There are three basic academic ranks: assistant professor, associate professor and professor (sometimes called “full professor”). Promotion from one level to the next depends on the candidate’s record in fulfilling assigned responsibilities of teaching, research and service; the decision is made by the candidate’s department and submitted to higher levels of the administrative structure for approval or rejection. The complex rules and policies governing the process are overseen by the academic affairs office.
A named professorship, often but not always created by and named for the donor of the funds setting up the endowment which supports it, is called a chair. Titles of named professorships are capitalized (Grendel Professor of Family Law); regular professorial positions are lower case (She is an associate professor of law).