Emeritus Professor is an honorary title, recognising distinguished academic service at the University of Sheffield. It is a prestigious award and is not therefore conferred lightly; the title of Emeritus Professor may be conferred upon fully retired Professors or Honorary Professors who meet the eligibility criteria and following formal recommendation to, and approval by, the Vice-Chancellor.
We continue to have an active ongoing relationship with many of our Emeritus Professors during retirement; they often undertake a variety of activities for us in a voluntary capacity, supporting us in our academic endeavour in many different ways. The relationship we have with our Emeritus Professors is an important one.
The guidance below provides some clarity over some of the key elements of this relationship and how it works.
To find out more about the role of Emeritus Professor and the recommendation and approval process please click on the headings.
The title is awarded to retired Professors who have made an exceptional contribution in academic leadership terms, including dedicated achievement to his or her field of study.
A recommendation for the award of the title of Emeritus Professor will normally be considered by the Vice-Chancellor within the six month period preceding or following the Professor’s date of retirement. The title will become effective from the date following the nominated Professor’s date of retirement.
By virtue of the title, Emeritus Professors cannot be employees of the University. Should an Emeritus Professor return to paid employment in an academic role at another institution at any time, the Faculty may deem it appropriate to recognise the continued association with a different title (e.g. via conferment of an Honorary or Visiting Professorial title). If an Emeritus Professor returns to paid employment at the University their title would revert to 'Professor'.
HR Managers can advise and support Heads of Department in determining the eligibility of a retired Professor for an Emeritus Professorship, and with any queries which may arise.
Use of Title
Retired staff who have been awarded an ‘Emeritus Professor’ title may include the title in publications and signatures on behalf of the University etc; for example ‘Emeritus Professor of the University of Sheffield’. Similarly, the University may include the names of those holding such titles in publications, departmental web pages, and marketing material, etc.
Role and Activities
The Emeritus Professor may continue to support the University by engaging with a variety of activities in a voluntary capacity (examples include: providing guest lectures, as mentors to junior academics, helping with proposal-writing, etc). Emeritus Professors may play a supporting role in PhD student supervision, however they cannot act as Primary Supervisor.
It is recommend that the type of activities an Emeritus Professor might offer support to are discussed between the Emeritus Professor and the Head of Department (or other senior Faculty officer where appropriate), ideally in advance of retirement, and reviewed over time as necessary.
In employment legislation terms, and for taxation purposes, Emeritus Professors are volunteers.
Departments should be aware that:
- There is no obligation on the Emeritus Professor to undertake or complete the agreed activity.
- There can be no financial reward or benefit in kind provided for work undertaken in a voluntary capacity. Any activities undertaken should therefore be appropriate for someone who is supporting the University in an unpaid capacity.
- If the nature of the relationship changes, this may require a different solution in terms of employment status which could be either: an atypical (casual) worker, a self-employed contractor or consultant, or employee.
- Where there is any ambiguity or uncertainty about the nature of the relationship, the Head of Department or Faculty Pro-Vice Chancellor will wish to consult their HR team. The following guidance on employment relationships may also be helpful.
Financial and Taxation Arrangements
An Emeritus Professor may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses necessarily incurred in carrying out voluntary work for the University.
Departments should be aware that:
- In accordance with the University’s Financial Regulations, expenses cannot be reimbursed without a clear understanding of the claimant’s relationship with the University. Reimbursement of significant expenses may be construed as indicating an employment relationship and therefore determined by HMRC as earnings, becoming subject to tax and NI contributions.
- Expenses claimed should be directly relevant to the agreed activities undertaken and may not include financial support for the individual in their particular field of interest where this is not of direct benefit to the University.
- It is good practice for the department to agree with the Emeritus Professor the amount of expenditure that is likely to be incurred and therefore reimbursed against the agreed activities, and the period over which this funding is available.
- The period and budget is managed by the department as departmental income; spending and expense claims against the subject to the standard authorisation procedures.
- The most common expenses reimbursed relate to travel and subsistence. In the case of any delegate fees for conferences, etc, departments should where possible, seek to pay these directly to the goods/service provider rather than require the individual to claim these costs through expenses.
- The purchase of equipment cannot be reimbursed through the expenses system. If such equipment is genuinely needed to fulfil the agreed activities, it should be purchased by the department directly and included on the department asset register.
- The issue of Corporate Cards or Purchasing Cards to retired employees including Emeritus Professors is not permitted under the University’s Financial Regulations.
See here for details relating to claiming reasonable expenses.
Office Space and Resources
Whilst it is not an automatic expectation that an Emeritus Professor will require exclusive access to office space, administrative support or access to IT equipment, departments may use discretion for facilities and resources to be available where these are needed.
Any requirements for access to desk space and other equipment and resources should be discussed and agreed between the Head of Department and the Professor in anticipation of the conferment of the title.
It should of course be noted that there is an associated cost to providing office space and other facilities, and so this provision will need to be monitored and reviewed by the Head of Department.
Access to other Facilities and Services in Retirement
Emeritus Professors have continued access to their University email account, Library Facilities, Clubs and Societies and other facilities. Find our more here.
Emeritus Professors have equivalent status to employees for the purposes of the University’s Employer Indemnity Insurance policy cover.
An intellectual property assignment document is available from Research & Innovation Services.
Duty of Care
The University may in exceptional circumstances suspend or remove the title should it be appropriate to do so, for example, should a conflict of interest arise, or should the Emeritus Professor return to paid employment.
Trust and confidence
In accepting conferment of the title, the Emeritus Professor will agree to observe the University’s policies in relation to confidential information and data protection, protect the reputation of the University and conduct his or herself in manner consistent with the University’s published policies and procedures.
This includes the University’s policy in respect of intellectual property ownership, including copyright and other related matters, as may be in force and as modified from time to time by the University.
Other Emeritus Titles
Occasionally, a title of Emeritus Fellow may be conferred at retirement upon academic colleagues other than those in the professorial staff group. The principles and process to be followed will be as described for Emeritus Professors.
Recommendation and Approval Process
- On receipt of the written notice of retirement, the Head of Department considers whether to recommend award of the Emeritus Professor, by reference to the eligibility criteria above.
- If the Head of Department’s decision is to make a recommendation, this will be made in writing to the Faculty Pro-Vice Chancellor, completing the request template and attaching a copy of the Professor’s curriculum vitae; both documents will be copied to the relevant the HR Manager. The recommendation must include details of the future association, indicating the activities that the department envisages the Emeritus Professor will carry out, the associated budget/funding source which will be used to meet any necessary expenses.
- The Faculty Pro-Vice Chancellor will consider the recommendation, conferring with the HR Manager where necessary in relation to the activities proposed. If approved by the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor, the recommendation will be forwarded by Human Resources to the Vice-Chancellor’s Office for his approval.
- The Vice Chancellor’s will decide whether to approve the recommendation and will convey his decision to Human Resources.
- Human Resources will write to the Emeritus Professor to confirm the conferment. Copies of the letter will be issued to the relevant Head of Department, Faculty Pro-Vice Chancellor and the Department of Finance.