Capp and Shannon Gifts Promote Quality Faculty

Alumni gives money for endowment fund

President Maxey's announcement at his inauguration that the College had three new commitments for endowed professorships elicited a standing ovation from the audience.  We gratefully and enthusiastically add Roanoke's newest endowed professorships to this list. They are: The John S. Shannon Professorship in Economics, The Dr. M. Paul Capp and Constance and Whitehead Professorship in Physics.  As John Day, vice president and dean of the College, states, "Such endowed professorships enable the College to attract outstanding new faculty as well as to recognize faculty who have served the College for a number of years."

Begun in England during the early 16th century, an endowed professorship, also known as an endowed chair, is a faculty position supported partially or entirely by the revenue from a fund created specifically for that purpose. At Roanoke College, it provides the recipient with salary, a course release per semester, a stipend and an expense account to help support projects and research. As a general rule, the Board of Trustees sets the amount required for this endowment, and the interest, usually 5% per annum, funds the endowment with the principal left intact in perpetuity.  An endowed professorship is a named position providing a means for the donor to have his or her name attached to a program that will benefit students and faculty at the College forever. Typically, it is established to honor someone who helped the donor or even an entire department.

Roanoke College currently has six endowed professorships, including the Henry H. and Trudye Fowler Professorship of Public Affairs, the John P. Fishwick Professorship of English, the Jordan-Trexler Professorship in Religion, the Reverend J. Marshall Tise Professorship in Lutheran Studies, the Brian H. Thornhill Professorship and the Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo Professorship in Art History.

John S. Shannon Professorship in Economics
"I have long felt that it's important to have some understanding of how markets work and their role in a free society," asserts Jack S. Shannon '52. To help promote that objective, he has funded the John S. Shannon Endowed Professorship in Economics.

After graduating from Roanoke with a B.S. in economics, Shannon received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1955. He spent most of his career as a corporate lawyer in the railroad industry, serving as chief legal officer of Norfolk and Western Railway and its successor, Norfolk Southern Corporation, retiring in 1996. During the railway deregulation years, he was able to observe how market forces bring about the efficient allocation of assets and efforts, with resulting social benefits.
As a member of the College's Board of Trustees from 1974 to 2005, Shannon witnessed growth in enrollment, student body diversity, more credentialed faculty and academic recognition with the arrival of Phi Beta Kappa. His intent for the Shannon Professorship, he explains, is that it will "enhance faculty development in the area of economics and stimulate student interest and achievement in the field."

Dr. M. Paul Capp and Constance Whitehead Professorship in Physics
Dr. M. Paul Capp's '52 involvement with higher education has spanned more than 50 years. In 1948, the Yonkers, New York, native enrolled at Roanoke College with scholarships in both baseball and basketball. He was named Roanoke's Athlete of the Year for 1951, and upon graduation with a B.S. in physics, he was offered a professional baseball contract. He turned it down to continue his education, first studying nuclear physics at Duke University and next earning his M.D. from the University of North Carolina. In 1970, he joined the staff of the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, serving as professor and chair of the radiology department. He retired as professor emeritus in 1993.

Dr. Capp considers his time at Roanoke College to have been "the most effective four years of my academic life" because of the emphasis on a liberal arts education. On his bookshelf is a literature text from his undergraduate days. Currently chair of The Society of 1842 and a member of the Board of Trustees, he has maintained close ties with the College throughout the years. The Dr. M. Paul Capp and Constance Whitehead Endowed Professorship in Physics will be his and his wife's legacy to the school. "The College needs endowed professorships because they benefit the students tremendously," he says.