Professor at Large
Yes, it’s a frightening thought, isn’t it? One is tempted to shout: “Quick, get the kids indoors — a professor has been seen at large in this neighbourhood . . .”
I’ve always loved the title “Professor-at-Large,” which seems to be mostly an American designation for a distinguished academic who is attached or affiliated with a university in a reasonably loose arrangement. Often the professor-at-large is obligated simply to show up at the relevant institution on a periodic basis, deliver some public lectures and conduct some seminars. I don’t know if there’s any financial remuneration for her or his contribution to the intellectual life of the university (aside, perhaps, from the cost of travel and accommodation, which bill is presumably footed by the institution); but certainly the university in question gains lustre from being able to boast the inclusion of that academic’s or intellectual’s starry name in its faculty listings.
I haven’t — yet, anyway — been offered such a position. Instead, I’m going to use the designation (without the hyphens) to suggest the other possibility, namely, a professor who has escaped from captivity and is currently roaming the countryside, conceptually speaking. I shall be retiring from my own institution, Curtin University, in Western Australia, at the end of 2012, hence the conceit of the escape from capture; and I thought I’d use this page of my blog to put down various thoughts, both random and systematic, for people to read, if they will . . .
So stay tuned!