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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Professor Emeritus or Emerita

Emeritus or emerita is an honorary title for professors who want to stay active in scholarship following retirement. In March 1991, the Board of Trustees adopted the following statement of qualification for the honorary title professor emeritus:

Any member of the professorial staff who retires after ten years full-time equivalency in the rank of university professor, professor, or associate professor and who has rendered distinguished and meritorious service to the University, may be appointed Professor Emeritus by the President after recommendation by the members of the particular department and the dean of the college or school faculty to which the retiring member belonged.

Approval, under presidential authority, is by the provost.

Use of the title is limited to those who have held tenure at Cornell. Emeritus status is not available for other academic titles. Persons holding professorial titles modified by “adjunct,” “courtesy,” or “visiting” cannot be granted emeritus status.  A professor who does not seek or is not qualified or approved for emeritus status is considered a “retired academic.”

Professors emeriti remain voting members of the University Faculty.

Authority for retired faculty members to supervise graduate study rests with the General Committee of the Graduate School and is reflected in the
Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty,” particularly the Graduate Faculty Administration section on “Term of Appointment.”

Administrative and executive service is possible within the title, as well as teaching, research, and other academic responsibilities. Detailed information may be found on the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti (CAPE) Office website. In addition to such special teaching and administrative assignments, post-retirement research appointments permit individual retired faculty members to carry on sponsored research using university facilities.

Administrative Notes

  • Professor emeritus or emerita is a continuing appointment status, inactive until a “rehire” appointment (using the emeritus or emerita title) is approved in paid or unpaid renewable positions for up to one year at a time.
  • Process: The department chair provides the dean with a letter summarizing the retiree’s career and the department’s vote and recommendation. The chair’s letter also should indicate whether the professor prefers the title to be emeritus or emerita. If the dean approves the recommendation, the dean so indicates when forwarding the departmental materials; the dean also should indicate whether the college authorizes use of an endowed  chair title, if one has been held, in emeritus status, e.g., Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus– this will not continue to encumber funds attached to the chair title. The dean sends the materials to the provost via the Office of Academic Human Resources. A letter from the president notifies and congratulates the professor. In most instances, emeritus status is effective the day following official retirement from the university.

Last Updated: August 20, 2017 at 6:48 am