What's in a name

Posted by ESC on March 04, 2002

In Reply to: The Hierarchy posted by ESC on March 04, 2002

: : : : : : : Anybody can tell me what is the quantitative measure of an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE? Or is there one?

: : : : : : : Thanx in advance.

: : : : : : I am under the probably mistaken impression that this term comes to us from astrophysics. Stars are classified by magnitude, I believe. Then again, I am attracting a growing reputation for defiantly choosing to labour under my false apprehensions, even once it's been conclusively proven to me that I am wrong.

: : : : : Ten is the usual scale factor used for this, although I don't know if there's any justification for that. When I studied maths in the 60s the professor who taught astrophysics seemed to keep numbers on a very loose rein. His order of magnitude was anything from 10 to any big number you like.

: : : : : By the way, this was in England and he was what we know as a professor, i.e. up at the top of his particular learning tree (and in his case occasionally out of it), not a common or garden lecturer. Do US universities call what we call lecturers professors? I get that impression from the media. If so what are what we call professors called in the US?

: : : : It has been a long time, but in my recollection, here in the US, students at least, don't make a distinction between lecturers and professors. Academics probably make those distictions and more. We also refer to a single class in a subject as a course, while in the UK I believe a course is a series of classes.

: : : Yes, that's right. My day job includes providing the software for Sheffield Hallam Univ's online teaching. The software is American and all the groupings of teaching material in it, what we in the UK would call units or modules, are called courses. Quite confusing for the students, who only know course to mean degree course. The teaching staff get cross too as the software insists on calling them instructors when they like to be called lecturers, or even professors. Over here instructors are people who teach you to drive or swim - university academics see themselves as a cut above that.

: : Having cleansed my fingers of any remaining molecules of chalk dust I present the pyramid of American educational career opportunities:

: : Regular Faculty:
: : Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Instructor

: : Library Faculty:
: : Librarian, Associate Librarian, Assistant Librarian, Affiliate Librarian

: : Auxiliary Faculty:
: : Research Professor, Research Associate Professor, Research Assistant Professor, Research Instructor
: : Clinical Professor, Clinical Associate Professor, Clinical Assistant Professor, Clinical Instructor
: : Lecturer Professor, Lecturer Associate Professor, Lecturer Assistant Professor, Lecturer Instructor
: : Adjunct Professor, Adjunct Associate Professor, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Adjunct Instructor, Visiting Professor,
: : Adjunct Librarian, Adjunct Associate Librarian, Adjunct Assistant Librarian, Adjunct Affiliate Librarian
: : Visiting Professor, Visiting Associate Professor, Visiting Assistant Professor, Visiting Instructor

: It's a jungle out there. In my previous post, the term "lecturer" was used. Here (thanks to a librarian acquaintance) is what the World Book Encylopedia says about faculty at American Universities and Colleges:

: "Each Department(in a C or U) has a chairman who is usually a professor. Under the chairman are other professors, associate professors, assistant professors and instructors. Some departments also have teaching fellows or research fellows
: These are graduate students who teach or do research part time."

From the University of Southern California (again courtesy of a librarian):
Appointed on an annual basis with the possibility of renewal. Entry-level position. Appointment at the instructor rank is generally for those who have not yet completed their terminal degree. Must be approved by the appropriate vice-president or the Provost. [12/98 page 19]
Appointed on an annual basis with the possibility of renewal. Entry-level position, generally, for those who have completed their terminal degree. Must be approved by the appropriate vice-president or the Provost.
Generally carries tenure.
Highest faculty rank. Generally carries tenure.
The following modifiers to professorial ranks may be used. They are subject to final approval by the President.
Awarded on a very selective basis to those few professors in the University who have brought special renown to the University through their accomplishments
Awarded to a small number of professors who, because of their multi-disciplinary interests and significant accomplishments in several disciplines, qualify for an appointment which transcends any single field of study. Generally, a faculty member accorded this title also has a tenured faculty appointment in a specific academic unit.
Awarded to a distinguished faculty member in a specific discipline who is supported wholly or in part by funds given for this purpose. These appointments are generally made on a one-year or other short-term basis, subject to renewal depending on the practice and customs of the school in which the appointment is made.