Sunday, October 19, 2008

NUM's First Endowed Chair

On Friday morning the Asia Foundation held a ceremony to sign the first agreement to create an endowed chair position for a faculty member at the National University of Mongolia. The official name of the chair position is the "Taylor Family-Asia Foundation Endowed Chair in Ecology and Conservation Biology," and the Asia Foundation awarded University of Pennsylvania alumnus Dr. Boldgiv as the first holder of the position. The endowment is valued at approximately $100,000, and Dr. Boldgiv will receive research support throughout the year through interest income generated from the endowment.

This endowed chair is an important development in higher education and research in Mongolia, and I am excited by the Asia Foundation's achievement and the Taylor family's generosity. It sets a precedent that I hope other organizations and donors (the ACMS included) can build upon and expand. Dr. Boldgiv represents a new generation of young scholars who have received PhDs from prestigious universities and have returned to assist in the further development of higher education and scholarship in Mongolia. Privately endowed chairs and fellowships have historically provided outstanding US scholars invaluable opportunities to expand the frontier of knowledge, because private funding opportunities have freed scholars from the vagaries of institutional politics and intrigue that can often inhibit important academic inquiry. Dr. Boldgiv, no less than US scholars, has now been given the same academic freedom with this endowed chair. I hope to see more Mongolian scholars earn this same freedom in the future.

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