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Thursday, May 23, 2013

MrB received his honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Columbia University at yesterday’s commencement ceremony for the class of 2013. He perfected his royal wave in time for the occasion.


The procession on the way in. Photo by George Brandes. Click to see a little video.

My parents and youngest stepdaughter attended the commencement with me. Before we left my apartment for the Columbia campus, my four-year-old nephew was FaceTiming with my parents, as he is wont to do. (Apple gets ’em while they’re young.) They told him, “Uncle Paul is going to be a doctor!” and my nephew immediately asked, “Will he still live with Aunt Wendy?” I’m not sure what his thought process was, but I found it very amusing.

It also reminded me that two of MrB’s fellow honorees, Herbert and Florence Irving — the ones who will be celebrating their 72nd wedding anniversary this year –were joking about doctors at Tuesday night’s celebratory dinner. Herbert said that Florence’s mother had wanted her daughter to marry a rich Jewish doctor. Herbert declared, “Now she has!” Of course, because Florence also received an honorary doctorate, Herbert is married to a rich Jewish doctor too. Somewhere, Florence’s mother is kvelling.

I’m kvelling too!


Fancy Latin degree.

The day was overcast and the university provided ponchos in case of a downpour …


… but the rain held off and the sky brightened just enough to call for sunglasses.


GeorgeB was amused by my silly shades. Photo by George Brandes.

It was exciting to hear Columbia president Lee Bollinger talk about MrB’s achievements.


MrB is standing slightly to the right of center. You can also see him on the big screen in the upper left, listening as Columbia president Lee Bollinger speaks. Photo by George Brandes.

Those include 16 years as managing editor of the Wall Street Journal. During that time, the Journal won 16 Pulitzer prizes. Then, in 2007, MrB became the founding editor of ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news team, which has won two Pulitzer Prizes, including the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to an online news organization. The Journalism School students gave him a big cheer.

MrB got to keep the academic hood you see him receiving from the gentleman to the right in this photo …


Photo by George Brandes.

… and he kept his hat as well. I look forward to wearing that during New York Fashion Week in September.

I enjoyed President Bollinger’s commencement address. I was even inspired to take a note when he said, “Being at a university means never saying ‘Well, that’s just what I believe,’ as if that’s sufficient to end a discussion.” That made me think of Twitter, where people seem to think that the fact that they have opinions means their opinions are facts. Then all of the deans introduced their separate schools in humorous ways and asked President Bollinger to confer degrees on the students en masse. (Most of the students receive their actual diplomas on the schools’ individual Class Days. At dinner, President Bollinger noted that he had shaken thousands of hands and that students nowadays have very firm handshakes. Workers’ comp!) Ronnie Myers, the interim dean of the College of Dental Medicine, might have out-punned the others by referring to “roots,” “extracting” and “wisdom,” as well as the graduates’ excellent oral hygiene.

I don’t remember the deans being so highlarious during my graduation, but there was an awesome protest moment. The facade of Columbia’s Butler Library is inscribed with the names of great male thinkers. The ones on the front of the building are Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Cicero, and Vergil. During my commencement, Laura Hotchkiss Brown — without permission — unfurled an enormous banner, adding the names of seven great female authors: Sappho, Marie de France, Christine de Pizan, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Bronte, Dickinson, and Woolf.


Courtesy Columbia University’s Butler Library. Click for source.

As the New York Times later reported, the banner was removed by security, but “Ms. Brown later gained the support of university officials for the project …” and the banner was reinstalled as part of an exhibition and lecture series in September 1989. Good to see a university living up to its ideals of continued discussion!

Oh, and while MrB is now a doctor, I am a firefighter. During the cocktail hour before dinner on Tuesday, I spotted a floral arrangement starting to smolder due to a too-close votive candle. I patted the tiny fire out, and stood by the flowers giving them the side-eye for a while lest they flare up again. Always alert!

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33 Responses to “I’m Married to a Doctor”

  1. Mary Panjari says:

    Congratulations Mr B! You know I never attended either my Masters nor PhD ceremonies. Reading this is making me wonder why I didn’t . I also never really refer to myself as Dr. I’m not even sure why. Anyway the ceremony looks glorious and I am mad at myself for never wearing that awesome hat!

  2. Samantha says:

    The photos are great. Love the Royal wave! I love the Jewish doctor story too!! I’m SO pleased for you and Paul. Big congrats! Big hugs, Samantha xxxxxx

  3. Congrats to MrB for the honor! This Dr. wore her cap and gown on Sunday, but didn’t enjoy it nearly as much since it’s a twice-yearly gig at my uni. Love that impressive banner too!

  4. Tina says:

    Congratulations DrB! What a great post! I loved what you said about the university. So many of my students seem to think that their opinions are facts. I tell them the first week of class that I don’t care how they feel. It ruffles the freshmen!

  5. Louise says:

    He’s quite the accomplished fellow, your MrB. Your pride and love really shines through in this post. Congratulations, Doctor!

  6. Jess says:

    wow! congrats to MrB!… and to you, for nabbing such an amazing man! 😉

  7. AK says:

    LOVE that story about the banner — and particularly the inclusion of a Latin American writer. Awesome!

    Congrats to MrB!a

    • WendyB says:

      Right? And I didn’t get a good photo of the banner which was behind us…if it happened now, there would be a million photos.

  8. Wow Wendy! That is huge! Mr. B. looks so handsome in his cap and gown.

  9. K-Line says:

    COngrats Mr. B. What a fabulous acknowledgement of your many successes.

  10. Silvergirl says:

    Congrats to DR.B
    How exciting and what a fun day
    Love the package his cap and gown came in

  11. Mardel says:

    Congratulations to Mr. B.. He looks very handsome in his cap and gown! And of course every doctor needs an eagle-eyed firefighter around.

  12. Cara says:

    Woohoo! Way to go Mr. B!! I work at a university, and there is something just so exciting about convocations. I usually hate doing mundane tasks like envelope stuffing, and leave it to the “minions” but I always bulldoze everyone over to do the convocation mailings. Ours is in two weeks, so I’m eagerly anticipating all the excitement!

  13. Terri says:

    Sounds like you saved the day! Congrats to Mr. B. on this well deserved doctorate!

  14. MichRen247i says:

    Congratulations Mr. B! And you to, Wendy! What an accomplishment!

    Last weekend I attended my sister’s graduation from USC…Jimmy Iovine received his honorary doctorate degree and gave an amusing speech! Imagine my SHOCK when he called Dr. Dre up on stage, and Dr. Dre addressed the students and threw in a little rap too! Definitely more interesting than my college graduation, to say the absolute least!

    PS. Can’t wait to see you rocking that hood during NYFW!

  15. That’s fantastic news, congratulations to Mr B! Love your silly shades.

  16. stacy says:

    Ooops, I missed this post completely (though I had the inside scoop!). I saw some pix on Instagram, but I love seeing Paul in a cap and gown. So awesome. You must be a super proud wife! Congratulations to him again!! xo

  17. Julie Marie Matos says:

    Super Congratulations to Paul, Mr. B, and now DR. B !! Very impressive along with so many other great accomplishments. Seriously something to be so proud of.

    Dr. Paul Steiger ~ You are a great iconic figure in our great town of NY !!

    Love to you and Wendy.