What’s in a name?

What should I call you?

Simple enough question, right?

But here are many options (and much discussion) as to how to address a professor:  Doctor; professor; Mr., Mrs.,, Ms., Miss; or…first name.

The first name issue has been kicking around for a while, with many ‘traditional’ professors objecting to students addressing them by their first name.  I came across this flowchart via Twitter today.  It raises some interesting issues, including different standards for graduate and undergraduate students.

For me, titles are nothing more than that.  If it’s respect that you want in the classroom, you earn that through your actions, not through some title.  I pursue collaboration between teacher and student in the classroom and that can lead to some informality.  Yet, I know that many are concerned by the growth of such informality.

So, is it Ok to use first names?


About journalismprof

Steve joined the journalism faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in August 2007 and has been working to incorporate multimedia across the curriculum. Since arriving at UMass, Steve has developed three courses modeled after his multimedia journalism course. The courses allow students to work in teams in a newsroom-like environment where they work on packages -- using video, audio and photos to tell stories. He is also working with students on developing amherstwire.com, a news Web site staffed completely by students. Steve has more than 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at washingtonpost.com. He also edits part-time for espn.com with the NFL and college football network.
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