University Distinguished Professor Group: Selection Process

Description of the Process for the Selection of University Distinguished Professors as revised and approved by UDPG May 2014

1. Overview

This document describes the process for the selection of University Distinguished Professors and the role of the University Distinguished Professor Group (UDPG) in that process. The Provost has determined that the review of nominations will be conducted by the UDPG. The Provost will select the appointments from the slate of names recommended by the UDPG.

2. Solicitation

The provost will solicit nominations for the title of University Distinguished Professor via letters addressed to all tenured faculty. In addition, department heads and deans will be asked by the Provost to identify potential candidates and to encourage the nomination of qualified candidates by tenured faculty. Both solicitations will be sent out no later than the end of the first week of classes in the Fall semester. The deadline for submission of completed nomination packages is anticipated to be in early October, and will be specified in the solicitations.

3. Nominations

Eligibility for appointment at this rank is restricted to tenured faculty with the rank of Full Professor on full-time appointment at the University. The qualifications for this honor are:

Nomination packages must contain the following material:

  • The individual must have made an outstanding impact on his or her field.
  • This impact is recognized as continuing.
  • This excellence has been recognized in important ways, including, but not limited to:
    • Receipt of personal honors from professional societies or
    • Selection as a Kansas State University Distinguished Graduate Faculty member or Coffman Distinguished Teaching Scholar or
    • Receipt of other awards of national or international stature recognizing continuing distinguished personal contributions to research, teaching or other areas of scholarship as defined by Boyer[1].

Nominations of outstanding faculty, who meet all three of these criteria, for the title of University Distinguished Professor can be made to the Provost by any tenured Kansas State University faculty member. A hard copy original of the nomination package, with original signatures, and a PDF file containing the entire nomination package (including support letters from the Dean and Department Head/Director) should be submitted to the Provost. Late/incomplete nomination packages (including letters from department heads, directors and/or deans) will not be considered.

Nomination packages must contain the following material:

  • A letter of nomination that should be on department letterhead and no more than five pages in length. It must:
  • Identify and delineate the special reasons that justify selection of the nominee for the title of University Distinguished Professor. The letter should interpret, highlight (as necessary), and be complementary to the material included in the curriculum vitae, and not be a mere repetition of it.
  • Identify by name the national/international honors received by the nominee, the relative frequency/selectivity of the award(s) received, and the normal time in the career that such awards are received. A brief description of the types and sources of awards generally available in the field also may be included.
  • Describe the nominee’s scholarship, achievements and contributions to his/her field in a manner understandable by a general academic audience. Nomination letters addressed primarily to other specialists in the nominee’s field reduce the competitiveness of the nomination. (Most, if not all, of the principle reviewers of the nomination, whose expertise ranges from art to veterinary medicine, will be unfamiliar with the specifics of the nominee’s field.)
    • A detailed curriculum vitae.
    • A list of at least four and no more than five eminent scholars outside Kansas State University with national and international recognition and expertise to speak directly to the outstanding qualifications of the nominee. The professional qualifications of each potential referee should be described, and a statement describing any personal or professional relationships between the referee and the nominee that may have existed in the past, or that may be in progress, must be stated. The standing of the referees in their field can affect the evaluation of the support letters. Do not include CVs for potential references in the nomination package. Complete current mailing addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers for each referee must also be provided. Nominators are expected to confirm that all of the suggested referees are willing to write a support letter if one is solicited from them by the Provost, as the lack of external support letters may reduce the competitiveness of a nomination. The Provost will not solicit letters from all of the individuals whose names are submitted as a part of the nomination. In consultation with the nominee’s head/director or dean, the Provost may solicit reference letters from one or two individuals not included on the nominator’s original list.)
    • Letters of support from the college dean, and either the department head or division/school director, except in support of a nomination of a head/director.
    • Materials not included in the above list will be discarded. Do not include books, reprints or similar items with the nomination materials.

4. Nominations will remain active for a total period of three consecutive years

Nominators of unsuccessful candidates will be contacted by the Provost’s office prior to the submission of applications for the second and third years of a nominee’s eligibility. At that time, the nominator may update the application, ask for the nomination to remain active with no update, or withdraw the application. The updated nomination may include any or all of the following:

  • A new letter of nomination to replace the old one OR a one page letter summarizing the major accomplishments of the nominee during the past year.
  • A new/updated curriculum vitae.
  • An additional recommended name for the list of eminent scholars outside Kansas State University who could review the application materials. As with the original list the nominator is expected to provide background information on the referee, contact details, and to ensure that the referee is willing to provide a letter, if requested, by the Provost’s office.

Updated materials are to be submitted to the Provost as both a signed original and a PDF file. These materials are due to the Provost’s office at the same time as new nominations are due.

Withdrawn nominations will not be considered during the current academic year’s competition, but may be submitted again the following academic year to begin a new three-year cycle as though they were new nominations.

Continuing nominations whose nominators do not respond to the request from the Provost’s office will be considered to have been withdrawn and will not be considered in the current year’s selection process. If the nominator has left Kansas State University, then the nominee’s department head/director or dean will be asked to provide a response or to identify an alternate nominator.

If a nominee is not selected as a university distinguished professor during the consecutive three-year period or if an application is withdrawn, a period of one year must pass before the Professor may be re-nominated whereupon a new consecutive three-year active period begins.

5. Review and Evaluation Committee

The UDPG will name a Review and Evaluation Committee of University Distinguished Professors (REC). The REC will be composed of four or five K-State UDPs and three external distinguished professors chosen by the Provost from other Big 12 universities. The REC committee will, to the extent possible, have broad disciplinary representation. External members of the REC serve for one-year terms, but may be reappointed for up to three consecutive years. The K-State members of the REC and the REC Chair serve staggered two year terms, with two or three new committee members from K-State appointed annually by the UDPG President, with the approval of the UDPG. REC members may serve no more than two consecutive terms. The REC Chair must have served on the REC during the previous academic year and must be from K-State.

