About the Professorships

University Professorships

University Professorships funded by the Foundation are the most prestigious professorships awarded by the institution. They reflect the following major criteria:

  • An extraordinary level of scholarly or creative achievement and clear potential for continuing major accomplishments that enhance the reputation of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  • Documented excellence in various aspects of teaching and outreach and demonstrated commitment to the welfare of traditional and non-traditional learners.
  • Extensive involvement and service in furtherance of the several missions of the University (which include activities in national and international organizations in the candidate's field), significantly above the normal level of campus citizenship.

These professorships carry a $15,000 stipend supported by an endowed fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation. University professorships are awarded for a five-year term, and are renewable upon review. In addition, the holder may be reappointed for the duration of his or her tenure by the Chancellor at the time of review. Holders of university professorships will upon retirement carry the University Professorship designation as part of their emeritus title.

Love library


George W. Holmes University Professorships are supported by the University of Nebraska Foundation from the estate of George W. Holmes, a prominent Lincoln businessman, civic leader and philanthropist in the 1920s. Holmes was the nephew of one of Lincoln's earliest businessmen, Silas Burnham, president of First National Bank. In 1911, Holmes was the originating secretary/general manager and later president of the First Trust Co., was a director of Beatrice Foods and the Omaha branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In the 1920s, Holmes' bank guaranteed the loans that allowed the construction of Memorial Stadium. Holmes gave the city a tract of land upon which was built Holmes School, which honored his mother. The family name also lives on in Lincoln's Holmes Park, Holmes Lake and Holmes Golf Course.

Cather/Bessey, Douglas/Weaver, & Rosowski Professorships

The Cather/Bessey, Douglas/Weaver and Rosowski Professorships are intended to recognize outstanding faculty members for their contributions in research or teaching and promise for future excellence. These professorships are funded by the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.


Willa Cather and Charles Bessey professorships were established in 2001 by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to recognize faculty members with the rank of full professor who have established exceptional records of distinguished scholarship or creative activity. Individuals awarded the professorship may elect either the Cather or Bessey designation. They are known as Cather or Bessey professors and professor of (field). The professorships, which carry a $5,000 stipend, are awarded for five-year terms and appointments may be renewed following review in the fifth year.

The professorships recognize two individuals associated with the early University of Nebraska. Willa Cather, a University of Nebraska alumna and winner of the 1922 Pulitzer Prize for her novel "One of Ours," is widely recognized as one of America's premiere authors. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln holds a large scholarly archive of Cather's writings, letters and other items; is home to the digital Willa Cather Archive; and numerous UNL scholars are engaged in ongoing scholarship concerning Cather and her works.

Charles Bessey, an NU professor at the turn of the 20th century, was a botanist and educator. Bessey joined the faculty in 1884 and served as Chancellor from 1888 to 1891 and again from 1899 to 1900. Recognized for his pioneering science, including among other interests the ecology of the prairie, Bessey served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and editor of Science magazine.


The Aaron Douglas or John E. Weaver Professorship for Teaching Excellence was established in 2008. The professorships are awarded to faculty holding the full professor rank, who demonstrate sustained and extraordinary levels of teaching excellence and national visibility for instructional activities and/or practice. The Weaver and Douglas Professorships are five-year renewable appointments and carry a $5,000 annual stipend. Faculty selected for these professorships will choose either the Weaver or Douglas title. Only the name is different as the professorships have identical selection criteria.

The Aaron Douglas Professorship honors NU alumnus Douglas (1899-1979), who was the first African American to earn a degree in art from NU and is considered a pre-eminent artist of the Harlem Renaissance movement. A native of Topeka, Kan., Douglas earned a B.F.A. from the university in 1922. He founded the Department of Art at Fisk University, where he taught from 1937-1966. Douglas's art captured the zeitgeist of his era, helping to establish a new black aesthetic. He combined traditional African and African American images with the prevailing Cubist and Art Deco stylings, creating a distinctive and imaginative visual form. His work is considered seminal to the Harlem Renaissance and remains enduring and important. Douglas also earned a master's degree (1944) from Teachers College at Columbia College in New York. He received an honorary doctoral degree from Fisk. The Sheldon Museum of Art acquired four Douglas works, a set of woodcuts on paper titled Emperor Jones. Created in 1926, they are early examples of Douglas's oeuvre. The Sheldon also owns Window Cleaning, a 1935 oil painting of an African American man.

Aaron Douglas
Aaron Douglas

The Weaver Professorship honors John E. Weaver (1884-1956). Weaver was a leading expert on grasses, both as natural populations and as crops. During his career as a faculty member at NU, Weaver published many works regarding vegetation and ecology of prairies and published the first American ecology textbook. His reputation as a world-renowned plant ecologist attracted students from Nebraska and beyond to study range management in agronomy. An Iowa native, Weaver earned his B.S. and master's degrees from the University of Nebraska, and his doctorate from the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1915 and, became a full professor in 1917; he retired in 1952.

John E. Weaver
John E. Weaver


The Susan J. Rosowski Professorship recognizes faculty at the associate professor level who have achieved distinguished records of scholarship or creative activity and who show exceptional promise for future excellence. The five-year, one-time appointment professorship carries a $3,000 annual stipend.

The Rosowski Professorship is named in honor of the late Susan J. Rosowski (1942-2004), who at the time of her death was the Adele Hall Distinguished Professor of English at UNL. She established the (Willa) Cather Project, and was general editor for the scholarly edition of Cather's works published by the University of Nebraska Press, a multi-volume project. Rosowski is credited with igniting renewed regional, national and international interest in Willa Cather's works. Rosowski was an award-winning author and well-respected teacher and scholar. A Kansas native, Rosowski received her B.A. from Whittier College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. In 2004, she received the University of Nebraska's Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award.

Susan J. Rosowski
Susan J. Rosowski