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06/16/92

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Bass gift used to endow five professorships

STANFORD -- Stanford University has established five new endowed professorships in the School of Humanities and Sciences, all funded by a gift from trustee Robert M. Bass and his wife, Anne T. Bass, of Fort Worth, Texas.

The professorships, approved by the board of trustees Thursday, June 11, are a designation of a gift commitment by the Basses to the Stanford Centennial Campaign almost exactly one year earlier.

"Anne and I are delighted with this designation for our gift, and with the remarkable scholars who have been named Bass Professors," Robert Bass said. "Undergraduate programs are at the core of Stanford's greatness. The School of Humanities and Sciences is at the core of the undergraduate programs. We can think of no more worthy use of our support than this."

The first holders of the five chairs, Dean of Humanities and Sciences Ewart Thomas told the board, "are broadly representative of the rich intellectual diversity of Stanford."

"John Flavell is a seminal figure in the field of developmental psychology," Thomas said. "Paul Kiparsky founded the field of historical linguistics; Bob Laughlin is a world authority in high-temperature superconductivity; Rick Schoen is the leading mathematician of his generation in the areas of differential geometry, nonlinear partial differential equations and the calculus of variations; and Susan Treggiari of our classics department is arguably the most distinguished social historian of ancient Rome working in an American university today."

Robert Bass - a 1974 Stanford MBA and founder of the Robert M. Bass Group, a diversified investment concern - chairs the board of trustees' Committee on Land and Buildings and has taken a leading role in devising a long-range strategic plan for the campus. He also serves on the advisory committee of the Graduate School of Business.

Anne Bass, a 1970 graduate of Smith College, is active in a number of conservation, cultural and educational organizations.

The Basses have given substantial support to Stanford's Graduate School of Business, the Stanford in Washington program, and construction of undergraduate student residences.

Flavell came to national prominence in 1963 with publication of his book on the work of Jean Piaget, which introduced the structuralist view of development to American scholars. A colleague recently wrote, "It would be hard to overestimate the influence that Prof. Flavell's work has had on the field of cognitive development. His career can be characterized by a remarkable yet consistent pattern: Whatever issue [he] turns his attention to spreads like wildfire throughout the field."

Kiparsky is a major Sanskrit scholar and has made discoveries about the structure of Panini's grammar that have met with considerable astonishment and widespread acceptance. Of his essay "The Role of Linguistics in a Theory of Poetry," one colleague said, "Nothing else written, before or since, touches it; it is simply a standard, and I expect that it will remain so for many years."

Laughlin is recognized as one of the top theorists in the condensed matter theory field. More recently, he has been working on an original description of high-temperature superconductors. As noted in an article about his research, "Producing a theory that explains high-temperature superconductivity is of monumental importance." Expressing the sentiments of many of his colleagues, one physicist commented, "I am certain he will make a lasting impact on this and related fields."

"Schoen's name has become commonplace among geometers for his landmark contributions," a colleague said. In a range of courses including calculus, ordinary differential equations, linear algebra, differential geometry and graduate seminars, Schoen gets consistently high ratings for preparation, organization, clarity and helpfulness.

Treggiari's major field of interest is the position of freedmen, slaves and women in the society of ancient Rome. Her first book, Roman Freedmen During the Late Republic, has been the foundation for much subsequent research on Roman society. Her most recent book, Roman Marriage, earned widespread praise from critics. "In an area where uninformed dogmatism is regrettably prevalent, her combination of common sense and social-historical finesse is particularly valuable," wrote a colleague.

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