Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Open Letter to Professors

Dear Professor,

For the love of all the gods, please don't sign your emails with just your initials. I use your sign-off as a clue about how to address you. I know that calling you Dr. when you'd prefer I call you by your first name makes me look insecure. I also know that calling you by your first name when you'd prefer I call you Dr. is anathemia.

Signing off your email as Dr. X or Bob is a clear message to me about which fork in the road is safe. Signing your email with XYZ leaves me lost. Because really, do you want me to call you XYZ?????

All best,


Clio Bluestocking said...


Anonymous said...

I dare you to call them XYZ. Double Dog Dare.
unicorn, who's fiesty tonight

profacero said...

I am one of the worst culprits. I am only now starting to realize it confuses people.

It means: we are not on first name basis, but I am not going to bang you over the head with my title.

I guess not everyone realizes this. However, I note that it causes them to address me as XYZ, precisely!!!

Here's the thing. I would never sign myself as Professor XYZ or XYZ PhD. So pompous. Yet, if I sign as I really do -- my name, with title and all that underneath typed -- they think I am not a PhD and start mistreating me therefore, or they start calling me by my first name.

So, I prefer to keep them confused with initials. At least it keeps me from having to call myself professor all the time, and protects me from being called by my first name when I don't want to be.

Digger said...

Profacero, I'd never considered it was a purposeful strategy to confuse...

In this particular case, I've defaulted to not addressing him personally by name, as Dr. XYZ with other profs, and as XYZ with other students. In other cases, there isn't this weirdness.

The default among students is to refer to profs by only their last names when talking among each other. It tastes disrespectful to me, but I'm feeling and negotiating the peer pressure to fit in.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I *like* being called only by my last name when you talk among yourselves. That's what you're supposed to do.