Genma Speaks

Entrepreneur/ Writer/ Radio-Host

Saturday, October 19, 2013

An Honorary Doctorate Is Honorary Not Actual and Other Things We Should Know

There has been much discussion the last few weeks in regards to how to use professional titles when teaching in academia by none college teaching folks. It started with an online debate between several friends by the qualifications of a professor. Having a mother who has taught at every educational level, I consulted the Knowledgeable One for input. That consultation led to several pages of "documentation" from some of the most brilliant minds on colleges and universities campus around the country and on Mars. Everyone learned quickly that being a professor comes after years of pursuing your doctorate and not to be taken lightly.

Since that initial online discussion, I have been thoroughly educated on what is a professor, tenure, tenure track, teaching, instructor, adjunct, associate, and a host of other words that are used to describe careers, jobs responsibilities, educational level, and pay scale within an institution of high learning.

My education was so interesting, I thought I would share my "research" with you. No, I did not get a grant for my research but my "findings" are being published... on my blog!

Here are a few points of interest. Some I knew and some I did not:

1. The title professor is not to be used causally around people who actually went to college to become a college professor. It is equivalent to calling yourself a sorority sister or fraternity brother when you never pledged a sorority or fraternity. Taboo for sure!

2. An Adjunct Lecture is a part-time non salaried, non tenure track, faculty member who is paid for each class they teach. Usually individuals employed as adjunct lecture are employed at another job and do not have a PhD.

3. A Lecture is full-time or part-time position at a university that does not involve tenure or formal research obligations (although sometimes they choose to perform research), but can often involve administrative service roles. This position does not necessarily require a doctoral degree and usually involves a focus on undergraduate and/or introductory courses. In some colleges, the term Senior Lecturer is awarded to highly qualified or accomplished lecturers. A convention some schools have begun to use is the title "teaching professor," with or without ranks, to clarify that these are in fact true faculty members who simply do not have research obligations.

4. An Assistant Professor is an introductory level professor. A position generally taken after receiving a PhD and completing a post-doctoral fellowship.

5. An Associate Professor is a mid-level, usually tenured, professor with a PhD.

6. A Professor is a senior, tenured professor. To receive tenure is a beast of a process.

Colleges and universities vary on placing emphasis on research or teaching professor but everyone consulted agreed that Professor is used for individuals with terminal degrees. Students often use professor as a term of respect when addressing their teachers.

Too often, what takes years to earn maybe trivialized by others who may not realize the use of the terminology or education that accompanies a title. I see this often when individuals are given an Honorary Doctorate and that honorary title becomes a permanent part of individual names when addressing them in public and in written communications. Honorary Doctorates are just what they are, honorary not actual.

This post is only to inform. Having a quite a number of family and friends who have earned their doctorate and are working at institutions as professors, I feel it is import for us to be knowledgeable about the work it takes to become a college professor. Let us not misuse or abuse titles and learn to use them in proper contexts.

“A rising tide lifts all boats”

Thanks to all unpaid participants. Extra research was found here:

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