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TTU Faculty: If you Aspire to be a Horn Professor, Consider This . . . !

Fall 2011

The board has established special professorships known as “Horn Professorships” named in honor of Paul Whitfield Horn, the first president of TTU and “Murray Professorships” named in honor of Grover Murray, the first president of TTUHSC. “Horn Professorships” are granted to TTU professors and ʺMurray Professorshipsʺ are granted to TTUHSC professors.
Horn Professorships and Murray Professorships, the highest honors that TTU and TTUHSC may bestow on members of their respective faculties, are granted to professors in recognition of their attainment of national or international distinction for outstanding teaching, research, or other creative achievement.

—Texas Tech University System Board of Regents,
Regents' Rules, Section 04.01.1 a. and b.

Vivien Allen

Professor Vivien Allen, Plant & Soil Science, was honored as a Horn Professor in 2005. Since 2005, eight of eighteen Horn Professor appointments have gone to women.


Bob Smith


Horn Professor! It’s the most prestigious professorial designation that the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents (BOR) bestows on outstanding faculty members at Texas Tech University (TTU). Of the 941 tenured and tenure-track professors at TTU, only thirty-seven are “Horns.” Thus, the designation is highly distinctive. The benefits are significant.

For those faculty members who are new to TTU or who have been at the university for only a few years but have given fleeting thought to setting the Horn designation as a career goal, this is the paper for you. Below, I offer some history and background on the Horn Professorship. The narrative continues with a description of criteria and review procedures for prospective Horn appointees. The article ends with a brief discussion of benefits that accrue to Horn Professors.

During the preparation of this work, I not only used information contained in OP 32.09 (Selection of Paul Whitfield Horn Professorships) as reproduced in Appendix 1, but also reflected on observations made while facilitating assessments of Horn Professor candidates in 2010 and 2011. Additionally, I have had opportunities to meet and visit with thirty-four of the current thirty-seven Horn Professors.


The first Horn Professors, four of them, were appointed in 1967 (TTU Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, 2011). Since 1967, there have been eighty-one Horn Professor appointments. As noted above, thirty-seven faculty members are active Horn Professors.

Interestingly, during the first forty years of the program, an average of fewer than two Horn Professor appointments was made per year. During the past five years, twelve Horn Professors were appointed. In the forty-five-year history of the program, there were up to five yearly appointments, and there were no appointees in eight years (1974, 1976, 1980, 1982, 1993, 1995, 1998, and 2009). A listing of all current Horn Professors and their tenure units appears in Appendix 2.

Criteria and Process for Appointment

As noted in the Regents Rules, appointment as a Horn Professor acknowledges outstanding teaching, research, or other creative achievement. OP 32.09 describes a somewhat bifurcated view of “teaching” versus “research, or other creative achievement.” The OP considers “effective teaching” as a perquisite for nomination, while assessment of “outstanding research, or other creative achievement” is subject to rigorous review, beginning with nominations of candidates by their department chair, dean, or a Horn Professor. Aspiring candidates cannot nominate themselves.

After nomination, the nominee is asked to develop a portfolio akin to that which would be assembled for promotion from associate professor to professor. The Horn Professor portfolio must also include a listing of twenty prominent scholars the nominee considers as qualified to judge her or his scholarly record. From this list, the prospective nominee’s dean solicits at least three letters that are made available to a college-level review committee.

With the portfolio and outside letters in hand, the nominee’s dean assembles an evaluation committee composed of a minimum of three distinguished TTU full professors (who may or may not be from the candidate’s college), at least one of which must be a Horn Professor. The evaluation committee members assess the nominee’s portfolio and meet subsequently to discuss and vote anonymously, which guides the recommendation to the dean of the nominee’s college. The document reproduced in Appendix 3 is used in transmitting ballot results and recommendations of the evaluation committee and the dean. Assuming a positive evaluation by the nominee’s dean and college-level evaluation committee, and with the nominee’s concurrence, the ballot, a letter of support from the dean, and the portfolio are forwarded to the provost and senior vice president (hereafter simply referred to as provost).

Under OP 32.09, the provost is charged with assembling a university-level review committee consisting of five or more Horn Professors and one other endowed professor or chair to review each nominee’s materials. At this time also, the provost solicits letters of recommendation from the remaining members of the candidates’ lists of twenty scholars.

