(One of The Margaret and Paul A. Johnston Professorships)

Dr. Federico Guillermo Gil, a former Kenan Professor of political science and former director of the Institute of Latin American Studies, was born in Havana in 1915. His preparatory education was at Candler College in Havana, and he received his B.A. from the Instituto de la Habana in 1935. He received three degrees from the University of Havana: Doctor of Laws in 1940, Doctor of Political and Social Sciences in 1941, and Licentiate of Diplomatic and Consular Law in 1942. He lived in Spain briefly before moving to the United States.

Gil began his teaching career as an instructor at Louisiana State University in 1942 and moved to Chapel Hill the following year. He was named a Kenan Professor in 1965. He taught at the University for nearly 40 years before retiring in 1980. In addition to his distinguished teaching career in political science, Gil traveled throughout the world and served as a visiting faculty member at Duke University, Middlebury College, the Institute of Political and Administrative Science at the University of Chile and at Rollins College in Florida, where he was named Alfred J. Hanna Distinguished Professor.

Gil was a member of the UNC-CH Faculty Council, president of the Latin American Studies Association, a member of the Board of Visitors of the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Miami and president of the Southeastern Conference on Latin American Studies. He represented Gov. Luther Hodges at the Conference on Inter-American Relations in Cambridge, Mass., in 1960 and helped draft the Alliance for Progress. He was a member of the N.C. Advisory Council to the Peace Corps under Gov. Terry Sanford, and he was an invited representative of the Cuban community abroad by the Republic of Cuba at the prisoner release talks in Havana in 1978. He has written or co-written five books and numerous scholarly articles.

In recognition of his many accomplishments, Gil received numerous honors: an honorary Doctor of Laws from Rollins College; the Kalman Silvert President's Prize of the Latin American Studies Association; honorary membership in the Mexican National Association of University Graduates; the Nicolas Salgo Distinguished Teaching Award of the University; honorary membership in the Order of the Golden Fleece; an honorary professorship from the University of Chile; Commander, Order of Merit Bernardo O'Higgins (the highest award given by the government of Chile); and a corresponding member of the National Academy of Law and Social Sciences in Argentina. In 1991, UNC-CH awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. He died in April 2000.

The Margaret and Paul A. Johnston Professorships were established in 1987 by a bequest in Paul A. Johnston’s will for more than $10 million -- the second largest bequest received by the University. The series of professorships in the College of Arts and Sciences honors retired faculty members. The number of professorships varies, as does the academic disciplines to which they are assigned. Paul Johnston specified that the retired faculty members for whom professorships are named must be living when the professorships are created. For more information on the Johnstons, see the entry on The Margaret and Paul A. Johnston Professorships.