The Gillian T. Cell Professorship for Excellence in Undergraduate Education was renamed in 1991 by the Arts and Sciences Foundation Board of Directors to honor Gillian Townsend Cell, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Originally called the Arts and Sciences Foundation Term Professorship, it was established from unrestricted funds to the Arts and Sciences Foundation.

A native of England, Cell received a B.A. in history in 1959 and a Ph.D. in history in 1964 from the University of Liverpool. She joined the UNC faculty as an instructor in history in 1965, was promoted to assistant professor the following year, to associate professor in 1970 and to professor in 1978. Her specialties are English history, Tudor-Stuart England, British Empire/Commonwealth and the expansion of Europe and Western civilization.

Her teaching career was accompanied by a continuing increase in administrative responsibilities. She served as associate dean of the Graduate School in 1976 and again from 1978 until 1981. She later served as the University’s affirmative action officer and as chair of the Department of History for two years. In 1985, she was simultaneously named dean of the General College of Arts and Sciences and president of the Arts and Sciences Foundation, positions that she held until she resigned in 1991 to become provost of Pennsylvania’s Lafayette College and later provost of The College of William & Mary.

As dean, Cell led a successful campaign to build the university’s Honors Program into one of the strongest in the country. She also was instrumental in the formation of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, designed to support teaching and research and faculty collegiality across all disciplines. Cell supported the Center for Teaching and Learning, which provides faculty members, teaching assistants and students with the most innovative resources for improving teaching and learning skills. She also helped establish and co-chaired the Alliance for Undergraduate Education, a consortium of major public research institutions dedicated to improving undergraduate education on their campuses.

Cell’s numerous honors include receipt of an honorary Doctor of Literature from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1988 and UNC-CH’s Carmichael Award for excellence in teaching and service to students in 1984. She was a fellow at the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research in 1961.

Gillian Cell has three children: Thomas, Katherine and John. Now retired, she is a board member emerita of the Arts and Sciences Foundation Board of Directors.

Gillian T. Cell Professor

2008 – Present: Kevin Jeffay