Office of the Provost

Policy and Procedure Governing Appointments to Distinguished Professorships*

The appointment of a faculty member to a Distinguished Professorship at the University of Pittsburgh constitutes the highest honor that can be accorded to a member of the professorate.  It is important, therefore, that regularized policies and procedures govern such appointments.

I.          General Criteria and Definitions

The Handbook for Faculty describes the criteria for each faculty rank.  The following are additional criteria, demanding accomplishments and contributions beyond the authoritative knowledge, stature and service expected of a full professor in any school.

A.        Distinguished University Professor

Such a designation recognizes eminence in several fields of study, transcending accomplishments in and contributions to a single discipline.  Further, national and, where appropriate, international recognition in at least one field is required.  The basic performance criteria and expectations for Distinguished University Professors normally are established by the department chair and the dean of the school in which the professor holds tenure.  By nature of their appointment as Distinguished University Professors, these individuals also are expected to make special contributions to the intellectual advancement of their home departments and schools and to the intellectual advancement of other departments or schools and to the institution as a whole.  Distinguished University Professors are appointed by the Chancellor on the recommendation of the Provost and, when the nominee's principal appointment is in one of the schools of the health sciences, the Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences.  The availability of such positions is infrequent, determined in individual cases, and dependent solely upon the above expectations and criteria.

B.        Distinguished Professor

Such a designation recognizes extraordinary, internationally-recognized, scholarly attainment in an individual discipline or field. The basic performance criteria and expectations for discipline- or field-based Distinguished Professors normally are established by the department chair and the dean of the school in which the professor holds tenure.  By nature of their appointment as Distinguished Professors, these individuals are expected to make special contributions to the intellectual advancement of their home departments and schools, as well as to the institution as a whole.  Distinguished Professors are appointed by the Chancellor on the recommendation of the Provost and, when the nominee's principal appointment is in one of the schools of the health sciences, the Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences.  The availability of such positions is infrequent, determined in individual cases, and dependent solely upon the above expectations and criteria.

C.        Distinguished Service Professor

Such a designation recognizes distinctive contributions and outstanding service (e.g., professional, regional, national, international) to the University community in support of its multi-faceted teaching/research/service mission, as well as performance excellence in the faculty member's department or school and national stature in his or her discipline or field.  Infrequently awarded by the Chancellor on the recommendation of the Provost and, when the nominee's principal appointment is in one of the schools of the health sciences, the Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences, the basic performance criteria and expectations for Distinguished Service Professors are established by the department chair and dean of the school in which the faculty member holds tenure.  This designation is normally reserved for senior faculty who have established a record of distinguished service within and for the University.

D.        Endowed Chairs and Professorships

Such designations recognize eminence in a field of study that reflects outstanding contributions to a discipline.  National and, where appropriate, international recognition in a field is expected.  The basic performance criteria for faculty members holding endowed chairs are established by the appropriate department chair and dean.  Appointments to endowed chairs or professorships are made by the Chancellor on the recommendation of the Provost and, when the nominee's principal appointment is in one of the schools of the health sciences, the Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences.  The availability of such positions is dependent upon external support.

II.        Materials Required for Consideration

The supporting dossier must include (see attachment for additional detail):

1.         A cover letter from the relevant dean or campus president making the nomination.  This letter should set forth the record of achievement upon which the nomination is based and indicate that there has been appropriate faculty consultation in the nomination process.

2.         The nominee's current curriculum vitae.

3.         Letters of support from faculty and other colleagues at the University and other institutions assessing the candidate's record of achievement.

III.       Appointment

1.         Each appointment is limited to the school in which the faculty member holds tenure.


2.         All recommendations for appointments as Distinguished University Professors, Distinguished Professors and Distinguished Service Professors will be reviewed by a group of distinguished faculty appointed by the Provost in consultation with the Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences.

3.         Appointments most often have been made for an indefinite term.  However, there may be instances where a limited term, with or without the possibility of renewal, may be desirable.  The Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences, as well as the dean or campus president making the nomination, may identify instances where limited terms are appropriate.  All appointments are made with the expectation that professional performance will be maintained at a level appropriate for the distinguished appointment.

