Faculty Endowed Chairs Created Through Collaboration

April 11, 2014

In support of The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College, alumni and friends have endowed two Harvey Mudd College faculty positions: one in computer science and another in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts.

Endowed faculty positions—chairs, professorships and fellowships—are among the top priorities in the College’s ongoing $150 million comprehensive fundraising effort, which launched publicly this past February. These positions allow the College to attract, retain and celebrate its outstanding faculty.

“Our faculty work incredibly hard and are unparalleled in their commitment to students,” says President Maria Klawe. “They conduct pioneering research, help attract top students who want to work with leading educators, and bring international prestige to the College through the courses they teach, the students they mentor and the academic and scholarly work they pursue. Endowed faculty positions not only allow us to recognize this kind of extraordinary work, but also add critical resources to hire additional faculty who further enrich the educational experience here at Mudd.”

HSA Chair

Ken Fandell
Ken Fandell

The Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson Chair in Arts and the Humanities is held by Ken Fandell, an associate professor of art, who specializes in photography. Fandell previously worked at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he served as chair of the Department of Photography and was known for teaching an eclectic range of courses, from Introductions to Photographic Image Making to more advanced classes covering specific themes and theories, including one called, “Nothing.” Themes in his work—drawing, sculpture, sound, video, text, collage, installation and photography—often revolve around oppositions, such as small and large, near and far and the quotidian and the transcendent. Known nationally and internationally, Fandell has artwork in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Brooklyn Museum, New York, among others.

The Wilson Chair was established through a gift from Michael Wilson ’63 and Jane Hurley Wilson SCR ’64. Appointing Ken Fandell was an ideal match because of Michael Wilson’s personal passion for photography.

“We are delighted that Ken Fandell is the first recipient of the Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson Chair,” says Michael Wilson. “Ken is a wonderful addition to the humanities department, which is such an essential part of the Harvey Mudd experience. He is the first artist to hold a professorship at the College and will no doubt bring a unique perspective to the campus.”

A Harvey Mudd trustee and renowned film producer (James Bond franchise), Wilson is an expert on 19th-century photography. He began collecting photographs in 1978. In 1998, he opened the Wilson Centre for Photography, one of the largest private collections of photography. In addition to serving as a trustee of the College, Wilson serves on the boards of several other nonprofits, including the National Media Museum, the Carnegie Institution for Science and Cape Farewell. He and his wife, Jane, divide their time between Los Angeles and the United Kingdom.

New Faculty Chair in Computer Science

Zach Dodds
Zach Dodds

Zachary Dodds, professor of computer science, was named to the newly established Leonhard-Johnson-Rae Chair. Dodds researches computer vision-based robotics and specializes in computer science education and curriculum design. He co-created a new introductory Harvey Mudd CS course, CS5, designed to engage students in exploring the range and power of computer science and its impact on society in a learning environment that appeals to women and men alike. Along with other interventions, the course has helped Harvey Mudd create a more balanced computer science major cohort. This curricular effort now extends to middle and high school students as MyCS, or Middle-years Computer Science, a CS curriculum that has reached thousands of U.S. middle-graders across the Southwest.

The endowed faculty position in computer science is the result of combined gifts from three donors—the estate of Wyllis M. Leonhard, Brian W. Johnson ’98 and Gregory P. Rae ’00—and celebrates a common vision. In 1984, then-trustee Bill Leonhard and his wife, Wyllis, designated an insurance policy to support distinguished faculty. Years later, and yet unconnected, Johnson began exploring a similar desire to support faculty with his friend Rae, a trustee of the College. The connection occurred after Wyllis Leonhard passed away; her son, William Leonhard Jr., worked with the Office of College Advancement to combine his parents’ gift with gifts from Johnson and Rae to create this new endowed faculty chair.

“My father was an engineer who felt strongly about supporting engineering schools financially through endowment support for faculty positions and student scholarships,” says Leonhard. “He always enjoyed his association with Harvey Mudd College and was greatly impressed by the engineering education the college provided. Both of my parents truly believed that a strong, well-founded education was the key to lifelong success, and dedicated their philanthropic efforts toward supporting that belief.”

Through this intersection of past and current support, three individuals made a greater impact on the College than each could have made individually.

“Helping to endow a faculty chair has been a lifelong goal of mine, and I feel privileged to be able to bring that goal to fruition in cooperation with such generous co-donors, “ says Johnson.

Shanahan Matching Fund

Donors to both endowed professorships took advantage of the generosity of Michael and Mary Shanahan, who established a matching gift program that allows donors to double the effect of their personal gifts. Under the terms of this challenge—as long as funds remain—new endowment gifts of $25,000 or more toward a campaign priority are eligible to be matched by an equal amount (up to $1.5 million).

Learn more about The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College.