You are here: American University President Announcements June 2, 2021

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

Every day, American University faculty explore difficult scientific, historical, cultural, artistic, and social challenges and produce actionable knowledge that improves lives and communities. Launched on May 12, Change Can’t Wait: The Campaign for American University supports these dedicated scholar-teachers and our strategic focus on impactful research. Today, I am excited to announce a milestone gift in the Change Can’t Wait campaign that will accelerate our leading-edge scientific work and support our outstanding faculty.

Board of Trustees member Congressman David Trone and his wife, June, through the David and June Trone Family Foundation, have made a $5 million gift to establish the Trone Family Eminent Scholar Chair in Neuroscience and Behavior. This campaign gift creates the first Eminent Scholar Chair in AU’s history, inaugurating the highest title for a chairholder at the university.

The Trone family’s support recognizes the path-breaking work of Distinguished Professor Terry Davidson and the Center for Neuroscience and Behavior and furthers AU’s growing reputation for significant scientific discoveries. David and June are dedicated advocates for mental health, particularly around the issue of addiction. This gift to establish the Trone Family Eminent Scholar Chair reflects their ongoing commitment to enhancing addiction research, treatment, and recovery.

Professor Davidson and a collaborative team of faculty are expanding our understanding of addiction and other cognitive disorders. Their cross-disciplinary studies of the influence of diet on an individual’s susceptibility to addiction and issues of cognitive control present an unparalleled opportunity to address a root cause of drug abuse and other cognitive disorders and pave the way for more effective preventative treatments and policy developments. This work illustrates AU’s approach to research that not only answers fundamental questions, but also helps to shape our changing world.

Representing Maryland’s 6th District in the US House of Representatives, David has championed policy solutions, expanded education, and increased funding to address these crises. He is currently the co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force in Congress and was appointed by US House Speaker Pelosi to the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking, where he was elected as co-chair. Tackling the addiction and mental health epidemics remains David’s top priority in Congress.

In making this gift, David shared, “The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the health threat of cognitive disorders such as addiction and the lack of effective, accessible treatments. June and I believe the research at AU’s Center for Neuroscience and Behavior has the potential to drive transformational change in the way we address issues of addiction and mental health.”

David and June’s daughter, Natalie, is a former AU student, and David has served on the AU Board of Trustees since 2016. David and I have personally worked together to address issues of mental health. I could not be more grateful for his partnership and service.

In the coming academic year, AU will formally install Professor Davidson in this distinguished named chair, recognizing his internationally respected career and groundbreaking research. Professor Davidson has set an extraordinary example through his tireless dedication to exploring the science of the brain, to disseminating science for the benefit of public health, and to facilitating a collaborative approach to science at AU.

In addition to this honor, Professor Davidson leads AU’s new Department of Neuroscience, which houses an undergraduate program in neuroscience and supports the work of doctoral students in the multi-disciplinary Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience program. Professor Davidson and the team will continue their critical work from AU’s Hall of Science, a 125,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility dedicated to scientific research and teaching.

Acting Provost Peter Starr said, “Endowed faculty chairs are critical to retaining and recruiting the best educators, researchers, and thinkers to AU. Visionary support like that of David and June Trone amplifies our ability to find solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges and to empower scholar-teachers who help shape the next generation of changemakers.”

Faculty chairs and support for AU’s groundbreaking research are important campaign priorities. I invite members of our community to learn more about this gift on the Change Can’t Wait microsite

I hope you will all join me in thanking David and June and congratulating Terry for contributing to our momentum. This is another important step forward for AU as we all work together to accept and confront the challenges of the day.

Be safe and be well.