USC names 6 distinguished professors

‘Best of the best’ instructors first in 4 years to receive honor

Six USC professors have been named Carolina Distinguished Professors. They are the first in more than four years to receive the distinction, according to Senior Vice Provost Christine Curtis.

She said these professors represent the “best of the best” among their peers and in their academic disciplines.

“It is a recognition of one’s school, one’s teaching, one’s contribution to the institution,” Curtis said. “It’s a very high distinction. It’s a recognition among one’s peers of the absolute quality of a faculty member’s work.

These professors join 24 others as Carolina Distinguished Professors:

— Ronald Benner of the biological sciences department in the College of Arts and Sciences

— Roger Dougal of the electrical engineering department in the College of Engineering and Computing

— Robyn Hunt of the theatre and dance department in the College of Arts and Sciences

— Mitzi Nagarkatti of the pathology, microbiology and immunology department in the School of Medicine

— James A. Ritter of the chemical engineering department in the College of Engineering and Computing

— Qian Wang of the chemistry and biochemistry department in the College of Arts and Sciences

“These folks are being recognized by the people they work with for their excellence, and that is an honor,” Curtis said.

Between 14 and 18 professors from a variety of disciplines were originally nominated to receive the distinction, Curtis said.

“It’s almost a celebration of the comprehensiveness of the diversity of our university. It was just a phenomenal group of faculty. Any one of them we would be proud to have as a Carolina Distinguished Professor,” she said. “They were all so good it was hard to say these were better. But as you reviewed everything, these six rose to the top.”

The criteria for the distinction include ranking among the “most distinguished scholars in the field” both nationally and internationally, possessing a combination of excellence in scholarship and commitment to students’ intellectual development, mentoring junior colleagues, being involved in university affairs and, normally, being tenured or eligible for appointment for tenure.

Carolina Distinguished Professors and other endowed chairs are reviewed every five years to determine whether they should maintain their levels of distinction, Curtis said.

The provost’s office receives nominations for distinctions from faculty members and considers recommendations from external experts in various academic disciplines. A committee reviews the nominations before the provost sends his final recommendations to the university president for approval, Curtis said.


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