The first Distinguished Professors were established at the University of Kansas in 1958, expanding in 1963, with the first University Distinguished Professors. In 2014, the first Foundation Distinguished Professors were appointed. A list of all Distinguished Professors is on permanent display on the landing of the fifth floor of the Kansas Union.
Appointment as a distinguished professor is a significant honor, reflecting the recipient’s many valued accomplishments and contributions to the University and the field. Nominees must be not only distinguished as a scholar but also recognized as exceptional instructors who exhibit an interest in the growth and success of students, colleagues, and institutions.
Nominees must be current KU full professors.
The major criteria for selecting University distinguished professors are:
- A truly distinguished record of scholarship. Although this criterion is highly dependent on the breadth of an area, nominees generally should rank among the most distinguished scholars in their fields in this country and usually should possess an international reputation.
- A proven record of interest in and concern for the growth and success of their students, colleagues, and the University.
- A demonstrated interest in activities in related fields and in participation in university affairs generally as well as professional organizations.
- A record of notable service to communities at the local, state, national, and/or international levels.
All nominees will be considered in accordance with the University Policy on Nondiscrimination
Nominations normally will be initiated at the department level by an individual or group in the appropriate discipline or by an interdisciplinary group. The nominations and supporting materials should be submitted through the appropriate administrative officers (i.e., departmental chairpersons and/or deans) and include their comments and recommendations.
The designation of an individual as a distinguished professor recognizes an extended appointment and stellar accomplishments as a faculty member at the University. Therefore, nominations should not be made based solely on time in rank as a full professor or as a reward for service, however long or devoted. Nominators should focus on selecting nominees whose records of achievement establish their excellence in relation to the four criteria for award of the professorship.
The individual or group preparing the nomination is responsible for providing complete information and supporting material as outlined in the required documentation.
There should be no more than one nomination submitted from a department, or school without departments. Schools with departments are encouraged to review and rank all the nominations before moving them forward to the Provost office.
All nominations will be reviewed by the University Committee on Distinguished Professorships.
Files forwarded to the provost’s office for review by the University Committee on Distinguished Professorship must include, at minimum, the following items:
- A letter of nomination, placing the nominee’s achievements within the context of the Procedures and Criteria for Appointment to Named and University Distinguished Professorships.
- The nominee’s comprehensive curriculum vitae
- Letters from five distinguished external scholars who can provide an objective evaluation of the nominee’s research contributions to the discipline, his/her stature in the field, and, as appropriate, speak to the other criteria for a distinguished professorship. Accordingly, the majority of the external scholars should have no close personal or professional association with the nominee (e.g., as co-authors, former students, etc.). Invitations to external scholars should request that they include in the letter a description of the length and nature of their association with the nominee.
- One document containing brief biographical paragraphs about the external scholars
- A letter of support from the nominee’s department chair (unless the chair wrote the nomination letter)
- A letter of endorsement from the nominee’s dean (unless the dean wrote the nomination letter)
- Additional documentation sufficient to establish that the candidate meets the standards in teaching, research, and service as specified in the criteria for a distinguished professorship (e.g., letters from former students or other evidence of teaching excellence, etc.)
Submit the documents in PDF format using the nominee’s last name to begin the file names as follows:
- LastName FirstInitial Nomination.pdf,
- LastName FirstInitial CV.pdf,
- LastName FirstInitial ExternalLetters.pdf,
- LastName FirstInitial ShortBios.pdf,
- LastName FirstInitial ChairLetter.pdf (if applicable)
- LastName FirstInitial DeanLetter.pdf (if applicable)
- LastName FirstInitial AdditionalDocumentation.pdf
University Distinguished Professorship nominations are due by Friday, February 23, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.
Upcoming Distinguished Professor Lectures
As a part of a Distinguished Professorship, newly appointed faculty present a Distinguished Professor Lecture.
Andrew C. Isenberg, Ph.D.The Age of the Borderlands: The Limits of American ‘Manifest Destiny,’ 1790-1845
February 15, 2024
Alderson Room, KU Memorial Union
The lecture is free and open to the public, and will also be live-streamed. Live-stream link will be available on this page at the time of the lecture.
Past Distinguished Professor Lectures
Statements from an Interventionist Theatre Practice
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of African & African-American Studies
December 6, 2023
Turning the Research Lens on Ourselves: What do we know about Pay, Promotion, and Grants in the Academy?
Roy A. Roberts and Regents Distinguished Professor of Economics
November 8, 2023
Embracing Uncertainty to Enable Physically Meaningful Signal Processing
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
October 26, 2023