Campus & Community

Michael Sandel named first Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor :

4 min read

Basses want to make a difference at Harvard

Anne T. and Robert M. Bass, leading philanthropists of American secondary and higher education, recently gave Harvard $7 million to endow two professorships in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). Government scholar Michael J. Sandel will serve as the first Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor. The second professorship will be named in the near future.

President Lawrence H. Summers and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences William C. Kirby have stressed their commitment to improving undergraduate education by increasing the number of faculty and lowering the student-to-faculty ratio. Calling the coming years “crucial” ones for the FAS, Summers wants Harvard to add more professors to the faculty in the next decade than in any other decade in the University’s history.

“The University is fortunate to have such devoted friends as Anne and Bob Bass,” said Summers. “Their latest gift clearly demonstrates their commitment to supporting our highest priorities. In today’s technology-driven age, direct personal contact between student and teacher, between learner and mentor, has never been more important. All of us who care about undergraduate education at Harvard should join in thanking the Basses for their generosity.”

Kirby commented, “With their magnificent new gift, Anne and Bob Bass have brought us closer to fulfilling our critical goal of expanding the faculty and improving the undergraduate experience. We are so happy to have them be part of our efforts to strengthen the Harvard education. I am delighted by the focus and impact of their gift.”

“I am honored to be named the first Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor,” said Sandel. “Named professorships are a vital, tangible link between the University’s most devoted supporters and the faculty’s research and teaching.”

The Basses, who reside in Fort Worth, Texas, are the parents of Chandler Bass ’00. They recently joined the University’s Committee on University Resources Executive Committee, have previously served as national co-chairs of the Harvard College Parents Fund, and were members of the Harvard College Fund Council. Mr. Bass is president of the Fort Worth investment firm, Keystone Inc., and founding partner in Oak Hill Capital Management, Oak Hill Securities Funds, and other Oak Hill platforms.

Committed philanthropists, the Basses support a wide range of initiatives, including education, health care, environmental issues, historical preservation, and fine arts.

Mr. Bass is a trustee and past chair of the board of trustees of Stanford University, a trustee of Rockefeller University, and chairman emeritus of the National Trust for Historical Preservation. Mrs. Bass is a former trustee of Smith College. Mr. and Mrs. Bass serve on the board of trustees at Middlesex and Groton schools.

In making their gift, Mr. Bass said, “We were very much guided by the priorities of the University and particularly the emphasis on undergraduate education. We appreciate the value of a named chair as recognition of an individual faculty member’s achievements.”

Mrs. Bass added, “We are very pleased with the education that our daughter received at Harvard. We had the opportunity to attend several classes with her – including one of Professor Sandel’s – and to experience firsthand the marvelous talents of the Harvard faculty. We are delighted to participate in an initiative to endow professorships that will benefit undergraduates by providing greater access to faculty. We are especially thrilled that Michael Sandel was chosen as the first Bass Professor.”

Sandel has taught political philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences since 1980. More than 10,000 Harvard undergraduates have taken his renowned Core course, “Justice,” making it one of the most popular courses in the history of Harvard College. He is the author of “Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy and Liberalism and the Limits of Justice,” a classic work in contemporary political philosophy that has been translated into seven languages.