Monday, June 17, 2013

Doctoring the Records

All signs seem to point to me having completed my doctoral degree. I've been very careful about making any announcements like this because the process involves a lot of extra forms, extra version edits, extra jumping hoops, so I tried to temper expectations. But everyone knows I'm close, so I've had to continually play defense when people ask about my current status. Or, as is usually said, "Aren't you done yet?"

And now I am.

I might be able to pick up my diploma as soon as today, but I'll give it a week or so. This is also the day for everyone ELSE who graduated to pick up their diploma, so I anticipate the rush passing through and allowing the older and slower graduate degree recipients time to get in.  

My go-to comment about one of the stickier points of etiquette during this post-graduate period in my life has been as follows:

Friend: So, do I get to call you "doctor?"
Me: Well, you only have to call me "doctor" if you're asking musical questions, such as "Hey! What's this song on the radio, Doctor Schwartz?"

This is basically true. It is the general practice that academic titles are a courtesy when dealing with the specific field, but not in everyday social address. I would never countenance being referred to as "Doctor" when being introduced at a party or event -- I'd rather be "Andy" or "Mr. Schwartz," if formality needs to be preserved. 

The compromise state has always been "Doctor Andy." As I've indicated on this blog before, being called Doctor Andy has happened since virtually the moment I set foot on the university campus. It's a weird combination of academic and personal, which is why I prefer it for conversations. I have friends who begin all correspondence with me that way, and when it happens in conversation, people invariably smile. THAT is what I prefer. Because it is a weird hybrid of deference and insouciance, if I don't take offense to it, hopefully no one else will.

I found an excerpt from a book by Miss Manners, where she stated that no academic titles should be recognized. The presumption being that only medical professionals should be called Doctor in public. I understand that and feel no slight: when someone shouts "Is there a doctor in the house?", I wouldn't want to be the one who volunteers.  

But I have had professors who -- to this day -- have never given me permission to call them anything other than "Doctor So-and-so". It seems there's still a rank feeling to be preserved today.  

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations. And, etiquette aside, you'll always be Doctor Andy to me! You worked hard for it.

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