University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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Frequently Asked Questions

Illinois Distinguished Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholars Program

Can candidates for postdoctoral fellowships apply to the Program directly?

No, the Program will not accept any application materials submitted directly by fellowship candidates. The academic unit sponsoring the candidate must submit all Program application materials.

Who is eligible to receive Program postdoc appointments?

Members of the groups identified in Provost’s Communication #7—which establishes the Targets of Opportunity Program (“TOP”)—are eligible to receive Program postdoc appointments. Communication #7 states:

“In general, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans (that is, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians), and mainland Puerto Ricans are significantly underrepresented in the faculty at Illinois relative to their representation nationally. Additionally, women are underrepresented in specific STEM fields. Underrepresentation also exists on campus with respect to veteran status and persons with disabilities.”

Additionally, and as with TOP, Program candidates typically are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. In very exceptional circumstances, candidates who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents will be considered for the Program.

Please see Provost’s Communication #7, which describes TOP, for more information.

Which academic units may submit applications for Program funding?

All University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign academic units, regardless of research field, may seek Program funding to support postdocs from the significantly underrepresented groups identified in Provost’s Communication #7 (African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans, and mainland Puerto Ricans), postdocs who hold veteran status, and postdocs with disabilities. Additionally, Urbana-Champaign academic units in STEM fields may seek Program funding to support postdocs for women.

Does accepting Program funding obligate academic units to make tenure-stream offers to their postdocs?

Academic units accepting Program funding are not obligated to hire their postdocs. However, the core purpose of the Program is to develop postdocs who will be competitive tenure-stream candidates in their host units or other units on our campus. Accordingly, funded units must seriously consider their postdocs for tenure-stream appointments. Such consideration generally involves a finalist-level interview for an assistant professor position, a faculty vote on the postdoc’s candidacy, and an offer of appointment if the faculty vote satisfies the unit’s hiring rules. Ideally, the interview, faculty evaluation, and offer of appointment will occur before or shortly after the expiration of the postdoc’s appointment.

Can postdoctoral fellows live outside the Urbana-Champaign area and work remotely during the fellowship?

An academic unit may submit an application for a candidate who plans to live outside the Urbana-Champaign area. However, the unit should clearly and persuasively explain how it will remotely mentor the candidate and incorporate them into the unit’s intellectual, teaching, and professional life. In particular, the unit should describe how it will facilitate the candidate’s engagement with its faculty members.

Does the Program accept joint applications submitted by more than one academic, and are candidates permitted to hold joint appointments in more than one academic unit?

Yes and yes. However, the collaborating units would have to make a compelling case that they will effectively share Program responsibilities for the postdoc, including mentoring. Additionally, the application would require letters of support from the unit executive officer of each collaborating unit and the deans of their respective colleges. The collaborating units would also have to submit a detailed description of how they will coordinate the candidate’s evaluation for a tenure-stream position before completing the Program. For example, the units should explain how they will staff the candidate’s evaluation committee, organize the candidate’s interviews, vote on the candidate’s candidacy, and ultimately decide to extend an offer.