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Violet Ho instructs students in the classroom.

Supporting Faculty Scholarship

April 27, 2023

Endowed faculty funding advances research and innovation

Management professor Violet Ho, P’26, has been analyzing social entrepreneurial passion lately. “We are conducting an experiment to look at harmonious passion versus obsessive passion, and how that relates to success,” she said. 
To incentivize survey participants, she’s relying on funding that comes as part of her appointment in 2021 as E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professorship in Business. The professorship has allowed her to expand her award-winning research examining employee work passion as well as various forms of employee deal-making.
Currently, UR has more than 40 endowed chairs, professorships, and fellowships. The prestigious positions, paid for with revenue from an endowment established by a donor, are awarded to faculty in recognition of excellence in scholarship and teaching. The appointments celebrate individual contributions and provide funding to propel research and invest in innovative pedagogical approaches. 
“Endowed faculty positions are essential to recruiting and retaining world-class faculty who offer students an unparalleled academic experience, not only with exceptional teaching, but by including them in cutting-edge research with real-world applications,” said Jeff Legro, executive vice president and provost. “We are deeply grateful for generous donor support of our talented faculty and vibrant intellectual community.”
For Ho, the professorship is also beneficial for supporting her classroom teaching. In December, she accompanied a group of students on the Spiders in Silicon Valley road trip, organized by the Career Services team. This experience allowed students to connect with alumni and other professionals while visiting tech companies in the Bay Area, including C3 AI and Salesforce. “I can relate this experience to my current students to contextualize what we are learning in class and encourage them in building an entrepreneurial mindset,” she said.
Della Dumbaugh, professor of mathematics, received support from the Robert Edwin Gaines Chair in Mathematics to publish two books last year: Count Me In: Community and Belonging in Mathematics, co-edited with Deanna Haunsperger of Carleton College, and A History of Mathematics in the United States and Canada, Volume 2: 1900–1941, written by David E. Zitarelli with Dumbaugh and Stephen Kennedy of the Mathematical Association of America.

In spring 2021, Dumbaugh brought Haunsperger and Kennedy to UR to conduct research and collaborate on the books. The Gaines Chair covered funding for Haunsperger’s salary and the pair’s travel and housing costs.
“Steve and I had been working on our project for three years, and Deanna and I had been working for two years,” Dumbaugh said. “Having them here for the semester allowed us to bring the books across the finish line. Now, these books will go into the hands of people that we don’t know. They’re going to hopefully expand the discipline of mathematics to people we may never meet.”

Last year, law professor Andrew Spalding was awarded the Jennifer and Samuel Tarry Faculty Fellowship, a new endowed research position in the School of Law. Spalding specializes in international anti-corruption law and teaches a biannual, two-semester seminar as part of an ongoing research effort examining anti-corruption reform movements related to mega sporting events, such as the World Cup and the Olympics. In March, Spalding and his students traveled to France and Switzerland and presented original research findings to representatives at the headquarters of FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.
“Through this course, I collaborate directly with students in developing new ideas — not only do they help me research; they help me innovate,” Spalding says. “They’re not just studying the law; they’re participating in the enforcement and implementation of the law. We’re at the table with policymakers, sharing our ideas and contributing to the formation of policy.”
Samuel Tarry, Jr., L’94, and his employer, McGuireWoods, are partnering with Spalding to build and expand the Tarry Faculty Fellowship into a multiyear pro bono initiative supporting broadened research into mega sports anti-corruption efforts.
“We share Dean Wendy Perdue’s vision for cultivating a world-class law faculty,” Tarry said. “We couldn’t be prouder of the work Professor Spalding and his students are doing. Their groundbreaking research into the intersection of law, business, and international sports will continue to advance anti-corruption efforts in the U.S. and across the globe.”
Spalding says he looks forward to seeing all that the partnership will make possible. “This endowment is giving us the opportunity to develop a number of impactful and innovative anti-corruption and human rights initiatives,” he says. “Sam and McGuireWoods will be crucial players in taking these ideas and turning them into practice.”