History of the Distinguished Professorship

  • September 1962

    Two visiting Distinguished Professors are recruited from the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton to help CUNY launch a new doctoral program in Economics.

  • February 1967

    CUNY examines and defines the purpose of Distinguished Professorship: to enrich the academic environment of the University with outstanding faculty.

  • May 1968

    Brooklyn College pledges funding to establish its first Visiting Distinguished Professorship -- a chair in Afro-American Studies in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • February 1969

    Baruch College establishes a Distinguished Professorship in Accountancy and designates Emanuel Saxe to be the first recipient of the honor.

  • April 1970

    Martin Landau is named first Distinguished Professor at Brooklyn College (Political Science).

  • June 1970

    Bertram Gross is named the first Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center (Urban Affairs and Planning).

  • September 1970

    Taro Takahashi is named the first Distinguished Professor at Queens College (Physical Sciences).

  • October 1970

    CUNY appoints nineteen new Distinguished Professors, including the first to be named at The City College, Hunter College, The Graduate Center, and John Jay College, as well as additional Distinguished Professorships at Brooklyn, Baruch, and Queens Colleges. With these professors, CUNY has filled all but one of the Distinguished Professorships it is authorized and funded to support.

  • March 1971

    Helaine Newstead, an expert in Arthurian legend and medieval studies, is named a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center(English), becoming the first woman at CUNY to earn the honor. Dr. Martin Duberman becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Lehman College (History).

  • November 1972

    Emanuel Saxe, the first CUNY Distinguished Professor and Dean Emeritus of Baruch College, retires. Baruch College recognizes his outstanding contributions by establishing the Dean Emanuel Saxe Professorship in his honor.

  • December 1972

    CUNY trustees begin to discuss the possibility of expanding Distinguished Professorships to faculty at its community colleges.

  • April 1983

    N. John Hall becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Bronx Community College (English).

  • May 1983

    Charles Jacobs becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Kingsborough Community College (Music).

  • June 1983

    Herbert Parmet becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Queensborough Community College (History).

  • June 1985

    Well-known dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey becomes the first Visiting Distinguished Professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College (Physical Education, Health, Recreation, and Dance).

  • January 1997

    Professional Staff Congress (PSC) Contract caps the number of CUNY Distinguished Professors at 125.

  • September 1998

    Bruce Davidson becomes the first Visiting Distinguished Professor at LaGuardia Community College(Photography).

  • April 2000

    Lehman College Distinguished Professor of Music John Corigliano wins an Academy Award for his soundtrack in the film The Red Violin.

  • June 2001

    Lehman College Distinguished Professor of English Billy Collins is named U.S. Poet Laureate.

  • May 2001

    TheGraduate Centerestablishes an Endowed Chair in American History to honor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., renowned American historian and previous CUNY Distinguished Professor.

  • January 2001

    Elizabeth Nunez becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Medgar Evers College (Languages and Literatures).

  • January 2002

    Michael Lomonaco becomes the first Distinguished Professor at New York Technical College(Hospitality Management).

  • February 2004

    Isaac Goldemberg becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Hostos Community College (Humanities).

  • June 2006

    Under the newly negotiated PSC contract, the number of Distinguished Professorships that CUNY may confer is increased to 175.

  • July 2007

    Ruthann Robson becomes the first Distinguished Professor at CUNY School of Law. CUNY continues to invest in a world-class faculty representing a rich diversity of gender, ethnicity, and academic fields at all of its campuses.