Contact: Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service,318-869-5120, or
or John Kemp, Louisiana Board of Regents, 504-342-4253

Louisiana Board of Regents Announces Completion of Funding for $2 Million "Super Chair" and 13 $100,000 Endowed Professorships at Centenary College

SHREVEPORT, LA -- Members of the Centenary College community gathered today (Wednesday, Aug. 11) to hear Dr. Joseph Savoie, Louisiana commissioner of higher education, announce the completion of $3.3 million for North Louisiana's first "Super Chair" and 13 endowed professorships for the college.

The event marked the completion of a local and state funding effort which matches $800,000 from the Board of Regents Support Fund with $1,200,000 for the R. Z. Biedenharn Eminent Scholars Chair in Communication. Because it is funded at twice the amount of other Eminent Scholars Chairs, the chair and two others funded in the state this year have come to be called "Super Chairs." Also completed was the $1.3 million for 13 professorships endowed at $100,000 each.

Centenary President Kenneth L. Schwab announced the expansion of the College's communication program as a result of the new endowment, and said that a nationwide search will be conducted for a communication professional with outstanding academic credentials and hands-on experience as a news media professional.

"Centenary views the R.Z. Biedenharn Eminent Scholars Chair in Communication as a vital appointment - a key to the enhancement of a strong academic major in a College with a record of success. This endowment will provide Centenary the opportunity to become a leader in educating communications professionals for the 21st Century," Schwab said.

The Chairholder will be someone who approaches the study of communication within the liberal arts tradition from a broad interdisciplinary perspective, he said. "The incumbent should have practical work experiences within the mass media and an artist's vision of how tools of mass media can be used for personal expression."

The Chair is named in memory of R. Zehntner Biedenharn, a Monroe business and civic leader who was a 1931 Centenary graduate and longtime member of the Centenary Board of Trustees. Present for today's announcement were two of the late Mr. Biedenharn's daughters Catherine Biedenharn Flaherty and Louisa Biedenharn Clausen, who was accompanied by her husband, Stephen Clausen; the daughters of Sydney Biedenharn Walker, Reina and Rachel Walker; and David Caskey, vice chairman of the Biedenharn Foundation.

Participants also included members of the area Legislative delegation; Dr. Earl W. Fleck, Centenary's new provost and dean of the college; and representatives of the Centenary faculty, staff and student body. Fleck announced plans for the 13 endowed professorships, which were made possible by an anonymous donor.

Twelve of the professorships will be divided among the college's Divisions of Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. The 13th was named in honor of the Wiener, Weiss and Madison law firm of Shreveport and will be named the Wiener, Weiss and Madison - Centenary Leadership Endowed Professorship. Representing the firm were James Madison and Chip Naus.

Schwab praised Gov. Mike Foster, the Louisiana Legislature, the Board of Regents and the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities for making higher education a priority. "We are very grateful for their excellent support of higher education in Louisiana," he said.

The endowed professorship program is part of the Regents' innovative Support Fund, which began as a permanent trust fund approved by the voters of Louisiana in a 1986 constitutional amendment. By 1999, the trust fund had risen to over $885 million. The funds were part of a settlement between the state and federal governments over offshore oil and gas revenue.

Each year the Legislature appropriates half the interest from the fund to the Board of Regents, the policy-making and coordinating agency for all higher education in Louisiana. The other half goes to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for grades K-12.

Centenary now has a total of 28 professorships endowed at $100,000 each, nine Eminent Scholars chairs endowed at $1 million each, and one Eminent Scholars Chair endowed with $2 million, for a total of $13.8 million in conjunction with the Regents Support Fund. The endowments were made possible through the generosity of college donors, whose funds were matched 60:40 by the Board of Regents Support Fund.

Another eight endowed chairs at the College were funded prior to the beginning of the Support Fund.

Centenary College's New Endowed Professorships are:

  • The Wiener, Weiss and Madison - Centenary Leadership Endowed Professorship
  • Humanities Division Endowed Professorships Number 3, 4, 5, and 6
  • Natural Science Division Endowed Professorship Number 3, 4, 5, and 6
  • Social Science Division Endowed Professorship Number 3, 4, 5, and 6

    - 30 -