Distinguished Professors

Submitting a Nomination

The deadline for submitting distinguished professor nomination dossiers for consideration in the 2019-2020 school year is October 15, 2019. The nomination dossier, with full supporting evidence, should be submitted online (log in with your IU username and pass phrase) on or before that date. 

If you have questions or need additional information, please e-mail UHA@indiana.edu.

A distinguished professorship is the most prestigious academic appointment at Indiana University, and it may be held simultaneously with an endowed or named chair (please note that this latter point is a departure from past practices).

Nominations for Distinguished Professorships

Appointment to the rank of distinguished professor is based on the following criteria:

  1. Distinction of Scholarship. Competence is assumed; evidence of real distinction is required. This includes evaluation by peers, especially recognized leaders in the discipline; recognition by national and international professional organizations in the form of awards, medals, honorary degrees, elected office, and other honors; invitations to hold prestigious lectureships and visiting professorships and to participate in high-level national and international conferences, symposia, and meetings; membership in honorary academic and professional organizations.
  2. Artistic and Literary Distinction. Evidence of outstanding quality is required, with evaluation by peers; criteria include representation of visual works in national and international exhibitions, shows, and museums; production of musical or dramatic works by internationally known individual artists or ensembles or in major public performances; or publication of widely acclaimed written works.
  3. Other Forms of Distinction. In certain fields, the achievement of distinction may be based on criteria other than scholarship or artistic production; for example, extraordinary technical accomplishments or contributions to national or international education; social, economic, or public-policy activity; or extraordinary success as a teacher as judged by evidence of a significant role in the development of students who have gone on to important success after graduation.

Successful nominees for distinguished professor are often those whose work has created, transformed, or substantially advanced a field. Although distinguished professors are often acclaimed teachers and provide exemplary national and international service, the rank is based exclusively on scholarly, artistic, and literary accomplishment. Emeritus faculty members are not normally considered for distinguished professor awards, nor is this award intended to serve as a reward for lengthy service.

Appointments to this rank are made by the trustees upon the recommendation of the president. The president, in turn, is advised by the University Distinguished Ranks Committee, which carefully reviews the nominations each fall and may recommend up to five nominees. Normally, the committee submits its recommendations in time for appointments to be announced during Founders Day celebrations. Announcements may also coincide with building dedications and other significant events.

Nominations for the rank of distinguished professor may be submitted by faculty, alumni, students, or other knowledgeable persons. All current faculty members on any IU campus are eligible to be nominated, although most successful nominations are of colleagues holding full professor rank and often titled chairs or professorships as well.

Nominations have a three-year life span, after which an interim of at least one year is required before resubmission. Nominations should be updated each year. It is unusual for a nomination to be successful the first year in which it is reviewed.

The nominator is responsible for compiling the dossier. The nominations process is designed to be as simple and straightforward as possible, while consistent with the significance of the award. Some schools and departments have created committees or processes for identifying likely nominees and compiling dossiers. Although not required, this practice often leads to more complete and persuasive dossiers.