Who Are Your Instructors?
Your instructors will likely fall into one of three categories:
professors, lecturers, and graduate teaching assistants. Professors
are faculty (typically holding a terminal degree in their discipline)
who teach undergraduate classes and do some type of research at the
University. If they meet stringent performance criteria for these activities
over a period of years, then they can be granted a form of academic
freedom and job security known as tenure.
Lecturers are teaching faculty who may or may not hold
the terminal degree in their field, and who are in temporary faculty
positions not eligible for tenure. Graduate teaching assistants (commonly
known as TAs) are graduate students currently working on a masters or
doctoral degree who gain teaching experience and help pay for their
education by assisting with undergraduate courses.
Most lecture and seminar courses that you take at the University
are taught either by professors or lecturers. Lab and discussion sections
are often taught by TAs, although lecturers and professors may teach
them as well. Your instructor will indicate to you their academic status
and how they would like to be addressed. Depending on the individual,
Doctor is an appropriate title for those with the Ph.D. degree . Professor
is a term typically reserved for faculty in tenure track positions.
The titles Mr., Mrs., or Ms. are appropriate for those
without a doctorate who are in non-tenure track positions. Many instructors
will be happy for you to address them on a first-name basis once they
get to know you, but as a matter of professional etiquette, you should
not do so until given permission by the specific instructor.
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