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  1. #1
    Jack8rkin is offline Member
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    Default chair at a university

    Hello everyone!
    Could you please explain to me the use of the word "chair" in the context of "university".
    I looked through the dictionaries and realised that it's a synomym of "professorship" (or of a positoin at university).
    I've always thought "chair" means a group of tutors/teachers or a department at the university.
    I see in the Internet the following use:

    "The Wirth Chair is committed to helping governments, businesses, non-profit groups and community organizations form sustainable development partnerships that carefully balance economic, environmental and expanded social welfare objectives and strategies."

    So I'm confused here...
    Could the word "chair" also mean a department of the university as I have thought?

    In university where I studied we had various faculties.
    There were "chairs" or "departments" (here is my confusion -- I do not know how to properly call them now).
    During the first year, our group was attributed to one of the chairs/departments.
    Next year, to another one and so on.
    However, we studied at the same faculty all the 5 years.

    Please, help to understand.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: chair at a university

    Etymologically, the 'chair' was a real chair; the professor sat on it (the Sp catedrático reflects this); similarly, the bishop in a cathedral had such a chair*. It was a big and ornate chair - the Spanish cadera took a different path (one that involved more phonological erosion[I'm tempted to make a joke about hip-replacement, {cadera=hip} but I might be one of the few people to smile rather than look askance ]).

    But usage and etymology are two different things. Where was your university? If 'chair' was used there to refer to a department, and it was always understood that way in that contect, I wouldn't call it a 'mistake'. I've never met 'chair' used that way though.

    b

    PS * I believe the Pope sits in this sort of chair to make pronouncements ex cathedra [='from the chair']. That's Latin, but it's understood and used by the more lettered among us.
    Last edited by BobK; 16-Jul-2012 at 11:06. Reason: Added PS

  3. #3
    charliedeut's Avatar
    charliedeut is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: chair at a university

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Etymologically, the 'chair' was a real chair; the professor sat on it (the Sp catedrático reflects this); similarly, the bishop in a cathedral had such a chair. It was a big and ornate chair - the Spanish cadera took a different path (one that involved more phonological erosion[I'm tempted to make a joke about hip-replacement, but I might be one of the few people to smile rather than look askance ]).
    b
    Hi,

    However, the Catalan cadira (chair) follows suit with you explanation far better than the Spanish one.

    charliedeut

    PS: don't refrain, go ahead with the joke
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  4. #4
    Jack8rkin is offline Member
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    Default Re: chair at a university

    Actually my Uni is in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. In fact we called such departments "кафедра". Well, if you have never met "chair" used that way, I should probably reconsider my usage too. Could it be "subdepartment" or "department"?

    My situation, however, is that our company has cooperation with the Technical University. Right in the company, there is a department of the University where students are taught by specialists of the company. I thought it would be "Basic Chair" as translated from Russian. I guess I was wrong...
    It so happened that in our company there are many Departments. If I just say "Basic Department" it would be unclear what I mean by it.

    Could anybody help me with naming this educational department?
    Could it be: University Basic Subdepartment?
    Maybe you have some experience in that?

  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: chair at a university

    Your "кафедра" is obviously connected with the Latin cathedra, which explains the 'false friend'. The idea of a metonym (e.g. 'the sword', to mean 'armed force') taking on the meaning of lots of things (in this case, individual acts of armed force) makes perfect sense. 'The pen is mightier than the sword' is much more striking than 'Reading and writing and education in general is more influential in the long run than force of arms (or violence in general)'.

    I'm not sure about the word 'basic'; and which of 'department' and 'sub-department' would be the more appropriate is a question of your company's hierarchy. If, say. there's a 'Training and Publications' department, you could then have the sub-departments 'T&P (University)' and 'T&P (Commercial)' - just because they are sub-departments they don't have to have the word 'sub-department' in the name

    b
    PS charliedeut: I wish I'd known about cadira when I was first told about the link between cadera and catedrática, which at the time I found hard to swallow - 'what was the connection between 'hip and 'chair'?'
    Last edited by BobK; 16-Jul-2012 at 15:05. Reason: Added PS

  6. #6
    Jack8rkin is offline Member
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    Default Re: chair at a university

    What I found out is that there are lots of such "basic" "chairs" or "departments" in Russian Educational System.
    There are also the so-called "base institutes". Please have a look:
    Phystech's Educational Approach. Web-portal of MIPT
    It means that the said departments of universities are based in research and industrial companies (like, say, U.S. National Labs) and they train specialists for these companies. The companies provide test facilities and internship for students.


    So, I suggest using:

    "Company name"-based "university name" department
    Like, say, "NIAEP-based NNSTU Department".

    NIAEP = Nizhny Novgorod AtomEnergoProject
    NNSTU = Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University

    Is it understandable at all?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: chair at a university



    b

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