New professorship honors chancellor

A new endowed distinguished professorship at Western Carolina University has been named for Chancellor John W. Bardo in recognition of his contributions to the field of educational leadership.

Announcement of the Chancellor John Bardo and Deborah Bardo Distinguished Professorship in Educational Leadership came today (Wednesday, Dec. 2) as part of the quarterly meeting of the WCU board of trustees.

Steve Warren (right), chair of the Western Carolina University board of trustees, presents John Bardo with a framed and matted copy of a letter announcing the establishment of a new distinguished professorship in honor of the WCU chancellor.

Steve Warren (right), chair of the WCU board of trustees, presents Chancellor John Bardo with a letter announcing the establishment of a professorship in Bardo’s honor.

The $500,000 professorship was made possible by a five-year challenge-grant program established by the C.D. Spangler Foundation to increase the number of distinguished professorships in high-need academic fields. Through the challenge grants, Spangler, president emeritus of the UNC system, and his family foundation have made gifts to help each UNC campus qualify for five additional endowed professorships through a program initiated by the General Assembly to encourage private support of public institutions of higher education.

As a focused-growth institution, WCU is eligible for an additional $500,000 professorship from the Spangler Foundation, with no additional funding required from other sources. In such instances, the foundation reserves the right to name the newly created professorship. As director of the foundation, Spangler has chosen to honor Bardo and his wife, Deborah.

“Under Chancellor Bardo’s leadership, WCU has been remarkably successful in raising funds to qualify for these endowed professorships. Thus far, Western Carolina has created 20 distinguished professorships through the program,” Erskine Bowles, UNC president, said in a letter announcing the Bardo professorship.

Steve Warren, chair of WCU’s board of trustees, presented Bardo with a framed and matted copy of Bowles’ letter.

“The genesis of Chancellor and Mrs. Bardo’s leadership in the field of education recognizes the critical importance that education has in the life of an individual,” Warren said. “As Horace Mann once put it, ‘Beyond all other devices of human origin, education is the great equalizer of the conditions of men – the balance-wheel of the social machinery.’ Every act of John and Deborah, every breath they have taken on this campus, has been devoted to ensuring access to a first class education to students who enroll here.”

Warren said it is fitting that the newest distinguished professorship at Western Carolina be named in honor of Bardo, who made it an institutional priority to seek the private and public support needed to establish endowed professorships and attract nationally recognized experts to join the WCU faculty. Prior to Bardo’s arrival in 1995, the university had no endowed professorships.

An emotional Bardo told the board that he considers the gesture by Spangler recognition of the contributions of WCU faculty and staff. “There are hundreds of people on this campus who have made this the great place that it is,” Bardo said. “The beauty of being chancellor is I have a bully pulpit, and I get to talk about what our faculty and staff do to make this a great university.”