In 1996, Fort Worth philanthropists Anne T. and Robert M. Bass gave Duke a generous gift to enhance the undergraduate experience through increased faculty-student interaction. In addition to augmenting the Focus Program and creating the Bass Undergraduate Instructional Program for graduate students, the donation established the Bass Society of Fellows for Duke faculty members who have achieved “true excellence in both research and teaching, and are good university citizens.” These faculty members receive named professorships and associate professorships created or partially funded by the Basses’ gift.
Annually the society inducts new members at a spring semester ceremony with each new member being recognized by the Provost as well as by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, which convenes the society. The Bass Society of Fellows is not merely an honorary club, but an opportunity for some of Duke’s most celebrated educators to pool their experiences and resources and to exchange ideas in a casual setting. Through regular meetings of professors across the university, the Bass Society seeks to develop innovative ways to connect students and faculty in an academic setting as well as to bring together various disciplines.