We're restructuring but the new org chart has me reporting to an associate prof, instead of an equal-ranked full professor. Is this defamatory or typical?

  • 6
    It's unclear what "report to" means. If your chair or dean is an associate professor, then you'd report to them. Can you describe your organizational hierarchy a bit more. Is this within a department or within a division, for example?
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 17:08
  • It's a new center that gobbled up other center's
    – user76346
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 17:12
  • 10
    Then sure, the title of "chair," "center leader," "program head," "PI," or other organizational administrative title overrides academic rank. You might not like it but your choices are to suck it up, get promoted, quit, or get hired elsewhere.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 17:14
  • 2
    I can't see how this could possibly be "defamatory". Were you perhaps looking for a different word? Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


Universities are not like the army, in which your commanding officer is always someone of higher rank than you.

For instance, it is common for an academic department to have a chair or head who is drawn from among the faculty. Many (most?) universities allow an associate professor to serve as chair (some would even allow an assistant professor). In such cases, an associate professor can certainly be the "boss" of a full professor.

I don't think there is anything unusual or worrisome about the proposed organization you're describing.

  • 1
    It might be good to add that in UK universities, for instance, there are different roles and you may have to report to the "role" of "programme tutor" even if they are title-wise below you. Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 2:31
  • Thanks - this is a great answer! You're exactly right about reporting in the military. (fyi-probably use "armed services" instead of army since reporting is the same across all branches of the mil.) I like the response about reporting to roles in the UK. So that would be akin to a "histogram" person in the physics department, because part of your lectures/research includes histograms for quark-gluon collider physics.
    – user76346
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 0:14

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