Academic Policies

AC10 Distinguished Professorships (Formerly HR10)

Policy Status: 


Policy Steward: 

Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs


POLICY'S INITIAL DATE: January 27, 1961


  • Purpose of Appointment
  • Designated Title
  • Selection Criteria
  • Number of Distinguished Professors
  • Nomination and Selection Procedures
  • Remuneration
  • Tenure

    The recognition of outstanding academic contribution to the University is always appropriate and necessary. The addition of the title of "Distinguished Professor" provides an avenue for such recognition that can be awarded to qualified faculty members upon recommendation of their peers and the administration. This special academic title is intended to recognize a limited number of outstanding Professors for whom endowed chairs or professorships are otherwise unavailable.


    The designated title is Distinguished Professor of (____________________________).

    field (as in current title)

    For individuals recognized in University Libraries, the title "Distinguished Librarian" will be used.


    Candidates for appointment as Distinguished Professors must:

    1. be current, full-time, tenured, active members of the faculty holding the rank of Professor.

    2. not currently hold an endowed chair, professorship, or faculty fellowship.

    3. be acknowledged leaders in their fields of research or creative activity. This national and international leadership would be documented by (a) notable contributions to research published in leading journals and/or books and creative accomplishments widely recognized for excellence; (b) prestigious awards and citations; and (c) a substantial record of invited lectures or performances delivered at prestigious institutions.

    4. have demonstrated significant leadership in raising the standards of the University with respect to teaching, research or creative activity, and service.

    5. have demonstrated excellent teaching skills and contributed significantly to the education of students who subsequently have achieved recognition of excellence in their fields.


    The maximum number of Distinguished Professors in each college will not exceed ten (10) percent of the number of faculty on standing academic appointments at the rank of Professor. Colleges in which the addition of another Distinguished Professor would exceed the allotted percentage will not engage in the nomination process until such time as another appointment could be made within the limits specified.


    Faculty members, departments, or programs may nominate a candidate(s)for a Distinguished Professorship to the dean of the academic college in which the nominee is appointed. Nominations should normally be accompanied by three internal letters of support including one from the nominee's department head. In addition to these three internal letters of support, recent letters solicited for other purposes, including external letters of evaluation, may be submitted if available.

    The dean of each college will appoint a committee of at least three tenured Professors to review nominees and recommend candidates in consultation with the dean. The dean will forward the dossiers of candidates recommended for Distinguished Professorships to the Office of the President by the announced deadline. Deans should include letters previously received in support of the nominee, as well as their own letter of endorsement.

    Candidates who meet the high standards of excellence reflected in the selection criteria will be designated Distinguished Professors by the President following a recommendation by the Executive Vice President and Provost.


    Because this distinctive recognition is not funded as are endowed chairs or professorships, there is no additional remuneration awarded by the Office of the President with this honor. However, deans are encouraged to support this recognition with an appropriate salary increase(s) and/or other forms of research, teaching, or outreach support to be used at the discretion of the Distinguished Professor.


    Appointments as Distinguished Professor will be made for a period of five (5) years. Renewal of the appointment is dependent upon the Distinguished Professor continuing the same high level of performance evident at the time of initial appointment. The title of Distinguished Professor may be carried until resignation or retirement from the University, subject to the college performance review process at 5-year intervals, or until such time as the holder may be appointed to an endowed faculty position or to a University-level professorship.

    A Distinguished Professor may retire from the University with emeritus status, as "Distinguished Professor, Emeritus."