Speaking of Chairs:

Here's a short story by Julius Getman that I still remember fondly -- pretty insightful, I think, about how the academy works.

The Price of a Chair


In accordance with [Dean] Engle's instructions, the prospect of increasing Nunzio's contribution to the school did not come up during the awards ceremony, the cocktail party that preceded it, or the dinner that followed. But we heard from one of his partners that Nunzio had said, "Engle is bound to put the arm on me soon. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, and one thing I learned was that you guys never leave anyone with money alone. It doesn't matter though, 'cause he's in for a surprise when he tries me." ...

Nunzio's face broke into a smile. "... I want you to know that I've been thinking about making a major gift to the law school. Dean Engle, how much would it cost to endow one of your fancy new professorships?"

The dean smiled broadly and for a brief moment laughed the delighted laugh of someone whose fantasy is about to be realized, but he quickly regained his composure, and when he answered, his expression was serious, almost grave. "The new ones start at about one million. Of course if you add a full-time secretary, travel, and research funds you're probably talking about something closer to two million. I know that sounds like a lot, but you have to realize ..."

Nunzio broke in before Engle could finish. "I would expect to add money to acquire books, papers, and translators, and also probably an addition to the library to house the new materials, so I suppose were now talking about three or four million dollars."

My immediate reaction was that this was too good to be true. I noticed that Engle's face showed more suspicion than delight. "Tell me more precisely what kind of professorship you have in mind, and what kinds of controls over the money do you expect to have?"

Nunzio looked at us as though amazed by the question. His face was as innocent as a first-year law students. "It would be a professorship in comparative government, and I wouldn't expect to control any aspect of the expenditure after the person is selected. The only requirement is that the chair be named for and involve study in the ideas of Benito Mussolini, whom I consider one of the most misunderstood thinkers of our time." ...

For the rest of the story, see here. Just to make it perfectly clear, I do not think that a Mussolini Chair and a Chair in Sexual Orientation Law are substantively analogous -- they're just both chairs, and thinking of the latter made me think about the former (since there are so few good stories about academic chairs out there).