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Donner Professor[edit]

Is "Donner professor" a term equivalent to "professor emeritus"? I have come across the former recently, but there is nothing to be found about it on WP, and I didn't find a definition for it on Google either. However, the search results all went in the same direction, the most useful example being

"In the 1960s, Woodward was named Donner Professor of Science, a title that freed him from teaching formal courses so that he could devote his entire time to research." [1]

The term is not specific for a certain university either, so it sounds like prof. emerit. to me, no?

You see, different universities sometimes name high-level positions after eminent personages of the past in that field of study. So somebody a long time ago named Donner was an awesome science professor at whatever institution you were looking at. cf. Mark Carnes - the Ann Whitney Olin professor of History at Barnard College. There are plenty of similar examples out there. Basically, the difference is that professors in "named" positions are still working at the institution, whereas emeriti professors are retired.

Donner Professor is a title used by those who have held one of the five chairs (in science) funded by the William H. Donner Foundation. I have fixed the redirect accordingly. Cedars 10:18, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Emeritus is used commonly in UK universities.


Emerita is NOT ungrammatical in Latin. I would argue that in this case "emeritia" is modifying the person's name or the english word "Professor," not its Latin equivalent. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:30, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Contrary to the statement in the main article, in my experience the adjective Emerita is now used almost universally for women, perhaps because of the feminist movement. Jim Lacey (talk) 14:20, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

I've found women much more frequently referred to as "emerita" than "emeritus". But this seems to me to be constructed using the spurious analogy of alumnus/alumna. Whether emeritus comes comes from ex-meritus, or from ex-merere, I don't think it should lead to an ending in "a", since it is not really a Latin adjective. Does anyone with more classical knowledge know whether emerita is proper? MG —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:14, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

In latin, emeritus and emerita are the same word. It is typical for Latin adjectives to have endings for both gendersJpoelma13 | Talk | cont 01:21, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

Emerita sounds more like the plural. I suggest getting opinions from actual emeritus/emerita professors and going from there.~~

Emerita is not plural. The plural forms would be emirtae and emiriti in latin. (talk) 13:25, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Professor emerita is nevertheless improper because professor is a masculine noun in Latin (even when it refers to a female) and requires an adjective having a masculine ending, such as emeritus. Otherwise, there would be a violation concerning the agreement between case endings (such as the case of professor emerita). I think this is lost to most English-speaking people, as English generally does not have case-number agreement between adjectives and nouns. "Distinguished Professor" is the more appropriate gender-neutral term. (talk) 23:30, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

Surely since 'professor, -oris' is third declension in Latin, we could postulate a coined homonym 'professor, -oris' with feminine gender (albeit while defying the norms of word construction in Latin), which is clearly preferable to 'professora, -ae' when referring to a female professor. In this case, 'professor emerita' would be correct. This would avoid the stylistic (and gender-political) awkwardness of applying a masculine adjective ending to a female individual. Though 'professor, -oris' is a masculine noun, its third-declension ending doesn't explicitly reveal its gender, and so its application to women is less obviously problematic. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:45, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

Is there a source based on research that explicitly states Latin nouns are tied to a single gender even if the referent is semantically associated with another gender? I'm asking because even my basic latin school grammar recognizes that some 3rd-declension words can have their attributes pattern as either masculine or feminine according to the natural (semantic) gender of the referent. As an example the word 'dux' in two phrases: 'dux certus' (a human) but 'natura, certa dux'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:28, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

There is an argument from usage for Emerita. But if you want to know what people with actual expertise in classics think is appropriate, consider the website of the Classics Department at Princeton, where the title of female professors is given as "Professor, Emeritus". (talk) 20:06, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

You can make the case that in the phrase Professor Emeritus/a as used in an English-speaking context, Professor is used as an English word, not a Latin word. Compare Professors Emeriti/ae, where Professor uses an unquestionably English plural form, certainly more common than the proper Latin Professores Emeriti; also compare the usage of Emeritus/a with uncontroversially non-Latin words such as Chairperson Emeritus/a. Professor as an English word can refer to a female person, and in that case, any pronoun referring back to the word Professor will be feminine: The professor finished writing her book. It seems entirely appropriate that a Neo-Latin adjective referring back to an English word that not only refers to a woman but takes feminine pronouns should also use feminine endings. If you can say Chairperson Emerita, you can say Professor Emerita. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:11, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

The word is always associated with the title, not the name - incorrect[edit]

I have removed the part,

The word is always associated with the title, not the name, of a person. For example, "Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Alex Robertson".

as it is patently untrue. There are many cases of usage like "Emeritus Professor Alex Robertson". Nurg (talk) 00:27, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

