Pomp and circumstance

Woohoo! So yesterday my first PhD student defended his thesis. He did a great job although I screwed up the introduction. After doing my little introductory shtick about the student, complete with little embarrassing anecdotes and the like, I handed over the podium to him. Then everyone in the audience just stared at me blankly and oddly, and I’m like “What?”. Until somebody chimes in, “You forgot to read the official introductory words.” And then I remembered, that my university has a little paragraph you are supposed to read before every PhD defense to make it truly “official”. Fortunately I had printed out a document sent to me earlier in the day from the department entitled “official papers for PhD defense”, so I took it out and looked for the “official” words. Unfortunately, the “official” words were not in there, just a bunch of other useless stuff and a note saying that the introducer should read the “official” words. Fuck. “Now what?” I said. Everyone stared blankly, the student looked like he was starting to panic, I got all red and sweaty. Finally, another faculty member starts cuing me the words from the back of the room, as I repeat after him, filling the specific blanks with the help of the student (“where was it you went to college?”). By this point everyone is shaking their heads, either laughing or making little remarks about amateur hour and such. Eventually we got through it and his defense started – and unlike me, he kicked ass.

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8 Responses to Pomp and circumstance

  1. gerty-z says:

    congrats! I’m glad that you made it without totally freaking out your student 🙂

  2. qaz says:

    What are the official magic words?

  3. Dr. Dad, PhD says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of a place that needed magic words to allow a student to get their degree.

    Do you have to sprinkle pixie dust to make the “official” words work? Or maybe just click your heels three times?

  4. proflikesubstance says:

    You have to place the Official Hood on.


  5. Neuro-conservative says:

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

  6. leigh says:


    wow, magic (cough) official words is a new one on me.

  7. Komelsky says:

    To tell the truth, it did not look anything like you describe! It did not look neither red nor sweaty; it was hilarious, it was one of that moments of sheer brilliant improvisation that made me proud of the group I belong to! Everybody laughed and contributed the words; it was the web-2.0-style of an introduction; an ice-breaker most people can only dream of! The audience was so united by this event, by this act of collective creation and performance, that everything went smooth afterwards! It was absolutely glorious!

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