Distinguished Professorships
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    Distinguished Professorships

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    Article Summary

    The Faculty Handbook (Chapter 4), begins its discussion of distinguished professorships as follows:

    The university bears special witness to its intellectual commitment through its program of distinguished professorships. Appointmentment to a named chair is the highest honor the university can bestow upon a member of its faculty.

    Types of Distinguished Professorships at Duke University

    James B. Duke Professorships
    Bass Chairs
    Individually named chairs
    Interdisciplinary University Professorships
    University Distinguished Service Professorships
    Eponymous Professorships

    The Handbook continues to describe these various professorships and to outline the procedures used in evaluating faculty for them. It concludes by noting that

    “in cases where a faculty member is being considered simultaneously for an appointment at Duke and a distinguished professorship, the Provost's Advisory Committee on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure (or its equivalent in law, clinical sciences, and nursing) is asked to consider the appointment to a tenured full professorship before consideration of the case for a named chair by any Distinguished Professorships Committee.”

    See below for rules for selecting distinguished professorships.

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    Distinguished Professorship Nominations

    On an annual basis, School Distinguished Professorship Committees will evaluating nominations. When these reviews are complete and the Dean makes recommendations to the Provost for specific faculty into Distinguished Professorships, please submit the dossiers to the Provost’s Faculty Affairs Office via DUKE’S BOX, by December 31 of the current year. This schedule will allow the Provost to review the files and submit recommendations to the Board of Trustees in time for faculty receiving honors to be invited to the Distinguished Professors’ Dinner, in the spring. (Please contact our office if you have questions regarding availability of a specific professorship)

    Once a distinguished professorship is approved by the Provost/Provost’s APT committee, it is then submitted to the Trustee’s List for Board Approval. The Faculty Affairs Office assigns the professorship in the SAP system with the proper effective dates.

    Requests and Changes (off cycle)

    The Provost may make DP recommendations to the Board of Trustees later in the spring and throughout the year, but files received after New Year’s may not be considered by the Trustees in time for the Annual Dinner. These and any other requests must be submitted via email to the Faculty Affairs Office, to confirm availability of the chair prior to the Provost’s approval.

    For off-cycle requests, Provost’s approval, requests must be submitted via email to Faculty Affairs Office.

    Establishing Eponymous (unfunded) named professorships


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    Consistent with the Trustees 1983 policy (followed in 1998 and again in 2002 when the list of eponyms for the Fuqua School was forwarded to the Board of Trustees for approval), the fundamental guidelines for selection of potential eponyms are as follows:

    • That, as stipulated in the 1981 Board of Trustees resolution, eponyms honor persons who have been deceased at least ten years.

    • That there be no reasonable chance of ever establishing a funded chair in the same name.

    • That the names be selected, in order of preference, from among:

    • Former members of the respective school and Duke University faculties.

    • Former Trustees and officers of the respective school and Duke University.

    • Distinguished alumni of the respective school and Duke University. Dedicated benefactors of the University.

    The Dean (or a representative who is especially knowledgeable about those distinguished or influential individuals who have had an impact on the respective school and its history) provides the Provost with a set of suggested names, together with comprehensive biographical information (year of birth, year of death, professional achievements and Duke contributions) for each of the proposed eponyms. It is especially helpful if the list of proposed eponyms is ordered in some rough priority ranking, with the ones considered most important to the school’s goals at the top of the list. The list of proposed names and the biographical information are required in order to initiate the process of establishing sufficient eponyms for the school to last for the next five years.

    The University Archivist may be able to assist Deans and their staff in locating relevant biographical details and also to ensure that the biographical details and also to ensure that the biographical information is both correct and comparable to that submitted by other schools for eponyms.

    After vetting the suggested names, the Provost forwards the list to the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees for its consideration. Subsequently, the individual names approved by the Academic Affairs Committee are forwarded to the Board of Trustees for final approval.