[M.A.P.L.E. VI-4] Professor Weiss

Last night, when I was riding my bike home from a late stint at the office, one of my students, in a car, saw me and called out “Professor Weiss.” Naturally, I couldn’t tell who it was since it was night time and I was focused on getting home.

However, that raised an interesting philosophical question, regarding the honorific.

Men without doctorate degrees usually have the honorific “Mr,” and men with doctorate degrees usually have the honorific “Dr.”

(I’ll exclude the case where I was inexplicably misgendered by the singular graduate school, of which I shall not mention the name, that rejected me in 2009… the letter’s salutation was “Dear Ms. Weiss…”)

Last year, when I was at UW-Stout, I said in my syllabus, “Please address me by Dr. Weiss.” My position title there was Lecturer, which was an Academic Staff (Adjunct) position instead of a Faculty position, so calling me “Professor Weiss” there was technically incorrect. Not every teaching personnel at the postsecondary level is a professor (even a non-tenure track professor): there’s academic staff and there are grad students in addition… and sometimes even undergrad students that do teaching!

My current position title is “Visiting Assistant Professor,” so “Professor Weiss” is a correct honorific for addressing me at this point. Nevertheless, I think I prefer my students to call me Dr. Weiss even now. Until I get a tenure-track position, I don’t feel qualified to be called “Professor Weiss,” even if my Visiting position has me at an Assistant Professor rank.

Come to think of it, however, many other esteemed (or not-so-esteemed (coughcongresscough)) job positions have people referring to themselves by the Job Title Part-or-Full-Name, like “Pastor Tom,” “Senator Bernie Sanders,” “The Honorable Judge Epstein,” or “Rabbi Kensky” (and yes, all of these are people that I either know of or know personally).

I know that nobody can take my Dr. title away from me, but the Professor title seems to be even more of a status symbol than the Dr. title.

What do you think?


Finals Week: 11 days

ארץ ישראל: ל”א ימים (Israel: 31 days)

אתמול היה שלושה ועשרים יום–שהם שלושה שבועות ושני ימים לעומר

Today is the fourth day of the sixth round of M.A.P.L.E.

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2 thoughts on “[M.A.P.L.E. VI-4] Professor Weiss

  1. I’ve learned something here – I assumed that “Dr.” ranked above “Professor.” Here in Ontario, at the college level the instructors are called Professors. Even I was called Professor when I taught one class for 6 months. Hardly appropriate, in my mind.


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