Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Program


This is the premier campus award recognizing scholarly contributions and excellence in the areas of teaching and learning. The title of University Distinguished Teacher-Scholar is permanent throughout the recipient’s appointment at Illinois. As part of its commitment to teaching excellence, the campus seeks to recognize its University Distinguished Teacher-Scholars and draw upon their talents. Applicants and nominees must already have received significant recognition of teaching effectiveness and have a distinguished record of disciplinary scholarship, research, or creative activity.

University Distinguished Teacher-Scholars are individuals willing to commit time to enhancing instruction in a way that will make a difference to the University and its students. Each applicant/nominee should propose a specific activity that will foster that goal. This activity is envisioned as a one-year enterprise.

The objective of the University Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Program is to offer talented faculty members not only recognition but an opportunity to engage in an in-depth analysis of the craft and art of teaching, to consider new approaches, and to put their insights to work in ways that will benefit significantly their students and the campus community.


The criteria for selection as a Distinguished Teacher-Scholar are as follows:

  1. Past recognition of teaching effectiveness as indicated by awards and/or other evidence of significant teaching accomplishments;
  2. Evidence of scholarly activities such as publications and presentations and/or educational service related to teaching and learning;
  3. Quality of the proposed project. The goals of the proposed project should be clear and achievable within one year. The proposal should describe the plan in sufficient detail to permit careful evaluation. The project should be innovative and should benefit the entire campus with broad educational implications;
  4. Likelihood of continued commitment to the Distinguished Teacher-Scholar program and campus teaching excellence.

Proposed Activities

Applicants should submit a proposal related to at least one of the following areas of campus need (the Teaching Advancement Board reserves the right to work with applicants to refine the proposed activity):

  1. Leading the campus in the successful adoption of outcomes assessment in undergraduate instruction;
  2. Utilizing available campus resources in an innovative manner to achieve excellence in teaching and learning;
  3. Cultivating other creative teaching ideas that have campus-wide educational implications.

The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) will provide support to assist the Distinguished Teacher-Scholars in their projects. Through this affiliation, they will participate in a variety of activities across the campus that promote excellence in teaching and improved learning. They will be assigned a mentor who previously served as a Distinguished Teacher-Scholar and will be expected to remain involved with CITL after the project has ended. The Distinguished Teacher-Scholar will be asked to complete brief mid-year and end-of-project status reports.

Activities that are considered part of a professor’s normal responsibilities would not be eligible for the program (e.g., course revision, implementing course software, mentoring, peer observation). Instead, programmatic proposals regarding teaching assessment, development, or enhancement should be directed to the Teaching Advancement Board through the Provost’s Initiative on Teaching Advancement (PITA) Program.

Award Details

Successful applicants will receive $7,500 as financial assistance for their proposed activities. Additionally, in order to provide the time necessary to complete their project, they may request up to $7,500 exclusively to support a teaching/research assistant or reduction in classroom responsibilities. None of the funding may be used for faculty salaries.

Appointment as a University Distinguished Teacher-Scholar cannot be combined with another released-time appointment, such as a Center for Advanced Study Fellowship or Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities Fellowship, or Humanities released time.

The primary goal of this program is for the individual to strengthen instruction and learning on our campus, not to advance his or her own scholarship.

Guidelines for Applications

Candidates should have at least five years of experience on this campus. Tenure is highly preferred. Candidates may be nominated by a peer or an administrative officer or directly apply themselves for this award without being nominated. Selections will be made by the Teaching Advancement Board and announced in late in the spring semester.

Applicants must include the following:

  1. Application cover letter written by the applicant
    1. Detailing the applicant’s previous instructional awards and/or significant teaching accomplishments
    2. Explaining how he or she will continue to contribute to the Distinguished Teacher-Scholar program and campus mission for teaching excellence after the project has ended
  2. Letter of endorsement by the unit executive officer
  3. Proposal (up to five pages in length) containing
    1. Overview or abstract of the project (a brief paragraph is preferred)
    2. Clear identification of the project objectives and how they align with the priorities listed under “Proposed Activities” above
    3. A description of the project and a statement of its significance (anticipated campus impact)
    4. Description of the project’s expected outcomes, and how they will be disseminated to the campus at large and beyond
    5. Timeline for implementation of the project
    6. Budget and justification
  4. Curriculum Vita

Submission Information

Application packets should be submitted electronically to tab-awards@illinois.edu.


March 27 – Deadline for applications to be submitted.

End of Spring Semester– Recipient(s) will be notified.

*When a deadline falls on a weekend or campus holiday, applications will be due the next business day.

Previous Recipients
Award RecipientDepartmentAward Year
Jennifer AmosBioengineering, Undergraduate Programs2015-16
Gretchen AdamsChemistry, Undergraduate Studies2014-15
Matthew WestMechanical Science & Engineering2014-15
Amy WoodsKinesiology & Community Health2013-14
Mark MicaleHistory2012-13
Kelly TappendenFood Science & Human Nutrition2011-12
Tim StelzerPhysics2009-10
Annie R. AbbottSpanish, Italian & Portuguese2008-09
Rajeshwari PandharipandeLinguistics; Religious Studies; Comparative Literature2008-09
Walter L. HurleyAnimal Sciences2007-08
Prasanta K. KalitaAgricultural & Biological Engineering2007-08
Bruce MichelsonCampus Honors Program2007-08
Bertram C. BruceLibrary & Information Science2006-07
Kim C. GraberKinesiology & Community Health2006-07
Cleora D’ArcyCrop Sciences2005-06
Gail E. HawisherEnglish2005-06
Paul KelterChemistry2004-05
Leonard PittComputer Science2004-05
Robert Reid (posthumous award)Journalism2004-05
J. Bruce LitchfieldAgricultural & Biological Engineering2003-04
Thomas SchwandtEducational Psychology2003-04
Steve HelleJournalism2002-03
Arlette WillisCurriculum & Instruction2002-03
James A. GentryFinance2001-02
Michael C. LouiElectrical & Computer Engineering2001-02
Shelly J. SchmidtFood Chemistry2001-02
Philip BuriakAgricultural Engineering2000-01
Joseph C. SquierArt & Design2000-01
O. Vernon BurtonHistory1999-2000
Paul F. DiehlPolitical Science1999-2000
Linda C. SmithLibrary & Information Science1999-2000