I am confused by how "faculty" is used in terms of conference/congress organization.

For example, on this website you see the international and US faculty of an educational meeting. I understand that these people are the speakers, the key figures of the conference. But no dictionaries I have consulted provide a definition like that. Moreover, they never say that "faculty" is somehow related to conferences. Can you explain what exactly the word means in this context?

Also, I have come across the following sentence:

We are happy to invite you as Guest Faculty. (which means the person is invited as a speaker of a conference)

Does the sentence make sense to you? Perhaps, they could invite someone as a member of Faculty, or just a speaker...

5 Answers 5


This usage of the word faculty is probably not found in the speech of serious scientists and scholars, but solely in the materials advertising the congresses and conferences. It is likely intended to leave an impression that the event is somehow as worthy of respect as a university. Like much else that can be seen in advertising, it stretches the standard meaning considerably.


I haven't heard guest faculty used in this way before (or even in any way), but I'm guessing it's the following sense of the Merriam-Webster definition of faculty that's being used:

3a : the members of a profession
b : the teaching and administrative staff and those members of the administration having academic rank in an educational institution
// an excellent mathematics faculty
c faculty plural : faculty members
// many faculty were present

So, when being invited to speak, the speakers are being given the temporary role of teaching staff.

To me, it's a strange phrase. I'm more used to hearing guest speaker or guest lecturer. If I'd heard guest faculty outside the context of this question, I would have assumed it would mean somebody actually teaching a class on a temporary basis (e.g., a substitute teacher), and not just a speaker.


The sense of teaching staff of a college/university is an old usage:


Academic sense "branch of knowledge" (late 14c.) was in Old French and probably was the earliest in English (it is attested in Anglo-Latin from late 12c.), on notion of "ability in knowledge" or "body of persons on whom are conferred specific professional powers." Originally each department was a faculty; the use in reference to the whole teaching staff of an entire college dates from 1767. (Etymonline)

The usage of the expression Guest Faculty referring to a member of a university faculty has increased in recent decades as shown in Google Books. The sense is that of a temporary appointment of a professor probably from an external Faculty.


This is an educational conference so these are the persons presenting. They are the faculty giving the presentations, so that is the usage of the word. The issue could be as @jsw29 says, a form of advertising, but I also get a strong sense that this could be a translation issue. It could also be a means of rendering respect to the presenters and give a sense of formality and importance to the presentations. This would tie into what @jsw29 was saying, but would not be the only sense of the usage.

Guest faculty probably refers to temporary staff at a university. They are invited to give a class for a semester or a year to provide a special class or take the place of someone on sabbatical.


In American English 'faculty' means 'university teachers'.

  • I know. But that congress, whose website I have visited (see the link in my question), is American. It was held in California this year, and I assume the admins of the website are American, and use American English too.
    – Enguroo
    Oct 11, 2018 at 8:17

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