I arrived at home after a fantastic weekend in New York. Since my cell phone had run out of battery while I was still at the JFK airport, I was only able to check my email after I got home. The first message in my mailbox:
Subject: Professor Savas Parastatidis
From: Paul Watson
Paul informed me that the School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, has elected me to the position of visiting Professor. I can’t find the words to express the magnitude of my appreciation for this honor.
Even from my early teens, I knew I wanted to follow a career in Computing Science. At the time I wanted to become a professor and teach at a university. I was given the opportunity to work with many clever students while at Newcastle University. Most importantly, I had the pleasure and honor of doing research close to some great minds and amazing people. Paul Watson, my PhD supervisor, mentor, boss, and great friend, is at the top of the list of people who have influenced me and helped in my professional development!!!
In his message, Paul also made a note of a moment during my first year as a PhD student that I will never forget.
In Greece, most professors want to be worshiped, they adore the power that their title might imply to society. As a result, I was accustomed to referring to them using “professor” followed by their last name.
There is daily tradition at the School of Computing Science in Newcastle that brings all the postgraduate students and research, teaching, technical, support staff together for coffee/tea. Even though I drunk neither (they actually installed a hot chocolate machine at some point :-), it was a great occasion that included many fun conversations (including Lindsay Marshall‘s “goat” jokes :-)
In one such gathering, I addressed Professor Brian Randell (Wikipedia entry), one of the Computing Science’s all-time greats, as “Professor Randell” while waiting in the coffee line. To my surprise, he asked me out where he explained to me in private that at the School there was no need for formalities; using his first name was enough.
It was a very humble moment, one amongst those that I have been treasuring and will continue to do so as a professional. One of the many that I remember from the School of Computing Science in Newcastle, including the fact that Xenophon Belaskas was the only cricket player of Greek origin to have played in a test cricket match :-) (oh the things that one learns during one’s PhD research work from their supervisor :-)
And in true sign of the times, Paul tweeted the news of my appointment :-)
“Pleased and proud that Savas Parastatidis @savasp has been appointed Visiting Professor in our School of Computing Science at Newcastle.”
My sincere thanks to all those at the University who honored me by electing me to the position of Visiting Professor. I will do my uttermost to proudly represent my School and the University in my professional and personal lives.