Barker, who graduated from the small liberal arts school in 1947 with a degree in economics, said Tuesday that he hopes the school will eventually be able to offer a program of studies that would train them to be animal rights activists and to respect animals.
"I think some students would become full-fledged animal rights activists," Barker said. "Some will become lawyers and doctors who will always be interested in animal rights. And some will have more respect for animals."
The new professorship went to Patricia McEachern, a professor of French who will work full time to develop what Barker and McEachern said would be the nation's first undergraduate program in animal rights.
Barker named the new professorship for his late wife, Dorothy Jo Barker.
Last year, Barker gave the school $1 million to establish the Drury University Forum on Animal Rights, which led to an undergraduate course on animal ethics.
The course was offered for the first time this semester, and 18 students enrolled, McEachern said. The class fulfills a core requirement in the university's global studies program. Barker has also has established endowment funds on animal rights law at eight law schools, including Harvard Law School.
If Drury establishes the new animal rights program, Barker said he expects other schools to duplicate it.
McEachern said it is too early to know how soon the animal rights program could be started, but she hopes to add two more courses to the program in the next two years. Drury would first offer animal rights as a minor before students can major in it.
Drury has 1,555 full-time undergraduate students.