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The Graduate School is pleased to announce the opening of nominations for the Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Distinguished Professorship for Graduate Education. This term professorship recognizes the contributions of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas S. Royster, the founders and benefactors of The Graduate School’s Royster Society of Fellows.

This interdisciplinary fellowship program has made strong contributions to the University, attracting exceptional graduate students from around the world, providing generous financial funding, offering unique opportunities to excel, and creating innovative approaches to scholarship and professional skill building. The Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education works throughout the academic year to provide mentoring and programmatic leadership to the Royster Fellows, who number more than 125 doctoral students in graduate programs across the campus.

The next Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education will follow two notable faculty leaders, Professor of Biology David Pfennig, who will end his tenure on June 30, 2015, and Professor of Communications Studies Julia Wood, who served from July 2009 to June 2012. Both Royster Professors, along with previous Royster Directors, have made significant contributions in leading the Royster Society of Fellows.

The Graduate School is now seeking nominations for individuals who will continue the outstanding leadership already established and move the Royster Society of Fellows forward for the next three years. The individual selected will serve as the Director of the Royster Society of Fellows concurrent with his or her appointment as Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education for a term of three years beginning July 1, 2015. Selection is open to any tenured professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including individuals who hold other permanent, named professorships at the University.

The Graduate School seeks an individual with the following characteristics as the next Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education:

  • A strong record as a scholar and as a graduate student mentor, as well as a broad interest in graduate education;
  • An appreciation for and interest in a broad range of disciplines, demonstrated through his or her own scholarly interests, departmental affiliations, graduate student mentoring or other activities;
  • An appreciation for and willingness to support a broad range of career paths for doctoral students;
  • A willingness to devote a significant portion of his or her time to serving as Royster Distinguished Professor and Director of the Royster Society of Fellows, including providing intellectual leadership for the activities listed below. The primary academic program that houses the faculty appointment of the selected individual must agree to release this individual from a portion of academic departmental program responsibilities so she or he may serve in this capacity. Nominees should not hold other major administrative responsibilities concurrently with this leadership role.

The Royster Distinguished Professor will be responsible for continuing to increase the visibility and excellence of the Royster Society of Fellows across the campus and beyond to support recruitment of exceptional doctoral students to UNC-Chapel Hill. He or she will mentor the Fellows and lead activities that provide effective interdisciplinary enrichment and professional development for the Fellows. These activities will include development of new opportunities for the Fellows as well as providing effective leadership for the following continuing programmatic elements of the Royster Society of Fellows:

  • Interdisciplinary seminars in which the Fellows present and discuss their research with one another, or interact with guest faculty about their research and scholarly interests;
  • Interdisciplinary first-year seminars in which Fellows are mentored in their joint development and teaching of interdisciplinary courses for Carolina first-year undergraduates;
  • The Covenant-Royster Partnership in which Fellows mentor Carolina Covenant Scholars;
  • Mentoring of Fellows in their dissertation year so they may complete their research and writing on time, and prepare for the job market;
  • Mentoring of first-year Fellows so they may begin their graduate study successfully and with strong support; and
  • Leading various symposia, group field trips, professional development and other activities that enrich the Fellows’ graduate student experiences.

Additional faculty members may also contribute to such mentoring and training in collaboration with and under the guidance of the Royster Professor. The Graduate School will provide general administrative support including a full-time Fellowship Coordinator who manages meeting arrangements, event planning, communications with Fellows and other related support.

The Distinguished Royster Professor will work with the Dean of The Graduate School, the Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Education, Fellowships and Communication, and the Fellowship Coordinator in program and event planning and related Royster activities.

The stipend for this term professorship will be $20,000 per academic year. In addition, funds will be available to compensate the school or department for release from a portion of teaching responsibilities. Programmatic funding to support the activities of the Fellows is also available.

To nominate a faculty member, please submit your nomination letter, a copy of the nominee’s curriculum vita, a letter of support from the Department Chair and a list of three references for your nominee, with complete contact information. Self-nominations are welcomed and encouraged. These should include a cover letter indicating your interest and qualifications for this professorship, your vita, a letter of support from your Chair and contact information for three references.

All nominees should also submit a statement of the goals you wish to achieve as the Royster Distinguished Professor, how you envision implementing these goals, and why you are interested in leading the Fellows. This statement should not exceed five pages (double-spaced, 12-point font).

Please submit nomination materials in electronic form as email attachments to Sandra Hoeflich, Associate Dean, Consideration of candidates will begin January 17, 2015. The Graduate School will complete selection of the new Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education in March 2015 and publicly announce the appointment in July 2015, subsequent to UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees approval.

A selection committee with current and former members of the Administrative Board of The Graduate School, the Royster Society of Fellows Board, former Directors and Fellows of the Royster Society of Fellows will review nominations and make a recommendation to the Dean of The Graduate School on this appointment. The appointment will begin on July 1, 2015. Please address questions to Sandra Hoeflich at or 919-962-6323.


The Graduate School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides leadership to envision, shape and support the highest quality education for a diverse community of graduate students whose contributions will have global impact.

Through research, teaching and public service, graduate education generates knowledge and innovative solutions that address critical societal needs. Graduate students and alumni improve lives through their leadership, professional expertise and civic engagement in North Carolina and beyond.

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