Rector (Lat. rector, a ruler), the title of several classes of clerical and collegiate officials, some of which are referred to under their respective heads.
1. As regards clerical rectors, the title, in its most ordinary English use, is applied to the clergyman who holds complete and independent charge of a parish. This use, however, is a departure from the canonical signification of the title, which meant rather a clergyman who was appointed to govern a parish where the chief parochial jurisdiction was vested in a religious corporation or in some non-resident dignitary. The office of vicar is an outgrowth of the rectorate, on the appropriation of benefices to monasteries and other religious houses of old; and the distinction between rector and vicar, which is therefore to be noticed here, is as follows: The rector has the right to all the ecclesiastical dues in his parish, whereas the vicar has generally an appropriator or impropriator over him, who is entitled to part of the profits, and to whom he is, in effect, only perpetual curate, with an appointment of glebe and generally one third of the tithes. SEE VICAR.
2. In certain of the monastic orders, the name rector is given to the heads of convents, as it is
3. Also given to the heads of universities, colleges, seminaries, and similar educational corporate institutions.