Distinguished Professors

A distinguished professorship is the most prestigious academic appointment at Indiana University. It may be an endowed position or may be funded by the university. Nominations for the rank of distinguished professor may be submitted by faculty, alumni, students, or other persons. The nominator is responsible for compiling the dossier supporting the nomination, including an up-to-date resume.

The IU Office of the President forwards nominations to the University Distinguished Ranks Committee. The committee reviews the nominations, consults with departmental chairpersons and deans, and submits recommendations to the president and the trustees of the university for their consideration.

Selection of an individual for a distinguished professorship is based on the following criteria:

Distinction in scholarship. Evidence includes a bibliography of publications; evaluations by peers, especially recognized leaders in the discipline; recognition by national and international professional organizations in the form of awards, medals, honorary degrees, elected office, and other honors; invitations to hold prestigious lectureships and visiting professorships and to participate in high-level national and international conferences, symposia, and meetings; and membership in honorary academic and professional organizations.

Artistic and literary distinction. Evidence of outstanding quality is required, with evaluation by peers; representation of works in national and international exhibitions, shows, and museums; or performance of works by internationally known performers and orchestras or in major concert series.

In some fields, the achievement of distinction may be based on criteria other than scholarship or artistic production, such as extraordinary technical accomplishments or contributions to national or international education; social, economic, or public policy activity; or extraordinary success as a teacher, as judged by evidence of a significant role in the development of students who have gone on to important success.

Dr. Ting-Kai Li, for example, has received numerous awards for his research in the genetic and neurobiological bases of alcoholism and the genetic determinants of alcohol metabolism and elimination. Among his honors are the Distinguished Research Award of the Research Society on Alcoholism, the James B. Isaacson Award for Research Excellence in Chemical Dependency, and the prestigious Jellinek Award.

At this level of scholarship and creativity, excellence in teaching is typically a reflection of distinction in a research career. Li's attitude toward teaching and learning could be a model for all teachers. "I think that all of us as scientists pursue what is fascinating to us about science," Li says. "But I think one of the pleasures of being a professor in a university is helping to develop the careers of students and younger colleagues. A very satisfying result of my doing research is that I have helped younger colleagues develop their own research programs. When I do interdisciplinary research, I am exposed to other disciplines and other investigators and I learn, and that's what I enjoy, the additional learning that I derive. This is where the fun is for me, not only in new discoveries but also in learning about new areas."

--Hal Kibbey