Professor Status

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by Han, Jan 11, 2004.

  1. Han

    Han New Member

    Does anybody know the levels of status for professor's.

    Assistant Professor
    Associate Professor
    Adjunt Porfessor
    Tentured Professor

    These have all been thrown around, and I am trying to find out the differences.
  2. Andy Borchers

    Andy Borchers New Member

    Kristie - Here is the system:

    Adjunct Porfessor (or adjunct instructor) - a part-time faculty member with little or no status or tenure

    Instructor - often used as a title for a full-timer that isn't on tenure track. Typically, people with this title focus on teaching, but not research.

    Assistant Professor - the starting position for most faculty hired with a PhD or DBA. Typically, Assistant Profs are "tenure track" - that is, they are in a (typical) 6 year path to achieve tenure and usually promotion to Associate Professor.

    Associate Professor - The next step above Assistant. Typically, Associates are tenured - but sometime folks are hired in as Associate Professor and given a shorter tenure cycle.

    Professor - Top of the hill. These folks are almost always tenured if there is a tenure system at a school. Folks typically have to labor as associates for some time before they step up.

    Tentured Professor - This title typically isn't used. Folks are "associate" or "full" or "assistant" professors. Tenure is usually awarded when a person is promoted from assistant to associate professor - although tenure usually isn't tied to rank. Rarely, you'll find a tenured assistant. More often a person who is hired in as an associate prof is non-tenured - but usually only for a couple of years. Most Associates and virtually all professors are tenured.

    Regards - Andy
  3. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

    What happened to "indentured"? I hear school loans are tough....
  4. JoAnnP38

    JoAnnP38 Member

    A Professor by any other name...

    I have also seen the title, "Professor Emeritus" (or something like that.) These seem to be retired professors (although I took a class from a PE last semester?!!?)

    JoAnn Peeler
  5. galanga

    galanga New Member


    Yes, an "emeritus" professor is a retired faculty member. Depending on the university's rules, it can be possible for an emeritus faculty member to teach, do research, etc. as was done before retirement.

    An emeritus prof will generally have his/her salary coming from the university's pension system, rather than his/her department's budget. So if an emeritus prof wants to teach occasionally, it will often be welcomed by his/her department head. And sometimes it allows a department to reduce the teaching load of other faculty in order to give them more time to concentrate more on their research.

  6. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    Around here, you also see the title "Lecturer", which is always an adjunct position.
  7. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    While "Perfesser" is an honorific term for an accomplished barrelhouse musician.
  8. angela

    angela New Member

    I know its a basic question, but does "tenure" mean? Job 4 life?
  9. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Yes, as far as I know it does. I think this is terrible. I want my professors to validate their usefulness every few years.
    Tenure is nonsense. I never want a tenured position. I never want to be that comfortable.

    Univ South Florida has ( or at least had) several lecturers when I began my undergraduate studies in the mid 80's I assume they still do. Biology, Anatomy and Physiology -which included a lab component, were taught by lecturers. I believe they were BS or MS holders with significant experience. Some of the brightest, on the ball men if I recall.

    I really don't understand the distinction between professor, associate, et al. I'll write my school, FSU and find out and post the results.
  10. Guest

    Guest Guest

  11. galanga

    galanga New Member


    ...does protect faculty from dishonorable behavior by university administrators, however, allowing faculty do what's right in the face of opposition from, for example, commercial interests whose profits are threatened by results of a professor's investigations.

    So it's a mixed thing, this tenure stuff. It lets someone who has run out of gas coast until retirement, but it lets people with fire in their bellies go about their teaching and research with a certain amount of security.

  12. Professor Kennedy

    Professor Kennedy New Member

    Tenure is a leftover from the early 19th century when religious domination of UK universities was a fact of academic life. It has long past its usefulness as a protection of academic freedom and has become, instead, a job protection device. It had a small spate of usefulness when political domination was sweeping US universities ('Mcarthyism', for example) in the early 1950s.

    It has no place in a society under the rule of law and in societies outwith the rule of law, it is no protection.

    Ironically, tenure has been given a lease of life in the USA, a country protected by legally entrenched freedoms. Insisting on a distinction between 'tenured' and 'non-tenured' faculty is pernicious where it gives special protection to some faculty but not to other staff in the same employment. What is so special about faculty that does not apply to, say, journalists, who too can be prejudiced by decisions influenced by advertisers in the same manner as, allegedly, researchers can be targetted by funders?

    Mrs Thatcher's Britain began the process of undoing tenure in British universities by requiring those who were promoted to give up their tenure. Most did without a fuss; those who did not remained lecturers. We have no tenure at EBS for anybody (I had already given mine up voluntarily in the University). Everybody, faculty, administration, staff and 'adjuncts' are on 3 year contracts, renewable.

    Recently, an audit of the rules of the University showed that they required a member of Senate to be 'fulltime' and it was claimed that a 3-year contract system did not count as fulltime! Given that EBS staff, including faculty of course, work at least 9 to 5 every day, except during our shorter holidays, and our carpark is often full while the University's are empty, we laughed at the idiocy of the definitions of fulltime.

    The upshot was three of us who were Senate members were stood down (a blessed relief I can tell you, given dreary Senate meetings). With the University's School with the largest student body removed from Senate, the University revoked its rule to recognise the full-time nature of our work, but I took the opportunity not to stand again.

    In the UK the title 'Professor Emeritus' is awarded for distinguished service and not automatically on retirement. For those not awarded the title of Emeritus, their 'Professor' title may not be used; they revert to plain 'Doctor', which lasts for life.
  13. galanga

    galanga New Member

    an example of where it has been important

    The unseemly business described in The Chronicle of Higher Education here is an excellent example of the importance of tenure in US universities.

