Gift creates Grissom endowment at Centre College

Published 3:51 pm Monday, December 17, 2018


Centre College

In order to enhance an already strong and highly capable faculty, and strengthen its reputation as one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, Centre College recently received a generous gift to create the Marlene and David Grissom Endowment for Academic Excellence.

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The endowment will provide for two new faculty chairs, six faculty professorships and an academic excellence awards program to support faculty scholarship and research.

“Centre College has benefitted from the wisdom and counsel of David Grissom for several decades,” said John Roush, referring to Grissom’s long tenure as chair of the Centre College Board of Trustees and his continued status as a life trustee.

“We are extremely fortunate that his vision for strengthening the educational experience for all students has been so generously supported by David and Marlene over the years,” he added.

Lori Hartmann, Frank B. and Virginia B. Hower Professor of International Studies, and a member of the Centre faculty since 1999, echoed this sentiment.

“I want to express our appreciation for this generous gift,” she said in her role as faculty president. “Through their sustained support, Marlene and David Grissom exemplify our shared vision of Centre College being a premier institution of higher learning. With this gift they signal their confidence in the faculty and their unwavering commitment to academic excellence.”

The two faculty chairs, each to be known as the Marlene and David Grissom Chair, may be associated with one or more of the three academic divisions in the College (humanities, science and mathematics, and social studies) or be interdisciplinary in nature.

Those appointed to the positions will come from outside the Centre faculty, serving already as either an associate or full professor elsewhere or having equivalent experience and achievement at a high level. A Grissom Chair may hold the honor until retirement or negotiate the duration as part of the appointment.

The six faculty professorships, two each in the three divisions and at the associate or full professor rank, will likely be drawn from the current Centre College faculty. While the positions will rotate on a three-year cycle, faculty may be eligible for reappointment at a later time.

Above all, said Brian Cusato, interim vice president for academic affairs, “These chairs and professorships will be used by the College to attract and retain individuals who are regarded as leaders in their fields, and who have outstanding reputations and/or established records of teaching, research and scholarship.”

To support current Centre faculty as they develop their excellence as teacher-scholars, as well as encourage and enable research, scholarship and teaching at the highest levels, the Grissom Academic Excellence Awards will provide annual grants to Centre faculty.

The first awards will be given out in the spring for research beginning this coming summer. Cusato and Hartmann will work with Roush to create a timetable for the chair and faculty appointments, some of which could occur as soon as the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year this coming fall.

Centre currently has 42 endowed professorships, five of which are revolving, so the Grissom gift increases that overall number to 48. However, the College has never had endowed chair positions, which represents a significant addition at a key moment in Centre’s history, as it celebrates its bicentennial in 2019.

In addition to this recent gift, Mr. and Mrs. Grissom previously created the Grissom Scholars Program, a nationally recognized full-tuition-plus scholarship program for talented first-generation college students. Now in its fourth year, 10 Grissom Scholars are selected each year, and all receive $5,000 in educational enrichment funds in addition to their scholarship to use for study abroad, independent research and internships.