Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for University advancement, said the state allocates $8 million every year to match endowed professorships, but the money only goes so far.
Currently, because the state cannot fund them all, there are 90 UNC endowed professorships in a line waiting to be funded.
Professorships awaiting state matching funds have accumulated over the past several years as the $8 million limit has been reached consistently each year, Kupec said.
Paul Fulton, chairman of the UNC-system Board of Governors’ budget and finance committee, said although there is not a lack of private donors, new endowments haven’t been created due to inadequate state funds.
“We won’t make a lot of progress in the back-up of (professorships) waiting to be funded,” he said.
Margaret Bentley, a Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at UNC, said she used part of her fund to pay for an expensive data analysis of nutrition in Honduras that will benefit one of her doctoral students.
“The majority of the award is for distinguished professors to support their students, their research and do some things that they wouldn’t normally have been able to do,” Bentley said.
Bentley said the distinguished professorship program is also important for faculty recruitment. “If we didn’t have any (distinguished professorships), we would have a hard time attracting the very best faculty from around the world,” she said.
“The state of North Carolina agrees that they’re important. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do the matching funds that they do.”
The University has struggled with faculty retention despite the state’s efforts to provide a retention fund and the funding of endowed professorships.
UNC lost 35 professors in 2011-12 due to competing offers from private universities.
Since the endowed professorship program began, the University has received more than $52 million in matching state funds for 191 professorships, Ragland wrote.
Although the state matching funds are available to all 17 UNC-system schools, the vast majority of donations are to create endowed professorships at UNC-CH, Fulton said.
“They’re a large part of what sets Chapel Hill apart from other state institutions and a major part of being a top-ranked school,” he said.