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What is the meaning of chairman emeritus?

Updated July 19, 2017

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.

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"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.

Individual Uses

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.

Institutional Uses

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.

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About the Author

Jacob Shively began writing in 2005 and his work includes an article in the journal, "International Studies Perspectives." His writing expertise includes international affairs, politics, history and higher education. Shively is pursuing a Ph.D. in political science from Indiana University.

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