The Jawaharlal Nehru University administration last month asked historian Romila Thapar for her CV in order to review her status as Professor Emerita. She is among 12 professors who received the letter as they were over the age of 75.
The move came after JNU’s Executive Council in August last year revised the varsity’s rules to ensure that a committee appointed by the council would review the continuation of Emeritus Professors after they turn 75, “considering her/his health status, willingness, availability, university needs, etc so that more positions will be available to other potential candidates”.
Video | Who is Romila Thapar | Why has JNU asked for her CV?
The JNU administration, in its statement last week, cited the case of Princeton University and MIT to argue that universities did “review academic contributions” of Emeritus Professors and even had the right to “rescind” such appointments. The Sunday Express looks at where top universities — ranked among the top 10 in the latest QS Rankings 2020 — stand on the honorary status issue:
n Harvard University, at rank 3, states that the title is “for life”. “A faculty member assumes the emeritus/a status upon retirement when the faculty member (a) retires from a tenured faculty position and (b) has reached the age of 60 or more. If these two conditions are met, the faculty member’s title automatically becomes Professor of [Department], Emeritus/a upon retirement. If the individual held an endowed chair while active, that title also carries forward with the Emeritus/a designation. This appointment remains active for the professor’s lifetime,” Harvard rules state.
# MIT (rank 1), which JNU had quoted, only says that those Professor Emeriti “who remain active at MIT” have to “report their outside professional activities to their department heads annually”. It does not talk of reviewing the title of those not active at the university.
# Cambridge University, at rank 7, makes every retiring professor an Emeritus Professor: “A Professor or Reader who retires after the age of sixty shall become an Emeritus Professor or Emeritus Reader, as the case may be, without statutory duties or powers”.
# Stanford University, at rank 2, also doesn’t mention anything about a review. “Faculty members who become official University retirees receive the emeritus or emerita title authorised by the Board of Trustees, and Academic Council members become Senior Members of the Academic Council with privileges of the floor and of service on committees, but without the right to vote or hold office.”
# Oxford University, at rank 4, also simply states that the title is bestowed on “any person who has retired over the age of 60 from a professorship, including a personal or titular professorship” and “any person who has retired from a professorship and on whom the title has been conferred by resolution of Council”.
# The University of Chicago, at rank 10, also has no mention of a review period. “Faculty may retire at age fifty-five. A Faculty member who retires from a position on indefinite tenure or who retires from a Faculty position after serving as a Faculty member for twenty years shall be designated a Member Emeritus of the faculty,” university’s rules state.
JNU Registrar Pramod Kumar said, “In JNU, the number of Emeritus Professors in every school is lopsided. Even within the school, some centres have more Emeritus professors. We wanted to re-evaluate how many people should get it, and for how long.”