Estate Gift to Establish First Endowed Professorship at Truman
"I knew that establishing an endowed professorship was the right thing to do, but after learning that it is the first endowed professorship at Truman, I know now that it was exactly what I should do," says Greg Gerhardt, Ph.D., a 1979 Truman graduate who has committed $1 million through his estate to create the Greg A. and Paulette C. Danielle-Gerhardt Endowed Professorship.
As one of the nation's foremost researchers on Parkinson's disease, Greg attributes much of his success to his educational experience at Truman. "Although I believe that I received good science and math training in high school," Greg says, "Truman propelled me to a higher level and gave me a competitive edge." He credits Truman's faculty, especially Dr. Kenneth Fountain, for encouraging him to pursue a career in chemistry and research. "At Truman, I did not have professors, I had mentors," Greg says.
In addition to honoring his faculty mentors, Greg established the endowed professorship to commemorate his late wife, Paulette. She thought very highly of Truman State University and the personal education Greg received. "I have allegiance to several universities, and we felt compassion to support them all," Greg says, "but Truman is the school where we felt we could make the most impact." The Greg A. and Paulette C. Danielle-Gerhardt Endowed Professorship will support a professor in chemistry or biology with a preference given to those teaching or researching neuroscience. Paulette knew how much Greg enjoyed his career and understood the academic freedom that an endowed professorship allows." She liked the idea that we would be supporting educators and researchers in perpetuity," Greg says.
As a faculty member at the University of Kentucky, Greg understands the importance of attracting and recruiting superior faculty. "Truman trains and nurtures great faculty, and then bigger schools can potentially recruit them away," Greg says. "To keep these faculty, you have to either give them something that they would not get at the bigger schools, or you have to give them something that they would get at a bigger school." Greg hopes that his and Paulette's endowed professorship will help Truman compete for renowned faculty.
Greg is a professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Kentucky. He is also the director of UK's Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center, one of 13 such facilities in the country. For the past 25 years, Greg has focused his research on Parkinson's disease. In his free time, Greg enjoys scuba diving and downhill skiing, activities that he and his late wife enjoyed together. He looks forward to diving with great white sharks in South Africa in the near future.