University of Illinois System

University of Illinois System Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program

The University of Illinois System plays a central role in higher education, research and discovery, and economic development in the State of Illinois and beyond. The System's strategic framework sets forth four overarching pillars:

  • 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, in 2017 the President's Office initiated the Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program to support the recruitment of high-level faculty talent to our three universities. Since its inception the three-year program helped attract 26 world class faculty, recognized for their transformative scholarship and active research agendas. 

Given the success of the program in recruiting exceptional talent to our universities, the system office has committed $20 million to support the research programs of these distinguished faculty members and is extending this program for two additional years—through the end of academic year 2023-24.


The goal of this program is to attract tenured, star or rising star faculty from a range of disciplines who can transform our universities by 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 university
  • Will provide transformative excellence to college, university, and system missions
  • Will enhance diversity in the unit and in the college
  • Will strengthen interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary collaborations

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 a prominent research faculty. System funds must be matched by a combination of department, college, and university resources.


Each proposal should specify how the position and/or ideal candidate would be transformative to the university. The proposal should also outline how the matching funds will be used. Each proposal will require support from the unit executive officer, the dean, and the provost of the university. To ensure maximum flexibility, proposals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as they are submitted. Proposals should be submitted to the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs through our Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program online form.

Please submit proposals through the online form.