How to Use Emeritus or Emerita

How to Use Emeritus or Emerita

When someone is emeritus/emerita, the forms to use are:
—-(Full Name), (Office) Emeritus—–masculine
—-(Full Name), (Office) Emerita—_–feminine

This would look like:
—-Robert Barbie, Ph.D., Professor of Art Emeritus, University of ABC
—-Sara Jane Knight, D.D., Pastor Emerita, Church XYZ

This form of a name is used when there is a continuing relationship with the organization.

Emeritus, Emerita, (Office) Emeritus or (Office) Emerita are used after the name for identification. They are neither used before a name as an honorific, nor as part of a name in a salutation, or in oral conversation.


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

—-#1) Emeritus implies a continuing relationship with an organization. At universities while a Professor Emeritus might not have same teaching schedule, he or she would keep an ID card, faculty discount at the bookstore, continue to be seated and be recognized at graduations, be listed as a member of the faculty in the catalog, still use the faculty dining room, have access to the university clinic, library & athletic facilities, even have an office and serve on committees. In a religious community, if someone is the pastor emeritus of a congregation, it is the congregation which grants the title.

—-#2) Retired & emeritus are not the same. Former & emeritus are not the same. An organization or institution specifically grants the title. It is not automatically granted to everyone who retires.

—-#3) See also How to use honorary degrees / honorary doctorate for more on honorary titles.

– Robert Hickey   How to Use Emeritus or Emerita

How to Use Emeritus or Emerita

Can I List Deceased Officials as Emeritus?

I am the president of a board. One of our Advisory Board members passed away, but I would like to keep his name on our organizational roster. How shall I title him? Board Member Emeritus?
—-—-—-– SD

I want to want to create a an ’emeritus list’ of our retired executives. Who gets included on such a list? Are they still emeritus when they pass away?
—-—-—-– R.K.

Dear SD and RK,
Emeritus means they no longer work with you (e.g. they are retired) but continue to have a relationship with the organization.

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

Deceased persons are no longer emeritus/emerita.

When organizations want to remember deceased individuals, they list the years of service, not the years they lived:
—-—-(Full Name), (Office) Started-Ended
—-Which looks like:
—-—-William K. Bell, Professor of French 1988-2012

Often they create a new group, e.g., Founders or Honor Roll.

This method does not mention they are dead, just that they were an official/important person to the organization at one time.  If you include their span of life after their name it confirms they are deceased – (Full Name), 1950-2019 – if that is important for you to communicate. Typically for organizational officials it is not.

Setting up this sort of new category is a good thing for organizations to do. It first comes up when they have someone special to remember … but it’s good to think of these things with a broad view:
—-—-How will it work now?
—-—  How will it work when the next name is added?

– Robert Hickey   How to Use Emeritus or Emerita


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”