Forum: Advice / Emergency

Emergency
Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)
By SwordInStone Comments: 192, member since Thu Aug 11, 2011
On Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:17 AM
Edited by SwordInStone (239239) on 2015-02-18 11:25:54
Edited by SwordInStone (239239) on 2015-02-18 11:28:33

Hello, sorry, I'm sort of panicking right now, and feel free to laugh at the reason, though please do help.

Prof. and I are both twenty-something. I'm a grad student. He's got a doctorate, is very funny and kind, bit awkward and not at all stuck-up. Calls himself Chip in the emails, and if he wasn't my professor I'd call him Chip as well, but his emails are so casual that I don't feel right addressing him as Dr. Wotshisname in the replies. I mean, we're both kids, you know. He's a million times smarter, but we're both awkward young fellahs trying to figure things out, and if we had run into each other outside the university setting, we might have been friends. Drinking buddies, even. So if I were to call him Professor Chip or Dr. Chip, is that acceptable? What if I were to take it a bit further and call him prof. Chip?

There's this other girl (phd student) whom I also call by name, but she doesn't have a nickname. I just call her Professor Triinu in emails, and everyone's happy. Can't just say Professor Charles, though, since everyone calls him Chip, so who am I to call him Charles, right.

Of course I'm going to be polite and formal and all, only it feels a bit weird to use the full title since, well, c'mon, he signs his emails as Chip. All five emails so far signed as Chip. I feel like if I called him Dr. Wotshisname it's be like saying I don't appreciate the uh, casualness, see.

So, yeah. Can I call him prof. Chip? Or does it have to be Professor Chip? Or Dr. Chip?

Much obliged if you can help, really. Thanks in advance in case I die of awkwardness before being able to get back to you.

9 Replies to Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)

re: Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)
By Moonlitefairy06member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 7177, member since Fri Apr 16, 2004
On Wed Feb 18, 2015 12:48 PM
If that's how he signs his emails I think it's fine to call him Chip. I haven't had experiences with nicknames but I've had young professors before that preferred their first name than prof last name
re: Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)
By saaammiemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 440, member since Thu Apr 01, 2010
On Wed Feb 18, 2015 02:09 PM
If he signs mails like that, imho it's totally fine to call him Chip.
I generally see how they sign as them telling me what they want to be called.
re: Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)
By Tishwah Comments: 586, member since Sun May 17, 2009
On Wed Feb 18, 2015 04:32 PM
Isn't the rule of thumb to be formal the first time to allow the person to say "please call me...." and then use the name they prefer?
re: Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)
By majeremember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 5889, member since Sat Sep 29, 2007
On Wed Feb 18, 2015 05:19 PM
You could just call him Doctor or Professor, no last name. Have you heard what anyone else does?
re: Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)
By CaffeinePremium member Comments: 3194, member since Wed Aug 08, 2007
On Wed Feb 18, 2015 05:50 PM
In my experience, however a person signs off the email is how they are happy to be called. So in this situation, I'd call him [title] Chip* initially, but if he encourages a more informal relationship, then follow his cues. If he signs his emails as "Chip", but has an official signature underneath that, then look at the title/format on the signature for his preferred title.


*Perhaps this is a region/cultural thing, but I have worked with some academics who can be very precious about their titles. There is a vast difference between Dr and Professor. While International students often use the term Professor for any teaching staff working in a University, the term is technically incorrect.
re: Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)
By LingScot Comments: 1036, member since Sat Apr 09, 2005
On Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:20 AM
If he's signing off as Chip, you can call him that. (It's definitely the norm for some departments / cultures for everyone to be on a first name basis!)

But if you're still not sure, you can also just ask straight out -- I had someone ask me that just today. I had originally met her in a casual setting, but she has now been accepted as a graduate student in our program. She simply said "I hope it is ok if I address you by your first name instead of Dr. LastName. Since we met in a friendly setting, it seemed like the normal way to address you but should you find it disrespectful, I'll switch to Dr. LastName. I am unsure of the conventions in this regard."

:)
re: Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)
By SwordInStone Comments: 192, member since Thu Aug 11, 2011
On Thu Feb 19, 2015 03:54 AM
Thanks, everyone.

Really, really really appreciate all your input.

See, our culture is similar to that of Finland, and many older, famous professors prefer the first name, though very few of the internationals actually address them this way. Prof. Chip happens to be from an English-speaking country, but he's never written his full title on anything, not the emails, not the syllabus.
The department chair is friends with his students on Facebook and posts pictures of himself playing guitar.

I'll just call him Prof. Chip and hope my computer doesn't autocorrect to Prof. Chipmunk.

Once again, thanks. I think I'll live.
re: Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)
By saaammiemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 440, member since Thu Apr 01, 2010
On Thu Feb 19, 2015 05:39 AM
I'm Swedish where everything is super informal. So profs from more formal culture learn just to adapt.

I've also lived in Germany and Austria, veeery formal societies, and when a prof signed off with their own name, it was a sign that you should accept the new form of adress.
re: Acceptable to call professor by the name he calls himself? (ASAP please)
By cut12bum Comments: 24, member since Wed Mar 11, 2015
On Sat Mar 14, 2015 06:14 PM
I still think that you should ask, even though he signs his email as Chip. It's respectful to do so, as oftentimes people sign emails differently than you'd address them in person.

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