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Distinguished University Professor Award

Each year, the President's Office recognizes one faculty member with the Distinguished University Professor Award, choosing from a field of many exemplary faculty in an extremely competitive process.

The honored faculty member must hold the rank of full professor; hold a doctorate or other terminal degree; possess a record of outstanding teaching, quality research/scholarly activities, and university service; and show active and demonstrable engagement in research/scholarly activity that advances his or her discipline or its pedagogy.

The Distinguished University Professor Award, established in 1988, brings recipients a grant and reduced teaching load for one year to allow them to dedicate more time to research/scholarship, as well as other benefits.


Twenty-one faculty have been honored with the Distinguished University Professor Award:

2014: Krzysztof (Krys) Kaniasty, Psychology

2013: Victor Garcia, Anthropology

2012: Abbas Ali, Management

2011: Lynn Botelho, History

2010: Ben Rafoth, English

2009: Gian Pagnucci, English

2008: John (Jack) E. Stamp, Music

2007: Steven A. Hovan, Geoscience

2000: Eileen W. Glisan, Spanish and Classical Languages

1999: Robert J. Ackerman, Sociology

1998: Robert S. Prezant, Biology

1997: Richard D. Magee, Psychology

1996: Ronald G. Shafer, English

1995: Devki N. Talwar, Physics

1994: Charles D. Cashdollar, History

1993: Donald S. McPherson, Industrial and Labor Relations 

1992: John W. Kuehn, Music 

1991: Mary R. Jalongo, Professional Studies in Education 

1990: John N. Fox, Physics 

1989: Leon D. VandeCreek, Psychology

1988: Donald A. Walker, Economics 

Note: From 2001 to 2006, cost constraints prohibited presentation of the award.

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PURPOSE: The purpose of the Distinguished University Professor Award is to recognize, reward, and encourage IUP faculty who demonstrate outstanding records of teaching, research/scholarly activities and services.

QUALIFICATIONS: To earn a Distinguished University Professor Award, a faculty member must:

  • Hold the rank of full professor 
  • Hold a doctorate or other terminal degree 
  • Have a record of outstanding teaching, quality research/scholarly activities and university service
  • Be active and demonstrably engaged in research/scholarly activity which advances the faculty member’s discipline or the teaching of his/her discipline

BENEFITS: A faculty member who is honored with the Distinguished University Professor Award receives:

  1. A $5,000 grant, through Foundation funding, to support his/her research/scholarly activities;
  2. A reduced teaching load (three hours release time) for each semester of the year for which the Distinguished University Professorship is awarded;
  3. A six-hour summer contract for professional activity;
  4. Designated parking spot for the year serving as Distinguished University Professor;
  5. His/her name inscribed upon a plaque honoring all Distinguished University Professors;
  6. A news release announcing the name and activities of the year’s Distinguished University Professor; and
  7. The lifetime title of Distinguished University Professor.

TIME FRAME: The position of Distinguished University Professor will be for one calendar year commencing at the beginning of the Fall semester. It can be held one time only, as it is a lifetime designation. The Distinguished University Professor must be in residence during the year for which the award is given (i.e., he/she must not be on sabbatical or other forms of leave).

UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR COMMITTEE: The Distinguished University Professor Committee shall consist of two administrators and six faculty members (with one from each college). All faculty members serving on the committee must hold the rank of full professor. The two administrators shall be selected by the Provost. The chair of the committee shall be appointed by the Provost and selected from the ranks of previous Distinguished University Professors. The other five faculty members of the committee shall be recommended to the Provost by APSCUF with at least three of them from the ranks of previous Distinguished University Professors. 

SELECTION PROCESS: The process whereby a Distinguished University Professor is awarded shall consist of four phases: Committee nomination, phase one application, phase two review, and award. A call for nominations is made to the university community. The Distinguished University Professor Committee will select faculty who meet the selection criteria and invite them to apply. The application process is in two phases. The committee will then evaluate each applicant with respect to the quality of prior work at phase one, and at phase two both the quality of prior work along with that of the work proposed for the time period of the Distinguished University Professorship is reviewed. The committee’s recommended candidate, along with a listing of top three candidates will be provided through the Provost to the President for a final decision.