4.         The advancement to one of these prestigious appointments will not alter the manner in which salaries, teaching assignments and academic matters are determined in the faculty member's department and/or school.

IV.       Reward and Recognition

A separate salary adjustment consistent with the appointment to a distinguished professorship is determined by the appropriate dean.  This adjustment is over and above what is available to the dean in the annual salary pool.

An annual allocation of funds by the appropriate dean should be made to support the faculty member's professional activities, to be expended by the faculty member in accordance with University policies.

To mark the occasion of the appointment, the individual is expected to present an inaugural lecture at which time he or she will be presented with a special medallion commemorating the occasion.  Where appropriate, the individual also may be asked to represent the University at distinguished academic events.


Recommended for Inclusion in the Dossier

1.         A comprehensive cover letter from the relevant dean or campus president making the nomination.  This letter should include, but not be limited to (a) reasons for the  nomination; (b) criteria for selection; (c) the process of selection, indicating that there has been appropriate faculty consultation in the evaluation process; (d) the record of achievement upon which the nomination is based; (e) a statement of the candidate's likely (predicted) productivity and directions for the future; (f) a statement describing the professional standing of the external referees,  their relationship to the candidate (if any), and why they were chosen; and (g) a list of names and addresses of an additional four or five referees  who the distinguished faculty committee might contact if more information is needed.

2.         The nominee's current curriculum vitae.

3.         Personal statements from the candidate on his or her research, teaching and service activities.

4.         Letters of support from faculty and other colleagues at the University and other institutions assessing the candidate's record of achievement.  Ten to twelve letters of reference from internationally, nationally, or regionally recognized experts.

a. Letters of external review generally should be solicited from scholars who are arms-length from the candidate, excluding former advisors, co-authors/co-editors, research collaborators, and current/former colleagues. When this is not possible for feasible as, for example, in a new or emerging field of study, an explanation should be provided in the dossier. 

 

b. The preponderance of external letters should be from scholars at distinguished rank, named chairs, or similar titled professorships.  When this is not possible or feasible, an explanation should be provided in the dossier.

5.         If a faculty committee was involved in the recommendation, a copy of that committee's report should be included.

                                                                                                                          Office of the Provost

                                                                                                                               February 26, 2010


Addendum

Suggested Distinguished Service Professor External Referee Template Letter

Dr. ____, Professor of _____, School of  ______, has been nominated for recognition as a Distinguished Service Professor.  We are writing you to ask you to comment on Dr. _______’s  professional service and scholarly accomplishments and to provide us with your assessment of [his/her] stature in the field.  This designation is normally reserved for senior faculty members who have established a record of distinguished service within and for the University and/or the candidate’s field or discipline.

The following statement with respect to the rank of Distinguished Service Professor may be helpful as a framework for your comments; it has been excerpted from our University’s policy statement governing appointments to Distinguished Professorships (the complete policy statement is enclosed):

Such a designation recognizes distinctive contributions and outstanding service (e.g. professional, regional, national, international) to the University community in support of its multi-faceted teaching/research/service mission, as well as performance excellence in the faculty member’s department or school and national stature in his or her discipline or field. … This designation is normally reserved for senior faculty who have established a record of distinguished service within and for the University.

For purposes of awarding this distinction, a candidate’s “stature” is based on both his or her scholarship and leadership/service contributions. Leadership/service contributions are those that contribute (1) to the academic mission of the University of Pittsburgh, (2) the candidate’s field or discipline, or (3) both the University of Pittsburgh and the candidate’s field or discipline. In applying these criteria, we place particular emphasis on determining the substantive impact of the candidate’s service contribution to advancing the academic mission of the University or to advancing the candidate’s field or discipline nationally and internationally.

With this in mind, your specific assessment of these contributions would be greatly appreciated. It would be particularly helpful if you could compare Dr. ______ with outstanding individuals of similar distinguished professorships or named professorships at your own university, and at other universities with which you might be familiar.

A copy of Dr. ______’s curriculum vitae is enclosed to aid in this assessment.

*Approved by the Chancellor 8/1/94; revised 11/l7/95, 7/4/00, 1/09, 2/26/10.

For more information, please contact Chuck Lyon at lyoncw@pitt.edu.

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