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Distinguished University Professorships

The Distinguished University Professorships recognize exceptional scholarly and/or creative achievements, national and international reputation, superior teaching and mentoring, and an impressive record of service. In creating these positions in 1947, the Board of Regents intended that Distinguished University Professors be recognized for their great contributions to the University and the nation. Each Distinguished University Professorship bears a special name, determined by the appointive professor in consultation with her or his dean. The duration of the appointment is unlimited, and the title—without the salary and research supplements—may be retained after retirement. In addition, newly appointed Distinguished University Professors are expected to deliver an inaugural lecture during the first year of appointment. These are the University’s most prestigious professorships.

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General Information


University of Michigan faculty with the rank of full professor may be nominated for these awards. Nominators are encouraged to nominate truly outstanding women, minorities and members of other groups historically underrepresented in their disciplines.

Selection Criteria

Nominees must demonstrate:

  • extraordinary achievements in research, scholarly and/or creative endeavors;
  • outstanding record of teaching and mentoring ranging from formal courses to advising graduate and junior colleagues;
  • a sustained record of service and contributions to the university community, bringing distinction to the University as well as national and international renown for the nominee.

Typically, successful nominees already hold a chair within the school/college, have been the recipient of notable awards for excellence, are elected to national honor societies, and have received similar substantial recognition by colleagues in disciplines and professional societies that extend beyond the nominee’s own subfield of expertise.

Number of Awards

The availability of Distinguished University Professorships varies from year to year because the distinction is held until retirement. In 2016 we anticipate awarding up to eight new professorships. Each professorship carries with it 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, executive, promotion or award committees, or individual faculty members. If the nomination is not submitted by the Dean of the nominee’s school or college, the nominator should append a letter of support from the Dean. This separate approval is not necessary, of course, if the letter of nomination is from the Dean. If you plan to re-nominate a competitor from a prior year, please contact Faculty Awards to arrange for activation of the online dossier.

Selection Process

Nomination dossiers will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary Selection Advisory Committee comprised of outstanding senior faculty members and chaired by the Dean of the Rackham Graduate School. Final selection will take place at the Regents Meeting in May 2016. Awards will be presented at a ceremony in October 2016.


The nomination deadline for 2016 Distinguished University Professorships is March 2, 2016, 12PM/noon EST.

For more information contact:

Faculty Awards
Telephone: (734) 764-8221

Guidelines for the Preparation of Nominations

Listed below are the four items that must be included in the dossier before the nomination can be submitted. You will be asked to either enter text into text boxes or online forms, or upload documents in Adobe PDF format.

A nomination dossier can be set up by a U-M faculty or staff member. Up to six others may be given access to the site by the person who opens the dossier on the website. After a nomination dossier is started the nominator(s) and assistant(s) may login to the faculty awards nomination system as many times as needed in order to complete the nomination.

Contact Information Form

Provide in the online form all the contact information requested for both the nominee and the nominator—not the administrative contact.

Letter of Nomination

Selection committee members find the following information helpful as they try to evaluate and distinguish among a highly competitive set of nominees. Persuasive letters of nomination always demonstrate:

  • A clear assessment of the range and overall importance of the nominee's research, scholarly or creative endeavors and accomplishments. This includes evidence of contributions that have transformed a discipline or field of study or launched a new field of study.
  • Indicators of substantial recognition nationally and internationally among peers and scholars for the impact of the research or scholarship. This includes accolades from within the University and from professional associations, academies, or other groups with an understanding of the nominee’s contributions.
  • Evidence of outstanding contributions as an educator. This may include engagement in curriculum development and improvement; recognition as an accomplished teacher; engagement with graduate students and junior colleagues to further their scholarship and careers.

In addition, for many nominees it is helpful for the nominator to address:

  • Evidence of extraordinary service and collegiality within the University of Michigan community;
  • Evidence of innovative and ambitious engagement with partners outside of the university, including business, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, and/or government entities.

You may submit your nomination letter by uploading the document in Adobe PDF format. If this is a re-nomination you have the option of submitting an addendum to your earlier nomination letter or of uploading a new letter that will replace the earlier one. The nomination letter may be no longer than five pages (3,400 words) in length.

Curriculum Vitae

Include the nominee’s complete and current c.v. by uploading the most recent version in Adobe PDF format.

Doctoral Committee Service Form

Complete the online form by providing in the text box the following information for all doctoral committee service in the past ten years: name of student, student’s department/program, year the degree was conferred or is expected, role served by the nominee, and placement information for the student. Please list first those for which the nominee was chair or co-chair. The awards selection committee considers placement information to be valuable in their assessment.

Open/Edit a Nomination

Past Recipients of Distinguished University Professorships


  • 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
  • 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


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


  • Don B. Chaffin, Industrial and Operations Engineering
  • Melvin Hochster, Mathematics
  • Pallab Bhattacharya, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Gerard M. Faeth, Aerospace Engineering
  • 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


  • Gerard A. Mourou, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


  • James S. Jackson, Psychology
  • Ludwig Koenen, Papyrology
  • Vincent Massey, Biological Chemistry
  • Rowena G. Matthews, Biological Chemistry


  • 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