What do the different professor titles mean?

Day in and day out students at California Lutheran University spend time going to class.  Whether those classes are on campus, off campus or online they all have one common factor, each of those courses has a professor.

“Honestly, besides the difference in departments they specialize in and if they a PhD or not, I thought all of the professors were pretty much the same,” sophomore Francesca Lopez-Reed said.

Cal Lutheran is full of professors from various fields.  Each of these professors are not the same and it is not solely because they come from different fields of study.

The different titles for professors on campus include assistant, tenured, associate, full-time and adjuncts. 

Their difference is due to the fact that professors on campus go through a ranking process handled by the Appointment Rank and Tenured Committee. This committee places them on different levels from one another.  This is a faculty-elected group that reviews applications for promotion and tenured.

“From that committee we make a recommendation to the provost, who makes a recommendation to the president, who makes a recommendation to the Board of Regents,” Michael Arndt, professor of theatre arts and committee member, said.  “All advancements and issues of tenured are funneled through that process.”

Most professors looking for full-time positions on university campuses come in at the level of an assistant professor.  This means that they have received a terminal degree from graduate school, whether it is a doctorate or masters degree.

“Some people come in to the full-time job and do not have a terminal degree because they are working on their dissertation; therefore, they hold the title of instructor and then will be promoted to assistant when given their degree,” Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Joan Griffin said.

Assistant professors who are looking to become full-time are put on a tenured track lasting six years where the Appointment Rank and Tenured Committee will review them every two years. 

“The professors looking for tenured have to submit a dossier to the committee and the committee reviews that and makes recommendations that are passed back onto the faculty member,” Arndt said.

The committee reviews professors in four different areas when they come up for tenure.

“[Professors] are reviewed on the basis of their teaching and advising, scholarship and service,” Griffin said.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Leanne Neilson does her part in the administration process by passing recommendations up the line to the president, but Neilson is also a faculty member who has received tenured.

The process was very rigorous. It provided an opportunity for me to reflect on my teaching and the contributions that I made to the institution,” Neilson said in an email interview.

According to Griffin, obtaining the title of tenure solidifies a professor’s position on campus and the university will need justifiable reason to let them go.

Once given the title of tenured, professors can later be promoted to associate and full-time titles.

Adjuncts are another type of professor on campus.  These professors are part-time and are hired each semester for the purpose of teaching a few classes.

“In some cases, our adjunct faculty have had professions in other areas and are now retired but want to take their expertise and go back to help students. Others are professionals who are in the middle of their career with full-time jobs, but have the means to teach a course. There are also people who have masters degrees and want full time positions but an adjunct position is what’s available at the moment,” Griffin said.

According to Neilson, adjunct faculty members are very important. They serve the purpose of meeting immediate needs of the university.

Dean Hendrix
Staff Writer
Published April 27th, 2016