Don’t use honorary titles; they are not PhDs — University of Ghana VC

Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, has asked holders of honorary doctorate degrees to “lock” them up in their drawers and use their right titles.

“Let me stress once again that these titles are not supposed to be used. They are not PhDs; they are honorary degrees. So if you have any of these titles, lock them and use your correct title,” Prof. Owusu said at the University of Ghana Doctoral Forum organised by the School of Graduate Studies, University of Ghana, Legon last Friday.

The forum, on the theme: “Promoting PhD education in Ghana”, sought to bring stakeholders under one roof to brainstorm on challenges of PhD education in the country and how to fast-track it to meet the national demand for that level of human resource.

Prof. Owusu expressed concern that a number of people in the country were using the title ‘Dr’, even though they were not PhD holders, a situation he described as unacceptable.

He said there were a number of prominent personalities who had been awarded honorary degrees in the country but who were not using them and cited former Presidents J. J. Rawlings and J.A. Kufour and the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu, as some of such personalities.

“So let us, as a nation, be very careful how we use these honorary degrees as titles,” he said.

Contributing to the issue of honorary doctorate degrees, the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Prof. Kwesi Yankah, outlined the level of rigorous work PhD candidates had to do before being awarded the title ‘Dr’.

“The rigour of doctoral work, the high standards expected and the self-discipline it imposes mean that the candidate has elevated himself or herself to new frontiers of knowledge construction.

“It is, therefore, not surprising that some PhD holders vehemently protest the unwitting omission of their proper titles or the mistaken application of lower titles to them when they are being introduced in formal situations,” Prof. Yankah explained.

He said that was why holders of fake and phony doctorate degrees were sometimes ridiculed and publicly chastised.

“The false assumption of academic titles only devalues the discipline of title investiture, blurs the distinction between mediocrity and excellence and deprives society of opportunities to isolate its cherished values.

“In the realm of academia, it compromises the quest for excellence and subverts the exacting standards set by society to recognise its best brains,” Prof. Yankah stated.

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