Endowed Faculty Positions

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Endowed Faculty Positions

Elevating Our Reputation, Enhancing the Community

Jacob Ari Labendz
Jacob Ari Labendz

You only need to take a look at Jacob Ari Labendz’s Facebook profile photo to learn a little about his passion in life.

The photo depicts the Brazilian visa of Leo Labendz, Jacob’s late great-grandfather, who, as the head of a Jewish family in Germany in 1939, moved to South America to escape Nazi persecution.

“It’s one of many great reminders of my heritage and the many difficult struggles that people faced along the way,” he said.

Stories of heritage and struggle and perseverance are, in many ways, at the center of Labendz’s new faculty position at YSU. Labendz is the third Clayman Professor of Judaic and Holocaust Studies and director of the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies at YSU.

“The Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies contributes to making YSU a unique place,” said Labendz, a skilled and prolific writer, lecturer and researcher whose career has taken him from Prague and Berlin to Berkeley and State College, Pa. “It’s an honor to take the lead, especially now, when all of Youngstown seems committed to renaissance.”

Increasing the number of endowed faculty positions like the Clayman professorship is among the priorities in the university’s new $100 million fundraising campaign, “We See Tomorrow.”

“Endowed faculty positions allow us to bring in nationally and internationally recognized leaders in their fields,” Provost Martin Abraham said. “They elevate the stature of our programs, benefit our students and faculty, and help strengthen our reputation.”

Endowed chairs or professorships are faculty positions that combine a traditional faculty post with enhancements funded from the interest on the principal of the gift to the university. Being named an endowed chair is a prestigious award, and in many cases is a lifetime appointment.

In addition to the Clayman position, YSU has three endowed faculty chair positions - the Andrews Chair in Accounting, the Lariccia Family Chair in Finance and the Friedman Chair in Engineering.

In a feasibility study prior to the fundraising campaign, the YSU Foundation found that donors ranked endowed chairs and professorships as the second highest priority for funding.

Labendz said such positions are attractive because they provide scholars the time and resources to perform research
and community outreach that they otherwise might not be able to do.

“Also, in times such as these, we need the academy to be a resource for our community in confronting pressing social issues like racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other inequalities and bigotries,” he added. “The Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies has an important role to play in these discussions.”