The Disappearing Degree
As head of a foundation that funds arts programs in a southern city, Connie helps initiate a program to bring artists-in-residence into the middle schools. Her seven-member committee has received numerous applications, including one from Hamilton Craft, perhaps the best-known painter in the region. His national reputation and amiable personality make him a natural for Connie’s program—and he lets it be known around the city that he was applying. Reviewing the applications, Connie has little doubt he would be selected.
On the resume submitted with his application, Craft has listed a Ph.D. in art history, received from an east coast university in the late 1960s. Connie’s assistant, doing routine background checks on the artists, is astonished to discover that the university has no record of such a degree. Craft had indeed enrolled in a doctoral program, but never completed it. He does not hold a Ph.D., his resume plainly misstates the facts.
Connie tells the committee and then confronts Craft. Cordial as ever, he explains that just as he was completing the work for his doctorate, he had been drafted into the army. What he had meant to write on the resume, he explains, is, “Course work completed for Ph.D.”—a phrase often used in resumes to indicate that the candidate never completed the writing of the dissertation. But somehow that phrase got shortened simply to “Ph.D.”
Then, turning surprisingly tough, Craft warns her that if the committee refuses him on this technicality—an issue that surely had little bearing on his ability to work with a classroom of middle schoolers—he would sue them for mishandling his application and potentially defaming his character.
Chairing the committee, Connie watches it deadlock in a three-to-three vote. It falls to her to break the tie. What should she do?