I'm about to eat some words, something I've done more than once around here. Almost two years ago, I put up a post entitled The Obstinate Instructor. In it, I explained why I was refusing to apply for the entirely honorary title of associate professor, something to which I was entitled by virtue of my longevity and my degree. (Here's the PDF file that explains PCC's policies on rank.)
And the weird bit from that policy is this:
Professional rank shall not become a factor in determining salary.
All faculty members holding one of the professional ranks will be addressed uniformly as "professor."
So, I can technically call myself a "professor" while remaining an instructor, and I can do so with the complete confidence that whether or not I remain an "instructor" has no bearing on my salary. Indeed, since salary is largely tied to seniority, I actually make more than some of my colleagues who have jumped through the hoops to become assistant or associate profs.
In 2004, I wrote that my refusal to apply for a rank improvement was due to my own reverse snobbery:
I am simultaneously inspired by a principled objection to titles, by pride, and by what, frankly, is puerile rebelliousness. In this instance, those three very different motivations work towards the same end.
But now, I'm going to apply at long last for a title "upgrade". I've been elected to represent my division in the Academic Senate,and have been told that like it or not, having the title "instructor" will handicap my ability to be an effective advocate. I've wrestled with whether or not I should soldier on, refusing to change, forcing my colleagues to acknowledge my relative seniority in the absence of the title that normally accompanies that. But gosh darn it all, the older I get, the more careful I get about picking my battles. I find our college's version of academic rank to be uncommonly silly. But is it worth sacrificing my ability to be a good leader because of an objection to silly protocol? Increasingly, I think not.
I confess another motivation as well. As more of my stuff ends up getting published, and as I submit articles for consideration, the title "instructor" may be a handicap. Yes, by PCC's strange set of rules, I can call myself a "professor" any time I like, and may demand to be addressed as such. But I can't use the title on a formal document unless I fill out the damned forms. We may have reached the time where I will need to do just that.
Sigh. Another small compromise, but -- perhaps -- a justifiable one.