University of Illinois System Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program

The University of Illinois System - The Public's University - plays a central role in higher education, research and discovery, and economic development in the State of Illinois and beyond. Our new strategic framework was launched in 2015 and sets forth four overarching pillars to which our member institutions are committed:

  • An institution of and for our students
  • Research and scholarship with global impact
  • A healthy future for Illinois and the Midwest
  • Tomorrow's university today

All four of these pillars rely on the recruitment and retention of faculty of the highest caliber. To assist our universities in attracting the most exceptional faculty, the President's Office is announcing a three-year program to help attract high-level talent to our campuses.


The program will provide non-recurring matching funds from the President's Office ($30 million over a 3-year period, or $10 million per year) to attract 10-15 highly distinguished, superstar faculty each year across the System. The universities are expected to match these funds for each individual hire. The funds are to be used for start-up costs such as: the purchase of new equipment, renovation of space, graduate student support, and/or other needs associated with supporting the research and teaching needs of prominent faculty.


The goal is to attract tenured, star or rising star faculty from a range of disciplines who can transform our universities due to their exceptional scholarship and teaching. Universities can apply for matching funds to support the recruitment of tenured (associate or full) professors that:

  • Are engaged in cutting-edge scholarship or creative activities
  • Will enhance the national and/or international reputation of the campus
  • Are experts in areas of high and/or emerging student demand
  • Will provide transformative excellence to college, campus, and System missions
  • Will enhance diversity in the unit and in the college
  • Will strengthen interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary collaborations within and across campus units


The President's Office issued a call in September 2017 for recruitment proposals for the upcoming year. Each proposal should specify how the position and/or ideal candidate would be transformative to the university, using at least two of the criteria above. The proposal should also outline how the matching funds will be used. Proposals can involve open searches or search waivers that target specific candidates, but the request must be related to a specific individual. Each proposal will require support from the unit executive officer, the dean, and the provost and chancellor of the university. To ensure maximum flexibility given different faculty hiring cycles, proposals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as they are submitted. The President, Executive Vice President, and Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation will review the proposals, with the goal of distributing the resources across the three universities.

Please submit proposals through the online form.


The three-year program will be supported by a combination of GRF, ICR, and gift funds. The total commitment (from the System and the three universities) to the Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program is $60 million.