Power and the Dissertation: Faculty as Demigods
Tradition and ritual are elemental in academe, where the highest ranked institutions still inscribe their diplomas in Latin-so that a holder of an A.B. from an ivied institution will firmly correct anyone who mistakenly refers to it as a B.A. (never mind that both designations refer to the same degree level). Faculty still don traditional robes and gold-tasseled headgear for such occasions as commencement, parading like peacocks in the colors that signify their alma maters, their specific degrees, their specific areas of expertise. Leading such academic parades are officers of the institution, and often the vice provost or someone similar bears a ceremonial mace, the time-honored symbol of the institutional power wielded by faculty and administrators, who award or deny degrees and shape the future of every student who comes to the institution seeking admission to the elevated company of those already robed in academic splendor.