Auburn, Ala. (EETV) - In 2010, former star basketball player and College of Education graduate, Charles Barkley, established the Charles W. Barkley Endowed Professorship to celebrate a "commitment to diversity among Auburn faculty." Auburn University announced Friday that Cheryl Seals and William Powell would be the 2020 recipients of the endowed professorship for their excellence in the classroom and commitment to the university.

Cheryl Seals is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. William Powell is a professor and director of choral activities in the Department of Music in the College of Liberal Arts. When asked about how the professorship would support them, the professors had this to say:

Professor Powell: "Receiving the Charles Barkley Endowed Professorship affirms my contributions as an African American faculty member. It feels good to have one’s work acknowledged and supported by the university. As I have experienced already, an endowed professorship strengthens one’s credibility amongst one’s peers at the national and international levels...The additional funds allow me to serve as a consultant for high school choirs at no cost to them. Additionally, it provides funds for research materials needed for a book on the African American spiritual, gospel music, and anthems I am a co-authoring with my wife."

Professor Seals: "Well, this position was a great blessing to me...I do a lot of mentoring in K-12 outreach. So, with the Barkley Award, it does add a certain notoriety, a certain cachet. It's a great benefit as a woman in STEM to receive this award. We have had a low number of women faculty [in these areas]. And now we have probably doubled that number since the time that I arrived at Auburn, but we still have our work to do in that area. I'm proud as a woman, as an underrepresented woman for receiving this award."

The pair also had this to say about their benefactor:

Professor Seals: Mr. Barkley, thank you so much for your support, your kind and generous support of Auburn University. We applaud you. We thank you for giving back, for giving your time, your talents, your funds to Auburn University. You have been a trailblazer. You have always stood for what you believed in, and you stand with Auburn. Thank you. I thank you so much.

Professor Powell: Thank you. Thank you for supporting faculty and students through this endowment. I’m a fan; but I’m not talking about sports. I'm talking about how you generously invest in people. You are really making a difference in lives. Right now, I am just trying to hold back the tears. I am so very grateful for this honor.

The University put out an official video commemorating the winners that can be found here.