Media Advisory: New Presidential Chairs to support health care, business and conservation

Wake Forest University has announced five new endowed Presidential Chairs to recruit, retain and reward outstanding faculty who embody the teacher-scholar ideal.

When announcing the Presidential Chair initiative in 2012, Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch outlined his vision for providing significant support for faculty through endowed chairs that give ongoing support for professors in these prestigious positions.

This initiative — made possible through Wake Will: The Campaign for Wake Forest — provides a University match to the first 10 donors to establish an endowed Presidential Chair of at least $1 million, effectively providing the equivalent faculty support realized from a $2 million endowed fund.

“An endowed chair is a magnificent gift to a university because it supports outstanding faculty in perpetuity, it is the highest academic award that can be bestowed on a faculty member, and it is an enduring tribute to the person who established it,” said Hatch. “Universities with endowed chairs have a clear advantage in recruiting and retaining the most talented faculty.”

With gifts of at least $1 million, the following have established new Presidential Chairs:

  • Donna A. Boswell (’72, MA ’74), a university trustee and alumna, has established the Donna A. Boswell Presidential Chair of Health Care Innovation. This chair will promote teaching and scholarship that fosters a more comprehensive understanding of the political and economic factors that promote innovation in health care and health care delivery.
  • Inmar, Inc., a Winston-Salem-based company that is known for operating intelligent commerce networks, promoting collaboration and seeking innovation, has established the Inmar Presidential Chair of Analytics.
  • Wake Forest parents Larry and LeeAnn Merlo (P ‘16) have created the Larry J. and LeeAnn Merlo Presidential Chair for Communications and Entrepreneurship.

As president and CEO of CVS Health, Larry Merlo has taken strong steps in his organization’s commitment to public health.

  • The Thomas W. Smith Foundation Presidential Chair in Business Ethics supports a faculty member committed to the exploration of the relationship between business, government and society.
  • The Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Presidential Chair in Conservation Biology will enhance environmental education and research at Wake Forest and prepare upcoming leaders in the field. Through his family’s foundation, Wake Forest parent Andrew Sabin (P ‘17) supports environmental programs around the world.

In 2013, Wake Forest announced the Burchfield Presidential Chair of Political Economy, established by Bobby Burchfield, a 1976 Wake Forest graduate and a prominent Washington, D.C., attorney, and the Michael H. and Deborah K. Rubin Presidential Chair of Jewish History, established by Mike and Debbie Rubin of Winston-Salem, who both earned graduate degrees from Wake Forest.

Faculty honored with Presidential Chairs

Professor Miles Silman, a conservation biologist who has been a leader in the sustainability movement since beginning his doctoral research more than 20 years ago, has been honored with the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Presidential Chair in Conservation Biology.

Silman’s work centers on understanding species distributions, biodiversity, and the response of forest ecosystems to climate and land use changes over time. Silman, who joined the Wake Forest faculty in 1998, is co-founder of the Andes Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group and is also founding director of the Wake Forest Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (CEES).

James Otteson has been named The Thomas W. Smith Foundation Presidential Chair in Business Ethics. Otteson joined the faculty in 2013 as executive director of the BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism and Teaching Professor of Political Economy.

His scholarship focuses on political economy, political philosophy, history and philosophy of economics, and eighteenth-century moral and political thought. He is an expert on Adam Smith, on eighteenth-century political and moral philosophy, on the moral foundations of capitalism, and on the comparative evaluation of competing systems of political economy.

“Our educational enterprise rests on our talented teacher-scholars and these generous donors have ensured that the University and our students will benefit from their innovative ideas and new academic efforts,” Hatch said.

About Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at


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