I was just talking to a new colleague of mine (who is my friend as well). She will be starting at my school this semester, and has worked in a state university in the past. We got on the subject of what the students call us at my school. I've always had a problem with this: they call us Mrs and Ms (unless you are a Dr). Some do call us Professor, if they have been in other schools before ours (b/c that's what all other students call their professors). But we refer to each other that way, so this is obviously where they are getting it from.
I don't like this, for three reasons:
-It makes me feel old (not to mention that some of my students are older than me, so it feels weird that they are calling me Ms).
-It makes me feel like an elementary school teacher, especially when some of my colleagues call me Ms in front of the students (like they don't know we have first names)
- I thought I earned the right to be called professor (we all have Master's degrees).
One of my colleagues suggested it was because we don't have doctorates (they'd call us Dr. then). Others have suggested that it is b/c we are not a university, but a privately owned school.
What are you called, and why?
Incidentally, my friend said she is going to introduce herself as "Prof." She said she thinks it's weird to go from "Prof" to "Ms." I agree.
It's best to ask about that sort of thing at faculty orientation -- or ask someone at the school (such as your supervisor) who knows what the customs are at your school. It's best to conform to the usual practices there.
Currently I teach at a school where everyone with "professor" in their job title goes by the "professor" title -- even those who do not have a doctoral degree. At first that seemed a little weird to me as I was used to reserving that title to Full Professors only, with "Dr." used for doctorally prepared Associate and Assistant Professors. I felt a bit of a sham to be called Professor as I am only an Adjunct Associate Professor. It also seemed a bit weird to me to see a few non-doctorally prepared Assistants and Associates called "Professor."
But over time, I got used to it.
As for "first name" status ... It is customary where I work for post-licensure students and graduate students to be on a first name basis as we are all members of the same profession. However, that same privilege is generally not given to pre-licensure students.
Ask about the local customs. Don't assume. If you assume wrong, you could look foolish.
As for feeling "old" ... maybe it's time to start viewing yourself as a "full adult" rather than as a "pretty young thing." If we want people to respect us as full adult professionals equal to adults in other professions, we have to be willing to accept the "place" of being a full responsible adult worthy of respect. If we continue to address ourselves and encourage others to address us in a "diminutive" way, then we encourage the image that we are not on the same level as other adult professionals. Is some situations, I go by my first name. In other situations, I do not. But I do not shy away from using my full credentials when I want to be taken seriously as a professional.
Last edit by llg on Aug 12, '09