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Krys Kaniasty

Dr. Krzysztof (Krys) Kaniasty has been selected as Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s 2014-15 Distinguished University Professor.

Krys KaniastyA professor in the Psychology Department, Kaniasty is perhaps the foremost authority on post-disaster social support, having written or co-written numerous empirical and theoretical articles, chapters and reports on the topic.

“It’s truly an honor to be selected for this recognition,” Kaniasty said. “I am proud and delighted because it is something I can share with my family, my collaborators, my departmental colleagues and many of my students. Work in academia, especially in social sciences, is a communal and collaborative enterprise. You cannot get by without a little help from your friends.”

During his tenure as IUP’s Distinguished University Professor, Kaniasty will work on a project that will address the question “When is social support actually helpful?”

“A large part of my research career has been devoted to looking for empirical evidence of what seems obvious to many, if not most, people—that receiving help in times of crisis is supportive,” Kaniasty said.

“Paradoxically, many stress and coping scholars and mental health practitioners, while enthusiastically heralding the beneficial effects of social support on psychological health, primarily refer to ‘perceived social support,’ what scholars call a hypothetical concept, and not ‘received support,’ which is a tangible concept.

“I want to focus on this question: why is received support less influential than perceived support?” he said.

He explained that the goal of his research is to enumerate and describe social-psychological processes that undermine the efficacy of social support actually exchanged in times of stress.

“Ironically, social support is so omnipresent, it has unlimited opportunities to go wrong and potentially be harmful,” he said. “I hope to prepare a set of explicit recommendations that will help all of us help others in crises. That is the way helping is intended to be—helpful.”

Though the Distinguished University Professor award is presented annually, recipients retain the title for life.

“This title reflects a very special honor given to truly exceptional faculty members who have made significant contributions in the classroom, in research and in scholarship—and who have been leaders in our university community,” Michael Driscoll, IUP president, said. 

“These faculty members are true leaders for our institution, setting an example of excellence as teacher-scholars who are working to move the university forward.”

“While Dr. Kaniasty has been honored internationally for the quality of his research and scholarly work, he remains committed to being an effective teacher and to helping students succeed in all possible ways,” Driscoll said.

Kaniasty, a member of the Institute of Psychology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland, has studied psychology both in Poland and the United States. He conducted and collaborated on several large-scale longitudinal studies investigating social support exchanges, individual and communal coping, and psychological well-being following natural disasters and other major stressors in several countries, including the United States, Mexico, Poland, and China.

He is president of the Stress and Anxiety Research Society, and his scholarship has been recognized with several prestigious honors, including STAR’s Lifetime Career Award in 2011.

Early in his career, Kaniasty was recognized by the American Psychological Association with the Community Psychology Dissertation of the Year award (1993). In 2006, he was honored with the Individual Award by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education for his book about the 1997 Polish flood and its psychosocial consequences.

A member of the IUP faculty since 1990, he has been honored with the Outstanding Researcher Award from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the Sponsored Program Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research, and the University Senate Distinguished Faculty Award for Research. He also serves on many national and international boards and associations, as well as many university committees.

Kaniasty has been an author or co-editor of several books and has written or co-written many highly cited social support and trauma chapters and articles in professional journals. He also has served as chief editor of Anxiety, Stress and Coping: An International Journal, and as associate editor of The Encyclopedia of Psychological Trauma.

He regularly presents his research at national and international conferences and seminars, including serving as keynote speaker at the Australian Psychological Society Conference; the annual conference of the Stress and Anxiety Research Society in Munster, Germany; and the International Conference—Contemporary Quality of Life at the University of Opole, Poland.

He has been successful in securing research grants totaling more than $500,000, including several projects funded through the National Institute of Mental Health.

Kaniasty resides in Indiana with his wife, Aleksandra (Ola). They have a daughter, Natalia.

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