Err...want to try again with your counter-example? Cedars (talk) 11:11, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, I'm missing your point. Nurg (talk) 10:39, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
In your example, "Emeritus Professor Alex Robertson" the word is still associated with the title not the name. "Emeritus Alex Robertson" would be a possible, albeit fundamentally incorrect, counter-example. Still I don't have a problem with removing the sentence from the article - the article probably flows better without it. Cedars (talk) 10:42, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
I see now. I may have misunderstood the sentence, in which case, it may have been correct but unclear. I thought it meant the word is associated with the title, eg, Professor of Mathematics, rather than the name, eg, Professor Alex Robertson. It didn't occur to me that it was distinguishing between Professor Emeritus and Emeritus Alex Robertson. That one wouldn't use Emeritus Alex Robertson seems a truism to me. We wouldn't bother saying that for Associate Professors, Associate goes with the title (eg, Associate Professor Alex Robertson) and not the name (eg, Associate Alex Robertson). Nurg (talk) 00:50, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
That's cool...I'm quite happy to leave the sentence out. Cedars (talk) 09:03, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
I disagree with Nurg and Cedars. I say the word is indeed part of a title, and that it ought not to be used indiscriminately as a synonym for "former". If the title including the word "emeritus" does not exist, there are plenty of ways one can state or imply that the person no longer holds his previous position, but the existence of a new title formed by appending "Emeritus" to the old one ought not to be inferred. Unfree (talk) 14:33, 24 February 2010 (UTC)


As it reads now, this article seems to imply that "emeritus" is used as a synonym for "former" or "quandum" (apparently obsolescent). That contradicts my understanding, which is that "emeritus" is often used to form a title, but not necessarily. When the president of a company retires, the board may choose to give him the title of "president emeritus" or not. Either way, he would be a "former president" (or "quandum president") without any decision on the part of an authority, since such words only imply that he formerly (that is, previously) held the title of "president". The article on Thabo Mbeki refers to "Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu", implying that such a title exists, which it may. But on the other hand, if it does not (if the Church has not established it) it is wrong to invent it. The man is unquestionably "former Archbishop Desmond Tutu", but unless there is an established position of "archbishop emeritus", such a title is wrong. Moreover, as I understand it, only one person at a time is referred to by "emeritus", while "former" may apply to any number of people.

If by "quandum" you mean "quondam," your use of that term is correct; it's simply a Latin adjective (e.g., "Hic iacet Arturus rex quondam futurusque" or "... rex quondam rex[que] futurus": "[O]nce and future" is just a descriptor of "king," not an official part of Arthur's royal title during his life or posthumously).
Also, yes re: your use of "former," at least as a "common"/"lower-case" adjective, but use as a "proper" adjective requires more care: Some organizations incorporate the "former" designation into the official title of an office-holder's immediate predecessor and only that immediate predecessor, incorporating the "past" designation into the official title of all other previous holders of that office; confusingly, other organizations do the opposite. While "former" and "past," when used as common adjectives, are each syntactically and semantically correct descriptions of both statuses ("stati"?), journalistic best practices recommend (first choice) obviating the issue entirely by using the official title, complete with proper adjective, given to the person by the organization or (second choice) using whichever common adjective is typographically the lower-case version of the proper adjective incorporated into the official title. When an organization uses "Former" or "Past," but not both, in its official titles, simply refrain from using the lower-case version of whichever proper adjective the organization uses, instead using the other common adjective to describe any previous holder of an office whose previous holders' official titles do not use any specific term to describe them as having held that office.
"Emeritus" itself, whether upper or lower case, is a term of art referring to an official status and constituting an official title – specifically, a status vis-à-vis and title authorized by the institution that granted it. (The belief that "emeritus" is a common adjective with some universal definition is likely the product of popular inference that because it is sometimes seen in lower case, it functions in at least some instances as a common adjective and therefore must have some generally applicable substantive rule[s] for its use.) As such, any use of it with respect to a given person is governed by rules set, either expressly through promulgation in a stylebook or implicitly through internal use, by whatever institution has granted it to that person. It follows that a) neither the upper- nor the lower-case form should be used for anyone who has not been expressly granted that status, styled as such, by some institution or organization and b) even when it is used for a given person, it should be used with respect to that person only in the way(s), including but not limited to context, phrasing, and capitalization, approved of by the granting institution. Of course, as with any official status, some organizations will be more generous than others in their granting of it, with the effect that some institutions' designations will carry much more prestige than will others'. The viewpoint-neutral response to this situation is to take each subject's possession of a given title at face value, regardless of what institution(s) granted it, and to clarify the meaning and context of that instance of it by specifying what institution granted it (e.g., "professor emeritus of [subject] at [institution]"), allowing the reader to investigate that institution's rules and standards for its issuance and draw his/her own conclusions about its significance. (talk) 15:03, 13 May 2013 (UTC)


Can we at least mention "emerita" in the intro? Invertzoo (talk) 13:17, 6 August 2017 (UTC)