Faculty Handbook

University Distinguished Professor

Last updated: 6/6/1989


The following statement was approved by the Board of Trustees on June 6, 1989.

The title, University Distinguished Professor, will be conferred on selected members of the Michigan State University faculty to recognize distinguished achievement in teaching, research and public service.  A University Distinguished Professorship will be held for the remainder of the recipient's active service at Michigan State University; the title University Distinguished Professor Emeritus will be conferred upon retirement. Individuals holding a University Distinguished Professorship will receive, in addition to salary, an average stipend of five thousand dollars for five years to support professional activities. Assignments for University Distinguished Professors will be arranged with the dean, chairperson/director and the Provost. The designation will be highly honorific and consequently very exclusive. Membership in this category will reflect the diverse scholarly dimensions of Michigan State University.

Criteria for Selecting University Distinguished Professors

In general, University Distinguished Professors will have been recognized nationally and usually internationally for the importance of their scholarly achievements. They will also have demonstrated the breadth of interest characteristically encompassed by the traditional role of professor as teacher and public servant. In addition, they will have brought distinction to Michigan State University as a result of their activities.

Specifically, a University Distinguished Professor will have achieved a record judged by peers to be superior and outstanding in preferably all but in at least two of the following areas: superior teaching skills of recognized breadth and depth in their discipline; scholarly, creative, and artistic achievements; and a distinguished record of public service exemplified by the application of scholarship and/or creative and artistic endeavors in addressing the needs of one or more external publics.

University Distinguished Professors will have already achieved an outstanding record comparable to that of scholars awarded named professorships at MSU and elsewhere. That record will have been recognized by the University at previous opportunities where merit is rewarded--such as salary increases.

University Distinguished Professorships will be conferred on members of the Michigan State University faculty whose achievement has already been recognized by the University with the rank of full professor; the title is not to be used for recruiting outsiders.

Selection Process

University Distinguished Professorships will be awarded by the Board of Trustees upon recommendation of the Provost and President. A committee of faculty and deans will advise these officers.

  1. From time to time the Provost will request nominations for University Distinguished Professorships from members of the faculty, deans, directors, and chairpersons.
  2. Written nominations, submitted to the Provost, will include:
    1. A cover letter making or supporting the nomination and providing a brief summary of the candidate's achievements;
    2. The candidate's curriculum vitae;
    3. Letters of endorsement from relevant deans and chairpersons or directors. These administrators will consult with appropriate department, school or college advisory committees before endorsing nominations.
    4. Letters of support from faculty and other colleagues at this and especially other institutions, assessing the candidate's record of achievements in teaching, research, or public service;
    5. Letters of support from present and former students will be encouraged when appropriate.
  3. A standing advisory committee composed of four faculty members and three deans, appointed by the Provost and serving four-year terms on a staggered basis, will review nominations and make recommendations to the Provost for transmittal to the President. Nominations for committee members will be obtained from both the University Committee on Academic Governance and the Council of Deans. Committee members must be tenured professors who themselves have outstanding records of teaching, research, and/or public service and are committed to the multi-dimensional concept of excellence valued by Michigan State University. The selection of the committee's membership must ensure the inclusion of women and minorities.


1 It is expected that in time, as a result of Development Fund efforts, endowment support will be obtained for many University Distinguished Professorships resulting in the addition of a name to the title.

Additional information can be found at http://www.ahr.msu.edu/all-university-awards.

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