    I do appreciate that it can be abused, but it does provide protection which, sadly, is necessary, even when one believes (naively, in the instance described in the Chronicle article) that the Rule of Law will be respected.

  14. chris

    chris New Member

    Tenure is a double edged sword

    While possessing tenure can protect the academic freedoms of the holder, denial of tenure can also be used to stifle dissent. Tenure is most often offered after being voted on by other professors in a department or college and can be used to remove those "that don't fit in". In academe they call it "collegiality". This can lead to universities solely populated by professors of a like social or political perspective. Tenure has its uses but its negatives far outweigh it's positives and needs to be done away with. I predict that in the next 10-20 years tenure as it currently exists will no longer prevail.

    I must disagree with galanga that the CHE article he mentions is an example of why tenure needs to be protected. No one told Professor Gollin that he could not have the web site on his own web site on his own time. With the web site on the U of I's server it did leave them open to lawsuits. Even a frivolous lawsuit could cost the university a lot of money and as a father of two students in the Illinois state university system, which just sustained huge drops in state aid and raised tuition roughly 13%, I do not need any more of my tuition/tax dollars spent on things not related to the students. Consumer protection is a function of the attorney general of our state not the U of I. Blame our litigious society not the U of I.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2004

    [email protected] New Member

    Professor Kennedy wrote:

    > What is so special about faculty that does not apply to, say,
    > journalists, who too can be prejudiced by decisions influenced
    > by advertisers in the same manner as, allegedly, researchers
    > can be targeted by funders?

    Prof. Kennedy, thank you for that very informative post.

    Why "allegedly"? Perhaps, as a business professor, you don't encounter it, but do you not believe that it happens in the medical field?

    I don't think tenure is feasible in the private sector. News services have to make money, and I don't see them being endowed to the extent that universities are. Also, most journalists don't decide what gets printed or broadcast. I would actually be in favour of tenuring news editors who work in the public sector.

    Chris wrote:

    > I predict that in the next 10-20 years tenure as it currently
    > exists will no longer prevail.

    Even if the state universities start to dismantle it, I think the endowed private universities will probably keep it as a perq.
  16. Tom57

    Tom57 Member

    I agree with most of the ideas here. However, it's a myth that tenure grants professors "untouchability." Tenured professors can be released for a variety of reasons, such as breaking the law, academic dishonesty, or even "fraternizing" with students.

    In large research universities, professor status is awarded to those who have done sufficient research at a high level such the school/department would like to keep them around. It's essentially a way of keeping stability within departments and minimizing turnover.

    At Berkeley (and many other universities), further awards are given to truly distinguished faculty, such as endowed chairs, the Berkeley Citation, and the title of University Professor. Nobel Prize winners get a permanent parking space on campus, perhaps the most valuable award of all :D .
  17. chris

    chris New Member

    The factors which will lead to its change..

    affect all schools equally. Tenure severely impacts a schools ability to react to students changing tastes in academic subjects. This particularly at the smaller schools with fewer tenured professors. Tenure does help in recruiting star performers to elite universities. In it's place they will just institute long term contracts. It will be a business decision like any other. Heck, private schools have been the most avid in fighting unionization of its non faculty staff so if anything they may lead the way.
  18. g-gollin

    g-gollin New Member

    Re: Tenure is a double edged sword

    Hi Chris,

    The information needed to sort out the obligations of UIUC are contained in the University of Illinois guidelines concerning faculty public service activities: A Faculty Guide for Relating Public Service to the Promotion and Tenure Review Process here: In particular, see Defining the Scope of Public Service in that document.

    A faculty member at a land grant institution like UIUC has obligations in each of three different categories: teaching, research, and public service. From the university's own guidelines, it is clear that evaluating and archiving information about unaccredited degree-granting organizations is a public service activity appropriate for a UIUC professor.

    The university is obliged to follow its own guidelines. If it wishes to interfere with an activity of this sort it must do so in a way which involves a serious review of the activity and is conducted in an open, and well-documented fashion. It is not for the legal staff to make decisions concerning academic issues (research, teaching, scholarship); the university's long term interests are not best served by abridging academic freedoms or following the dictates of individuals sending emails of inaccurately presented provenance. (See for a summary of events.)

    Before this strange business took place, the principal effect of having tenure (besides the relief of not having to do a dual-carrer job search) was that I could pursue research projects with much longer time scales-- where the scientific payoff might be 15 years off. That wouldn't be possible if I were going to be reviewed for tenure in the near future, or if I were going to be reevaluated, with the possibility of dismissal, every three years. As it is, I am involved with a big, complicated, marvelous effort to build an international "linear collider" which will help us understand why particles have mass, why the universe didn't immediately implode, quenching the big bang as soon as it happened, and what that "dark matter" that makes our galaxy work the way it does might actually be. The security of tenure lets me concentrate on this, rather than facing the distraction of splitting my time between this long-duration project and something less interesting which would generate publications (which would be quickly forgotten) at a rapid rate.

    It's also been good for my students: I have five very talented undergraduates who've been doing great things in the lab with me, in part because this project is so well suited to sharp students who are less experienced than would be required for more conventional shorter-term projects.

    So the subject title ("double edged sword") is quite apt. It's helped UIUC do the right thing (this web site thing can be viewed as a temporary lapse in judgement), rather than lose its good name and reputation. It's allowed me to pursue a very good line of research which would not be possible with the impositions of shorter time horizons.

    But even at a good school which takes a great deal of pride in fulfillment of both its teaching and research missions there are faculty who burn out and just coast along. Generally, they're not a happy lot-- there's a sort of "undeadness" to them.

    George Gollin

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