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What Is a Distinguished Professorship?

 A distinguished professorship is an honor bestowed on a tenured faculty member for significant career achievement. Someone receives the title of Distinguished Professor for having made outstanding contributions to their field, the academic profession, the public good, or the university and its community. Recipients earn not only the title but also a salary supplement and a research account, paid for with endowment funds: donors to UNC have given money for creating the positions, which often bear the name of someone they wish to honor.

The two basic categories of distinguished professorships at UNC are “term” and “permanent”: as the names suggest, one is given for a fixed period, usually three to five years, and the other for as long as the person remains at UNC. Tenured associate professors may receive term appointments, but only full professors may become permanent distinguished professors.

A very small number of University distinguished professorships are awarded: faculty from across UNC — the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Medicine, the School of Law, the Hussman School of Journalism, etc. — are eligible. The College of Arts and Sciences also has distinguished professorships for its own faculty. In both cases, a permanent appointment entails achievement surpassing expectations for promotion to full professor.

Each year nominations for permanent distinguished professorships are solicited, alternating between University and College appointments. Descriptions and criteria are provided in the call for nominations, so we’ll post them here as they become available.

Nominations for term distinguished professorships are solicited annually. We’ll also post information here.

A few brief descriptions are available on the pages linked below. These are for only some of the positions, but they should give you an idea of the criteria.

We invite nominations any time. Please state what type of distinguished professorship you’re nominating a colleague for, and please provide a brief justification (around 75-100 words).

University Distinguished Professorships

Office of Undergraduate Research Distinguished Term Professorships

A few brief descriptions are available on the page linked below. These are for only some of the awards, but they should give you an idea of the criteria.

We invite nominations any time. Please state what type of teaching award you’re nominating a colleague for, and please provide a brief justification (around 75-100 words).

University Teaching Awards


Nomination Form