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Distinguished University Professorships

In 1947 the Regents established the Distinguished University Professorships, the University’s most prestigious professorships, to recognize senior faculty with exceptional scholarly and/or creative achievements, national and international reputations for academic excellence, and superior records of teaching, mentoring, and service. Faculty selected for this recognition, in consultation with the dean of the school or college in which he or she holds an appointment, name the Professorship after a person of distinction in his or her general field of interest, preferably a person formerly associated with the University. The duration of the appointment is unlimited and the title may be retained after retirement. Newly appointed Distinguished University Professors deliver an inaugural lecture during the first year of appointment.

Open/Edit a Nomination

General Information


Nominees must have the rank of full professor. Nominations of outstanding women, minorities and members of other groups historically underrepresented in their disciplines are encouraged.

Selection Criteria

Nominees must be recognized nationally and internationally for scholarly achievement in their field of study and/or creative endeavors, for having broad scholarly interests and originality as scholars, for superior teaching skills and for excellence as a mentor to graduate students and junior colleagues

Number of Awards

The number of Distinguished University Professorships awarded varies each year. Each professorship carries an annual salary supplement of $5,000 and an annual research stipend of $5,000.

Source of Nominations

Nominations may be submitted by deans, directors, department/program heads, promotion or award committees, or individual faculty members. The dean of the nominee’s school/college must provide a letter of support if the nomination is submitted by someone other than the dean. To re-nominate someone previously nominated, contact Honors and Awards to activate the online dossier.

Selection Process

A committee of distinguished senior faculty from different disciplines and academic units, chaired by the Dean of the Graduate School, reviews nominations and makes recommendations to the Provost. Upon the recommendation of the Provost, the Board of Regents approves these appointments in May. Awards will be formally presented at a ceremony in the 2017 fall term.


The nomination deadline is 5:00 pm, Friday, March 3, 2017.

For more information contact:

Honors and Awards
Rackham Graduate School
Telephone: (734) 764-4405

Guidelines for Preparing Nominations

As described below, a nomination dossier must include a cover sheet with contact information, a nominating letter, and curriculum vitae. Incomplete nomination dossiers cannot be reviewed. The Graduate School will add to each nomination dossier a dissertation committee service report and the Registrar’s Teaching Evaluation “Instructor Report” that tabulates quantitative data only.

The online nomination dossier may be set up by a U-M faculty or staff member. Others may be given login access to the site as needed. The nomination system may be accessed as often as needed in order to complete the nomination dossier. All materials must be uploaded in Adobe PDF format.

Cover Sheet

Complete the online cover sheet with all information requested for both the nominee and the nominator—not the administrator who may have initiated the dossier.

Letter of Nomination

As committee members represent a range of disciplines and may not be familiar with the nominee’s field, describe the nominee’s contributions in a way that conveys their significance to those not acquainted with the field. Given the number of highly accomplished senior faculty with national reputations for academic excellence, the letter should explain the particular distinction that makes the nominee exceptionally qualified for this honor. The letter should include an explanation of the most significant external awards to help the committee assess the nominee’s stature in the field. The letter may incorporate quotations from former and current students, peers and faculty, including from letters solicited for tenure review, that describe the significance of the nominee’s scholarly and research achievements, teaching and mentoring excellence, service contributions and other impact measures outside the classroom.

The letter may be no longer than 2,000 words. A new letter may be submitted for re-nominations or an addendum may be submitted to update the dossier.

Letters should cover the areas below; those that do not will disadvantage the nominee:

  • An assessment of the range and overall importance of the nominee's research, scholarly or creative endeavors and accomplishments so that readers can understand the scope and value of his/her professional work. The committee is especially interested in evidence of contributions that have transformed a discipline or field of study or launched a new field of study.
  • Evidence of substantial recognition nationally and internationally among peers and scholars for the impact of the research or scholarship, including an explanation of the most significant external awards to help the committee assess the nominee’s stature in the field. This should include prior recognition within the University and by professional associations, national academies, or other groups with knowledge of the nominee’s contributions. The committee is especially interested in recognition that extends beyond a nominee’s immediate field of expertise.
  • Evidence of outstanding contributions as an educator. This should include having education as a high priority during the nominee’s career; engagement in curriculum development and improvement; recognition as an accomplished teacher; and engagement with graduate students and junior colleagues to further their scholarship and careers.
  • Evidence of extraordinary service and collegiality within the University community and engagement with professional associations, societies, or other national institutions. This may include successful service in formal or informal administrative or leadership roles.
  • Attention to activities indicative of the nominee’s breadth of interest and engagement (e.g., interdisciplinary efforts or involvement with public, nonprofit, or entrepreneurial activity) and depth of knowledge in related fields.

Curriculum Vitae

Provide the nominee’s current c.v.

