New Endowed Professors Named At Commencement

May 4, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Four Illinois Wesleyan University faculty members were invested as endowed professors or chairs at Commencement. Endowed positions honor faculty members who have distinguished themselves at the highest levels in teaching and student engagement, scholarship and/or artistic achievement and service.

The honorees include: Biology Associate Professor David Bollivar, to the Miner Linnaeus Sherff Endowed Professorship of Botany; School of Nursing Director Victoria Folse, to the Caroline F. Rupert Endowed Chair of Nursing; Business Administration Associate Professor Robert A. Kearney, to the Edward R. Telling ’46 Endowed Professorship of Business Administration; and Physics Professor Gabriel C. Spalding to the new B. Charles and Joyce Eichhorn Ames Professorship.

Dave Bollivar

David Bollivar, Miner Linnaeus Sherff Endowed Professorship of Botany

Bollivar’s research involves studying the mechanisms by which organisms make pigments used for photosynthesis. This research has enabled him to establish collaborations with prominent researchers in the U.S. and abroad, including summers researching chlorophyll biosynthesis in Denmark. He has received funding from the National Science Foundation, and his research has been published in the journals Molecular Microbiology, Analytical Biochemistry, Structure, Photosynthesis Research and Biochemistry.

A member of the faculty at Illinois Wesleyan since 1996, Bollivar was instrumental in developing and implementing the HHMI-PHAGES labs. Funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a not-for-profit medical research organization, the labs allow first-year students to fully immerse themselves in scientific exploration. Bollivar has also served as chair of the Department of Biology since 2007. Under his leadership, revisions to the introductory General Biology 101 and 102 courses were implemented.

Bollivar has served on numerous University committees, including chairing the Council for University Programs and Policies (CUPP), the Assessment Committee Task Force, the Promotion and Tenure Committee, and the Institutional Review Board. He has also served as faculty visitor to the Board of Trustees.           

A native of McLean County, Bollivar is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan. He earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University and spent several years as a postdoctoral research fellow at Brown University. The Miner Linnaeus Sherff Endowed Professorship of Botany was established in 1977. It was previously held by the late Jonathan Dey, who was awarded the professorship in 1990 and passed away in 2012.

Victoria Folse

Victoria Folse, Caroline F. Rupert Endowed Chair of Nursing

Folse joined the faculty at Illinois Wesleyan in 2002 and has served as director of the School of Nursing since 2009. In addition to teaching Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing theory and clinical, she has taught courses ranging from the first-year Gateway Colloquium entitled “Madness: The Portrayal of Mental Illness in Literature and in Media” to senior-level capstone courses of Seminar in Professional Nursing and Nursing Leadership and Management.

Her research focuses on suicide screening, eating disorders and nursing pedagogy, and has been published in professional journals including Journal of Clinical Nursing, Perspectives in Psychiatric Care and Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. Folse consistently engages students in her research activities. She has also contributed academic chapters to several leading nursing textbooks.

In addition to her leadership of the School of Nursing, Folse was appointed First-Year Advising Coordinator and has served on the University’s Strategic Planning and Budgeting Committee, CUPP, the Promotion and Tenure Committee and the Academic Appeals Committee.

A graduate of Illinois Wesleyan, Folse earned a Master of Science in Psychiatric Nursing from the University of Illinois in Chicago. She holds a Ph.D. from St. Louis University’s School of Nursing. She maintains licensure as an Advanced Practice Nurse with prescriptive authority.

The Caroline F. Rupert Chair of Nursing was established in 1961. It was previously held by Donna Hartweg, Jerry Durham, Alma Woolley and Mary Shanks.

Robert Kearney

Robert A. Kearney, Edward R. Telling ’46 Endowed Professorship of Business Administration

A recipient of the Student Senate Professor of the Year Award, Kearney also received an excellence in teaching award during his appointment at the University of Illinois at Chicago. At Illinois Wesleyan Kearney created and now teaches a Trial Litigation course that is unique to college campuses.

Kearney earned a juris doctorate from the law school at the University of Notre Dame, where he served as Executive Editor of the Law Review. He has received four national awards for his scholarship in employment law and intellectual property, and his research has been cited in briefs to the Supreme Court of the United States and the California Supreme Court.

On campus Kearney has served as chair of the Department of Business Administration, chair of CUPP, vice chair of the Faculty Development Committee and faculty visitor to the Board of Trustees.

Kearney received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, and earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He joined the faculty at Illinois Wesleyan in 2002 after an appointment as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan. He had previously worked in private legal practice in Chicago and clerked for the Honorable Daniel A. Manion, Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The Edward R. Telling Professorship of Business was established in 1987. The former chairman and chief executive officer of Sears, Roebuck & Co., Telling graduated from Illinois Wesleyan in 1946. The Telling Professorship was previously held by Cyril C. Ling.

Gabriel C. Spalding

Gabriel C. Spalding, B. Charles and Joyce Eichhorn Ames Professorship

As a professor of physics, Spalding has led a national conversation regarding laboratory courses for undergraduate students. This engagement has resulted in the American Physical Society (APS) awarding him the inaugural Jonathan Reichert and Barbara Wolff-Reichert Award for Excellence in Advanced Laboratory Instruction. The same organization elected him to Fellowship in the Society, an honor limited to no more than one-half of one percent of the APS membership.

Spalding’s extensive scholarship in the area of optical tweezing and beam sculpting led to his recognition as a Fellow by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. His scholarship has resulted in more than 70 peer-reviewed papers over the past 25 years.

For more than 10 years, Spalding has taken Illinois Wesleyan students to the University of St. Andrews and Dundee in Scotland where they take part in beam sculpting research projects, most recently developing non-invasive methods of targeting and destroying tumors. This is one example of his engagement of students in research activities, including participation in the John Wesley Powell Research Conference, colloquia and seminars.

Spalding earned a doctorate from Harvard University, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis. He joined the Illinois Wesleyan faculty in 1996.

The new Ames Endowed Professorship is the first of 10 matching professorships that Chuck ’50 and Jay Ames ’49 are funding as part of their $25 million lead gift to the Transforming Lives Campaign. As part of the Ames gift and those of other donors, 20 new endowed positions will be established, bringing the total number at the University to more than 30.

Endowed professorships and chairs are the University’s highest honor bestowed upon faculty members.  Each endowment provides a stipend to the faculty member being honored, an expense budget that can be used for that person’s teaching and research activities, and funding for the recipient’s department for similar initiatives.   

Contact: Kim Hill, (309) 556-3960,