A Lasting Legacy

President Emeritus Bill Neaves establishes The Priscilla Wood Neaves Endowed Chair in the Biomedical Sciences

More than sixty years ago, as first and second graders in their small west Texas town of Spur, Bill Neaves and Priscilla Wood began building their life together. During grade school, they often scoured the shelves at the local library for books to feed their curiosities. At thirteen, when Bill reached legal driving age, he and Priscilla shared a first date at the bookmobile’s monthly visit.

Bill Neaves, PhD (standing), Peter Baumann, PhD, Inaugural Holder of the Priscilla Wood Neaves Endowed Chair in the Biomedical Sciences

From the beginning, the couple developed a passion for scholarly pursuits. Each earned baccalaureate and advanced degrees at research-intensive academic institutions: Bill in biology and anatomy and Priscilla in sociology and theology.

Immersed in academics, they experienced firsthand the importance and value of endowed chairs. In the 1990s, Bill held the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and Priscilla led a fundraising campaign to establish the William Joseph Ambrose Power Chair at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

As an expression of their shared appreciation for the scholarly endeavors assisted by a named endowment, Bill established the Priscilla Wood Neaves Endowed Chair in the Biomedical Sciences at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in honor of his wife, who has battled a degenerative brain disease for nearly ten years. “I hope this gift will perpetuate Priscilla’s memory in the context of scholarship and research that can benefit humankind,” says Neaves.

Fellow researcher and colleague Peter Baumann was appointed the inaugural holder of the Priscilla Wood Neaves Endowed Chair in the Biomedical Sciences. For Bill Neaves, Baumann’s appointment holds special significance because Priscilla felt great respect and affection for Peter. “I know Peter will ask and answer questions of fundamental biological importance in the coming years as he has done in the past,” says Neaves. “It is a great privilege to see Peter’s work associated with Priscilla’s name.”