Bascom Professorships

Bascom Professorships are symbols of the University’s emphasis on high quality instruction and research. The coveted awards are for UW–Madison faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding quality, significance, and productivity in their research or creative work, along with high quality and programmatically valuable teaching and service. Named Bascom Professorships couple the name of the distinguished scholar and former University President, John Bascom, with the last names of the donors who contributed funds to support the professorships (ex. Smith-Bascom Professorship). While some Bascom Professorships are open to all faculty, many are designated for a particular school, college, division, or discipline by the donor.

Annual award allocations may be used for books, computers, research assistants, travel, and other support of teaching and scholarly activities. Some recipients also receive an annual $5,000 temporary base adjustment to their salary as funds allow. Most, but not all, appointments are for five years and are renewable upon recommendation of the department chair and dean. Funding to support the appointments is held at the UW Foundation.

These professorships are managed by the Office of the Provost.

Submitting a Nomination

Nomination Criteria

Strong nominations will address:

  1. The quality, significance, and productivity of the nominee’s research or creative work within their field
  2. The quality and programmatic value of the nominee’s teaching and service
  3. Other aspects relevant to the nominee’s accomplishments or impact
  4. Retention aspects, if relevant

Nomination and Renewal Process

When there is an available or expiring Bascom Professorship, the Office of the Provost notifies the Dean’s Office of the school or college to initiate the selection process.

The Dean’s Office submits nominations and renewals to the Office of the Provost. Renewal requests should be submitted at least one month prior to the award’s current end date.

  1. Create a single PDF file for each nomination or renewal request that includes:
    • Dean’s cover memo stating support for the nomination or renewal, the annual award amount (including any salary adjustment), and whether or not the award is eligible for renewal at the end of the term
    • The nomination or renewal recommendation from the department, school, college, or division (one to three pages) that includes the quality and programmatic value of the nominee’s teaching and service
    • The nominee’s curriculum vitae
    • Any additional relevant materials
  2. Email materials to
  3. The provost will review proposals and notify the dean of their decision

Helpful Hints

Fund Management

    • In WISER, Bascom awards are managed on fund 233 projects, which note parent code “NBAS”
    • Funds remain at UW Foundation until they are spent. As such, spendable endowment funds are often partially encumbered. Accounting Services in the Division of Business Services transfers funds quarterly to cover expenses.
    • In WISER, the project total budget reflects all award allocations to date. Annual allocations are added to the budget each July.
    • In the WFAA Advancement Hub website, Bascom awards are included in the fund group “Bascom Professorship”
    • UW Foundation “Bascom Professorship” funds held by a department still need to follow the nomination/renewal process outlined above
    • When the term of the professorship ends, allocations cease and recipients have three (3) years from the award end date to use remaining funds, as long as they remain faculty at UW–Madison
    • Individuals will not be awarded two “in perpetuity” professorships (i.e., professorships that are renewable indefinitely) at the same time. Therefore, anyone who already holds such a professorship (e.g., a Hilldale) and is awarded a new one (e.g., a Bascom) must give up the other. This does not apply to limited-term professorships, such as WARF Professorships, Romnes Fellowships, etc.

Award Termination

  • Funding for the professorship will terminate:
    • When the award end date is reached for a non-renewable award
    • If the recipient elects to give up the professorship
    • If the recipient receives a Vilas Research Professorship
    • If there is clear evidence of lack of productivity
    • If the recipient resigns from the university (Note: Account is closed at time of resignation.)
    • Upon granting of emeritus status (Note: Upon retirement the recipient may retain the title of the professorship but further funding will cease. Funds which have been previously granted may be used by an emeritus faculty member for up to 3 years after retirement as long as the recipient remains active in their research area.)
  • Schools or colleges must notify the Office of the Provost of any change in status of a Bascom Professorship recipient via email at

Fund Reinvestment Requests

  • In the event a school or college determines a Bascom Professorship fund would better serve their unit if funds from the spendable endowment income balance are reinvested to grow the endowment, they need to:
    • Consult UW Foundation legal counsel to see if reinvestment is allowable
    • Submit a request for reinvestment that includes the proposed dollar amount and reason to the provost via email at

Fund Change Requests

  • In the rare event a school or college determines a Bascom Professorship fund would better serve their unit as a non-Bascom fund, they need to:
    • Consult UW Foundation legal counsel to see if the desired change fits within their interpretation of the fund agreement
    • Submit a request for change to the provost via email at