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Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

Intentional academic ranking systems

by July 27, 2017 General


Part 2
LAST week, we shared our opinion on ranking systems that institutions adopt and implement. Academic ranking identifies the “hierarchical ranking structure” of academics. What are the ranking titles used in cross border universities? There may be academic terminology of our counterparts in the Asean different from that of ours. Countries of these universities have their historical roots from Europe, unlike us, which in education and in most life areas, have been greatly influenced by the North American/US system. Familiarity with their terminology makes us more culturally competent and would help for smooth connections with academics thereat. English, being the official language of Asean, we herein use some from British academe.

On ranking systems. Having been half a century in higher education, my stand is: first, a ranking system should articulate the HEI’s vision, mission and goals. Second, the system’s terms of reference are collegially arrived at and are understood by all concerned. Third, the HEI fosters compliance of all concerned to the criteria for the various academic ranks. This means institutional policy and practice include support mechanisms and facilities for the continuing professional development (CPD) of staff (staff as used in Europe refers also to the academics). Fourth, there are “student-related policies and practices supporting the curricula such that student learning outcomes are indeed achieved by staff.” Such outcomes have due credit in the ranking system. Fifth, that a functional ranking system spells the avowed excellence of an institution. By functional is meant that academics complying with the criteria and other requirements for a rank duly receive their promotions as provided in the HEI’s ranking manual. All these duly considered in adopting and implementing in ranking academics, the ranking system is indeed intentional.

Why know ranking nomenclatures in cross-border HEIs? Expected interconnections among Asean HEIs are our gateway to link with those in other continents. Considering we are more familiar with US terminology, an informed understanding of their academic rank titles which are more drawn from Europe, would facilitate relational possibility with visiting professionals in forthcoming educational partnerships. For example, what’s the equivalent in our terminology of a visiting Reader from a university in Singapore or Malaysia? Such partnerships would consequently include monetary matters, amenities, working hours, etc. in the terms of reference.

Endowed or named chairs. “Endowed chairs” (“Named chairs” in UK universities) are usually reserved for the rank of professor. In the Philippines, professorships are generally not endowed, but we do have some. An academic’s salary ranked as professor is usually drawn from the university’s budget. In a “chaired professorship,” the salary is drawn from an external sponsor or charitable donor and is known as an “endowed chair,” or an “endowed professorship.” In Commonwealth countries, professorships are usually endowed. (Commonwealth countries refer to an association of 53 nations united under former British rule, which includes Canada, New Zealand and Australia.) Additional benefits are given to endowed chairs such as provision of a “dedicated assistant” or increased research funds from the interest on donated funds as part of the school’s overall endowment. A “dedicated assistant” refers to an assistant whose sole duty is to assist the researcher endowed with a “chair.” As a prestigious award attached to a professor rank, a “chair” in many cases is a lifetime (or at least, until retirement) position. Some chaired positions are on a term appointment, such as the recently endowed Dr. Bienvenido R. Tantoco Sr. Professorial Chair in Psychology and Education of Jose Rizal University to Dr. Allan B. Bernardo, at present with the University of Macau’s psychology department. Other chair positions are given on a rotating basis (e.g. five years). Nonetheless, it is prestigious to be named to an endowed chair.”…/what-is-an-endowed-chair-exactly-how-does-it… Other examples, with their respective time lines are the Carreon-Houlahan Professorial Chair in English Language Education at the De La Salle University , the Luis and Clara Santos Endowed Professorial Chair at Ateneo de Zamboanga U, the Vicente and Juanita Hao Chin Professorial Chair in Engineering, at UP Diliman’s College of Engineering. In some European universities, a similar distinction is between professor extraordinarius and professor ordinarius, the latter not endowed.

Professorship ranks in Malaysian and Philippine universities. Malaysian universities award six titles of professorship: 1) the royal professor, the highest professorship bestowed by the King in 1980, so far awarded only to Ungku Aziz of the University of Malaya, a distinguished economist; 2) the emeritus professor, to a retired professor; 3) the “distinguished professor,” to an outstanding senior professor, equivalent to or higher than the education and higher education directors-general, a very rare title; 4) the professor, the ordinary form of full professor, but corresponds to a “distinguished professor” in the US system; 5)the adjunct professor, to a non-academician who had contributed to the development of a field of knowledge; and 6) the visiting professor, to a university professor who serves at the same time in another university as a visitor. The next rank titles in Malaysian universities of associate professor is equivalent to Reader in the UK system and to full professor in the US system; the assistant professor corresponds to associate professor in the US system. We do have in the Philippines the assistant, associate, full professor, emeritus and adjunct professor, with university professor equivalent to distinguished professor in the US system—one distinguished in teaching or research or institutional management or any mix of these.