FAQs

  1. What is a Distinguished Professor?
  2. How many Distinguished Professors currently teach at CUNY?
  3. Is there a limit to the number of Distinguished Professors at CUNY?
  4. How does a faculty member become a Distinguished Professor?
  5. What are the criteria for Distinguished Professorship?
  6. What is nomination procedure?
  7. What is the evaluation procedure?
  8. What materials are needed for the nomination packet?
  9. When are nominations due?
  10. Who decides which nominees become Distinguished Professors?
  11. What are the steps to a successful vote by the Board of Trustees?
  12. What are the expectations for all CUNY Distinguished Professors?
  13. If a nominee is not recommended by the Chancellor to the Board of Trustees for approval, when may that nominee be considered again?
  14. When does the Board of Trustees vote to appoint Distinguished Professorships?
  15. Are Distinguished Professorships reviewed after the initial appointment?
  16. Can a visiting professor be appointed a Distinguish Professorship?
  17. What is a Distinguished Visiting Professor?

What is a Distinguished Professor?

A Distinguished Professor is an exceptional scholar with an international reputation for scholarly and/or research excellence.

One hundred fifty-two Distinguished Professors currently teach at CUNY as of August 1, 2014.

The number of Distinguished Professors is limited to 175 across the University under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement with the Professional Staff Congress.

A faculty member is nominated by his or her college president for a Distinguished Professorship based on his or her scholarly or research achievements. The college is then responsible for gathering supporting evidence that demonstrates exceptional performance by national and international standards of excellence in the nominee’s field. A nomination packet is compiled including the nominee’s current curriculum vitae, at least ten letters of evaluation from unbiased reviewers, and letters of recommendation from the campus president and the chief academic officer The nomination packet is sent to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost. The Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost may request additional supporting materials if the external evaluations seem insufficient. If the packet requires additional supporting evidence, the campus will solicit the requested information. If the packet is deemed complete and the nominee deemed meritorious, the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost will send it to a Distinguished Professor Selection Committee. The Selection Committee will meet and evaluate the candidate’s portfolio and make recommendations back to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost who will make final recommendations to the Chancellor for review and submission to the Board of Trustees Committee on Faculty, Staff and Administration, with eventual approval required by the University Board of Trustees.

Distinguished Professorships are reserved for faculty with records of appropriate performance by national and international standards of excellence in their profession. There must be substantial evidence of this performance, including significant quantities of high-quality work in areas of importance in their disciplines. There must also be evidence that this quality of performance will continue into the future.

The college will forward the following to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost:

  1. A current curriculum vitae checked for accuracy and completeness;
  2. Letters of recommendations from the college’s president and from the chief academic officer;
  3. External evaluations, accompanied by vitas (not bios) for each evaluator*;
  4. Documentation of the nomination process, including an account of the process by which the external evaluations were solicited;
  5. Representative samples of the candidate's scholarly and/or creative work, as appropriate, and any additional evidence of exceptional performance by national and international standards of excellence.

*Campuses should seek at least ten (10) external letters of evaluation from full professors or people of comparable standing outside the academy who are widely recognized authorities in the nominee’s field and can provide objective analyses of the nominee’s qualifications. As part of the nomination materials sent to the University, the campuses should provide the evaluating committee with each reviewer's vita. The review letters should include a comparison of the nominee to a specific list of other distinguished scholars in the field and provide a clearly articulated rationale for the assessment. Reviewers must be objective, without reasons for bias; for example, they should not ordinarily be coauthors with the candidate, and they cannot be from any CUNY college. Reviewers should acknowledge any prior contact with the nominee.

After the college-level process is completed and the materials are forwarded to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost’s office, the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost may request additional supporting materials if the external evaluations seem insufficient.

The Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost forwards each nomination to a Distinguished Professor Selection Committee. The Selection Committee will then meet and evaluate the candidate’s portfolio and make a recommendation to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost. The Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost will send the final recommendations to the Chancellor for his review and submission to the Board Committee on Faculty, Staff and Administration. Final approval is required by the University Board of Trustees.

Nomination packets must include a current and accurate curriculum vitae, letters of recommendation, and external evaluations, accompanied by a vita for each evaluator. Packets must include documentation of the nomination process up to the point of packet submission, including an account of the process by which the external evaluators' letters were solicited. Nomination packets must also include samples of the nominee’s recent work, as well as substantial evidence of exceptional performance by national and international standards of excellence.

Beginning in fall 2014, submissions of nominating materials from the Colleges to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost’s Office for appointment to University Distinguished Professor will be accepted on a rolling basis for consideration by the Board of Trustees at a subsequent meeting.

Nominees need the support of and recommendation from the college president and highest ranking academic administrator, the Distinguished Professor Selection Committee, the Chancellor, and the Board of Trustees Committee on Faculty, Staff, and Administration to be conferred with the title of Distinguished Professor by the CUNY Board of Trustees.

  • Each nominee must have the college’s endorsement based on the approved policy and/or practices of the college.
  • Materials for the nominee’s portfolio must be submitted to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost’s office.
  • Additional evaluative letters may be solicited and submitted to or by the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost when additional documentation is needed.
  • The nominee’s portfolio must be reviewed by a Distinguished Professor Selection Committee and recommended to the Chancellor.
  • The nominee must be approved by the Chancellor and recommended to the Board of Trustees Committee on Faculty, Staff, and Administration.
  • The nominee must receive approval by the Board of Trustees Committee on Faculty, Staff, and Administration.

Since Distinguished Professor appointments are not provided solely to recognize past performance, there must be evidence that quality of performance will continue. As a Distinguished Professor, faculty members will be expected to maintain high-quality work in their discipline and their performance will continue to be measured by national and international standards of excellence in the their respective professions. Colleges must review the performance of Distinguished Professors at least once every five years.

In all but the most exceptional circumstances, initially unsuccessful nominees may be re-nominated only once after a minimum of three years from the action.

Beginning in fall 2014, the University Board of Trustees may vote on nominations for Distinguished Professor at any of its meetings. The Board typically meets six times a year. Once an appointment to Distinguished Professor has been approved, it will go into effect on the first day of the subsequent month.

Colleges must review the performance of all Distinguished Professors at the end of every five years. The president will submit the review to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost. In consultation with appropriate departmental and college persons, the president is expected to recommend to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost that a Distinguished Professor be discontinued if there is failure to perform at levels expected of persons at that rank. Recommendations not to reappoint on any grounds other than scholarly productivity and excellence are inappropriate for this honor.

The criteria for Distinguished Professors and Distinguished Visiting Professors awards are the same.

A Distinguished Visiting Professor possesses all of the qualifications of a CUNY Distinguished Professor but does not hold a permanent, tenured position at CUNY.