Yesterday, I was supposed to finally receive my Ph.D. diploma.
As you can imagine, that didn’t work out quite as planned because when would things inside the Ivory Tower ever go as planned, let alone happen speedily?
On my part, I did all the necessary work: my Ph.D. appeared in print, official and all (to protect all people involved, I won’t quote title or ISBN here). And no, I didn’t learn that from the publisher. Instead, the Assistant Supervisor called me to let me know that I could pick up my ten free copies at the Department Office.
Next step: deliver the required amount of book copies to the Ph.D. booth in the central university library, open only two times a week for an hour each.
Now how many copies does the library want? Well, all the ten I am allotted. Two to keep, eight to send on to other libraries. Never mind the author.
This means that if I actually want to own a copy of my own book, I have to buy it.
Well, I suppose I have the pdf on my computer and I really know the script well enough to quote it from memory, so buying a copy would merely be an act of vanity. The annoying thing is that I need to send out more copies still that I also have to buy: the foundation that paid for the printing costs wants 4 copies. The scholarship I enjoyed in the first years of this project requires 1. Then it is common courtesy to give one to the external supervisor (the local supervisors have both mentioned that they have “their copies” already – apparently, they get personal ones whereas I don’t), then there are 2 important professors in the area of Oriental Studies who have expressed interest in my work, so if I want to stay high on their positive contact list of young researchers and possibly gain a book review in one of the important media outlets for my area, I need to send them copies, as well. That’s already 8 extra copies which I have to pay for on my own (never mind that I don’t earn a single buck at the moment).
So for one night, I had “my” ten copies in my apartment. Sadly, without a chance to look at them, since they were still wrapped in their protective plastic sheets and I had to hand them in at the library like that, to a bored-looking librarian who signed and stamped the receipt paper with the utmost lack of enthusiasm.
That paper in hand, I called the secretary of the Research Dean at the Central Administration, asking for an appointment to pick up my diploma. During that call, it turned out that I had to bring by not just the library receipt, but also a formal confirmation from my supervisor that the printed version has been approved by him.
I had asked him about that paper before the script went into print and he said I wouldn’t need it, he’d never signed such a paper for anyone, and it would be unnecessary. So I had the task to tell him that he has signed such a paper every time a Ph.d. candidate finished the process (it doesn’t surprise that there are not that many candidates!) and then I had to get a hold of his miffed mighty self to obtain his autograph on the formal confirmation paper, which included a late-night bike ride through town to his secret lair – I already had an appointment at the Research Dean’s office and had to hurry.
So I showed up there yesterday afternoon, perfectly on time, the two papers in hand – of the Dean, who might have shaken my hand in congratulation after I haven’t seen him at all during these past seven years, I didn’t hear more than his voice on the phone through the closed office door, while his bored secretary pushed a double copy of my diploma across the table: an unspectacular white DINA4 sheet that could do with a design upgrade, firmed by both the Faculty Chief of Research and the University Head of Research.
I scanned the paper, since my thesis title had been misspelled on my temporary diploma that I got after my defense last summer. I had called in the day after the defense and sent them an email in addition with the correct spelling included, asking to please change the title on the final diploma.
Imagine my lack of surprise when I found that the person in charge had, indeed, corrected the prior error – but had instead added another one.
How difficult is is to type one thesis title out of an email into another document?! Just copy-paste, for God’s sake!!
So, nothing. The bored secretary shifted a bit on her chair, said “Oops”, and drew the diploma copies out of my fingers again. “Then we have to apply for new copies,” she informed me. “I’ll send it out first thing tomorrow morning, but I can’t tell you when the Faculty Chief of Research of the University Head of Research will be available for signing.”
Right. Because the upper echelons with the well-paid jobs and nice cars are probably out golfing in Switzerland over Easter. More fun than signing diplomas of some Ph.D.s who have no chance at an actual job at their institution, anyway (this spring semester, our institute’s budget cuts were so severe that all the Ph.D.s and Ph.D. candidates with temporary 3-4 months contracts didn’t get any contracts at all. We were offered to teach for free, though. – This time, we all said no. Because this has to stop at some point.).
So now I’m waiting for my reissued diploma. Anyone care to guess in how many ways one can misspell the metaphorical “Assyrian”?