Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl

The Continuity of Faculty Excellence

Legacy of Distinction Fund at the College of Arts & Sciences Meets $5 Million Goal

Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl is feeling lucky these days. He’ll soon be awarded his Ph.D. from Yale, has recently finished a fellowship at Princeton, and has now found the perfect job in U.Va.’s Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics. A specialist on civil wars with a focus on the politics of the Middle East, he will step in for retiring William Quandt, Edward R. Stettinius Jr. Professor of Politics. While Quandt won’t take on emeritus status until the summer of 2013, the department was able to hire this stellar young scholar in advance of Quandt’s retirement thanks to the Legacy of Distinction Fund.

With 111 current tenured faculty members in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences aged 65 or older—53 aged 70 or older—the Legacy of Distinction Fund was created to provide the resources necessary to hire new faculty in key departments before retiring professors leave openings, thereby allowing a valuable period of overlap. This fund covers the salaries of incoming faculty for up to a three-year period during which they can prepare to carry on in the tradition of the University’s most beloved professors.

The College Foundation recently celebrated the completion of its $5 million goal for the fund, which can be used immediately to pay for the new faculty hires. It also resolved to undertake an even greater initiative—an effort to raise $130 million specifically for faculty support, with $100 million allocated for the College’s endowment. When funded, the endowment would contribute approximately $5 million annually to support faculty priorities.

Not only does this strategy provide long-term stability for faculty support, it places the College in a strong position to attract highly qualified candidates such as Schulhofer-Wohl. The Legacy of Distinction Fund also offers incoming faculty the valuable opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of their more senior colleagues. In the coming year, for example, Schulhofer-Wohl will team teach two courses with Quandt, courses that Quandt has built up over his many years at the University.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to work closely with such a distinguished scholar,” Schulhofer-Wohl said. “I don’t think I’d ever be able to replace Bill Quandt, but I really look forward to learning from him as I’m starting my career. I don’t think many people have that kind of chance.”

Schulhofer-Wohl is the sixth faculty member hired through the Legacy of Distinction program. Others include Robert Cox in biology, R. Craig Group in physics, William Hitchcock and Elizabeth Varon in history, and Timo von Oertzen in psychology.

For retiring professors such as Quandt, the Legacy of Distinction Fund provides another perhaps unexpected benefit: “I’ve built up something of a Middle East politics following here,” he said, “and I didn’t want it to just disappear if I retired. That’s what the Legacy of Distinction Fund is designed for: to ensure that there will be continuity. It ensures that the position I’ve filled for almost 18 years is not going to disappear.”