After giving the committee members up to two months to review the portfolios and the total assemblage of outside letters, a meeting is scheduled for review of the candidates. This meeting is chaired by the provost and is attended by the president of the Faculty Senate who serves as a nonvoting member of the group. Following appropriate discussion of the candidates’ portfolios, including time for the review team members to vote through secret ballots, the final tallies are recorded on the official ballot document. The results of the discussions and votes are advisory to the provost who recommends action to the university president, who in turn, informs the Texas Tech University System chancellor for possible recommendations to the BOR.

As prescribed in OP 32.09, the provost is required to report in writing to the current Horn Professors if his or her recommendation is at odds with the majority of the voting members of the provost-level evaluation committee.

Reflections on Recent Reviews

From testimonies of the four provosts who served during the period 1985-2009** it appears that a number of slightly different procedures have been followed during the provost-level review. However, within the context of the relevant version of OP 32.09, each prior provost made sure that he or she appointed (to the university-level committee) Horn Professors who had expertise similar to that of the nominees in any given year.

Having been appointed provost in a mid-Horn review cycle (February 2009), and having had the chance to assess previous review methods, it seemed that a further refinement of the review process might be desirable. Accordingly, rather than having a generalized approach to review (i.e., wherein all reviewers assess all candidates), I decided to follow a protocol common in major federal peer review panels. Thus, in 2010 when five nominees were recommended to the provost, two Horn Professor reviewers with expertise consistent with each nominee’s scholarly work, but holding appointments outside of the candidate’s college, were assigned as primary reviewers. Our provost review committee that year consisted of ten Horn Professors, an endowed professor, the president of the Faculty Senate (ex officio), and the provost. During the review meeting, the two primary reviewers for each nominee were asked to address the group. These presentations were followed by general discussion and each remaining member of the review team was asked to express his or her views of each nominee as a result of the proceeding discussion or other assessments. During these conversations, I offered no judgments about the nominees, although I was open to questions from the group. The final secret ballot totals guided my thinking and the recommendations I shared subsequently with the President. An identical process to the above was followed during the provost-level reviews of the nominees in 2011.

Advice to Prospective Horn Professor Candidates

Aspiring to becoming a Horn Professor is a worthy goal for TTU faculty members, particularly considering the benefits that accrue to scholars so designated (see below). And while TTU faculty members may not nominate themselves, an accumulated record of “attainment of national or international distinction for outstanding teaching, research, or other creative achievement” will attract the attention of potential Horn Professor, department chair, and dean nominators.

Being privy to three rounds of Horn Professor nominee assessments, I can now comment on what seems to impress reviewers relative to the criteria for assessment indicated in OP 32.09. But, first let me get back to the point raised earlier about the evaluation of teaching versus research.

While the language of “effective teaching” and “outstanding teaching” of OP 32.09 and the Regents Rules (Section 04.01.1 a. and b.), respectively, suggest different weightings, the provost-level reviews indicate differently. At least in the reviews conducted during 2010 and 2011, the provost-level reviewers spent considerable time discussing candidates’ contributions to teaching, most especially graduate teaching that typically plays a significant role in the life of university scholars. Despite this set of observations, the differences in language relative to teaching in the OP and Regents’ Rules, deserves attention and will be followed up with the Horn Professors and the Faculty Senate.

The coincident emphasis on excellence in research, scholarship, and creative activities in OP 32.09 and the Regents’ Rules is worth noting and in the context of this paper, worth some elaboration. Below is the list of representative supporting evidence for a nominee’s national or international distinction as taken from OP 32.09. For each example, I have added parenthetically observations from provost-level committee deliberations.

