DEAR MISS MANNERS: I will be completing my graduate studies during the next college semester, and I'm unsure as to what the proper etiquette is regarding the mailing of announcements.
I would like to share this accomplishment with the professors who guided me during my undergraduate career, but I am uncertain as to what would be appropriate.
The college I attended during my undergraduate studies is a small liberal arts college in a very tight-knit community. Should I send one to the department chair to share with every professor? Or do I mail one announcement to each individual professor? Is it even appropriate to send an announcement?
GENTLE READER: Where, on a mere announcement, is any acknowledgment that those professors contributed to your academic success? Wouldn't sending one serve as well for someone whose message is, "Nyah, nyah, you thought I couldn't do it"?
Even Miss Manners is not so cynical as to think that graduation announcements are ever sent for the latter purpose. But she wonders what their purpose actually is. Those friends and relatives who would be interested to know of the achievement most likely already do. And the vulgar notion that announcements serve as invoices for presents is mistaken. Presents are always voluntary; all that is due is a letter of congratulation.
By "sharing (your) accomplishment," Miss Manners hopes you mean that you want to express your gratitude for the professors' contributions (which, incidentally, you might want again as you explore the job market in their field). An announcement can accompany -- but does not substitute for -- a letter of thanks. That is what you should write, either to each professor or to the chairman, naming those individuals who helped you.