Emeritus, derived from the Latin e- or ex- ("out of") and the verb mereor, mereri, meritus sum ("to earn, deserve, merit"). Literally, it translates as "out of merit". It is an honorific appended to the end of university titles ("President Emeritus", "Provost Emeritus", "Professor Emeritus", "Trustee Emeritus") to signify the title holder's retirement from active service. It is not automatic, and must be approved by the Trustees of the University.
Emeritus is pluralized in the masculine as emerti. The female singular form is emerita, and feminine plural is emeritae.
Some professors emeriti retire and withdraw into obscurity. Most, however, continue their teaching affiliation with the University. Professor Wm. Theodore de Bary, for example, became Professor and Provost Emeritus in 1990, yet still keeps an active teaching and research schedule, teaching four or five courses per semester. Usually, an emeritus professor is no longer required to sponsor dissertations or serve on academic committees. This is practical: if a professor is retired, and dies of old age during the dissertation's preparation, the candidate's degree will be negatively impacted.
Emeritus titles in existence
- President Emeritus
- Provost Emeritus
- Professor Emeritus
- Trustee Emeritus