To ensure that students are given ample opportunity to understand the relationship between theory and practice, the Wilson Center invites accomplished scholars and practitioners for short and long-term residencies. One of these positions, the James C. Wheat Professorship, was established in 1993 in memory of on of Richmond's most eminent financiers. With imagination and vigor, Mr. Wheat not only built a financial corporation, but was a civic leader in Richmond and Virginia and raised funds for many charitable causes. Before his death in 1992, he told friends and family of his desire to support a professorship at Hampden-Sydney, where his wife, Wiley, had served on the Board of Trustees and his son, James C. Wheat III, was a graduate of the class of 1975.
The Wheat Chair was first held by Dr. Charles Sydnor, CEO of Central Virginia PBS, in 1996. In 1998, the chair was held by Mr. Alfred Broadus, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. In 2000, Samuel Vaughan Wilson, President emeritus of Hampden-Sydney College, was appointed to the James C. Wheat, Jr. Chair in Leadership. He held this position until the fall of 2007, when he was named the First Wilson Center fellow.
Since August of 2007, The Wheat Chair has been held by General William G. "Jerry" Boykin (USA ret), who previously served in the Pentagon as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.