Establishment and Designation of Research and Teaching Chairs, Professorships and Distinguished Fellowships (Policy)

Establishment and Designation of Research and Teaching Chairs, Professorships and Distinguished Fellowships (Policy)

Topic: Appointments, Tenure and Promotion, Awards and Honours
Approval Authority: Board of Governors and Senate

Description:   Has associated Guidelines and Procedures

Purpose and Aims

In furtherance of its academic goals and out of a desire to recognize and reward faculty members for their achievements, York University may establish Research and Teaching Chairs and Professorships, and Distinguished Fellowships, which may also have the following aims:

  • honour meritorious scholars who have demonstrated exceptional teaching and research
  • recognize, in the names that may be assigned to these positions, the University’s benefactors, supporters, past faculty members and others
  • advance strategic plans, build on strengths and support emerging foci
  • enhance the University’s research and teaching
  • attract and retain prestigious faculty members

Notwithstanding the source of funding or type of position, the criteria guiding the establishment of designations under this policy are the recognition of high merit and the advancement of the University’s academic mission.

Applicability of the Policy

This policy applies to the establishment of named and / or funded positions, as well as to the appointment, review and renewal of incumbents.

Sources and Nature of Funding

The funding of chairs, professorships and distinguished fellowships covered by this policy may be derived in whole or in part from donations, University or Faculty funds, or financial arrangements with other institutions. Financial support may flow out of a perpetuated bequest or fixed term funding.

Normally, funding will be sufficient to provide for 100 per cent of costs without additional support from the University’s operating budget.


Donors shall not be involved in selection or review processes for any position.

Donors may, however, be expected to take an interest in the activities of the incumbents of the chairs and professorships they have funded. They will receive an annual report on the activities of incumbents and may participate in other forms of engagement and support.

Naming of Chairs and Professorships

Research and Teaching Chairs or Professorships will be distinguished from other chairs by the inclusion of the words “Research” or “Teaching” in their titles. The title may also include the names of donors, or others commemorated such as past York University scholars.

Terms and Conditions

The terms, conditions and expectations of named and funded positions shall be explicitly defined and will include a sustainable financial plan. Financial support shall be commensurate with the research, teaching and educational leadership activities associated with the chair, professorship or distinguished fellowship. Support of positions will be commensurate with the goal of enhancing the capacity of a faculty member to undertake research, teaching and educational leadership activities.


Disestablishment of chairs, professors and distinguished fellowships shall be provided for at the time of establishment or by mutual agreement of the University and the donor.

Effective Date of the Policy

This Policy shall be take effect from the time it is enacted by Senate and the Board of Governors. It does not apply retroactively to any pre-existing position with the exception that the appointment and renewal procedures described below shall apply provided that they are consistent with the terms under which a pre-existing position was established.

Positions and Designations Not Covered by this Policy

The following positions and designations are not covered by this policy:

  • Distinguished Research Professors and University Professors, which are honorary designations under other policies and procedures
  • Chairs established by programs created by external bodies, such as Canada Research Chairs and Canada Excellence Research Chairs, Killiam Awards, or NSERC Industrial Research Chairs
  • Regularly Named Chairs, which are covered by a separate Policy
Legislative History: This is a Senate and Board of Governors Policy for which there are associated Guidelines and Procedures. Under the York University Act, the Board of Governors has the authority to establish a Chair or a Professorship. This policy replaces the Policy on Endowed Chairs and Professorships. Approved by Senate Academic Policy, Planning and Research Committee: 2015/03/12; Approved by Senate: 2015/03/26; Approved by Board Academic Resources Committee: 2015/04/10; Approved by the Board of Governors: 2015/04/27. Effective: 2015/04/27.