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BC’s First Sesqui Challenge Professor Named

New chairs will support junior faculty research and development

David Miele (Photo by J.D. Levine)

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: Feb. 25, 2014

Lynch School of Education Assistant Professor David Miele has been named to the first Sesquicentennial Challenge chair, an endowed assistant professorship created as part of a new initiative to support junior faculty research and early-career development.

Miele, of the Department of Counseling, Developmental and Educational Psychology, has been named the Buehler Sesquicentennial Assistant Professor. His is the first of up to 10 endowed chairs the University plans to establish for assistant professors, according to University Advancement and the Office of the Provost.

Senior Vice President for University Advancement James J. Husson said a BC alumnus, who wishes to remain anonymous, sparked the creation of the Sesquicentennial Challenge Gift initiative by offering to match $500,000 for every $1 million put forward by other benefactors to create the $1.5 million endowments required to fund each assistant professorship.

In addition to Miele’s chair, gifts have been designated to name two assistant professors in the Carroll School of Management and one at Boston College Law School to Sesquicentennial chairs.

Miele’s professorship was made possible by a gift from University Trustee John E. Buehler Jr. ’69 and family, long-time benefactors of the University.

The initiative, Husson said, targets “support for the University’s academic enterprise,” a top priority of the Light the World campaign.

“Aimed squarely at attracting and retaining the very best faculty at the Heights, this challenge — and the Buehler family’s response by establishing an endowed assistant professorship in the Lynch School — will ensure that Boston College’s reputation for teaching and research excellence continues to grow,” Husson said.

Endowing junior faculty positions is a new approach for BC, which has traditionally awarded endowed professorships to tenured faculty. The awards provide additional funds to support research and teaching.

Vice Provost for Faculties Patricia DeLeeuw said the Sesquicentennial Challenge assistant professorships will prove crucial in hiring, retaining and developing early-career faculty.

“Establishing chairs for assistant professors helps to attract outstanding candidates for faculty positions,” said DeLeeuw. “The resources they provide help support those faculty members once they are here. This is a tremendous initiative because it enables us to attract the very best faculty who are going to be the stars of tomorrow.”

Miele, an educational psychologist who joined BC last fall after teaching for two years at the University of Maryland, said he was grateful for the recognition and support.

“I’m extremely honored and grateful to the Lynch School, the University and the Buehler family for their support of my work through the Sesquicentennial Challenge initiative,” said Miele. “I see this program as a significant commitment to the development of BC’s junior faculty and feel very fortunate to have been selected.”

Miele, who conducts research on the cognitive and motivational processes that support learning in children and young adults, said the funds from the chair will allow him to start new projects and expand his research focus.

“Like my colleagues, I pursue research funding from a variety of sources,” said Miele. “But we all know that this is an incredibly competitive environment for external funding, which makes the University’s support all that much more important.”

Lynch School of Education Dean Maureen Kenny said she’s proud to see one of the school’s faculty recognized with a Sesquicentennial Professorship. The award will play an important role in supporting what she described as Miele’s “ambitious” research agenda.

“Awards, such as the Buehler Sesquicentennial Professorship, research support to establish and advance their work,” Kenny said. “Professors like Dr. Miele, who are strong scholars, teachers, and student mentors, add to the academic reputation and vibrancy of our school.”