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1. the principal lecturer or teacher in a field of learning at a university or college; a holder of a university chair
2. Chiefly US and Canadian any teacher in a university or college
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an academic title applying to an instructor in a higher educational institution or a staff member in a scientific institution.

The term first came into use in the Roman Empire (mid-first century B.C. to the late fifth century A.D.), where teachers in schools of grammar and rhetoric as well as mentors were called professors. During the Middle Ages, teachers in church schools were called professors, as were instructors in universities beginning in the 12th century. The term was synonymous with the learned degrees of master and doctor of sciences (philosophy and theology). As chairs were founded at universities, the term became both a symbol of advanced scholarly achievement and, most importantly, the title of a university teacher.

The title of professor appeared in Russia’s educational institutions in the 17th and 18th centuries. The first university statute (1804) introduced the titles of ordinary (staff) and extraordinary (nonstaff) professor; a degree of doctor of sciences was a prerequisite for the former and a master’s degree for the latter. The ordinary professors held chairs. Persons were promoted from the rank of extraordinary to ordinary professor by the minister of public education upon application of the administrators of school districts. The title of professor emeritus was conferred on professors who had completed 25 years of teaching and research.

In the 19th century, training for professorial rank at first took place in foreign universities and later in such domestic higher educational institutions as the Dorpat Professorial Institute (1828–40) and the Chief Pedagogical Institute. Beginning in 1863, such training took place in university departments by means of professorial stipends; this became the principal method of training professors and instructors for higher schools. Professors were appointed by the minister of public education or were presented by universities and approved by him.

In the higher educational institutions and scientific research institutions of the USSR, the title of professor was initially conferred by boards of experts of the people’s commissariats. The Apr. 26,1938, resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR transferred these functions to the Supreme Certifying Commission. The title of professor is awarded by the commission upon the recommendation of the academic councils of higher educational institutions or scientific research institutions (1) to persons with the degree of doctor of sciences who have published scholarly or scientific studies or have produced inventions (they are chosen on a competitive basis for the post of professor or subdepartment head after satisfactory completion of a year’s work in the given post), (2) to skilled specialists with long experience in production and without an academic degree, after satisfactory work under a staff appointment as professor in a higher educational institution for a minimum of one semester from the date they were selected; and (3) to instructors in higher educational institutions (usually candidates of sciences and docents) who have been awarded the post of professor on a competitive basis, if they have satisfactorily completed at least a year’s work in this post, have had a long career of research and teaching, and have published scientific works or scholarly studies as well as textbooks and works on methodology.

Professors engage in educational and methodological work, give lecture courses, conduct research, and help introduce the results of their research into the national economy. They also direct students’ independent study and research and train scientific, scholarly, and pedagogical personnel. A professor may be chosen dean of faculty or appointed rector or prorector. In higher educational and scientific institutions, there also exists the post of consulting professor, instituted by a resolution of June 13, 1961 (no. 536) of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR for professors who are on pension; they are charged primarily with training scientific personnel and helping departments carry out scientific research.

Between 1937 and 1973 the Supreme Certifying Commission approved 29,958 persons as professor, including 2,139 in the physical and mathematical sciences, 1,551 in chemistry, 1,802 in biology, 913 in geology and mineralogy, 7,503 in engineering, 1,397 in agriculture, 1,451 in history, 1,301 in economics, 504 in philosophy, 1,090 in philology, 327 in geography, 505 in jurisprudence, 369 in pedagogy, 6,787 in medicine, 146 in pharmacy, 559 in veterinary science, 1,161 in art studies, 170 in architecture, 191 in military science, 54 in naval science, and 38 in psychology (awarded since 1969).

Abroad, the title of professor is awarded by academic councils of higher educational institutions, ministries of education, and the government. Vacancies are usually filled on a competitive basis. In general, the following titles are used: professor, visiting professor, and professor emeritus. Professors are permanent staff teachers in higher educational institutions who generally head the department. Visiting professors are temporary, nonstaff instructors, often from other higher educational institutions or even from other countries, who may give lectures for a particular course but who have no voice in the affairs of the department or institution. The title of professor emeritus is awarded to professors with a long career of research and teaching (25 years) who have published major works in their fields. At conferences of the ministers of higher education of the European countries (1967,1973), a resolution was adopted establishing the equivalency of the title of professor and other academic titles and degrees. In some countries, including Austria, Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Yugoslavia, secondary school teachers are called professors.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a professor?

As a symbol of wisdom and higher learning, a professor may represent preeminence in some field of endeavor. A professor also symbolizes someone who is conspicuously quiet and serious.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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