Thursday, March 12, 2009

the paperwork that wouldn't die

I had naïvely thought that once I passed my defense, I would quickly make whatever edits my committee wanted, and all I would then have left to do was show up to Convocation in my funny hat. Ha. Two days after my defense, I received the following email from the graduate secretary:

"Congratulations! If you get a chance on Friday, please stop by my office and pick up a few forms needed for completing the process."

I went to her office on Friday. She had a bewildering array of forms on her desk, but it turned out most of them were really her responsibility. I left with some instructions for submitting my thesis electronically, and another copy of the abbreviated MLA style guide.

The following Wednesday (yesterday) I got another email. "I have your signed signature pages for your thesis in my office. You can pick them up when you get a chance."

I went to her office again. She had two signature pages for me, printed by a lousy printer but on very nice paper. They were signed by each member of my committee*, the Graduate Advisor, the Graduate Coordinator, the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, and the Associate Dean of the College of Humanities. Hooray, all my paperwork was signed.

Oh, by the way, did I have my completed Form 8d? I would need that by Friday if I wanted to submit my thesis electronically.

At that point I honestly had no idea whether I had it or not. She showed me someone else's Form 8d. It did not look familiar. "It should look like this, and it should have your committee's signatures on it ..." I thought I might have something at home with some signatures on it. "... and then it needs signatures from the department saying they're going to waive the print copy." Oh.

It turned out I did have the form at home. My committee had signed it, but it appeared that I needed additional signatures from the Graduate Coordinator and the Associate Dean. I had a prenatal appointment this morning (everything looks fine, come back next week) after which I headed back to campus with Peach in tow and Form 8d in hand. The Associate Dean was not in his office, but a very nice student employee at the front desk of the Humanities office took my form and promised to have him sign it when he came back. She said she would call me when it was signed if I would leave my cell phone number with her. I most certainly would.

I had about an hour before the Graduate Coordinator would be in his office, so I decided to go out to lunch with Peach. We ran into Blackwood near the elevator, and I explained that I was still collecting signatures on Form 8d. "Ah, the all-important Form 8d," he commiserated. "But you have all the signatures you need from me, right?" I was pretty sure I did, and told him so. That last sentence is what your literature teacher would call "foreshadowing."

When Peach and I came back to campus, a different but equally nice student employee was working the front desk in the Humanities office. I explained that even if my form was not signed, I needed to borrow it for a few minutes so the Graduate Coordinator could sign it. He looked around the desk but didn't see the form. The Associate Dean was in a meeting, which the secretary was understandably reluctant to interrupt, but he looked in the AD's office to see if the form was there. It wasn't. He looked around on the front desk again. I looked around on the front desk again. He looked in the AD's office again, while I peered nervously through the door. Form 8d had apparently vanished into the ether.

Finally the secretary decided there was nothing else for it, went into the meeting, and fetched forth the Associate Dean of the College of Humanities. The AD went into his office, looked around on his desk, and came back out empty-handed. Even he looked a little puzzled at that point. As I began to contemplate the awful possibility that my form was truly lost, the AD suddenly had a thought. "This was for your thesis?" Yes. "Are you an English person?" Yes. "Oh - I signed it. I sent it back to the English Graduate Secretary."

I apologized profusely to the Associate Dean for having bothered him. He smiled benevolently and went back to his meeting. I thanked the secretary profusely for his help, and he smiled kindly and went back to his desk. Peach and I went to the grad secretary's office. By that time I fully expected to find that she had left for the day, or sent Form 8d to Geneva via carrier pigeon, or accidentally burned it. But lo, she was in her office and she had the form. She showed me the line where the GC needed to sign, saying that the department waived the print copy requirement. It was right next to the conspicuously blank line where I needed Blackwood to sign, saying that he waived his print copy. Funny, that.

Anyway, mirabile dictu, Blackwood and the GC were both in their offices. They graced Form 8d with their signatures, and I verified with the grad secretary that those were really, truly, seriously all the signatures I needed, ever. I'm still not entirely sure what I'm supposed to do with 8d now that it's signed. To be honest, I'm a little conflicted: I don't know whether I want to save it for posterity after all we've been through together, or whether I'd rather turn it in to someone for their files and never see it again.

*Descartes gave the secretary permission to forge his signature sign on his behalf, since he won't be back from Prague and/or Harvard until after the submission deadline.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

wow, fun times. doing it the old fashioned way? also not a picnic. either the thesis printing folks or the thesis binding folks lost a page of mine, which meant that i had to reprint and rebind my own copies. i refused to do so for the library copies, though, so as far as i know, they still have missing pages.