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Appointment of Distinguished Professor Vice-Chancellor's Directive


This directive provides information about the procedures for the appointment of distinguished professors by invitation or promotion.

The Appointment of Distinguished Professor Vice-Chancellor's Directive is available as a PDF document.

Dates Directive approved 01/09/2008
Directive takes effect 01/09/2008
Directive is due for review (up to 5 years) 03/2021
Directive amendment approved 14/03/2016
Directive amendment takes effect 23/03/2016
Approved by Vice-Chancellor
Latest amendment: Vice-Chancellor (see change history for details)
Implementation Officer Manager HR Partnership Services
Relevant to External academics
Continuing academic staff on Level E appointment
Related documents
File number UR16/509
Superseded documents Appointment of Distinguished Professor by Invitation policy


1. Purpose

This directive outlines the rationale for and procedures to be followed in the appointment of Distinguished Professors by invitation or promotion.

2. Scope

This directive applies to Australian and overseas academics, as well as to UTS academic staff currently employed on a continuing Level E appointment.

3. Definitions

For the purposes of this Directive, the following definitions apply:

Dean means the dean of a faculty or the director/head of an organisational unit designated by the Vice-Chancellor as equivalent to a faculty.

Faculty means faculties or an organisational unit (such as a centre, institute, or graduate school) designated as equivalent to a faculty by the Vice-Chancellor, in accordance with Standing Delegation of Authority 4.2.

4. Directive principles

UTS values excellence in teaching, research and engagement and recognises the contributions of individual academics towards achieving the UTS vision of becoming a world-leading university of technology. This directive enables the University to enhance its academic profile by reputation, either by inviting eminent persons external to UTS to accept appointment, or to recognise and reward sustained academic excellence within UTS.

5. Directive statements

5.1 Appointment

Where the University identifies an opportunity for eminent Australian and overseas academics or professional practitioners with outstanding reputations in appropriate fields of endeavour to join UTS, it may appoint by invitation to the position of Distinguished Professor.

Where the University recognises sustained academic excellence from within the existing UTS Professoriate, it may appoint by invitation or by promotion to the position of Distinguished Professor.

5.2 Proportion of Distinguished Professors to Professoriate

At any one time, the number of Distinguished Professors as a proportion of the UTS professoriate will not exceed the proportion of the Professoriate to the University’s total academic staff.

5.3 Criteria and eligibility for appointment

The appointment of the title of Distinguished Professor should recognise achievement at the highest level, taking into account not only past eminence and track-record, but also the potential for ongoing excellence. Such achievements may fall under the following categories:

  1. research-based, as evidenced by:
    • international renown and influence in the discipline
    • an impressive portfolio of research grants
    • high-quality, high-impact publications in leading journals
    • an outstanding level of citation from a broad cross-section of peers nationally and internationally, and
    • through the achievement of a high level of impact (social, economic, political, legal, environmental) outside the academic community.
  2. through an outstanding contribution to learning and teaching that has significant influence and impact on students, or an exemplary and sustained innovation in learning and teaching and/or curriculum development
  3. through engagement with industry and the international community, as evidenced by the award of international prizes and awards; fellowship of learned academies; granting of patents and other recognised honours.

To be eligible for appointment to Distinguished Professor by promotion, UTS academic staff must hold a full-time, continuing academic appointment at Level E, and must have been employed by UTS for a minimum of two years.

5.4 Duration of appointment

A Distinguished Professor shall be appointed for up to five years as a fixed-term member of the University’s academic staff with normal conditions and rights but including any special conditions or expectations determined by the Vice-Chancellor.

The source of funding for appointments will be negotiated between the Vice-Chancellor and relevant faculties.

On the conclusion of their fixed-term appointment, Distinguished Professors appointed by promotion from the UTS Professoriate will return to their original level of continuing academic appointment and remuneration. A Distinguished Professor whose fixed-term appointment is due to expire may, however, be renominated and reappointed in accordance with the procedures under section 5.9.

5.5 Remuneration

The level of remuneration will be that for Professor, with any supplementary remuneration determined by the Vice-Chancellor as appropriate. The University recognises that people from overseas or from within Australia appointed as a Distinguished Professor will require the University to assess its obligations in respect of superannuation contributions from differing perspectives. UTS will therefore assess the matter of superannuation contributions individually.

5.6 Facilities

The University will provide Distinguished Professors reasonable access to facilities and services to support their teaching, research and other agreed activities.

5.7 Intellectual property

The University recognises that there could be occasions where activities in which a Distinguished Professor is engaged may generate outcomes for which the issue of ownership and intellectual property is relevant. While the University would not wish to inhibit the normal activities of people appointed as Distinguished Professors, it would assess individual circumstances as they arise and ensure that UTS intellectual property and any confidential information are adequately protected.

5.8 Procedures for appointment of a Distinguished Professor by Invitation

Procedures for the appointment of a Distinguished Professor by invitation are outlined in section 5.4.2 of the Recruitment and Appointment Vice-Chancellor’s Directive.

5.9 Procedures for appointment of a Distinguished Professor by Promotion

The following process will be followed for appointment of a Distinguished Professor by promotion.

  1. Normally by mid-year, the Provost will invite Deans to submit nominations for Distinguished Professor by promotion, from within the Professoriate of their faculty.

