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Distinguished Professor Award

Boise State banner, seen through branches covered in yellow leaves
Campus scenes, fall, photo Patrick Sweeney

In Spring 2010, the Faculty Senate recommended changes in BSU Policy 7000 to add a faculty title of Distinguished Professor. These individuals would carry the title “Boise State University Distinguished Professor.” The Distinguished Professor title at Boise State University is the highest honor bestowed on a tenured faculty member and is accompanied by a one-time honorarium of $10,000 to support the awardee’s professional activities. It is a recognition not just of excellence, but of impact and significant contribution to the university, to students, to colleagues, and to the nominee’s field, knowledge, profession, and/or practice.

Designation of this title shall be made only when a clear indication exists that individuals so appointed will provide exemplary academic and intellectual leadership and will continue their professional activities in such a way as to maintain national and international recognition and a commensurate level of accomplishment. Once designated as such, a Boise State University Distinguished Professorship title will be held for the remainder of the recipient’s active service at Boise State University as long as the faculty member continues to exhibit the qualities of selection. It may be held simultaneously with an endowed chair or named professorship. The title Boise State University Distinguished Professor Emeritus will be conferred upon retirement.

Award Details



The Boise State University Distinguished Professorship title will be conferred on members of the Boise State University faculty whose achievement has already been recognized by the University with the rank of full professor (including those who have served/are serving in administrative faculty positions). To qualify for the Distinguished Professorship, a faculty member must have consistently demonstrated outstanding teaching and leadership in teaching; research, scholarship, and/or creative activity; and outreach, engagement, and service. The holders of this distinctive honor should demonstrate effective mentoring and engagement of students in advancing knowledge creation and making a positive difference in the world.

To be eligible for the nomination as a Distinguished Professor, a faculty member must have

  • Held the rank of Professor at Boise State for at least five years
  • Received national and/or international recognition in any of the three following categories:
    • 1) Teaching Excellence and Leadership in Teaching
    • 2) Excellence in Research, Scholarship or Creative Activity
    • 3) Excellence in Outreach, Engagement and Service
  • Made strong, ongoing, and distinguished contributions in ALL of the categories above
  • Have been a Boise State employee during the period for which the outstanding contributions are being recognized; previous accomplishments at other institutions, if applicable, may be used in support of continued outstanding performance.

While the expectation is that a Distinguished Professor will have made —and will continue to make—significant contributions under all three areas, the relative emphasis of each area in their record of accomplishment will vary, both in the totality of that record and over the course of their academic career. The relative emphasis should reflect the nature of the nominee’s current and past academic appointment(s) and workload assignments.

Nomination Process


  1. Call for nominations in Spring
  2. Nominations due August 31
  3. Selection process between September and early October
  4. Recognition event in Spring

Distinguished Professor Advisory Committee

The Committee is given charge to complete the following tasks:

  • Promote a broad and diverse pool of nominees.
  • Create a list of potential nominees from departments and/or colleges that are underrepresented among the Distinguished Professors.
  • Contact deans and chairs in their group of colleges to be proactive in nominating colleagues and to encourage a broad and diverse set of deserving nominees.
  • Assist nominators, where deemed necessary, in preparing a strong nomination.
  • Review nominations from the prior selection year and approve eligible repeat nominees.

Nominations From Colleges/Schools

Nominations should be made to the appropriate college awards committee. The Dean of each college may make one nomination, plus one additional nomination for each 100 faculty members. No nominations will be allowed for fractions of 100 faculty. Based on 2022 figures for tenured and tenure-track faculty members, the following numbers of nominations are allowed:

  • College of Arts and Sciences (2 nominations)
  • College of Business and Economics (1 nomination)
  • College of Education (1 nomination)
  • College of Engineering (1 nomination)
  • College of Health Sciences (1 nomination)
  • College of Innovation and Design (1 nomination)
  • School of Public Service (1 nomination)
  • Albertsons Library (1 nomination)

Total Nominations = 9

Previous nominations will remain active for three years.

