A chairman emeritus has retired from his position but retains his professional title. As an honorary title, an emeritus position involves few, if any, responsibilities, but the individual retains a relationship with the institution.
"Emeritus" is a Latin word for "earned" or "merited." European universities began using the term in the 18th century to honour retired faculty. Today, the term is most associated with retired professors or high-ranking business officers.
Though a chairman emeritus no longer holds the formal powers of his previous office, he may participate in official or ceremonial events. In addition, a chairman emeritus may maintain professional relationships developed during his tenure.
The title can be useful to the individual as a means to establish credibility as a commentator, trustee, adviser or advocate. This particularly applies if the position was with a well-known or respected institution.
Similarly, institutions may be interested in awarding an official emeritus title, if the individual holds a respected position in his field.
To achieve and maintain an emeritus title, professionals normally retire and remain in good standing with their institutions.