Third-Century Chairs Support Faculty Teaching and Research

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By Stephanie Boland February 1, 2021

Colgate University announced the creation of two endowed faculty chairs that will support teaching and research in areas important to The Third-Century Plan. The endowments were established through a $5 million gift from Peter Kellner ’65.

“I want to thank Peter and his family for their remarkable generosity and commitment to the University,” said Colgate University President Brian W. Casey. “The impact of this gift is profound: it creates a perpetual source of support for faculty positions, elevates the interdisciplinary nature of the arts and humanities at Colgate, and advances the vision of The Third-Century Plan.”

The Third-Century Chair in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics will recognize teaching excellence and scholarly achievements in those fields. Kellner — along with his son Erik M. Zissu ’87, and grandchildren Zoe H. Zissu ’16 and Claudia M. Hensley ’19 — created the endowment in honor of Casey, who studied philosophy, politics, and economics as an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame.

Kellner and his wife, Maria, also created the Peter L. ’65 and Maria T. Kellner Chair in Arts, Creativity, and Innovation. The chair demonstrates support for the Middle Campus Initiative, which integrates the arts and creativity into life and learning at Colgate. The Kellner Chair will recognize the work of an outstanding scholar who explores the interplay of arts, creativity, and technology. It also reflects the Kellners’ own love of the arts — especially contemporary art, music, and the theater — which was the driving force behind their decision to live in London following Peter’s retirement from leadership positions at Morgan Stanley.

“When I heard President Casey’s speech at the Bicentennial Reunion in the summer of 2019, I knew Colgate was reaching a pivotal moment in its history,” Kellner said. “I was touched by President Casey’s transparency on the importance and the cost of offering a liberal arts education. I was inspired by his vision. This gift stands as a sign of my family’s appreciation of all that Colgate has done for us and our shared confidence in the University’s future, thanks to President Casey and The Third-Century Plan.”

Endowed faculty positions serve a number of functions at the University. First and foremost, they acknowledge and reward excellence in teaching and research — a distinctive combination of qualities that has always set the University apart from its peers.

Endowed faculty positions provide not only the foundation of the holders’ salaries, but also offer chair holders dedicated funds to deepen and enhance their research and teaching efforts. Chair holders will have a four-course teaching load, providing additional time for high-level scholarship and setting the stage for an eventual move to a four-course load for all Colgate faculty, aligning Colgate with the very leading colleges and universities.

The Third-Century Chair in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and the Peter L. ’65 and Maria T. Kellner Chair in Arts, Creativity, and Innovation bring the number of Third-Century chairs that have been funded to six. The Third-Century Plan calls for the creation of a total of 25 new endowed professorships.