Named Faculty Positions

An ongoing Michigan Tech fundraising effort is to further the tradition of faculty excellence by providing endowed chairs and professorships, faculty development funds, visiting lectureships, and research support for current and prospective faculty.

Endowed Chairs and Professorships

Universities routinely spend a good deal of money to hire very smart, very qualified faculty. So what difference does it make if the dollars come from an endowment or the general fund?

A big difference, as it turns out. The worth of an endowed chair or professorship doesn’t stop with the dollar amount. Such initiatives are a lure for leading academics, and the benefits to a university go far beyond the day-to-day accomplishments of the chairholder.

A Group Giving Effort: Dennis Wiitanen Professorship

Dennis Wiitanen Professorship in Electric Power Systems

Endowed chairs and professorships need not be established with one large gift. Many donors came together to endow the Dennis Wiitanen Professorship in Electric Power Systems, which carries the name of a professor emeritus in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Donations from more than 100 industry and alumni contributors fund the Wiitanen Professorship. The Detroit Edison Foundation helped launch the campaign in 1993 with an initial donation. Other corporate contributors include ITC Holdings, Consumers Energy Foundation, Upper Peninsula Power Company, Wisconsin Public Service, Northern States Power, PLM Power Systems, and Black and Veatch.

Major gifts were also provided by three department alumni and their spouses: David and Elsa Brule, Sr.; Kanwal and Ann Rekhi; and Jon and Lisa Jipping.

After a yearlong selection process, Bruce Mork, a professor in electrical and computer engineering, was chosen to receive the professorship.

“Bruce is the natural choice for the Wiitanen Professorship,” said Dan Fuhrmann, chair of electrical and computer engineering. “He is a leading expert in power system protection, an area of critical need in the utility power industry as our infrastructure transitions to the smart grid. Plus, he was the driving force behind our online courses in power and energy, a model for the rest of the department and indeed the rest of the University.”