When I started reporting the story of the University of Utah’s sex-abusing swim coach Greg Winslow, one of my first questions regarded the honorific “Dr.” in front of every reference to athletic director Chris Hill. What is he a doctor of, I wondered — proctology?
I don’t mean to pick on Hill, who it turns out has a Ph.D. in educational administration. The puffing up and power-tripping of philosophes is a common practice in credentials-crazed America. But I refuse to play the game.
My thinking here is rooted in my undergraduate days at Vanderbilt University, where Alexander Heard was the chancellor. Heard insisted on referring to himself and his administrators as “Mr.” or “Ms.,” not “Dr.” He thought “doctor” should be reserved for M.D. That made sense.
“I’ve written books, too, but I don’t expect people to go around calling me ‘Author Heard,'” he said.
In writing about the witch doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who developed and marketed the for-profit ImPACT “concussion management system,” I call neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon “doctor,” but not psychologist Mark Lovell. And for more than one reason: Maroon is also the esteemed “medical director” of WWE.