Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorship

Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorships (VDAP) recognize UW–Madison faculty members whose distinguished scholarship has advanced the confines of knowledge, and whose excellence also includes teaching or service. Faculty members receiving this award keep the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorship title for the duration of their careers.

The VDAP provides $75,000 in flexible funding as a one-time award. Of this amount, $50,000 is provided by the Vilas Trust, and should be expended in the first three years of the award (the year in which the professorship is awarded, and the two years immediately after), with remaining funds reverting to the Trust. The other $25,000 is provided by the school, college, or division, and can be paid out at the rate of $5,000 each year for five years.

These professorships for outstanding achievement are funded through the generosity of the Trustees of the William F. Vilas Estate. Funding to support the appointments comes through Research and Sponsored Programs. These professorships are managed by the Office of the Provost.

Submitting a Nomination

Nomination Criteria

Strong nominations will address:

  1. The nominee’s accomplishments within their field and their impact on the research mission of the school, college, or division, and the university
  2. Additional impact and contributions through teaching or service
  3. Other aspects relevant to the nominee’s accomplishments or impact
  4. Retention aspects, if relevant
  5. The school or college’s proposed $25,000 payment schedule

Nomination Process

The Dean’s Office submits nominations to the Office of the Provost.

  1. Create a single PDF file for each nomination that includes:
    • A cover page with the nominee’s name, department, and school, college, or division
    • A letter of endorsement from the dean or director. If more than one person is being nominated from the school, college, or division, include rankings
    • A brief letter of nomination from the department, school, college, or division (two to three pages)
    • An up-to-date curriculum vitae of the nominee
    • Any additional relevant materials
  1. Name the PDF file “NomineeLastName-SchoolCollegeDivision-DateSubmitted” (for example, Smith-Education-2024-01-31.pdf)
  2. Upload the file to the VDAP Box folder


Round one deadline:  November 29, 2023

Round two deadline: January 16, 2024

Helpful Hints

Fund Management

    • Funds are managed by Research and Sponsored Programs
    • The annual award period is July 1-June 30
    • Individuals may not be awarded two Vilas awards or professorships at the same time. Therefore, anyone who already holds such an award (e.g., a Vilas Associates Award) and is awarded a new one (e.g., a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorship) must choose one award and give up the other.

Award Termination

  • Funding for the professorship will terminate:
    • At the end of the award term
    • If the recipient resigns from the university. Funds will be prorated based on final date of employment. Note: account is closed and funds are returned following final date of employment.
    • Upon granting of emeritus status. Funds will be prorated based on final date of employment.
  • Schools, colleges, or divisions must notify the Office of the Provost of any change in status of a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorship recipient via email at

Extension Requests

    • Funds must be used by the award end date. Extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis for special circumstances.
    • Extension requests must be reviewed by the provost and Vilas trustees.
    • To request an extension, submit a memo to the provost addressing:
      • Award amount you would like to carry over
      • Proposed end date, if extension is granted (when an extension is granted, they are typically for one year)
      • The reason for the request, including how the remaining funds will be used
    • Submit extension requests via email to