*The number of award recipients is not limited; in fact, in some years no awards might be given. In general, two to three awards might be given in a year.

Nomination Materials

Items to Be Included

These activities shall be completed consistent with a call for nominations in Spring each year, and a deadline for nominations on August 31. Send nominations to Spencer Kelly, Nomination materials should be submitted in a single PDF document in the following order:

Nomination Statement

Nomination statement of no more than three (3) pages describing why the nominee deserves to be named a Distinguished Professor.

  • Cite specific examples of the nominee’s distinguished activities in the areas of teaching/service/research or creative activity.
  • Explicitly identify the nominee’s demonstrated outstanding performance in all of the three areas identified above (see Appendix A for suggested types of evidence), within the context of the nominee’s workload assignments.
Nominee Summary

Nominee’s 1-page summary highlighting most distinguished accomplishments


Nominee’s Full Curriculum Vitae

Letters of Support

Three to five letters of support (two-page single-spaced limit)

Nominators should request at least three letters of support, one from each of the categories below:

  • External Letters: At least one of these letters must be from an external source with expertise in the nominee’s areas of excellence. The external recommendation must outline the norms of excellence and distinction recognized in the discipline and situate the nominee’s work within those norms.
  • Student Letters: Letters of support from present and/or former students
  • Internal Letters: Letters of endorsement from relevant deans and chairpersons or directors; colleagues, community members, etc.

Nominators should ensure that the letters not only reinforce the reasons the nominee should be considered for the award but also address additional factors that may not have been addressed in other parts of the nomination package. No more than five letters may be included in a nomination package.

Selection Process

University Recommending Committee


The Provost appoints members to the recommending committee and will make every effort to include

  • at least one student representative (graduate or undergraduate)
  • at least one representative from the Faculty Senate
  • Nine tenured full professors, at least one from each of the academic colleges, at least two of whom must hold the rank of Distinguished Professor
    • The tenured full professors will reflect a balance of accomplishments in teaching, research/scholarship/creative activity, and/or professional service. The Committee must be well balanced so that no one area dominates the total membership’s accomplishments.
  • At least one representative from alumni and/or emeriti faculty
  • Ex Officio member from the Provost’s Office

No nominee for Distinguished Professor in a given year may serve on the Committee for that year.

Terms of Service

Members of the Recommending Committee will serve staggered three-year terms.


At the conclusion of each award cycle, the University Recommending Committee will select a Chair for the next cycle. Members who serve as the Committee Chair for at least two years may extend their term on the Recommending Committee beyond the three-year limit.

The University Recommending Committee members will reflect various disciplines, backgrounds, and positions. Members are expected to review nomination materials in an unbiased manner. Therefore, members are expected to have participated in equity and inclusion training that is similar to the training provided for search committees (this may include participation in the BUILD program, search committee training, training to be an Equity Advocate, and/or other types of equity and inclusion workshops that might be available through professional organizations).

The University Recommending Committee reserves the right to request limited additional information from the candidates to aid in final recommendations.

The University Recommending Committee will determine the final number of nominees to recommend to the Provost; in some years, it’s possible that no nominees will be recommended to the Provost.

Award Criteria

  • Sustained excellence in all areas of responsibility expected of a tenured faculty member
  • Evidence of distinction that is recognized within the discipline/field of study–for example,
    • National/international-level distinctions and honors of the highest level
    • Recognition as national/international leader in teaching, scholarship, and/or service
    • Distinguished leadership
    • Recognition for impact of teaching/scholarship/service as defined by the discipline/field of study/university mission.
  • Consistently fulfills the professional obligations of faculty member as defined in the Faculty Code of Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, Section 2.1 Framing Principles (see Appendix B).
  • Records of disciplinary action will disqualify a nominee for five years.


Types of Recognition

  • Recipients’ photographs will be displayed on campus and on the Boise State website.
  • Recipient will be acknowledged at a luncheon or other existing event.
  • Timeline for post-tenure review will be reset.
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