    The Provost may decide not to seek nominations in any scheduled year, for example if the current proportion of the Professoriate that are Distinguished Professors exceeds the proportion of the Professoriate to the total academic staff of UTS.

  2. The relevant Dean from the nominee’s faculty should submit a nomination, via the Director, Human Resources, to the Provost. In the event that a Deputy Vice-Chancellor or Dean is proposed for appointment, the nomination should be made by the relevant supervisor.

    The nomination should include the following.

    • A detailed justification of the proposed appointment, addressing the relevant criteria outlined in section 5.3.
    • A full curriculum vitae.
    • A brief description of the nominee’s achievements, with particular regard to international impact and standing. The emphasis should be placed on quality and impact, rather than quantity or a mere listing of outputs. Additional evidence of standing, such as the award of high-level international distinctions for sustained or lifetime achievement, would assist in the determination of this criterion.
    • A description of the nominee’s proposed teaching/research/engagement program for the next five years. This should follow the style of a nationally competitive grant scheme, should detail expected outcomes to be achieved from the appointment, and should be of sufficient detail to enable peer review from within the discipline.
    • Reports from at least four referees, who are external to UTS and of international standing.
  3. Where the Provost considers a nominee to be suitable for appointment, the Provost will establish and chair a Selection Panel comprising:
    • the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students)
    • the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
    • Deans of at least two faculties
    • at least one existing Distinguished Professor
    • the Chair, Academic Board
    • the Director, Human Resources, and
    • a nominee of the Provost, external to the University.

    In the event that one of the above individuals is proposed for appointment, an alternative panel member will be selected by the Provost.

  4. The Selection Panel will consider each nomination and make recommendations for appointment through the Provost to the Vice-Chancellor.
  5. The Vice-Chancellor will make a determination on the suitability of each candidate recommended for the title of Distinguished Professor and decide to approve or decline the appointment.
  6. The successful nominee(s) will be notified of their appointment by the Vice-Chancellor. Unsuccessful nominees will be notified by the Provost, and advised that they may be renominated in subsequent years, in accordance with the procedures outlined in this section.
  7. Notice of appointments of Distinguished Professor will be included in the Vice-Chancellor’s report to Academic Board and Council.

5.10 Procedures for reappointment

A Distinguished Professor whose term of appointment is due to expire may be renominated and reappointed for a further term. For those who wish to be renominated, the relevant Dean will provide the following information:

  • justification of the case for reappointment
  • a summary of the candidate’s achievements during the previous term of appointment, including any changes to the teaching/research/engagement program set out in the initial case for nomination, and
  • a description of the candidate’s proposed teaching/research/engagement program for the subsequent term.

Renominations will be considered by a sub-committee of the Selection Panel, comprising the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students), Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), and the Chair, Academic Board. The sub-committee will then provide to the Provost a recommendation as to whether the candidate should be reappointed, or whether the renomination should be reviewed by the full Selection Panel in accordance with section 5.9 (c)–(g).

A candidate who has not been successful in reappointment may be renominated in subsequent years in accordance with the procedures outlined in section 5.9 of this Directive.

5.11 Appeals

Unsuccessful applicants may appeal a selection decision on the grounds of lack of due process, which means failure of the Selection Panel to duly follow UTS policies, directives and procedures. Before such an appeal can be made, the nominee must have sought feedback from the Provost on the reasons for the decision.

An internal applicant who wishes to make an appeal must lodge a written notification with the Vice-Chancellor, within seven days of receiving written notification of unsuccessful application. Supporting documentation must be lodged within 14 days of receiving written notice of unsuccessful application. The obligation to establish failure to follow the selection processes outlined in this Directive lies with the appellant.

The Vice-Chancellor will appoint a person(s) not involved in the original selection process to investigate the circumstances of the appeal and report back. After considering this report, the Vice-Chancellor may decide to:

  • reject the appeal
  • request further investigations
  • appoint a different Selection Panel to shortlist and/or interview all or some applicants
  • quash the original selection decision and initiate a completely new selection process.

6. Roles and responsibilities

The appointment of Distinguished Professors by invitation is managed through the Recruitment and Appointment Vice-Chancellor’s Directive.

The Provost is responsible for managing the process of appointment by promotion.

The Selection Panel is responsible for the following, in relation to appointments by promotion:

  • assessing the merit of nominations in terms of the eligibility criteria outlined in section 5.3
  • having regard to the UTS Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy
  • maintaining confidentiality with respect to the selection process and nominee information, and
  • advising the Chair of the Selection Panel of any actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to the selection process and/or any nominees.

The Vice-Chancellor has the authority to approve appointments to Distinguished Professor, by invitation or promotion. The Vice-Chancellor is also responsible for investigating any appeals that arise from the decision not to appoint a nominee.

7. Version control and change history

Date Version Approved by Amendment
26/08/1999 1 Council Title changes
11/12/2001 2 Council Title changes
18/06/2008 2 Council Rescinded by Council effective from the date of issue of a Vice-Chancellor’s operational directive
01/09/2008 3 Vice-Chancellor Renamed as a directive, title changes and reformatting
23/03/2016 (effective date) 4 Vice-Chancellor (14/03/2016) Changes to include appointment of UTS academic staff by promotion