I like the idea. Seems practical. And although Mark had linked to this article, I did not read it until a correspondent drew my attention to it again.
The core anecdote around which the piece is written involves a fully funded chair in military history remaining empty because the school refuses to fill it. In other words, Mark's plan of getting almuni or whomever to fund a seat in this discipline is just the opening gambit in a longer and more painful game.
Analysis as to why this is is interesting (emphasis added):
Then came the Vietnam War and the rise of the tenured radicals. The historians among them saw their field as the academic wing of a “social justice” movement, and they focused their attention on race, sex, and class. “They think you’re supposed to study the kind of social history you want to support, and so women’s history becomes advocacy for ‘women’s rights,’” says Mary Habeck, a military historian at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C. “This makes them believe military historians are always advocates of militarism.”This resonates with me. One of the hallmarks of the current national political psychosis is personal identification with causes, issues, and political personalities. If the academy has been politicized on the social science side, the personal identification that drives American politics today will make mincemeat of the idea of military studies.
Mark seems to have a Plan B - take the endowed chairs down a notch to second-tier or regional institutions. I don't know enough about colleges to have an opinion as to whether that will work.
I know what will work, because we see it happening whenever a mogul wants to be remembered. Raise enough money to create and endow an entire department.
Anybody got half a billion or so?