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Week of July 23, 2012

Letters

To the editor of the University Record:

Why does the University of Michigan have so few doctors? If one is to judge by the University Record, the University of Michigan, despite being a first-class, widely acclaimed research institution, has relatively few “doctors” on its faculty and staff.

For example, in the June 25 issue I note in the article on the Department of Emergency Medicine (page 12) reference to doctors Neumar, Woolliscroft and Barsan, but many of our other distinguished faculty whose work is reviewed in this issue seem to lack this title, including those who will be the Henry Russel lecturer and awardees (page 1). The answer of course is that the first named individuals are medical doctors while the other faculty hold “only” a Ph.D. or other type of doctorate.

For some reason the Record reserves the title “Dr.” for the medical fraternity and while this is no doubt pleasing to the AMA, it is insulting to all the other doctors whose length of study in demanding disciplines is equivalent to those with higher medical degrees.

The New York Times, which is scrupulous in its use of titles, does not hesitate to refer to Ph.D.s with the title Dr. in discussing their work in the Science section and other reporting. (Even the AMA Manual of Style, 9th edition, page 251, notes that doctor is a more general term than physician since it includes persons who do not hold a doctor of medicine.) Perhaps the Record might follow suit and liberate the Ph.D. from second-class academic citizenship.

— Dr. Albert I. Hermalin, Ph.D., Professor emeritus of sociology, research professor emeritus, Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research

 

STAFF SPOTLIGHT

Stefan Szymanski, the Stephen J. Galetti Professor of Sport Management in the School of Kinesiology, on what inspires him: "The emergence of a pattern from seeming chaos."

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