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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. See nomination information on this page.

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

University Professors

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

University Distinguished Professors

2021: Zhijian "Jake" Tu*
2021: Martha Ann Bell*
2021: France Bélanger*
2021: Amy Pruden*
2019: Romesh Batra*
2019: Daniel Crawford*
2019: A. Roger Ekirch*
2017: Marc Edwards*
2017: Dushan Boroyevich*
2015: Karen Roberto*
2013: X.J. Meng*
2013: Patricia Dove*
2010: Roe-Hoan Yoon*
2010: Dennis Dean*
2007: Michael F. Hochella Jr.
2007: Hanif Sherali
2000: Arun G. Phadke
1999: Thomas H. Ollendick
1999: T. W. Luke*
1999: Robert J. Bodnar*
1999: Nikki Giovanni
1999: Harold E. Burkhart*
1999: Garth L. Wilkes
1999: Fred C. Lee
1999: David Kingston
1996: Paul L. Knox*
1996: John J. Tyson
1996: James K. Mitchell
1996: James E. McGrath
1996: George J. Flick, Jr.
1989: Samuel K. Alexander
1988: Herve Moulin
1987: J. Michael Duncan
1986: Frank S. Quinn
1986: Bernard F. Dukore
1983: W. Leonard Meirovitch
1983: Bruce Wallace
1982: Walter Edward C. Moore
1981: Gerald V. Gibbs
1979: Robert E. Marshak
1978: Arthur M. Squires
1976: Lillian V. Holdeman
1976: Lillian V. H. Moore
1975: Paul B. Siegel
1975: George B. Collins
1975: Ali Hasan Nayfeh

* 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, 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

See nomination information on this page.

2019: Wing Ng*
2016: Art Keown*
2012: Y.A. Liu*
2010: Tom Gardner*
2010: John Seiler*
2007: Gary Downey
2005: Scott Geller*
2005: Ezra “Bud” Brown
2004: Charles Bostian
2003: Jacqueline E. Bixler*
2002: Rosemary Blieszner*
2002: Charles Reinholtz
1999: Arthur Buikema
1998: Wayne D. Purcell
1998: Lucinda H. Roy*
1996: Siegfried M. Holzer
1992: William E. Snizek
1992: James I. Robertson Jr.
1992: George M. Simmons Jr.
1987: James P. Wightman
1982: Olivio C. Ferrari
1982: Noel R. Krieg
1981: Paul Antonie Distler
1981: Charles William Smith
1974: Daniel Frederick
1972: Frederick Donald Bloss

* 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