Professor Foster and Professor Bond!
In the UK the academic title “Professor” is reserved for those who have been awarded the status by the university in which they teach/research. (This is very different from the use of the title in North American circles, for example.) In earlier tradition, there was typically one Professor for each subject, the incumbent occupying what was called “the established chair” in that subject. Other academics would be addressed as “Dr.” But, more recently, British universities have accepted the need to recognize the research/publication achievements of academic staff whose work would qualify them for Professorial status, and have begun awarding what are called “personal chairs” to them, i.e., full Professorial status (in the British sense of the term). This involves a university-level committee reviewing them, and requires strong recommendations from Professorial-level specialists in their subject from other universities (both in the UK and beyond). I’m very pleased to publicize the success of two of my colleagues in the New Testament & Christian Origins area here in Edinburgh. They are too modest to do so, but I’m delighted to proclaim our two recently-awarded personal chairs to Paul Foster and Helen Bond.
Paul was awarded a Professorial chair last year (2014), and is now also entering his third year as Head (Dean) of the School of Divinity. Paul’s publications on various subjects, including his “go-to” work on the Gospel of Peter, articles on “Q”, and other subjects have made him now known and respected in the field. Paul’s staff page is here.
Helen was awarded her Professorial chair this year (2015), and serves also as Director of the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins. Helen’s publications, including her ground-breaking studies of Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas, and her accessible book on historical Jesus scholarship, as well as numerous articles likewise have propelled her to international recognition. You may well see her appearing in one of the many TV programmes for which she is often interviewed. Her staff page is here.
When I retired in 2011, we decided (largely for financial reasons at the time) not to fill then the “established chair” that I held and chose instead to ask permission of the university to advertise a “Lecturer” position (= Assistant Professor in North American terms). At the time, I stated that within five years at most one or both of my colleagues (then Paul and Helen) would likely be awarded Professorial status. As it terms out, both have now been made Professors well within that predicted time-frame.
I should also mention that Matthew Novenson, who was appointed to that Lecturer post, has likewise been promoted recently, to Senior Lecturer rank (roughly = Associate Professor in North American terms). This rapid promotion was likewise justified by his published research, including his important book-length study showing that Paul reflects a view of Jesus as Messiah, as well as a growing number of articles. Matt’s staff page is here.
Our newest addition, Dr. Philippa Townsend, is a Chancellor’s Fellow (a highly competitive post-doctoral fellowship), which allows her an initial three years of time focused on research projects. Her staff page is here.
And, wonderfully, all of these fine scholars are also fine colleagues, cordial, cooperative, hard-working, conscientious and committed to their students (at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels) as well as their subjects. I’m proud to have the chance to celebrate them and their successes.