Parker Kennedy and Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa.

$3 Million Surprise Gift Endows Chairs in Math, Philosophy and Physics Part of one of the largest donations in Chapman history will support a unique and innovative new degree that combines three of the foundational pillars of science.

Three Chapman University professors were surprised on Jan. 31 with endowed chairs in the Doctor of Science in Math, Philosophy and Physics (MPP) program. 

The chairs are supported by a $3 million gift from Chapman Board of Trustees Chair Parker S. Kennedy. The donation endowed a chair in each of the MPP disciplines. The funds are part of a $15 million gift from Kennedy — $11 million was given to the Fowler School of Law and $1 million was given to Chapman Athletics. Kennedy’s total gift is one of the largest in Chapman history.

The gift combines with a gift simultaneously announced by Anne and Chris Flowers to fund the Anne and Chris Flowers Family Endowed Doctoral Fellowship, for a total $5.5 million contribution to the MPP program. 

Read more:
$2.5 Million Gift Supports Math, Philosophy and Physics Doctoral Fellowships

Along with each chair, Chapman Trustees sponsored busts that were also unveiled at the conference. The chair recipients and busts include:

  • The Daniele C. Struppa Chair in Mathematics, given to Professor Ahmed Sebbar. The bust is of renowned mathematician Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss, sponsored by Trustee Marilyn Alexander and her husband Lee Friedman.
  • The Kennedy Chair in Philosophy, given to Professor Marco Panza. The bust is of medieval philosopher Ibn Arabi, sponsored by Trustee Zeinab Dabbah and her husband Dan Temianka.
  • The Kennedy Chair in Physics, given to Professor Andrew Jordan. The bust is of Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger, sponsored by Trustee Jim Roszak and his wife Carole.

“It’s such an amazing surprise — I don’t know what to say,” a delighted and moved Struppa told Kennedy after it was announced that the mathematics chair would bear the university president’s name. “Your affection, your kindness, is really overwhelming.”

Chapman busts
(From left to right) Marco Panza, Andrew Jordan and Ahmed Sebbar stand next to unveiled busts.

Struppa said Sebbar, whom he has known since 1982, is “somebody from whom I learn every single day.”

“So the fact that he’s holding a chair that has my name is super special,” Struppa said. 

The MPP program, which confers a Ph.D.-equivalent degree, emphasizes the connection between mathematics, philosophy and the physical sciences. While some universities pair two of these subjects in a single degree, Chapman’s program may be one of the few of its kind. 

The degree offers a number of unique benefits, including a smaller course load that enables students to focus on their dissertations. The program also equips students with an interdisciplinary perspective that is invaluable when confronting important philosophical concepts. 

Kennedy’s gift bolsters Chapman’s strategic plan goal to raise $500 million through its Inspire campaign. A total of $370 million has been raised.

“Thanks to everybody for kicking off this wonderful program … it really is a wonderful thing and I’m excited about it,” Kennedy said.

Joy Juedes

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