$2.5 Million Gift Establishes Institute’s First Endowed Faculty Position

As chair of Pratt’s Department of Mathematics and Science, Carole Sirovich has been instrumental in helping the Institute build one of the most robust math and science programs of any art and design college—in large part by recruiting exceptional scholars, teachers, and practitioners to the faculty. Now Sirovich’s husband, Lawrence, and their son, Matthew, are continuing her legacy through a $2.5 million gift to create the Sirovich Family  Professorship of Mathematics for the Arts—the first endowed professorship in the Institute’s history and the first of its kind in the United States. The professorship, which honors both Carole and Libby Silverstein Sirovich, Lawrence’s mother and Matthew’s grandmother, will promote cross-disciplinary collaborations and initiatives to explore connections between mathematics and art, design, and architecture—bolstering Pratt’s increasingly strong reputation in the liberal arts and sciences.

Transforming the Academic Landscape

Equally important, the Sirovich Family Professorship will transform the academic landscape at Pratt by introducing the time-honored position of the endowed professor to the Institute. Such posts date back to the Roman Empire when Marcus Aurelius endowed chairs of philosophy in the four schools in Athens. They became part of the modern university system in 1502 when Lady Margaret Beaufort, King Henry VII’s mother, created endowed chairs in divinity at Oxford and Cambridge. Supported by an endowed fund that provides resources in perpetuity for salary, research, and other costs related to developing novel academic and creative work, these positions have allowed leading colleges and universities around the world to attract the foremost scholars and practitioners.

“By providing funding in perpetuity, endowed faculty positions will help Pratt recruit and retain individuals who can pursue and involve students in long-term research and programmatic initiatives that the Institute would not otherwise be able to undertake,” said Pratt Provost Peter Barna. Establishing endowed professorships is a key element of the Institute’s commitment to enriching the academic experience laid out in the 2012-2017 strategic plan and to enhancing students’ education. To that end, the Institute is on track to fulfill its 2011 goal to hire 40 new full-time faculty members by 2016.