Those who have been reading this blog for a while and and who are still persevering may recall that, just over a year ago, we discussed the question of whether the title ‘professor’ should be reserved for very senior academics with a world class research record only, or whether it should be the title given to all academics. In the American system, for example, pretty well all academics are ‘professors’, but the more junior ones are ‘assistant’ or ‘associate’ professors.
However, in Australia this appears to have been taken even further. According to a recent report, some Australian universities are now conferring the title of professor on senior university administrators. One university representative is quoted as saying that the title is being given to senior university officers ‘to denote management seniority and authority’. As readers of this blog know, I do have considerable respect for university administrators, who often have a very thankless job and who get very little recognition. But the whole point of the title of professor is to recognise scholarly achievement.
On the other hand, perhaps I’m wrong. In fact, maybe we need to go further. As we continue to cut resources for higher education and thus call into question quality and standards – and so the idea of the knowledge society – perhaps we can overcome the visible effects simply by giving everyone in the country the rank of professor. It would show a pleasing level of national status consciousness and erudition, and would allow us at the same time to increase civility and courteousness as people get used to addressing each other in this way. And the ultimate penalty for wrongdoing could be the withdrawal of the title, which would be much more effective than a prison sentence. I think this idea has great potential.Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, society, university
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