UNCP sets goal of an endowed chair in American Indian Studies


To fund a distinguished scholar in the American Indian Studies (AIS) Department who would teach and conduct research on issues critical to the local community is the objective of a new initiative at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

A goal of $250,000 has been set, and matching funds are available to leverage the investment into a $1 million endowment for the distinguished professorship.


Robin Cummings

Robin Cummings

Dr. Robin Cummings, chair of the UNCP Foundation, Inc. and a retired cardiothoracic surgeon from Pinehurst, N.C., is leading the effort.

“I believe this is a great step forward for the University and the community,” Dr. Cummings said. “The time is right to honor and celebrate the legacy of the men and women who built this University more than 100 years ago.

“A distinguished professorship in American Indian Studies speaks to the history of the University and its future,” he said. “With matching money waiting to be tapped, this is a project whose time has come.

“I am very optimistic about this project,” Dr. Cummings concluded.

The American Indian Studies program was founded in 1972 to educate students about the rich diversity of American Indian history and culture, to promote research and scholarship concerning American Indian issues and to prepare students for professional or scholarly careers.

 Mary Ann Jacobs

Mary Ann Jacobs

Dr. Mary Ann Jacobs, who is only the third full-time chair of the department, said an endowed distinguished professorship would strengthen the department’s mission.

“We are hopeful that this position will be filled with a researcher whose work is relevant to the Southeast region,” Dr. Jacobs said. “For instance, there is a need for expertise in tribal governance because of the complex issues of sovereignty and changing federal policy.”

AIS has three full-time faculty members and the new position would be valuable as the department pursues a masters degree program and continued growth, Dr. Jacobs said.

A contingent of community leaders met recently to discuss the merits of the potential professorship and how to seek funding for it. The group agreed that this is a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” in which a gift of $250,000 has the potential to leverage a $1 million endowment in UNCP’s burgeoning AIS Department – and bear the donor’s name. 

Matching funds are available through the C.D. Spangler Foundation and the North Carolina General Assembly’s Distinguished Professor Endowment Trust Fund which allows contributions to the project to multiply in value.

 Arlinda Locklear

Arlinda Locklear

Arlinda Locklear, a member of UNCP’s Board of Trustees, indicated that this professorship would enhance the national reputation of the University and the department, especially as the department expands its focus to include local, regional and ultimately national issues of importance to the Native community. “Our department is the obvious one to fill that gap,” she said.

Dr. Charles Harrington, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, believes a distinguished professor in American Indian Studies would bring distinction to UNCP through research and scholarship and provide benefits to the community.

“Our AIS program has long been recognized for its educational, scholarship and outreach excellence,” Dr. Harrington said. “We believe that establishing an endowed professorship would not only recognize the historic purpose of UNCP, to educate American Indians, but would allow the University and the Department of American Indian Studies the ability to attract a nationally recognized expert that would undertake applied research projects on issues facing our American Indian community and Indian communities nationally.” 

 Allen C. Meadors

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors hailed the mission to establish an endowed professorship.

“Given our high-level of commitment to the history of our University and to our local community, this professorship is a high priority for the University,” Chancellor Meadors said.

An endowed professorship is a perpetual fund established to recruit a world class scholar.

UNCP has six endowed chairs, including the recently established Joseph B. Oxendine Endowed Professorship in Education. Named to honor Chancellor Emeritus Oxendine, the endowment was a gift of the Spangler Foundation, which is directed by UNC President Emeritus C.D. Spangler Jr.

In 2007, Spangler pledged $6.9 million to endow one distinguished professorship on every UNC campus. Spangler then set up two challenge-grant programs to make $26.9 million available for up to 96 distinguished professorships across the 16 UNC campuses. 
Beginning in 2008, the Spangler Foundation agreed to invest up to $20 million over five years to help each campus qualify for one additional endowed chair each year—potentially adding 80 more professorships.
An endowment is a permanent fund, and an endowed professorship would be perpetual.

Alisia Oxendine, director of collegiate development, will guide the project for the Office for Advancement.  “This is an unprecedented opportunity for the University,” Oxendine said. “Establishing this distinguished professorship will commemorate the leadership and legacy of the founders of UNCP.” 

To learn more about the endowed professorship in the American Indian Studies Department, please contact Alisia Oxendine in the Office for Advancement at 910.521.6533 or alisia.oxendine@uncp.edu.