Saturday, October 10, 2009

You might think that, in the scheme of things, the real hurdles of completing a dissertation and defending it would be the research or the writing or the committee or the defense itself. I sort of thought that myself.

Of course, it probably is relevant that I'm generally logistically challenged. But this does beat all.

So, for PTS, once a defense date is set, you are required to submit 2 copies of your defense copy to the PhD Studies Office at least two weeks before your defense date. I think this is so that they can distribute copies to the committee to ensure that everyone has the same version, and keep one on file in case anyone who wants to attend the defense can read it beforehand (which is a nice thought, but...seriously, does anyone do this?).

But since I found out Wednesday night that my defense is set for October 19 (!), I already missed that two week window, which meant that I needed to get my defense copies printed and turned in ASAP.

Which is why I found myself in the campus mailroom at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night, after the annual Theology Department reception to meet and greet the entering theology PhD's. With an unexpected problem.

Because those reusable interoffice memo envelopes with the marvelous stringy closures don't accommodate 375 pages of dissertation.

Left with only my willing ness to improvise and the sparse resources in front of me, I jury-rigged a solution by splitting the envelopes down the sides, closing them at the top. This left the sides completely open, of course, but at this point God decided to have pity and provided two and only two rubberbands atop the small container of paperclips beside the envelopes. It wasn't pretty, but the end result was at least minimally serviceable.

And then I discovered that, just like its interoffice envelopes, the mailroom's mail slot for on-campus mail to faculty and staff didn't accommodate 375 pages of dissertation either. This was a problem not so easily rectified. If I'd had a sledgehammer handy, I might have fixed this problem for the mail staff by a generous enlarging of their mail slots, but God's providence ran out on me at this point--no sledgehammers casually lingering in the corners anywhere.

So in the end I left my 375 pages x 2 in a stack on the floor under the faculty mail slot, with a plaintive note that read something like:

Hi!
We are two defense copies of a dissertation needing to make it over to the PhD Studies Office. Unfortunately, our oversized verbosity means that we don't fit through this mailslot, obviously designed for more slender missives. :(
You might also notice that we don't quite fit our envelopes either.
Please help.
Thanks,
JTB's dissertation defense copies

3 comments:

Carisse said...

Everybody who has been through this will sympathize. The week of my defense, I took a copy to the graduate dean's office. The graduate secretary plopped it down in front of her, opened her desk drawer and got out a ruler and a rubber thumb cover, snapped the cover on her thumb emphatically, and measured every margin of every page of 326 pages while I stood and watched and sweated.

JTB said...

follow-up: Monday morning call to campus mailroom confirms that my defense copies were found, and call to PhD Studies confirms receipt. Yay.

JTB said...

oh, and P.S. I don't know who my margin-checker will be but I do know that that delightful task has been delegated to a desperately money-hungry PhD student job. I'm not at that point yet--the defense copies don't have to be "perfect" copies--but when I get there I will once again praise God for the wonderful human ingenuity that has produced Endnote. :)