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A Sterling professorship is the highest academic rank at Yale University, awarded to a tenured faculty member considered one of the best in his or her field. Traditionally, there are only 27 at any one time, but there are currently 44.
The professorships are named for and funded by an approximately $10 million endowment left by John William Sterling of the Yale Class of 1864, name partner in the New York law firm Shearman & Sterling.
The first Sterling professor was the chemist John Johnson, who was awarded the rank in 1920.
Other past recipients include Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (law), Wilbur Lucius Cross (English), Jaroslav Pelikan (history), Nobel Prize winner James Tobin (economics), C. Vann Woodward (History), Alvan Feinstein (medicine and epidemiology), and John Farquhar Fulton (physiology).
Among the most famous current Sterling professors are Nobel Prize-winning biochemists Sidney Altman and Thomas Steitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, legal scholar Bruce Ackerman, literary critic Harold Bloom, economist William Nordhaus, Judge Guido Calabresi, political scientist James C. Scott, political scientist Ian Shapiro, historian of China Jonathan Spence, medieval scholars R. Howard Bloch, Giuseppe Mazzotta, and María Rosa Menocal, historian of ancient Greece and presidential advisor Donald Kagan, and Head Start founder Edward Zigler. Current Sterling professors emeriti include political scientists Charles E. Lindblom, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Brion Davis, historian and former Yale President Howard Lamar and architectural historian Vincent Scully.
Yale recently awarded Sterling professorships to Harold W. Attridge, María Rosa Menocal, John C. Tully, Thomas D. Pollard, Dieter Söll, Akhil Amar, David Bromwich, David Louis Quint, Mary Miller, Joseph Roach, William L. Jorgensen and Harold Hongju Koh.
Current Sterling professors
There are 44 Sterling professors (non-emeritus) actively teaching at Yale. Some emeritus Sterling professors continue teaching after they retire.
- Bruce Ackerman, law and political science
- Rolena Adorno, Spanish
- Sidney Altman, molecular cellular and developmental biology and chemistry
- Harold W. Attridge, divinity
- Akhil Amar, law and political science
- R. Howard Bloch, French
- Harold Bloom, humanities and English
- David Bromwich, English
- Peter Brooks, comparative literature and French
- Guido Calabresi, Law (emeritus)
- Mirjan Damaška, Law (emeritus)
- Owen Fiss, Law
- Richard Flavell, Immunobiology
- Gerhard Giebisch, Physiology (emeritus)
- Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria, Hispanic and Comparative Literature
- Geoffrey Hartman, English
- John Hollander, English (emeritus)
- William L. Jorgensen, Chemistry
- Donald Kagan, Classics and History
- Harold Hongju Koh, Law
- Anthony Kronman, Law
- John Langbein, Law and Legal History
- Richard P. Lifton, Genetics
- Juan Linz, Political and Social Science (emeritus)
- Jerry Mashaw, Law
- David R. Mayhew, Political Science
- Giuseppe Mazzotta, Italian Language and Literature
- María Rosa Menocal, Humanities
- Mary Miller, History of Art
- Peter Moore, Chemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (emeritus)
- William Nordhaus, Economics
- Annabel Patterson, English (emeritus)
- Peter C. B. Phillips, Economics
- Thomas D. Pollard, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
- David Louis Quint, Comparative Literature
- Joseph Roach, Theater
- Roberta Romano, Corporate Law
- Frank Ruddle, Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology (emeritus)
- Herbert Scarf, Economics
- Alan Schwartz, Law
- Robert J. Schoelkopf, Applied Physics and Physics
- James C. Scott, Political Science
- Vincent Scully, History of Art (emeritus)
- Ian Shapiro, Political Science
- Robert Shiller, Economics
- Carolyn Slayman, Genetics
- Dieter Söll, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
- Jonathan Spence, History
- Joan A. Steitz, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
- Thomas Steitz, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Chemistry
- John C. Tully, Chemistry
- Karl Turekian, Geology and Geophysics
- Sherman Weissman, Genetics and Medicine
- Edward Zigler, Child Study Center (emeritus)
- "The Sterling professors of Yale: evolution of a species", Yale Daily News, January 21, 2011.