The Provost’s office will maintain a checklist and notify the REC Chair of the status of nominationpackages. If too few external reference letters are in the file for nominees in their second or third years, then additional outside letters will again be requested by the Provost’s office.

6. Evaluation of nomination materials

A. Initial review by the REC

University distinguished professor nomination materials will be made available electronically to both K-State and external members of the REC. Each REC member will evaluate all of the nominations before the first REC meeting and develop their own “Top Ten” ranking of the nominees. Members of the REC will provide the REC Chair with their “Top Ten” rankings prior to the first meeting of the REC. At their first meeting, REC members will deliberate and develop a consensus list of the top ten candidates based on the initial rankings and subsequent deliberations with the nomination materials and external support letters guiding the deliberations. All REC discussions are confidential. The REC will take such actions as necessary to ensure that it can present a “Top Ten” list to the UDPG.

Nomination materials for all nominees also will be made available electronically for review by all other members of the UDPG. Any member of the UDPG may provide confidential comments to the REC for consideration in the preparation of reports for the UDPG.

B. First UDPG meeting

At the February UDPG meeting, the REC will present an unranked “Top Ten” list (the initial report) to the UDPG, along with brief verbal summaries of items in the nomination that led to the nominee’s inclusion on the list. This report will then be discussed by the full UDPG. This discussion can range beyond the candidates recommended by the REC. After discussion, the UDPG may adopt the initial report as presented or modify it by consensus through the replacement of one, or more, of the nominees in the initial report with other nominees to create a modified consensus “Top Ten” list of candidates. The REC is then charged to create a list of the top five candidates prior to the March UDPG meeting.

Academic deans may observe the UDPG meetings when the REC makes recommendations on university distinguished professor nominees and when the vote selecting university distinguished professors for approval by the Provost is made (see below). They may not participate in discussions of the merits of nominees. They may, however, provide points of clarification and correct factual errors upon request or through the Chair. The deans cannot vote.

C. Review of “Top Ten” nominees.

UDPG members are expected to review the files of the nominees on the UDPG consensus “Top Ten” list prior to the March UDPG meeting. Prior to its second meeting, all REC members will provide the REC Chair with an unranked list of their “Top 5” candidates. At their second meeting, REC members will deliberate and develop a consensus list of the top five candidates based on the initial rankings and subsequent deliberations with the nomination materials, discussion at the previous UDPG meeting, and external support letters guiding the deliberations. In addition to the consensus top five, individual external REC members each may request the addition of one nominee from the modified “Top Ten” to the consensus “Top 5” list prepared by the REC. This list is called the final report.  

D. Second UDPG meeting

At the March UDPG meeting, the REC committee will present an unranked “Top Five” list (the final report) to the UDPG, along with brief verbal summaries of items in the nomination that led to the nominee’s inclusion on the list. Nominees whose inclusion was requested by an external member of the REC will be identified as such and included in the report along with the rationale for their addition to the report. The final report is be discussed by the full UDPG. This discussion can range beyond the candidates recommended by the REC to include any nominees who were included in the initial report or the modified “Top Ten” report. At the end of the discussion, individual UDPs may each request the addition of one nominee from the initial report or from the modified “Top Ten” to the consensus list prepared by the REC. Once the list of nominees to be considered is finalized, voting, as described below, is completed prior to the end of the meeting.

7. Voting by UDPG members on university distinguished professor nominees

The purpose of the vote by the UDPG is to provide a ranking to guide the Provost in the selection of new university distinguished professors.

  • Number of votes for each UDP. Each member of the UDPG is given three votes, unless this number is changed at the meeting by majority vote of those present.
  • Eligible nominees list. The nominees to be voted on will include all of those in the final report of the REC (including any nominees added by an external member of the REC) and any additional nominees added by UDPG members at the current meeting.
  • Secret Ballot: Each member of the UDPG present at the meeting (e-mail and other absentee ballots, hard copy or electronic, are excluded) and participating in the process will be required to present an unranked list of three (unless this number is changed earlier in the meeting) nominees whose names are on the agreed upon list.
  • Requirements for a Valid Ballot: Any “ballot” containing names of more or less than three (or the number agreed upon earlier in the meeting) nominees, or with names of nominees not on the eligible nominees list will be disqualified.
  • Counting of Ballots: The ballots will be counted at this meeting by two individuals, the Secretary/Treasurer of the UDPG and the Chair of the REC. If one or both of these individuals is not in attendance at the meeting, then another UDPG member may be appointed by the UDPG President to assist with this task. Results of the ballot are reported to the UDPG prior to the end of the meeting.
  • 48 hour review period: The ballots will be held by the Secretary/Treasurer of the UDPG, or his/her designee, who also is a university distinguished professor.   A 48 hour review period will occur before the result of the ballot is reported to the Provost. During this time, the “ballots” will be made available for review by any member of the UDPG.   If a recount reveals a change in the ranking of any of the nominees, an additional meeting of the UDPG will be called within the next 48 hour period.
  • Report of the results to the Provost: After the 48 hour review period is complete, the UPDG President and the Chair of the REC, or their designees if either or both of these individuals did not attend the meeting at which the voting occurred, meet with the Provost to discuss the “sense of the group” at the meeting and the results of the voting process. The Provost receives the eligible nominees list and the number of votes received by each nominee on the list.   The UDPG President and REC Chair will provide any additional information requested by the Provost with respect to the selection and evaluation process. The Provost selects and notifies the successful candidates.
  • All deliberations are held in strictest confidence.


[1] (Ernest L. Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1990)