CUNY Elevates Four Scholars to Distinguished Professor Rank

The City University of New York Board of Trustees has elevated the appointments of four world-renowned scholars in literature and human rights, political science, theoretical and cultural studies, and speech and phonetics to the rank of Distinguished Professor, Chancellor Matthew Goldstein has announced.

Distinguished Professors Reid-Pharr, Buck-Morss, Schulman and Whalen

L to R: Robert Reid-Pharr (English), Susan Buck-Morss (Political Science), Sarah Schulman (English) and Douglas H. Whalen (Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences) have been designated Distinguished Professors, all at the Graduate School and University Center, except Schulman, who teaches at the College of Staten Island.

The prestigious designations were approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees.

“These appointments exemplify CUNY’s commitment to recruit and retain a world-class faculty,” Chancellor Goldstein said of the latest recipients of the University’s highest academic rank.

Distinguished Professorships are reserved for faculty with records of exceptional performance by national and international standards of excellence in their profession, according to Executive Vice Chancellor Alexandra W. Logue, the University Provost and chief academic officer. Successful candidates must demonstrate substantial evidence of outstanding performance, including significant quantities of high-quality work in areas of importance in their disciplines. In addition to superb scholarship, Distinguished Professors are expected to participate in appropriate teaching and service roles in their colleges, she said.

The ranking also functions as a tool to recruit new faculty or retain existing faculty whose appointments enrich The City University of New York, especially when candidates require special incentives to influence their decision to accept an offer or to remain with the University.

The four Distinguished Professors are:

The College of Staten Island
Distinguished Professor of English Sarah Schulman

Globally acknowledged as a novelist, playwright, filmmaker and activist, Professor Schulman is recognized for her major contributions to general historical and art-related fields of study, as well as for her groundbreaking work in lesbian and gay culture. A prolific writer with more than a dozen books of fiction and nonfiction, plus multiple produced plays to her credit, she is also co-founder of the ACT UP Oral History Project, which was established in 2001 to document the lives and strategies of members of the AIDS activist organization ACT UP/New York. The project has received nearly half-a-million dollars of grant funding and has had a tremendous international impact. Professor Schulman is the recipient of numerous academic and professional honors and awards, including the 2009 Kessler Prize for Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and appointment to the Harvard University Kennedy School Advisory Collective for the Carr Center for Human Rights and Social Movements.

The Graduate School and University Center
Distinguished Professor of Political Science Susan Buck-Morss

One of the most prominent and influential social and cultural theorists writing in the English-speaking world, Dr. Susan Buck-Morss comes to CUNY from Cornell University, where she was the Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 Professor of Social Sciences. A renowned political scientist, her expertise in the area of political theory also extends to other areas of the social sciences and humanities. The author of five acclaimed books, she has written what are considered to be classic texts on Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, who were leading members of the Frankfurt School of social theory. Her influential works have been translated into numerous languages, including Hebrew, German, Japanese, Swedish, Portuguese, Urdu, Korean, Turkish, Serbian and French. Her many honors and fellowships include a Guggenheim, two Fulbrights, a Getty Fellowship at the Getty Research Institute, and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation International Peace and Security Fellowship.

The Graduate School and University Center
Distinguished Professor of English Robert Reid-Pharr

A renowned scholar in African-American literature, American Studies, and lesbian/gay/queer studies, Dr. Robert Reid-Pharr is one of today’s leading figures in theoretical and cultural studies. Widely praised for both his scholarship and teaching, he is also admired by other eminent scholars for the boldness of his intellectual engagements and for his ability to illuminate a range of interdisciplinary interests. His books include Conjugal Union: The Body, the House and the Black American (Oxford University Press, 1999), and Once You Go Black: Choice, Desire and the Black American Intellectual (New York University Press, 2007). His 2001 collection of essays, Black Gay Man (New York University Press) won the Publishing Triangle Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction. He has been awarded fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.

The Graduate School and University Center
Distinguished Professor of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences Douglas H. Whalen

One of the world’s leading scientists in the fields of speech and phonetics, Dr. Whalen is an internationally recognized linguist and one of the foremost authorities on language documentation and preservation. From 2006 to 2008 he was program director at the National Science Foundation for Documenting Endangered Languages and Cognitive Neuroscience, with responsibility for distributing $10 million annually in funding. He is also the founding president of The Endangered Language Fund, Inc., a non-governmental organization that provides grant support in two important programs: one aimed at scholars and activists worldwide, enables work on any of the world’s endangered languages, while the other is intended for members of the U.S. Native American tribes who are descended from those contacted by the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803-1806. Dr. Whalen received the Director’s Award for Program Management Excellence from the National Science Foundation in 2007. He is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847 as The Free Academy, the University’s 23 institutions include 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. The University serves 262,000 academic credit students and 269,808 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. More than one million visitors and two million page views are served each month by, the University’s website.