GSEP Announces New Endowed Professorship

Jan and Bob DavidsonGSEP faculty members are currently being nominated for a new endowed professorship in educational technology.

“The purpose of an endowed professorship is to provide incentive for faculty members to get more deeply involved in a particular area,” said Chet McCall, associate dean of education. “Endowments provide funds for scholarly contributions, augment compensation, and underwrite research travel. It’s quite an honor.”

Endowed professorships are funded appointments reserved for tenured or tenure-track professors and associated professors who are distinguished by virtue of their scholarly achievement and excellence as instructors. According to GSEP Dean Margaret J. Weber, candidates are well established in the field of educational technology and are esteemed among their colleagues. She noted that these professorships bring additional esteem to a university because they help to attract high-caliber faculty with scholarly interests that reflect the focus of the endowed professorship.

This particular endowment was created with funding from the Jan and Bob Davidson family. Jan received an honorary doctorate of laws from Pepperdine and is a former teacher who is best known for developing Math Blaster, computer software designed to help children learn math. In 1982, with Bob’s encouragement and help, Jan founded the educational software publishing firm, Davidson & Associates, Inc., with $6,000 from her children’s college funds. In 1993, Davidson & Associates went public (NASDAQ) and eventually grew into a multi-billion dollar corporation, recognized by Business Week, Fortune, and Forbes as one of the best small-growth companies in the world. In 1996, the company was purchased by CUC International (now Cendant Corporation).

In 1999, the Davidsons founded the Davidson Institute for Talent Development—a national nonprofit foundation dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people. The Davidson Academy of Nevada will open in the fall of 2006 as a school for gifted pupils at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Davidsons are also involved with two education-related companies: Future Kids, which provides training for schools, and Davidson Services, which provides computer-related technology services to schools.

A faculty committee will announce the recipient of the professorship and a special event will be held in March to honor the beneficiary. This endowed professorship joins several others like it at Pepperdine University, including the M. Norvel and Helen Young Chair in Family Life, received by Dennis Lowe, PhD, and the Chair in School Safety, held by Ron Stephens, Ed.D.

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