The Faculty Chairs Selection Committee solicits and evaluates applications for named professorships.
The following information describes the endowed chairs; click on a title to read about it.
- A. Howard Meneely Professorship
A. (Alexander) Howard Meneely, a former Dartmouth College Professor of History, began his 17-year tenure as Wheaton’s president when Dr. Park retired in 1944. Noting Wheaton's steady enrollment growth since World War II, President Meneely voiced his concern that unless college facilities and the number of faculty increased across the country, a crisis in education could result. At the same time, Dr. Meneely believed that Wheaton should remain a “small” college, continuing to provide students with individualized attention and a homelike atmosphere. His visionary investment in academic quality and intellectual rigor form the fabric of our identity as a small, intimate, and academically strong college.
The A. Howard Meneely Professorship was established in 1961 by Mr. and Mrs. Brackett H. Clark in honor of Dr. Meneely.
- William C. H. & Elsie D. Prentice Chair
Dr. William C. H. Prentice, a psychology professor and administrator from Swarthmore College, held the Wheaton presidency from 1962 to 1975. In completing the building program necessary to accommodate growing enrollment, President Prentice oversaw the creation of Wheaton’s Watson Fine Arts building, the Meadows residence hall, and Clark Recreation Center. Additionally, in 1966, the college constructed the Elisabeth Amen Nursery School to replace the school built in 1931, which was one of the first laboratory nursery schools in the country. Much of our infrastructure was thus built during his tenure as President.
The William C. H. & Elsie D. Prentice Chair was established in 1975 in honor of William C. H. Prentice, President from 1961 to 1975, with gifts from trustees, alumni, faculty, staff and friends.
- Mary Heuser Chair in the Arts
Mary Heuser taught in the Art department at Wheaton from 1952 to 1981 (and also briefly during the 1981-1982 academic year and spring of 1984). She earned her doctorate in Art History from Radcliffe College, and came to Wheaton from Bryn Mawr in 1952. In 1958, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for study in Rome where she worked on her long-term interest in the mosaics at St. Maria Maggiore. She was Chair of the department from 1965 to 1969 and from 1976 until her retirement in 1981. In 1976, in a nomination for Mary Heuser to be the first holder of the William Prentice Chair at Wheaton, Thomas J. McCormick , then Chairman of the Art department, described her as “by far the best teacher I have encountered in over twenty years of teaching—she truly exemplifies the ideal of the teacher/scholar.” Her legacy of scholar-teachers and teacher- scholars continues to inspire our faculty today.
The Mary Heuser Chair in the Arts was established in 1996, in honor of Mary Heuser, Professor of Art, Emerita, by trustees, alumni and friends.
- Bojan Hamlin Jennings Chair in the Natural Sciences
Bojan Jennings began her career at Wheaton in 1943 after receiving her bachelor’s degree at Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree at Radcliffe College. She earned a Ph.D. at Harvard in 1955. During World War II, Jennings recalled, opportunities for women in the sciences–and in higher education–were more plentiful as so many men, including her husband, enlisted in the military.
Her tenure in Wheaton’s Chemistry Department was one of innovation and opportunity in student research. She was instrumental in establishing a rigorous Chemistry major, and saw it approved by ACS in 1955. In the 1980s, she designed the major in Biochemistry, with a full year of physical chemistry included. She developed the “Senior Seminar in Chemistry” to teach critical reading of primary literature, and published research papers with several students. Jennings oversaw more than 150 Chemistry majors, at least 30 of whom went on to doctoral work in the sciences, including current Professor of Chemistry, Elita Pastra-Landis ‘69.
Though Jennings retired in 1985, she continues to host a group of Chemistry majors in her home to discuss their research and interests in the field. She is reluctant to claim a legacy at Wheaton without acknowledging those who went before.
“I inherited a great legacy from the strong, wise, and helpful women from whom I learned the rudiments of teaching young women and with whom I worked in Wheaton’s Chemistry Department for many years: Mildred Evans and Maud Marshal,” Jennings said. ”They were the pioneers who earned their advanced degrees in chemistry and went on to their productive careers at a time when such things were almost unheard of. Wheaton was one of the few academic institutions where they were welcomed, and they influenced many Wheaton students in their day. “It was the sustaining friendships that grew between many of my students and me that fed my enthusiasm to encourage more of them. They, in turn, are doing the exact same thing with their students.”
The Bojan Hamlin Jennings Chair in the Natural Sciences was established in 1985 with gifts from the Mars Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Smith (Frances Vinton Smith ’51), in honor of Bojan Hamlin Jennings, Professor of Chemistry from 1943 to 1985.
- Dorothy Reed Williams ’43 Chair in the Social Sciences
Dorothy Reed Williams graduated from Wheaton as a member of the Class of 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in American Civilization. For many years she served Wheaton in a volunteer capacity as a member of the President’s Commission (1988-1996), the National Major Gifts Committee during the Sesquicentennial Campaign (1981-1986), the Sesquicentennial National Advising Committee (1981-1986), and various regional club activities.
The Dorothy Reed Williams ’43 Chair in the Social Sciences was established in 1993 by Mr. and Mrs. L. Stanton Williams (Dorothy Reed Williams ’43).
