UI Provost launches program aimed at recognizing tenured faculty

The University of Iowa Office of the Provost is launching the Distinguished Professorship program, which aims to recognize tenured faculty for their academic work.


Katie Goodale

Provost Montse Fuentes speaks in an interview with The Daily Iowan in Jessup Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Fuentes sat down to discuss new plans to improve support for first-generation students.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

The University of Iowa is launching a new Distinguished Professorship program through a partnership between the Provost’s Office and the university colleges that aims to recognize tenured faculty members doing what the university deems exceptional work at national and international levels.

Selected faculty will receive $100,000 to support their professional activities over five years, according to a statement issued by university officials. Nominations for the first awards will be accepted until April 15.

Full-time, tenured professors and associate professors are eligible for nomination to the UI Distinguished Professorship program, the statement said. Those selected will hold the title of Distinguished University Professor in the remainder of their time at the UI.

Faculty who receive the $100,000 award will be given the funds in $20,000 increments over five years, the statement said. They will also receive a one-time $6,000 increase to their base salary.

“It is so important that we celebrate and reward faculty excellence, and that we continue to build a culture of appreciation on our campus,” Fuentes said in a statement. “Faculty are the key to student success, research, scholarship, and everything we do here, and I am committed to creating an environment where they can accomplish their best work and be recognized for it.”

During the UI’s annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion update on Jan. 22, Provost Montserrat Fuentes discussed a five-year decrease in tenure and tenure-track faculty the university has seen. Data shared in her presentation show the total number of tenure-track faculty dropped from 1,616 to 1,496 from fiscal 2015 to fiscal 2019.

RELATED: UI provost to boost underrepresented faculty support through new initiatives 

“The number of tenure-track faculty has been decreasing,” Fuentes said in an interview with the Daily Iowan in January. “The number of underrepresented and minority faculty we want to increase is in the tenure track, so it has to be a priority to act on that increase of retention, increase the recruitment of tenure track, and to diversify the tenure track.”

Fuentes also has plans for additional faculty-focused programs, such as the Path to Distinction program and the Distinction Through Diversity Fund, as previously reported by the DI.

The Path to Distinction program will integrate research-informed best practices with diversity and equity into faculty recruitment processes. The Distinction Through Diversity Fund will recruit and retain undergraduate students and tenure-track faculty of color.

The awardees will be recognized during the fall 2020 semester.

“These distinguished professorships represent a fantastic opportunity for faculty and an important faculty-retention initiative,” UI Faculty Senate President Sandra Daack-Hirsch said in a statement. “My colleagues in the Faculty Senate and I are very excited to see this moving forward.”

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