Just been to Lee’s Promotion. Lee is one of our IBTSC students who recently completed his PhD. ‘Promotion’ in this sense is nothing to do with getting a higher paid job; it’s the term for the ceremony when the doctorate is awarded. It’s not like the Viva Voce system in the UK, when candidates sit in a small room with two examiners and answer questions about their thesis. If they are successful, they will receive their degree and celebrate with family and friends at a university graduation ceremony at a later date. Here in the Netherlands the Promotion is a one-stop examination and graduation public event and it lasts for exactly one hour. So, on the morning we caught the bus to the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam and, along with some of Lee’s family and friends, took our seats in the huge auditorium. At exactly 11.45am the procession entered: the Beadle (carrying a mace which tinkled like a bell as she walked); the Dean of Faculty; Lee’s supervisors; Stuart Blythe (IBTSC Rector) and four other academics who formed the PhD Defence Committee; Lee (dressed as required in a tuxedo) and two Candidate’s Assistants (his wife and daughter, dressed in black). They all took their seats on the stage, except Lee who stood behind a lectern. He began the proceedings by presenting a ten-minute introduction to his research, illustrated with newspaper and magazine headlines and photographs on a large screen.
His topic was the responses of Baptists in the USA to the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust during the 1930s and 1940s. After this fascinating introduction it was the turn of the five members of the Defence Committee to comment and ask questions, which Lee answered most capably. Exactly one hour after the starting time, the Beadle walked to the front of the hall and announced ‘Hora Est’. She politely waited for Lee to end his sentence, but apparently this is not always the case! The platform party processed out, conferred and then processed in again to announce that Lee had passed and to award his certificate. The audience members were invited to join the final procession and we all left the auditorium to congratulate the newly promoted doctor. No gowns, hoods, prolonged applause or even strawberries and cream. Just drinks and cake, handshakes and congratulations. Lee has been well and truly promoted, Dutch style. Congratulations Dr Spitzer.