September 1962 Two visiting Distinguished Professors are recruited from the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton to help CUNY launch a new doctoral program in Economics.

February 1967 CUNY examines and defines the purpose of Distinguished Professorship: to enrich the academic environment of the University with outstanding faculty.

May 1968 Brooklyn College pledges funding to establish its first Visiting Distinguished Professorship — a chair in Afro-American Studies in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

February 1969 Baruch College establishes a Distinguished Professorship in Accountancy and designates Emanuel Saxe to be the first recipient of the honor.

April 1970 Martin Landau is named first Distinguished Professor at Brooklyn College (Political Science).

June 1970 Bertram Gross is named the first Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center (Urban Affairs and Planning).

September 1970 Taro Takahashi is named the first Distinguished Professor at Queens College (Physical Sciences).

October 1970 CUNY appoints nineteen new Distinguished Professors, including the first to be named at The City College, Hunter College, The Graduate Center, and John Jay College, as well as additional Distinguished Professorships at Brooklyn, Baruch, and Queens Colleges. With these professors, CUNY has filled all but one of the Distinguished Professorships it is authorized and funded to support.

March 1971 Helaine Newstead, an expert in Arthurian legend and medieval studies, is named a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center(English), becoming the first woman at CUNY to earn the honor. Dr. Martin Duberman becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Lehman College (History).

November 1972 Emanuel Saxe, the first CUNY Distinguished Professor and Dean Emeritus of Baruch College, retires. Baruch College recognizes his outstanding contributions by establishing the Dean Emanuel Saxe Professorship in his honor.

December 1972 CUNY trustees begin to discuss the possibility of expanding Distinguished Professorships to faculty at its community colleges.

April 1983 N. John Hall becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Bronx Community College (English).

May 1983 Charles Jacobs becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Kingsborough Community College (Music).

June 1983 Herbert Parmet becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Queensborough Community College (History).

June 1985 Well-known dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey becomes the first Visiting Distinguished Professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College (Physical Education, Health, Recreation, and Dance).

January 1997 Professional Staff Congress (PSC) Contract caps the number of CUNY Distinguished Professors at 125.

September 1998 Bruce Davidson becomes the first Visiting Distinguished Professor at LaGuardia Community College(Photography).

April 2000 Lehman College Distinguished Professor of Music John Corigliano wins an Academy Award for his soundtrack in the film The Red Violin.

June 2001 Lehman College Distinguished Professor of English Billy Collins is named U.S. Poet Laureate.

May 2001 TheGraduate Centerestablishes an Endowed Chair in American History to honor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., renowned American historian and previous CUNY Distinguished Professor.

January 2001 Elizabeth Nunez becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Medgar Evers College (Languages and Literatures).

January 2002 Michael Lomonaco becomes the first Distinguished Professor at New York Technical College(Hospitality Management).

February 2004 Isaac Goldemberg becomes the first Distinguished Professor at Hostos Community College (Humanities).

June 2006 Under the newly negotiated PSC contract, the number of Distinguished Professorships that CUNY may confer is increased to 175.

July 2007 Ruthann Robson becomes the first Distinguished Professor at CUNY School of Law. CUNY continues to invest in a world-class faculty representing a rich diversity of gender, ethnicity, and academic fields at all of its campuses.

August 2016 Under the newly negotiated PSC contract, the number of Distinguished Professorships that CUNY may confer is increased to 250.

June 2017 The guidelines for the selection and review of Distinguished Professors were codified by the CUNY Board of Trustees.