As you may have seen, there is a new poll in the sidebar to the right. The poll will be live for a week. I suppose I can add to it if any new exciting nominations are made. The perceptive reader will note, on reading the poll list, that I have failed to come up with a serious list of viable alternatives, but went ahead with the poll anyway for its entertainment value (such as it is).
As I have been discussing this week (and a few other random times in the past), the motivation for this effort is the unsatisfactory nature of the current terms for professorial ranks. "Assistant Professor" is particularly annoying and kind of demeaning as a term, and "Associate Professor" isn't much better.
I realize that some people think that becoming Chair or Dean or Vice-Assistant Provost represents career advancement, and although I will not argue that Dean > Professor in terms of the academic power structure, becoming an administrator represents taking a different career path and is not necessarily the only way to advance your career as a Professor.
Some of my close colleagues have some extra words they can put in front of their Professor title -- e.g. endowed chairs (either the permanent or the folding chair sort). These titles are nice to have, especially since some of them come with some unrestricted research funds. Even if the title name consists of a couple of extraordinarily long or strange names (+ middle initials and/or nicknames) of the benefactors of the chair -- e.g., the Hildegaard Z. ("Muffin") and Llewellyn O. ("Smurfy") Erlenmeyer-Foo Distinguished Chair -- these are still nice positions to have.
One of my Endowed Chair colleagues has recently discovered that he gets more rapid and positive responses to his e-mails if he put his Endowed Chair title in his sig file than if he leaves the title out. He doesn't want such title-impressed people to exist, but, since they do, he appreciates that he can at least get their attention now.
For the un-endowed and administratively disinclined Professors facing the long stretch between final promotion and retirement, perhaps there are some adjectives we can add to make life a bit more interesting. The poll at right focuses on the Big Three (replacements for Assistant, Associate, and "full"), but some of the categories are versatile enough to permit some fine-scale additions to the Professor rank.
13 years ago