The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Faculty Recognition

Faculty Recognition

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is proud to offer a number of avenues by which we can recognize our excellent faculty, including these recognitions and awards. See below to learn more about specifications, instructions, and previous winners for different awards.

Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowships

Chancellor's Leadership Fellowships seek to cultivate future campus leaders by offering a half-time, one-year, temporary appointment to an administrative area on campus and by providing shadowing and mentoring from the leaders of the host units. 

Conti Fellowships

Managed by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement (VCRE), the Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship provides faculty members the opportunity to focus on their research or creative activities with a one year release from teaching and service duties in addition to a $3,500 cash award. 

Manning Prize

Managed by the Center for Teaching and Learning and given annually to one faculty member from each of the five campuses of the University of Massachusetts, the Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching honors outstanding faculty members who demonstrate excellence in teaching along with exemplary dedication to students and the campus community with a $10,000 award. 

Distinguished Teaching Award

The Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA) honors exemplary teaching at the highest institutional level. Faculty recipients are awarded $3,500, and graduate students are awarded $2,000, and all recipients’ names are inscribed on the DTA memorial wall in the Integrative Learning Center. 

College Outstanding Teaching Award (COTA)

The College Outstanding Teaching Award (COTA) recognizes excellence in teaching, and honors individual faculty members at each of the university’s colleges for their instructional accomplishments. The COTA was instituted as a complement to the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award and is administered by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and the individual colleges. 

Lilly Fellowship

The Lilly Fellowship Program for Teaching Excellence enables promising early-career faculty to cultivate teaching excellence in a special year-long collaboration. Each year, up to eight teaching fellows are selected to work closely with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) on individual projects that typically involve developing or redesigning a course.

Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series (Chancellor’s Medal)

The Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series celebrates the value of academic excellence and recognizes the distinguished achievements of faculty. Those chosen for the series also receive the Chancellor's Medal, the highest honor bestowed to faculty by the campus.

Distinguished and Endowed Professorships

Distinguished and Endowed Professorships are typically awarded to full professors at UMass Amherst with reputations for exceptional teaching and research. Learn more below about qualifications, nominations, and financial considerations.

Distinguished Professors

Qualifications

The title of Distinguished Professor may be awarded to full professors with the following qualifications:  

  • Outstanding research, teaching, and/or public service contributions that are widely recognized nationally, and/or internationally, as appropriate. 

  • Extraordinary level of productivity and impact in his/her field of study that goes well beyond the existing high expectations for full professors on campus. 

  •  A level of productivity and impact that has been demonstrated for an extended period of time. 

  • Pre-eminence in his/her field of study. 

  • Recognition by professional organizations for outstanding contributions to the field (e.g., receipt of national awards). 

  • A person who would be a major loss to the university if he/she were to leave and would impact on the university's national and international reputation. 

  • A person considered to be a role model for faculty and students. 

Nomination Procedures

  • Nominations are initiated by a department.  In the case of an external candidate, the Department Personnel Committee will make a recommendation to the dean and must follow standard screening procedures associated with promotion.  In any event, the nomination is accompanied by a full dossier of relevant material, a curriculum vita, departmental letter of nomination, letters of support, and other evidence supporting the nomination. 

  • The nomination is forwarded to the dean for a recommendation. 

  • The dean then forwards a recommendation to the provost. 

  • When the provost and chancellor concur, the nomination is forwarded to the President's Office for consideration.  When the president concurs, the recommendation is forwarded to the board of trustees. 

Endowed Professorships

Qualifications

Qualifications of faculty members for Endowed Professorships would coincide with those for a Distinguished Professorship with the following modifications and additions: 

  • Although it is expected that an endowed professor would typically be at the full professor level, a donor may want to support faculty at other levels as well and, hence, the endowed chair criteria will include at what level the appointment will be considered. The distinguished professor qualifications above would then be modified accordingly. 

  • The criteria that are set forth by the benefactor of the endowed chair should be in concert with academic freedom. 

  • In addition to the qualifications set forth for a distinguished professor, the appointment to an endowed chair carries with it the expectation of continuing outstanding productivity and leadership.

Nomination Procedures

  • Nominations are initiated by a department.  In the case of an external candidate, the Department Personnel Committee will make a recommendation to the dean and must follow standard screening procedures associated with promotion.  In any event, the nomination is accompanied by a full dossier of relevant material, a curriculum vita, departmental letter of nomination, letters of support, and other evidence supporting the nomination. 

  • The nomination is forwarded to the dean for a recommendation. 

  • The dean then forwards a recommendation to the Provost.  When the provost and chancellor concur, the nomination is forwarded to the President's Office for consideration.  When the president concurs, the recommendation is forwarded to the board of trustees.

Budgetary Considerations (Provost's Memo)

While we welcome the generosity of donors who endow a professorship, it is important to be aware of the budgetary consequences of trying to stretch this gift into a new faculty line. Please consult the provost’s 2019 memo on hiring controls below for more information:

Controls on Hiring

In order to prevent future budgetary issues in schools and colleges and to improve our oversight of school/college resources, we have decided to implement additional controls on hiring.  Beginning immediately, hiring of personnel that meet all of the following criteria must be approved by the Provost’s Office prior to posting the position: 

  • All employee types with the exception of temporary, non-benefited positions.
  • Funding source of state, general operations, Continuing Education Incentive, or school/college fee.
  • New or replacement position.

If you wish to seek approval to hire, send an email to Deb Gould (dmgould@umass.edu) with the following information:

  • Position title and estimated salary.
  • Whether it is a new or replacement position (if replacement, include previous incumbent).
  • Funding source.
  • Justification of need for the position.

Please note: if you received approval to hire a position through the FY20 budget process, you do not need to send an email.  Those positions are considered approved (though some are contingent on strategic funding, which has not yet been confirmed).

Endowed Professorships

While we welcome the generosity of donors who endow a professorship, it is important to be aware of the budgetary consequences of trying to stretch this gift into a new faculty line. An endowed professorship requires a gift of $1.5M, which yields about $60K/year in income. If that money is put toward a faculty salary, the actual amount net of fringe charges is about $43K -- a far cry from the salary that would be needed to recruit a new faculty member at full professor rank. Even if the gift was made at a time when a campus match commitment was in effect, the total with the match is only $103K -- still not enough.

For this reason, the ideal use of an endowed professorship is to recognize and retain a current member of the faculty rather than hire someone new. This is the standard practice in ISOM, and I commend it to the rest of you. A current faculty member is appointed to the endowed professorship for a period of say, five years, which may be renewed. The payout and match, if any, are used to provide a temporary salary bump (add comp or summer) and/or research support. This is an effective form of pre-emptive retention for valued faculty members who might be tempted by an outside offer.

Even an endowed chair is an iffy proposition if the goal is to create a new faculty line. With a $2.5M gift, an endowed chair yields $120K in income, reduced to about $86K after fringe. Only with a $120K match does the total rise to the level of a full professor's salary in some parts of campus.

Going forward, you need to clear it with the provost before your development people present a proposal to a donor for an endowed professorship or chair. If the intended purpose is to use an endowed professorship to reward a current faculty member, clearance will be granted promptly. Otherwise, the dean and provost will need to have a discussion about how the salary and any start-up will be covered. These discussions will usually make the greatest sense in the context of the annual budget cycle, when competing college and campus priorities can be weighed.