- Jane Oxford Keiter ’64 Professorship
Jane Oxford Keiter graduated from Wheaton as a member of the Class of 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religion. Her Wheaton activities include a term on President’s Commission (1991-1994), Class Fund Committee member (1986) and a Library Visiting Committee member (1995). Jane and Bob Keiter have three children,one child, Erika Keiter, is a Wheaton alumna from the Class of 1995.
The Jane Oxford Keiter ’64 Professorship was established in 1994 by Jane Oxford Keiter ’64 and her husband Robert E. Keiter, member of the Wheaton College Board of Trustees, as an investment in education during the Campaign for Wheaton.
- Jane Ruby Professorship
Jane E. Ruby was Professor of History from 1954 to 1978, and also served as Provost from 1976-1978.
She began her study of History at Reed College in Oregon, where she received her bachelor’s degree. She earned her masters and doctoral degrees at Radcliffe College. Her research examined issues of complexity and historical significance, notably, 14th century political thought and concepts of nature. Jane Ruby combined her love of music with research and teaching; she was an inveterate symphony goer, opera lover, and an accomplished pianist who played with intense feeling and consummate skill.
The Jane Ruby Professorship was established in 1997 by John F. Mars and Adrienne Bevis Mars ’58, member of the Wheaton College Board of Trustees, in memory of Jane E. Ruby, Professor of History from 1954 to 1978, to recognize outstanding teaching and research in the humanities or social sciences.
- Hannah Goldberg Chair in Teaching Innovation
Hannah Goldberg was Professor of History from 1983-1998, Provost and Academic Vice President from 1983-1998 and Acting President of Wheaton College in 1991 and 1992.
In awarding her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on May 16, 1998, the
following was recorded:
Colleges, like people, are said to have lives. They grow and change and if they are lucky, they thrive. Using this analogy, the people who live and work at a college could be thought of as gardeners. You, of course, would be a master gardener; and this campus, a victory garden. During the 15 years you have served as Wheaton’s Provost, your ideas, your actions, your humor, your friendship, your essence have become part of the College’s life and will shape its future forever.
You have said that when you came to Wheaton you expected it to be “just a job,” but deep inside you must have known better. Your trademark commitment to excellence, your drive and your passion demand complete involvement. In so many ways, Wheaton has benefited from these traits. Experiential learning is a buzzword in higher education today, but your vision made it a reality at Wheaton long before the trend. You recognized the need to more clearly define a Wheaton education. Consequently, you worked with the faculty for two years to focus the College’s general education requirements and to create a seminal experience in First Year Seminars.
Perhaps it was growing up in a cooperative community which gave you your talent for mediation, but whatever its origin, your ability to bring your keen empathy and intellect to any charged situation has been an asset to every community in which you have lived. You have helped us find common ground in challenging times. You innovated the “stakeholder’s meetings,” giving all who have a stake in a particular issue an opportunity to come together and brainstorm solutions. We applaud your decision to formalize this talent by becoming a licensed mediator and we know that those who come to you for assistance will be blessed by wise, caring and straight-talking guidance.
Colleagues describe you as “a legend” in higher education. Looking back, we can see the sign-post along the way – the influences, the choices which brought you where you are. Your parents so valued education that they made sacrifices to ensure that you and your sister went to college. They instilled in you this appreciation for education, an appreciation which became a life-long devotion. It is tempting to review one’s life and say “ah-ha, of course—it all points in this direction.” But we know that becoming a legend is not easy even though you have made it look as if it was. Hannah Goldberg, over the years you have given many illustrious figures the honor we bestow on you today, but we want you to know it is now our honor to present you with this Wheaton honorary degree. You are forever part of us, part of Wheaton’s life, and for that we are eternally grateful.
Established in 1998 during the Campaign for Wheaton by college trustees, friends and colleagues in honor of Hannah Goldberg, Provost and Academic Vice President of Wheaton from 1984 to 1998.
- Henrietta Jennings Faculty Chair for Outstanding Teaching
Henrietta Jennings was Professor of Economics at Wheaton from 1931 to 1965. Professor Jennings inspired and challenged her students, the college, and the Wheaton community. Former students and colleagues identify two outstanding characteristics of her personality: “She was extremely tough and demanding,” they may say, or, “she was very kind, a wonderful friend.” To all those in the Wheaton community whose lives she touched, those two statements are entirely compatible.
Professor Jennings was often decades ahead of her contemporaries. At a time when few women studied business, let alone Economics, she introduced advanced theory to her students. Professor Jennings demanded much of herself and of her associates, and she was outspoken on many issues from student advancement to local town government to international affairs.
Established in 1997 by Sandra Ohrn Moose ’63, Janet Lindholm Lebovitz ’72, Pauline Simington Newcomer ’36 and other alumnae/i and friends in honor of Professor of Economics Henrietta Jennings.
- William Isaac Cole Chair in Sociology/Anthropology
William Isaac Cole was the brother of President Samuel Valentine Cole, whose presidency spanned the years from 1912 to 1925. William Isaac Cole was Treasurer of the College, as well as Professor of Applied Sociology. "Billy Ike," as he was known on campus, was an ordained minister who, before coming to Wheaton to support his brother, had worked for two decades in settlement work and social work in Boston. The William Isaac Cole Professorship was established in 1966 to support tenured members of the faculty in Sociology or Anthropology, and recognizes outstanding work in scholarship, teaching, and service. In 2010, recently reorganized and now in parallel with the other endowed professorships, the Cole Professorship returned to its original purpose and was awarded internally to a member of one of the two departments.