The alumni distinguished professorship recognizes extraordinary academic citizenship and distinguished service within the Virginia Tech university community.

In recognition of the importance of alumni to the university, the alumni distinguished professorship is a pre-eminent faculty appointment, reserved by the board of visitors for recognition of faculty who, over time, have made outstanding contributions to the instructional program of the university and, in so doing, have touched the lives of generations of Virginia Tech alumni. 


Current Alumni Distinguished Professors

Jackie Bixler, Foreign Languages and Literature

Art Keown, Alumni Distinguished Professor, Pamplin College of Business

Art Keown
Art Keown, Pamplin College of Business
Scott Geller, Psychology

John R. Seiler

John R. Seiler Headshot
John Seiler, Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Rosemary Blieszner, Human Development

Rosemary Blieszner
Rosemary Blieszner, Human Development
Gary Downey
Gary Downey, Science and Technology in Society
Dr. Lucinda Roy, English
Lucinda Roy, English
Bud Brown, Mathematics
Alumni Distinguished Professor Tom Gardner
Tom Gardner, English
Y.A. Liu
Y.A. Liu, Chemical Engineering

About Alumni Distinguished Professorships

An appointment as alumni distinguished professor is conferred by the board of visitors upon an individual for a period of 10 years; the appointment may be renewed. Currently, nine active members of the faculty, university-wide, hold these endowed professorships. There is no quota by college or department.

Since the hallmark of the alumni distinguished professorship is distinguished contribution—over time—to this university, in particular newly arrived faculty are not eligible for nomination. And while there is no specified minimum number of years of service required for eligibility, the selection committee will place strong emphasis on the magnitude and character of the candidate’s impact on academic programs at Virginia Tech. Nominees should also have established outstanding personal records of accomplishment in creative scholarship.

Each academic year the provost will determine if there is to be one or more vacancies in the alumni distinguished professor group and, if appropriate, will issue a call to the academic deans for nominations. The deans will, in turn, invite nominations from academic departments. Screening procedures at departmental and collegiate levels will involve appropriate personnel or executive committees in place. Nominations will be accompanied by a full dossier of relevant materials including current curriculum vitae, letters of nomination from both the departmental and collegiate screening committees, letters of support, and other evidence attesting to the quality of the contributions of the nominee(s).

The provost will inform the university Commission on Faculty Affairs of the nomination and selection process and will ask for the commission to nominate two faculty members, one of whom will be invited to serve on the selection committee. The selection committee will include two alumni distinguished professors, one university distinguished professor, and the commission's faculty representative. The provost's recommendation(s) will be sent through the president to the Executive Committee of the board of directors of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association for its review and recommendation. The president will make the final recommendation to the board of visitors for its approval.

Alumni distinguished professors who enter their final year of the 10-year appointment will be invited to submit a request for renewal of the appointment. The faculty member may decline the invitation and the position will be filled following the usual vacancy process. If the faculty member wishes to be considered for renewal, he or she will submit an updated curriculum vitae and a statement (up to five pages) of their accomplishments as ADP. The provost will invite a small committee of incumbent distinguished professors to evaluate the renewal and make a recommendation. The provost's recommendation for renewal will be sent through the president to the Executive Committee of the board of directors of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association for its review and recommendation. The president will make the final recommendation to the board of visitors for its approval.

Each alumni distinguished professor (ADP) will be provided a base salary supplement from the endowment established by the Alumni Association and matched by available funds from the Eminent Scholar program. The ADPs enjoy a salary supplement and operating allocation from the university comparable to that provided for other named professors.

It is expected that each alumni distinguished professor will continue in service to the department, the college, and the university at the same high level evident at the time of appointment. But in particular, within whatever latitude the department head or chair and college dean can accommodate, the alumni distinguished professor will be encouraged to teach, when invited, in other departments of the university or in collegiate or university courses (e.g., honors colloquia). He or she may also elect, in a given term, to divert energies from the usual classroom responsibilities to other valued activities, such as substantive curriculum revision or textbook preparation.

Alumni distinguished professors should also expect to be called on from time to time, individually and also as a group, to render some special service or to offer particular advice to the university at large.

Given the high level of performance expected of this select group of faculty, university and college administrators will be cognizant of the particular needs of each individual alumni distinguished professor for appropriate support personnel and sufficient space, within acknowledged fiscal and physical constraints.

Questions? Contact Dr. Jack Finney at