Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Award

The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor award is the highest honor faculty can bestow on a colleague. This award was first presented in 1957-58 and has been presented annually ever since. The award was known as the Distinguished Professor award until 1981 when it was re-named in honor of the late Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert O. Lawton. At that time past recipients also were designated Lawton Distinguished Professors.

Video interviews with a number of Lawton Distinguished Professors recounting their first hand memories of Bob Lawton along with a detailed history of the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Award at FSU may be found on his biography page.


Selection Criteria

The Robert O. Lawton distinguished professor is chosen from the ranks of those teaching at Florida State University. The screening committee will make its recommendations on the basis or major contributions to teaching, research, or creative endeavors which have been made by the faculty member during his/her career at Florida State University. To be eligible for this award, the faculty member must be a tenured professor, have been at the University at least 14 years and, above all, have achieved true distinction in his/her discipline or profession. Although scholarly distinction is the primary qualification, evidence of quality teaching, including the directing of graduate research and service to the University and the academic community at large should be emphasized.


Nomination Criteria

A submission prepared by the nominator, should contain a nominating letter, a comprehensive curriculum vita for the nominee (no more than 15 pages), along with any additional evidence of outstanding scholarship. Should the nominee decide to include prominent publications, these should be limited to no more than 5. The nomination package should also include a summary of service contributions (no more than 1 to 2 pages) and a summary of teaching contributions to Florida State University and to his/her profession (no more than 1 to 2 pages). The nomination package should include at least 2 to 4 (no more than 4, please) seconding letters of recommendation from individuals within the University, and at least 3 to 5 letters (but no more than 5) from colleagues outside this university. A brief one-page professional identification should be provided for each author of an outside letter. Please keep the content of each letter concise and include relevant information only.


Selection Timeline

January The President constitutes the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Selection Committee. The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Selection Committee shall be composed of seven members: four previous recipients of the Lawton Award and three faculty-at-large. The committee shall be composed of the two most recent Lawton recipients and two additional recipients appointed by the President. The three faculty-at-large members shall be appointed by the President from a panel of six nominations submitted by the Faculty Senate Steering Committee. The most recent Lawton recipient shall be appointed by the President as the Chair of the Committee. The terms of appointments for all committee members are one year.
February/March Nominations must be received by late February/early March. The exact date and submission instructions will be sent to all faculty each year. Each member of the faculty shall be eligible to submit nominations to the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Selection Committee. Nominations should come from individuals, not departments, schools or colleges, or other administrative units. Nominations from previous years will be reconsidered only if supporting materials and updated.
April The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Committee will meet in April to review submitted nominations and make a recommendation to the President.


Year 2020-Present Recipient Field
2024-25 Harrison B. Prosper Physics
2023-24 Lilian Garcia Art
2022-23 Maxine Montgomery English
2021-22 Jorge Piekarewicz Physics
  Gary Taylor English
2020-21 Sharon Nicholson Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Science


Year 2010-2019 Recipient Field
2019-20 Timothy Cross National High Magnetic Field Laboratory
Chemistry & Biochemistry
2018-19 Pamela L. Perrewé Business Administration
2017-18 Jeffrey Chanton Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Science
2016-17 Joseph B. Schlenoff Chemistry & Biochemistry
2015-16 Max Gunzburger Scientific Computing
2014-15 Mark A. Riley Physics
2013-14 Shridhar K. Sathe * Nutrition, Food & Exercise Sciences
2012-13 Naresh S. Dalal Chemistry & Biochemistry
2011-12 Jawole Willa Jo Zollar Dance
2010-11 Thomas E. Joiner Psychology


Year 2000-2009 Recipient Field
2009-10 Richard K. Wagner Psychology
2008-09 Stanley E. Gontarski English
2007-08 Walter R. Tschinkel Biological Science
2006-07 Alan G. Marshall Chemistry & Biochemistry
2005-06 Jayne Standley Music
2003-04 David Kirby English
2002-03 Kirby W. Kemper Physics
2001-02 Nancy H. Marcus* Oceanography
2000-01 Christopher K. W. Tam Mathematics


Year 1990-1999 Recipient Field
1999-00 James J. O'Brien* Meteorology & Oceanography
1998-99 Myles Hollander Statistics
1997-98 DeWitt Sumners Mathematics
1996-97 Joseph Travis Biological Science
1995-96 Janet G. Burroway English
1994-95 Kurt G. Hofer* Biological Science
1993-94 Jayaram Sethuraman Statistics
1992-93 James C. Smith Psychology
  E. Imre Friedmann* Biological Science
1991-92 Nancy Smith Fichter Dance
1990-91 Donald Robson Physics


Year 1980-1989 Recipient Field
1989-90 Richard L. Greaves* History
1988-89 Clifford K. Madsen Music
1987-88 Werner Herz* Chemistry
1986-87 Daniel Simberloff Biological Science
1985-86 T.N. Krishnamurti* Meteorology
  Frank Proschan* Statistics
1984-85 Leo Mandelkern* Chemistry
1983-84 J. Herbert Taylor* Biological Science
1982-83 Robert M. Gagne* Ed Research, Dev, & Foundations
1981-82 Robert Gilmer* Mathematics
1980-81 Harry M. Walborsky* Chemistry


Year 1970-1979 Recipient Field
1979-80 George M. Harper* English
1978-79 Seymour L. Hess* Meteorology
1977-78 Richard L. Rubenstein* Religion
1976-77 Elena Nikolaidi* Music
1975-76 Richard Gordon Fallon* Theatre
1974-75 Daniel Ralph Kenshalo* Psychology
1973-74 I. Richard Savage* Statistics
1972-73 Kellogg Wesley Hunt* English
1971-72 Lloyd Mumbauer Beidler* Biological Science
1970-71 Ralph Allan Bradley* Statistics


Year 1960-1969 Recipient Field
1969-70 Earl Frieden* Chemistry
1968-69 Eugene D. Nichols* Mathematics Education
1967-68 Gregory R. Choppin* Chemistry
1966-67 Raymond K. Sheline* Chemistry
1965-66 Betty Monaghan Watts* Food and Nutrition
1964-65 Carlisle Floyd, Jr.* Music
1963-64 Dorothy Lois Breen Hoffman* Modern Languages
1962-63 Michael Kasha* Chemistry
1961-62 Wiley Lee Housewright* Music
1960-61 Ernest Max Grunwald* Chemistry


Year 1957-1959 Recipient Field
1959-60 Anna Forbes Liddell* Philosophy
1958-59 Marian Doris Irish* Government
1957-58 William Hudson Rogers* English


* Deceased faculty member