  1. The publication of books, articles, reviews, works of art, and other evidence particular to the field of scholarly achievement. Publications shall be in scholarly journals or sources customary to the field of interest. (TTU reviewers may discuss the quality of journals used by the nominee along with citation analyses purported by the nominee or outside reviewers. Also, and in connection with outside reviewers, TTU reviewers have been heard to comment on the apparent impartiality and prestige of institutional affiliations of external reviewers. For works of art, TTU reviewers will be interested in the artist’s participation and awards in regional, national and international juried exhibitions. Reviewers may also be impressed by favorable reviews of artistic performances and other scholarly works [e.g., book reviews].)
  2. Awards and prizes from professional organizations and foundations (TTU reviewers will comment on the apparent prominence of the award or prize received by the nominee. A national book award for a history monograph, for example, would certainly be more impressive than an award from a local historical association. Reviewers are also impressed by nominees who earn “fellow” status in major associations or academies [e.g., the American Association for the Advancement of Science or the National Academy of Engineering].)
  3. Grants in support of research, study, or creative works (Reviewers are impressed by grants received through competitive programs, particularly those of federal agencies or programs [e.g., the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation]. In fact, there may also be negative resonance relative to awards received through government earmarks [even though they are currently banned by the United States Congress] or agencies where the nominee might have favored status [e.g., an industrial firm where a nominee has been a consultant]. Grant awards for prestigious fellowships [e.g., Fulbright and Guggenheim Awards] will be judged very favorably.)
  4. Offices held in learned societies (Most reviewers will be impressed by elected office positions – particularly president – in noteworthy national or international societies [e.g., American Psychological Association, Society of Toxicology].)
  5. Papers read before learned societies (Nominees should document all papers presented at conferences of international, national, regional, state, and local associations and societies, whether the presentation was given orally or in a poster format. In all instances, the nominee should indicate co-authors of the work represented by the presentations. TTU and outside reviewers may make discriminating remarks about the prominence of conferences or sponsoring agencies or institutions.)
  6. Lectures or performances delivered at other academic, industrial, or professional venues (The nominee should clearly point out invited presentations and performances. Reviewers will be impressed by the prestige of venue [e.g., Carnegie Hall, Ivy League institutions].)
  7. Services as expert, consultant, etc., to business, industry, governmental agencies, and educational organizations (Reviewers will be impressed by consulting service – gratis or otherwise – to well-known agencies, corporations, or organizations, including service on national advisory or review panels [e.g., National Endowment for the Humanities, United States Department of Agriculture].)

Supporting evidence for a nominee’s national or international distinction should also be evident in the reference letters solicited by the dean and the provost. Additionally, the letters should reflect views of national and international experts who are well-respected judges of the nominee’s area(s) of scholarship. It is important that nominees choose potential references wisely.

One further note: As stated in OP 32.09: A significant portion of the nominee's achievements must have been carried out while the nominee was a member of the Texas Tech faculty . . . For faculty members who may have come to Texas Tech from another institution, a nominee might ask: “What proportion would be significant?” From relevant discussions with TTU reviewers, a “significant portion” appears to equate to a minimum of one-half of a nominee's postgraduate career with total service to TTU being at least ten years.

Benefits and Final Thoughts

Besides the obvious prestige of the appointment by the BOR, the newly minted Horn Professor receives a one-time boost in salary of $8,000. Additionally, for each year of service, the Horn appointee receives, in a university account, $20,000 to support the faculty member’s research, scholarly and/or creative work. In my estimation, this is a very substantial benefit that appears to be greatly valued by Horn Professors. Indeed, the Horn Professorship is equivalent – in financial benefits – to those available to faculty members holding endowed professorships or chairs, with one caveat. Horn Professor support cannot be used to supplement one’s regular salary or provide other personal remuneration, but summer salary and reasonable travel support for research or scholarly work has traditionally been allowed.

If you are a seasoned faculty member and aspire to become a Horn Professor, continue to amass the credentials that may be favorably judged through the nominee evaluation process. Also, it would not hurt to get to know some Horn Professors. I know a number of them well enough to also know that they look favorably on mentoring opportunities. It also is not a “good old boy network.” Indeed, since 2005, eight of eighteen Horn Professor appointments have gone to women.

One further note: Horn Professors come from fields that cover the waterfront from architecture to biological sciences, from classics to English, from history to law, and from physics to psychology. As correctly pointed out by Horn Professor David Knaff, do not be deterred by cynics who espouse that: “Big-dollar extramural funding, and thus the sciences and engineering, have a very substantial advantage over other areas.” Tell them: “It isn’t so.”

My final advice: Understand well the policies and procedures in place to become a Horn Professor. Continue on a path consistent with the tenets for review and seek out additional information or advice from your department chair, dean, or Horn Professor colleagues. Also, feel free to contact me (bob.smith@ttu.edu) if I can be of help. Bonne chance!


“Texas Tech University Horn Professors,” 1967-2011, TTU Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, http://swco.ttu.edu/university_archive/uacollections11.html (July 8, 2011).

About the Author

*Bob Smith is provost and senior vice president, and professor of chemistry at Texas Tech University.

**The four prior TTU Provosts included: Jane Winer (Interim, 2008-2009), Bill Marcy (2003-2008), John Burns (1997-2003), and Don Haragan (1985-1996 [Interim during 1985-1988]).

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