Open/Edit a Nomination

Past Recipients of Distinguished University Professorships


  • Kent Berridge, Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Sally Camper, Human Genetics and Internal Medicine
  • Robert Griess Jr., Mathematics
  • Sharon Herbert, Classical Archaeology
  • Alfred Hero III, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Wallace Hopp, Business and Engineering
  • Melanie Sanford, Chemistry
  • June Manning Thomas, Urban Planning
  • Valerie Traub, English and Women's Studies


  • Joel D. Blum, Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Stephen R. Forrest, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Sharon C. Glotzer, Chemical Engineering
  • Tiya A. Miles, African American Women’s History
  • Mark E. Newman, Physics
  • Gilbert S. Omenn, Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics
  • Peter J. Polverini, Dentistry
  • Ronald G. Suny, History
  • Sarah G. Thomason, Linguistics


  • Tamas Gombosi, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences
  • Jessy Grizzle, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Robert Kennedy, Chemistry
  • Donald Kinder, Political Science
  • Harry Mobley, Microbiology & Immunology
  • Susan Murphy, Statistics
  • Peter Railton, Philosophy
  • Peter Sparling, Music, Theatre & Dance


  • Elizabeth S. Anderson, Philosophy
  • Christin Carter-Su, Physiology
  • Carol A. Fierke, Chemistry
  • Susan A. Gelman, Psychology and Linquistics
  • Ronald G. Larson, Chemical Engineering
  • Victor B. Lieberman, History
  • Roderick J. Little, Biostatistics
  • Mark B. Orringer, Thoracic Surgery
  • Panos Y. Papalambros, Engineering


  • Richard Janko, Classical Studies
  • Gordon Kane, Physics
  • Miriam Meisler, Human Genetics, Neurology
  • Terry Robinson, Psychology, Neuroscience


  • David Halperin, English Language and Literature
  • Yoram Koren, Mechanical Engineering
  • David Meyer, Psychology
  • Fawwaz Ulaby, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


  • Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Psychology and Education
  • Rodney C. Ewing, Geological Sciences
  • William C. Fulton, Mathematics
  • A. Galip Ulsoy, Mechanical Engineering
  • John H. Vandermeer, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


  • Hyman Bass, Education and Mathematics
  • Michael Boehnke, Biostatistics
  • Bruce Frier, Classical Studies, Law School
  • Linda Gregerson, English Language & Literature
  • James S. House, Sociology


  • Stephen Darwall, Philosophy
  • Jane Dutton, Business Education
  • Joyce Penner, Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences
  • Henry Wright, Anthropology
  • Yu Xie, Sociology and Statistics


  • Noreen Clark, Public Health
  • Nicholas Delbanco, English Language & Literature
  • Geoffrey Eley, History
  • Lennard Fisk, Atmospheric Oceanic and Space Sciences
  • Raoul Kopelman, Chemistry


  • Philip Bucksbaum, Physics
  • Sheldon Danziger, Public Policy
  • Sidney Gilman, Neurology
  • Donald S. Lopez, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies
  • Joyce Marcus, Anthropology
  • C.K. Prahalad, Business Administration
  • Abigail Stewart, Psychology and Women's Studies


  • Pallab Bhattacharya, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Don B. Chaffin, Industrial and Operations Engineering
  • Gerard M. Faeth, Aerospace Engineering
  • Melvin Hochster, Mathematics
  • Joanne Leonard, Art and Women's Studies
  • Martha Ludwig, Biological Chemistry
  • Charles F. Yocum, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology


  • Phoebe C. Ellsworth, Law and Psychology
  • David Ginsburg, Internal Medicine and Human Genetics
  • Rebecca J. Scott, History
  • Bright Sheng, Music


  • Michael Savageau, Microbiology and Immunology
  • Lawrence Sklar, Philosophy
  • Kensall D. Wise, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


  • Patricia Y. Gurin, Psychology and Women's Studies
  • Richard Owen Lempert, Law and Sociology
  • Kenneth E. Warner, Public Health
  • Karl E. Weick, Organizational Behavior and Psychology


  • Richard Crawford, Music
  • Homer A. Neal, Physics


  • Huda Akil, Neurosciences
  • Edward E. Smith, Psychology
  • Shirley Verrett, Music


  • James S. Jackson, Psychology
  • Ludwig Koenen, Papyrology
  • Vincent Massey, Biological Chemistry
  • Rowena G. Matthews, Biological Chemistry
  • Gerard A. Mourou, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


  • William E. Bolcom, Music
  • Allan F. Gibbard, Philosophy
  • Martha Vicinus, English, Women's Studies and History
  • Walter J. Weber, Jr., Environmental Sciences and Engineering


  • Yale Kamisar, Law
  • Richard E. Nisbett, Psychology
  • George Shirley, Music


  • Richard D. Alexander, Evolutionary Biology
  • Robert Axelrod, Political Science and Public Policy
  • Frederick C. Neidhardt, Microbiology and Immunology


  • Thomas M. Donahue, Planetary Science
  • Frederick W. Gehring, Mathematics


  • L. Ross Chambers, French and Comparative Literature
  • Kent V. Flannery, Anthropological Archaeology


  • Minor J. Coon, Biological Chemistry
  • Robert B. Zajonc, Social Sciences


  • Philip E. Converse, Sociology and Political Science
  • Joseph L. Sax, Law


  • Clyde Coombs, Psychology
  • Charles Gibson, History


  • Leslie Bassett, Music


  • John Arthos, English Language & Literature
  • H. Richard Crane, Physics


  • Gardner Ackley, Economics
  • Otis D. Duncan, Sociology


  • Jerome W. Conn, Internal Medicine
  • John Higham, History
  • Chia-Shun Yih, Engineering


  • William W. Bishop, Jr., Law
  • David M. Dennison, Physics
  • Donald L. Katz, Chemical Engineering
  • Paul W. McCracken, Business Administration
  • James V. Neel, Human Genetics


  • Werner Emmanuel Bachmann, Chemistry
  • George Granger Brown, Chemical Engineering
  • Thomas Francis, Jr., Epidemiology
  • Howard Bishop Lewis, Biological Chemistry
  • DeWitt Henry Parker, Philosophy
  • William Andrew Paton, Accounting
  • Isaiah Leo Sharfman, Economics
  • Lewis Mallalieu Simes, Law
  • George Eugene Uhlenbeck, Physics