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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 President's Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program to support the recruitment of highly accomplished faculty talent to our three universities. Since its inception, the program, which was extended past its initial three-year window, helped attract 39 world class faculty, all of whom were recognized for their transformative scholarship and active research agendas. 

Given the success of the program in bringing exceptional talent to our universities, the president has committed to extend the program for another three-year period -- through the end of the academic year 2025-26 -- and will provide an additional $15 million to support ongoing recruitment of these distinguished faculty members. 


The goal of this program is to attract exceptional tenured faculty from a range of disciplines who have the potential to transform our universities through their exceptional scholarship and teaching. Universities can apply for matching funds to support the recruitment of tenured (associate or full) professors who:

  • Are engaged in innovative scholarship or other creative activities;
  • Will enhance the national and 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; and
  • Will strengthen interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary collaborations across the system.

Special consideration will be given to faculty whose interests and expertise align with the University of Illinois System's vision and strategy, for example by bringing engagement opportunities with efforts associated with the Discovery Partners Institute. Universities are especially encouraged to submit candidates in the arts, humanities, and social sciences for consideration. 

The funds are to be used for start-up costs such as: the purchase of new equipment (for equipment acquired with these funds, it is requested that to the extent possible equipment also be available for use to others in the department, college, and university), renovation of space, graduate student support, and/or other needs associated with supporting the research and teaching needs of a prominent research faculty member. System funds must be matched at 1:1 with 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 and how their interests align with university and system strategic priorities. The proposal should also outline with reasonable specificity 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 or the vice chancellor for health affairs. To ensure maximum responsiveness, proposals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as they are submitted. Proposals should be submitted to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs through our Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program online form.