JoAnne Safrit

JoAnne “Jo” Safrit graduated from the Woman’s College (now UNC-Greensboro) in 1957.

GREENSBORO — UNC-Greensboro has used a $1 million gift from one of its graduates to create a new professorship in kinesiology.

The gift, announced Monday, is from JoAnne Safrit, a 1957 graduate and retired college professor.

The Safrit-Ennis Distinguished Professorship is named for Safrit and her longtime partner, Catherine Ennis, who died in April. Ennis received her master’s degree from UNCG and taught kinesiology — the study of human and nonhuman movement — at several universities before joining the UNCG faculty in 2008.

The first recipient of this new professorship is Laurie Wideman, a kinesiology professor at UNCG since 2000. Her research focuses on the impact of disease, exercise and injury on the human endocrine system. The professorship will help cover the costs of Wideman’s research.

In a statement, UNCG Chancellor Frank Gilliam said “quality faculty is the bedrock upon which all great universities are built. By establishing this named professorship, Dr. Safrit is helping to ensure that UNCG’s kinesiology program continues to strengthen its position among the very best in the nation.”

Safrit is a Salisbury native who majored in physical education at Woman’s College, now UNCG. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she worked as a professor and researcher for two decades. She also served for eight years as chairwoman of the Department of Health and Fitness at American University in Washington, D.C.

While a faculty member at Wisconsin, Safrit received an endowed professorship that she called “life-changing.”

“With that gift, I was able to conduct important, meaningful research because of the generosity of others who had the means to do so,” Safrit said in a statement. “Now I’m in a position to help.”

Safrit, who lives in Greensboro, serves on two university boards and won UNCG’s Alumni Excellence Award in 2015.

Contact John Newsom at 336-373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.

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