Last semester, I was graduated from a four-year university, and am now a Ph.D student at another university. I received two separate degrees: one in Pure Mathematics and one in Computer Science, both Bachelors of Science. The honors in question are:
- Summa Cum Laude (1): This is a direct, university-wide, GPA-related thing; it applies to both degrees. I fulfill these requirements and so deserve the honor.
- Summa Cum Laude (2): This is applied if the student does a Mathematics thesis. I did not do this, so I do not deserve this honor.
- Computer Science Departmental Honors: This is applied if the student does a CS thesis. I did do this, working independently to produce not just one but two theses, containing publishable work. One won best paper at a small conference.
The two separate diplomas were shipped well after graduation, and well after I had moved to a different state. They contain:
- Mathematics: Summa Cum Laude
- CS: <nothing extra>
Clearly, there is a problem. Since I didn't do a mathematics thesis, the "summa cum laude" on the mathematics degree refers to the strict GPA thing (the mathematics department confirmed this). However, by the same reasoning, I should clearly have gotten the same on my CS diploma. And, in any case, I might have expected the departmental honors to show up too.
The first thing I did was ask the university help office, which directed me to the (single) email contact at the registrar's office. This email contact ignored repeated, direct questions asking to clarify the above; replies consisted mostly of one-line, semi-incoherent, half-caps, half-cut-and-paste of irrelevant information I'd already seen on the University's webpage.
Were it not for the typos, this lady wouldn't pass the Turing Test.
The mathematics diploma is correct (since I do meet one of the options for having the honor). However, the CS diploma needs to be fixed. I have surmised that the only way to get a fix is to send the original diploma back with a somewhat ambiguous correction form.
This leads me to two questions for the academic community:
- Is it common practice to include both a summa cum laude honor and a lesser honor? In my opinion, my theses represent far more value, especially research value, than a stupid GPA. The contact was . . . unable to clarify whether the university has an established policy on this--but my impression is that it does not. The CS department says it's not their format, so they don't know.
Under these assumptions, I am forced to conclude that there is no established format at my university. Further, as it seems they are taking suggestions, I will submit my correction form to list both honors. If they really do have a policy, they'll know and can contact me.
- I am having trouble thinking up a good way of stating the honors, however. If this contact was representative of the registrar's office at large, then I definitely want my correction to be verbatim. What is a simple phrasing of the honors that makes them clear that they are distinct?