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Commonwealth and University Professorships

  • Responsible Office: Faculty Affairs, Office of the Provost
  • Current Approved Version: 10/26/2018
  • Policy Type: Administrative

Policy Statement and Purpose

The president and/or Board of Visitors may designate the rank of commonwealth professor or university professor as deemed appropriate. The appointment of a faculty member to one of these distinguished professorships at Virginia Commonwealth University constitutes one of the highest honors that can be granted to a university member. This policy document sets forth procedures for nominations and approvals for this rank.

Noncompliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation against any employee who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question, or participates in an investigation is prohibited.

Who Should Know This Policy

The following groups are responsible for knowing this policy and familiarizing themselves with its contents and provisions:

  • Vice Presidents
  • Vice Provosts
  • Deans
  • Department Heads
  • Administrators with personnel responsibilities
  • Faculty


Commonwealth Professor

Candidates being nominated for commonwealth professor must have an established prominence through extraordinary scholarly attainment, educational advancement, or leadership in an academic discipline or field of study, with national or international distinction.

University Professor

Candidates being nominated for university professor must either teach or conduct research that crosses discipline boundaries. These individuals must have an established prominence in multiple fields of study, with national or international recognition in at least one field of study.


The Office of the Provost officially interprets this policy. The Office of the Provost is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures. Please direct policy questions to Office of Faculty Affairs.

Policy Specifics and Procedures

Commonwealth/university professors are appointed by president and/or VCU’s Board of Visitors upon recommendation of the president. The president considers the previous levels of review and recommendation when making the final recommendation. The recommendations are initiated typically at the dean or departmental level, with the nominator assembling a recommendation packet that includes the information listed below.

The availability of commonwealth/university professors is infrequent, determined in individual cases, and dependent solely upon the information included in the dossier. All appointments are made with the expectation that professional performance will be maintained at a level appropriate for the distinguished appointment.

Recommendation Packets are submitted to the provost and include:

  1. Cover sheet with the following information:
    1. Name of Faculty Member
    2. School/College and Department
    3. Rank and Tenure Status
    4. Title to be Approved
  2. A recommendation letter from the appropriate dean that sets forth the candidate’s record of achievement.
  3. Faculty consultation regarding the appointment should be included in the nomination letter.
  4. The nominee’s current curriculum vitae.
  5. Support letters highlighting the candidate’s record of achievement from university faculty and other colleagues both within and outside Virginia Commonwealth University. (No more than 5 letters should be included).

Steps in the Review Process:

  1. The recommendation packet is forwarded by the provost to the committee on endowed chair/professorships. They review the material and make a recommendation to the provost.
  2. The provost and senior vice president of health sciences (when appropriate) provide a recommendation to the President.
  3. The president reviews the request and, if approved, either notifies the candidate of the appointment or makes a recommendation to the Board of Visitors (BOV).
  4. If applicable, BOV considers the recommendation at the next scheduled BOV meeting and candidate is notified of the appointment.
  5. The committee on endowed chair/professorships reviews such appointments every five years.


There are no forms associated with this policy and procedures.

Related Documents

  1. VCU Faculty Handbook
  2. VCU Policy: Faculty Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures
  3. VCU Policy: Private Support for Endowed Chairs and Professorships – (Note: This policy specifically addresses Endowed Chairs and Professorships.)

Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

Approval/Revision DateTitle
May 15, 2009 VCU Commonwealth and University Professorships
October 26, 2018 VCU Commonwealth and University Professorships [Minor revision to: remove references to emeritus faculty since separate emeritus faculty policy is needed and in development; comply with VCU editorial style and policy template]


There are no FAQ associated with this policy and procedures.