14 May 2008

Grad gripes

Every spring semester Wash. U. spends what must be a ton of money re-landscaping the campus to look green and pretty for parents attending graduation, then the rest of the year they bother with only minimal maintenance in comparison.  It reminds me of Pencey Prep in The Catcher in the Rye:

"We always had the same meal on Saturday nights at Pencey.  It was supposed to be a big deal, because they gave you steak.  I'll bet a thousand bucks the reason they did that was because a lot of guys' parents came up to school on Sunday, and old Thurmer probably figured everybody's mother would ask their darling boy what he had for dinner last night, and he'd say, 'Steak.'  What a racket."

I'll be graduating on Friday.  Until recently, doctoral graduates from the School of Engineering & Applied Science received a D.Sc. (doctor of science), but now we get a Ph.D.  The problem is that we have to go through the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, since they have a monopoly on Ph.D. degrees here, and we have to play by their rules.  Two things in particular make me wish I'd stuck with the D.Sc. option.

First, my doctoral hood (along with the red and green for Wash. U.) is blue (for philosophy) instead of orange (for engineering).  Everyone who gets a Ph.D. at Wash. U. has to have a blue hood.  Boring!  Generic!  I'd prefer orange not only because it's particular to my academic discipline but because I thought it would make for a more interesting combination with the red and green.

Second, my diploma will be in Latin instead of English.  I'm curious to see how they'll translate "computer science" into Latin; I don't think the Romans had much need for the term.  They also translate "Washington University" into Latin, which I think is silly as it's a proper noun (though the French are fond of doing this).  My B.S. and M.C.S. diplomas are in English and I've have preferred to keep them consistent.

Oh well.  The one advantage of the Ph.D. over the D.Sc. is that I won't have to explain to anyone what it means.


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