Washington and Lee Names Seven Faculty Members to Endowed Professorships These faculty have been recognized for their outstanding teaching, scholarship and service to the university.
Washington and Lee University has announced that seven faculty members have been named to endowed professorships within The College and the Williams School since January 2022.
Four of the seven faculty members officially began their terms on Jan. 1, while three others formally began their terms as of July 1.
Starting their endowed professorships in January were Rebecca Benefiel, professor of classics; Genelle Gertz, professor of English and associate dean of the college for strategic initiatives; Andrea Lepage, professor of art history; and Karla Murdock, professor of cognitive and behavioral science and director of the Mudd Center for Ethics.
The professors who started their endowed positions in July were Edward Adams, professor of English; Irina Mazilu, professor of physics; and Alan McRae, professor of mathematics.
Rebecca Benefiel was named to the Abigail Grigsby Urquhart ’11 Term Professorship, which was established in 2007 by Abigail’s parents, A. William and Mary Urquhart. The professorship is a permanently endowed fund at W&L, providing support for a university faculty member who is judged to be excellent in teaching and in professional contributions. The award recognizes a different professor every three to five years.
Benefiel, who is on sabbatical for the 2022-23 academic year, has been a member of the faculty at W&L since 2005. She has served as department head for the Department of Classics and is a core faculty member for the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program. She has also been an affiliated faculty member for the Women and Gender Studies Program, and served as a humanities faculty member for the Digital Humanities Working Group. Benefiel holds a B.A. in classics with a double major in Greek and Latin from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and she has done graduate work in epigraphy at L’Universitá di Roma ‘La Sapienza. She also earned a Ph.D. in classics from Harvard University.
Genelle Gertz was tabbed to the Thomas H. Broadus, Jr. Professorship, which was created in 1999 in Broadus’ memory by his wife, Elizabeth. Broadus was a member of the Class of 1959 and a member of W&L’s Board of Trustees from 1990 to 1998.
Gertz has been a member of the W&L faculty since 2003. She has held a number of positions throughout her tenure, including director of the Writing Program, director of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program and chair of the English Department. Currently, she serves as the associate dean of the college for strategic initiatives at W&L. She received bachelor’s degrees in English and philosophy from Wheaton College, master’s degrees in English from both the University of Pittsburgh and Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in English from Princeton.
Andrea Lepage was selected to the Pamela H. Simpson Professorship, which was established in 2010 and made possible by a gift of the Orrin H. Ingram Advised Fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. The professorship was formally named in 2011 — in response to the Lenfest Challenge for Faculty Support — in honor of Simpson, who served on the W&L faculty for 38 years. She was the first female tenure-track professor at the university and the first female professor to receive an endowed chair at W&L.
Lepage joined the W&L faculty in 2008 and has served as the department head for the art and art history department since 2018. She is also a core faculty member of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program. Lepage received a B.A. in art history from Clark University and went on to earn a M.A. and Ph.D. in the history of art and architecture from Brown University.
Karla Murdock was named to the Jo M. and James M. Ballengee 250th Anniversary Professorship, which was created in 1999 in honor of W&L’s bicenquinquagenary celebration. James was a member of the Law Class of 1948 and a Rector Emeritus of the Board of Trustees.
Murdock has been a member of the W&L faculty since 2005 and currently serves as the Director of the Mudd Center for Ethics. She earned a B.A. in psychology from Indiana University and a M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Georgia.
Edward Adams was appointed to the John Lucian Smith Jr. Term Professorship, which was established in 2010 with leadership gifts of Bernard C. “Ben” Grigsby, II ’72 and Marshall B. Miller Jr. ’71. Smith, known to his many friends as Jack, graduated from W&L in 1969 after serving as a class officer. The professorship is a permanently endowed fund that provides support for a faculty member in the English Department or the School of Law, who demonstrates excellence in teaching and professional contributions. The award recognizes a different professor every three to five years.
Adams joined W&L in 1993 after earning a B.A. from Amherst College, a M.A. in classics from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. from Yale University.
Irina Mazilu was named to the Ruth Parmly Professorship, which was established in 1986 in honor of Parmly and the gift she made in her estate to W&L. Other gifts in her lifetime supported the construction of the Leyburn Library and the building housing the biology, physics, and engineering departments. That building is named Charles Howard Parmly Hall in honor and memory of her father.
Mazilu first arrived at W&L as a visiting assistant professor in 2002, before moving on to Hanover College for the next academic school year. She returned in 2004, and currently serves as chair of the Physics Department. She holds a B.S. degree in physics from Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, a M.S. degree in physics from Virginia Tech, and doctorates in philosophy and physics from Virginia Tech.
Alan McRae was tabbed to the Cincinnati Professorship, which recognizes the gift of the Society of the Cincinnati of Virginia to Washington Academy, a predecessor institution to W&L. In 1802, the society — a group of former officers of the Continental Army who were influenced by George Washington’s gift to the Academy — voted to turn over its assets to the school, and the gift helped the institution survive.
McRae has been a member of the W&L faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the chair of the Mathematics Department. He received a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
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