Ceci n'est pas une chaise

August 12, 2010

Once again, Times Higher Education refers to someone, in this case Thomas Bartlett of the University of Aberdeen, as being "... chair", when, to be more precise, he holds a chair (Author profile, 5 August).

The use of "chair" to indicate the holder of a professorship goes back many centuries, and had its origin at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Only the teacher had a chair while his students had to sit on the floor. Hence the professor held the chair (and was certainly not to be misrepresented as being the chair itself).

Richard Wilson, Loughborough University.

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