Grade Inflation

I work at a large organization that employs thousands and enrolls many, many thousands more.

Like all such organizations, we have no shortage of vice presidents. If one is good, the thinking must be, ten are better.

There once was a time when being the vice president was good enough. Despite being “good enough,” one might also legitimately aspire to greater things. And the next step up for the vice president was president.

Sadly, there can be but one president.

And so, as a way perhaps to discriminate between the vice presidents who are “very good” and the “really, really good” vice presidents, the title “senior vice president” was coined. Because “really, really good” sounds silly.

Before most anyone but the cynics knew it, there were two senior vice presidents, then three and now a whole gaggle of them.

And, as such things seem to happen, rather quickly the underling peasants took to mimicking their betters.

Everyone wanted a grander, a loftier, a more prestigious title.

This form of adult imprinting quickly trickled down so that, maybe first, associate deans soon became Senior Associate Deans. (And that produced an unfortunate, if sometimes fitting, acronym.) Even people holding temporary positions required title enhancement such as “interim executive director.” And so on.

Recently, someone was hired at the Senior Vice President level. Doubtless well qualified, still one wonders what the individual’s next rung on the career ladder will be named. Executive Senior Vice President?

The other day, the local newspaper column that reports on various people’s career and job changes noted one person whose new position was identified as “Director of First Impressions.”

I believe that is what used to be honorably and respectfully called Receptionist. Shall we assume the Director of First Impressions also supervises a Staff of First Impressionists?

Can they “do” Ed Sullivan? How about John Wayne, pilgrim.

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