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Endowed Faculty Chairs and Professorships

  • Responsible Office: Development and Alumni Relations, Development and Alumni Relations
  • Current Approved Version: 05/14/2021
  • Policy Type: Board of Visitors

Policy Statement and Purpose

This policy provides requirements for the creation and administration of endowed faculty funds. These funds must adhere to state and federal laws, align with the mission of the university and meet the current and future needs of Virginia Commonwealth University. This policy applies to all endowed funds that support faculty at the university, regardless of the college/school/unit administering the fund.

Endowment fund minimums and named gift opportunities are subject to approval by the Board of Visitors and the university president. Endowed faculty funds are managed by one of the university’s affiliated foundations. With approval from the university president and Development and Alumni Relations, schools and units may establish higher thresholds for named funds where necessary to ensure that the fund produces income sufficient to support the requisite academic activities.

Noncompliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation against any employee who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question, or participates in an investigation is prohibited.

Table of Contents

Who Should Know This Policy
Policy Specifics and Procedures
Related Documents
Revision History

Who Should Know This Policy

All university employees engaged in development and alumni relations activities and all employees who accept and administer these funds are responsible for knowing this policy and familiarizing themselves with its contents and provisions.


Affiliated or institutionally-related foundations

VCU has affiliated philanthropic foundations that are separate 501(c)(3) charitable corporations organized to operate for the support of the university, while operating with self-governed boards and bylaws. They accept and invest gifts made in support of the university.

Endowed faculty funds

Endowed funds designated by a donor to support faculty excellence including deanships, distinguished chairs, chairs, distinguished professorships, university professorships, departmental professorships and junior faculty endowments.

Gift agreement

An agreement between the donor(s) and the university or an affiliated foundation that defines the purpose of the gift, the gift amount, a schedule of contributions and other terms deemed appropriate by either party.


The Office of Development and Alumni Relations officially interprets this policy. The Office of Development and Alumni Relations is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures.  Please direct policy questions to the Office of Development and Alumni Relations' executive director of donor relations and events.


Policy Specifics and Procedures

1. Allowable expenses

    1. With prior approval by the unit's academic leader and/or the signature authority of the endowed fund, income from the endowed faculty fund must support related costs such as salary, research or academic needs of the holder.
    2. Expenditures must be made in accordance with the gift agreement and university policy.
    3. Physical materials purchased with income from university endowments are the property of the university.
    4. Related expenses directly associated with the search and recruitment of named chairs or professors can be charged to the endowment when the position is vacant.

2. Establishment of faculty funds

           New endowed funds must be established:

    1. Consistent with the policies and practices of the university’s affiliated foundations and, if applicable, approved by VCU’s Gift Acceptance Committee,
    2. Consistent with the mission of the university and existing strategic plans of the university, school or unit and may not make excessive demands on the university, school, unit or a department or program,
    3. Consistent with the principles of Academic Freedom,
    4. Using an approved gift agreement, and
    5. Contingent upon receipt of full funding by a specified closing date as outlined in the gift agreement, unless there is a commitment to complete the funding by bequest or similar deferred gift for which there can be no predetermined termination date.

For an estate gift directed to support an endowed chair or professorship, the value of the gift at the time of receipt must meet the approved endowment minimums for the donor-designated purpose, or an alternate purpose must be designated, unless there was prior approval by the president at the time the gift agreement was finalized.

Bequests that are not compliant with university or foundation policy at the time they are realized are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by DAR, the applicable university-affiliated foundation and appropriate academic unit. If needed, the vice president may convene the Gift Acceptance Committee to form or approve a recommendation. Modifications can be made only with the written consent of the donor, the applicable university-affiliated foundation and the university and are subject to Board of Visitors’ approval.

3. Adjustments to previously-established endowed faculty funds

    1. The elevation of fund category, e.g. from endowed professorship to endowed chair, is permitted at the request of the dean and approved by the Board of Visitors
    2. Any adjustment should be noted to Development and Alumni Relations through its Office of Donor Relations and Events for tracking and reporting purposes

4. Management and reporting of endowed faculty funds

    1. Donors cannot retain any explicit or implicit control over the use of their endowed funds, including selection of recipients, after acceptance by the university or institutionally-related university foundation
    2. Endowed faculty appointments are the purview of the Office of the Provost and Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences, subject to the established procedures of faculty appointment.
    3. Existing named funds that met established minimum contribution thresholds at inception may continue at the approved named level.
    4. The respective dean and appropriate vice president/provost shall review unassigned endowed faculty funds bi-annually.
    5. In the event a fully-funded professorship remains vacant for a period of three years or more, or in the event that the professorship’s accumulated income exceeds five years of payout, the dean, vice president, and the affiliated foundation must review the fund’s terms and administrative history to ascertain the reason for the accumulation and must take appropriate corrective action consistent with the terms of the originating gift agreement. Such action include:
      1. implementing a new expenditure plan designed to fill the professorship and/or to utilize the payout fully.
      2. redesigning the professorship and/or fund purpose, following consultation with and approval of the donor
      3. seeking legal means for redesignation of the professorship and/or fund purpose, if the donor is unavailable.
    6. Faculty holding endowed appointments must provide a brief year-end report of activities associated with the endowed fund to DAR.



Gift agreement templates are available to university development employees with access to the DAR intranet. To gain access, please contact, your unit’s development office, or one of the university’s institutionally-related foundations.


Related Documents

  1. VCU Policy: Advancement Policies and Procedures
  2. VCU Policy: Private Support for Endowed Chairs and Professorships
  3. VCU Policy: Gift Acceptance and Administration
  4. AAUP Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure


Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

Approval/Revision Date           Title

03/01/2001                                Policy on Private Support for Endowed Chairs and Professorships (BOV)

05/25/2009                                Policy on Professorships, distinguished professorships, chairs and chair elevations (BOV)

01/2013                                     Policy on professorships, distinguished professorships, chairs and chair elevations (local)

05/14/2021                                Endowed Faculty Chairs and Professorships (BOV)



1. What are the established minimums for faculty endowments?

Minimum levels to create scholarships, faculty endowments, and research funds are approved only by the Board of Visitors and published as part of the university Policy on Recognition through Naming.

2. Can faculty benefit from more than one endowed fund?

Faculty may be the recipients of more than one endowed fund.