ensure a safe, welcoming and supportive culture for all.” 

See photos from the March 4, 2024 event.  
Learn more about the annual MSU Investiture for Endowed Faculty. Visit MSU’s Honored Faculty site for a complete list of the faculty most recently honored.