Academics experience heavily structured career steps. The vast majority of tenure-line faculty receive two promotions during their lives, from assistant professor to associate professor, and then later, from associate professor to full professor. In addition, a small number of faculty are awarded named professorships or endowed chairs, usually after they have achieved full professor status. An even smaller number are named university professors.
In an attempt to enhance the research lives of faculty, we have put in place a variety of new policies (e.g., banking of courses, use of partial sabbaticals, increased numbers of internal fellowships, and matching awards for prestigious fellowships). But we think we can do better at improving Georgetown as an environment in which scholars can do their best work and are recognized for their accomplishments.
Indeed, we came to the conclusion that one segment of our tenure-line faculty was not being appropriately recognized. We have among us a set of associate professors whose performance as scholars and teachers exceeds the normal thresholds of excellence that we demand of all professors.
For them, there is evidence that they have impacted learning and the formation of students in their activities. This might include extraordinary levels of mentoring, joint research publication with students, teaching awards, and other evidence of excellence in teaching and mentoring. It generally includes unusually impactful scholarship, as evidenced by awards given by professional associations for books, articles, or other products. It includes repeated and thematically cumulative articles in major journals. It includes receipt of successively larger research grants in those fields with external funding possibilities. It includes awards of national and international competitive fellowships, given only to small numbers of scholars globally.
To recognize such Associate Professors, we will establish a set of Provost Distinguished Associate Professor honorific titles. The Provost Distinguished title will be granted to Associate Professors of unusual merit. These titles will be term-limited with a duration of five years, maximum. (When a Provost Distinguished Associate Professor is promoted to full professor status, the term would also be completed.)
A committee of exceptional full professors will guide the selection of the Provost Distinguished title. Nominations could be submitted to the provost’s office by unit heads (e.g., department chairs). The number of Provost Distinguished Associate Professors may vary over the years. We expect that those so honored would also benefit from the extraordinary merit protocol in practice on the main campus. (The Provost’s office will distribute formal nomination procedures in the coming days.)
We are excited about this new development. We are very hopeful that these new titles will signal and recognize the accomplishments of our highest performing associate professors.