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Olson Professorship Program

Honors selected senior members of the University of Missouri faculty by providing them with a named professorship in exchange for their willingness to voluntarily relinquish tenure and retire from the University.
The James C. Olson Professorship Program is designed to provide an opportunity to honor selected senior members of the University of Missouri faculty by providing them with a named professorship with the following terms and conditions in exchange for their willingness to voluntarily relinquish tenure and retire from the University. These professorships allow the University to retain the important experience and contributions of these valued faculty colleagues while enabling them to reduce the level of their responsibilities. These special appointments and assignments for a specified term after retirement provide important contributions to the University while helping retiring faculty evolve into their new roles.


James C. Olson Professors contribute to the University's mission and are approved by their unit's faculty. Appointments and individual agreements are negotiated with the applicable Department Chair and Dean and final appointments are made by the Provost.

  • be aged 62 or higher as of their retirement effective date
  • have e-mail, phone and computer support
  • have access to parking, library, and athletics commensurate with regular faculty
  • be eligible for travel funds at the discretion of the applicable Dean
  • receive office space as appropriate to the Olson Professorship assignment
  • receive compensation as negotiated with the applicable Dean
  • earn no more annually than 25% of the appointee's final academic year salary

Once accepted into the Olson Professorship Program, an Olson Professor does not need to reapply to the program.

Each Olson Professorship may be renewed for a period not to exceed three years from the initial Olson Professorship employment start date, regardless of continuous or intermittent employment status throughout that three year period.

Renewal of an Olson Professorship requires that the Department demonstrate a continued need for the services, continued funding availability, and positive performance evaluation of the Olson Professor. The performance evaluation is performed by the Chair either following the completion of fall semester duties (if not employed during Spring semester), or with the other faculty evaluations prior to May 1.

If the evaluation is positive and the Chair demonstrates a continuing need and funding available to cover the services of the Olson Professor, then the Chair requests the Dean renew the Olson Professorship. The Dean will provide the Olson Professor with a new offer letter following approval by the Provost Office.

The Olson Professorship ends three years after the Olson Professorship initial employment start date, regardless of performance, funding, or continued need. Extensions to an Olson Professorship beyond the three-year limitation will not be granted.

Olson Professorship appointments may be renewed up to three years beyond the retirement effective date at the discretion of the University.   Decisions on the term will be based on the needs of the Department, Division, School or College and the annual evaluation of the Olson Professor.  Those accepted into the James C. Olson Professorship Program must demonstrate excellence in the area of teaching or in the area of assigned duties.  Click here to review procedures for renewing the Olson Professorship following the close of each contract period, not to exceed three years of employment in the program.

Olson Application Process (revised)

Olson Professorship Application Form (revised 08oct13)

All application materials can be sent electronically to Chris Popoola in Faculty Affairs.

Olson Professorship Agreement (Provost will issue  this document to faculty member upon approval of Olson Professorship)

OFFER TEMPLATE Olson Professorship (Dean will use this document to draft the offer letter following Provost approval)

James C. Olson served as UMKC Chancellor from 1968-1976 and UM System President from 1977-1984.

Born in Bradgate, Iowa on January 23, 1917, James C. Olson earned a Master's and a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska before serving in the Army Air Forces from 1942-1946. After he was discharged, Dr. Olson began his career as director of the Nebraska State Historical Society and part-time lecturer at the Universities of Omaha and Nebraska. By 1956 he was full-time professor at the University of Nebraska, where he climbed the administrative ladder, serving as Department Chair, Associate Dean, Dean, and Vice-Chancellor before his appointment as Chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1968. He was appointed interim president of the University of Missouri System on June 1, 1976, and soon thereafter formally assumed the position of full-time president. Since retiring in 1984, Dr. Olson has been named President Emeritus. Dr. Olson has authored several history books and textbooks, including; The Nebraska Story, J. Sterling Morton, and Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem, as well as the University of Missouri: An Illustrated History;co-authored by his wife, Vera.