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Distinguished Professors

Today, the highest distinction a professor can attain at the university is the designation as a University Distinguished Professor or an Alumni Distinguished Professor. In 1969 the board of visitors created the title “University Professor” to honor faculty who had achieved international distinction and stature. In January 1972 the Alumni Association announced that a limited number of Alumni Professorships—five— would be awarded the following fall to recognize exceptional accomplishment in undergraduate teaching, creative scholarship, and professional activities. The association built an endowment to fund the professorships to honor the university’s centennial celebration, and Frederick Donald Bloss became the first recipient. In 1975 the board of visitors changed the University Professor title to University Distinguished Professor at the recommendation of President William Lavery. Only 1 percent of the faculty can hold the UDP title.

Professors who have held the distinguished professorships and the year they received the honor are as follows:

University Professors

1969  Charles Burchard
1969  Charles I. Rich
1969  Dan H. Pletta
1969  George M. Harper
1969  Irving J. Good
1969  James M. Buchanan
1971  Leon Meirovitch
1971  Paul F. Zweifel
1971  Roy E. Blaser
1971  William C. Havard
1972  Gordon Tullock
1972  John Cairns Jr.
1974  Walter R. Hibbard Jr.

University Distinguished Professors

1975  Ali Hasan Nayfeh
1975  George B. Collins
1975  Paul B. Siegel
1976  Lillian V. H. Moore
1976  Lillian V. Holdeman
1978  Arthur M. Squires
1979  Robert E. Marshak
1981  Gerald V. Gibbs
1982  Walter Edward C. Moore
1983  Bruce Wallace
1983  W. Leonard Meirovitch
1986  Bernard F. Dukore
1986  Frank S. Quinn
1987  J. Michael Duncan
1988  Herve Moulin
1989  Samuel K. Alexander
1996  George J. Flick, Jr.
1996  James E. McGrath
1996  James K. Mitchell
1996  John J. Tyson*
1996  Paul L. Knox*
1999  David Kingston*
1999  Fred C. Lee*
1999  Garth L. Wilkes
1999  Harold E. Burkhart*
1999  Nikki Giovanni*
1999  Robert J. Bodnar*
1999  T. W. Luke*
1999  Thomas H. Ollendick*
2000  Arun G. Phadke
2007  Hanif Sherali
2007  Michael F. Hochella Jr.*
2010  Dennis Dean*
2010  Roe-Hoan Yoon*
2013  Patricia Dove*
2013  X.J. Meng*
2015  Karen Roberto*
2017  Dushan Boroyevich* and Marc Edwards*

* Currently on the faculty
The rank of university distinguished professor shall be carried by incumbents until resignation or retirement from the university, subject to the normal standard of continuous high performance.

Honorary University Distinguished Professor

1988  Marjorie G. Grene (1910-2009)

After her mandatory retirement from UC Davis, Prof. Grene found it financially and intellectually desirable to continue working in academic settings. From fall 1978 until spring 1986 she held visiting positions in twelve colleges and universities plus a research fellowship (1985-86) at the American Museum of Natural History. In 1988, when her daughter Ruth moved from Cornell University to Virginia Tech, Prof. Grene moved from Ithaca, NY to Blacksburg, VA where she was named as an Honorary University Distinguished Professor and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Science Studies at Virginia Tech. Marjorie Grene passed away March 16, 2009, at age 98 after a brief illness.

Alumni Distinguished Professors

1972  Frederick Donald Bloss
1974  Daniel Frederick
1981  Charles William Smith
1981  Paul Antonie Distler
1982  Noel R. Krieg
1982  Olivio C. Ferrari
1987  James P. Wightman
1992  George M. Simmons Jr.
1992  James I. Robertson Jr.
1992  William E. Snizek
1996  Siegfried M. Holzer
1998  Lucinda H. Roy*
1998  Wayne D. Purcell
1999  Arthur Buikema
2002  Charles Reinholtz
2002  Rosemary Blieszner*
2003  Jacqueline E. Bixler*
2004  Charles Bostian
2005  Ezra “Bud” Brown
2005  Scott Geller*
2007  Gary Downey*
2010  Tom Gardner*
2010  John Seiler*
2012  Y.A. Liu*
2016  Art Keown*
2017  Gary Downey*

* Currently holding an alumni distinguished professorship
An appointment as alumni distinguished professor is conferred by the board of visitors upon an individual for a period of 10 years; the appointment may be renewed. There is no quota by college or department.

Honorary Alumni Distinguished Professor

1987  James P. Wightman