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Re: Interesting information in article on Feathered Dinosaurs at the ROM

Mary Kirkaldy <MKIRKALDY@aol.com> wrote:
"Stephen and Sylvia are finally getting their doctorates, honorary ones from
the California Academy of Sciences, the institute that owns the original
Deinonychus trio."

Mary, who didn't know that the California Academy of Sciences has a Ph.D.
granting program

This is news to me. Traditionally, we are a research institution with a large specimen collection, and (except during the current transition period) featuring a combined planetarium, aquarium, and natural history museum for the public to experience. We offer field trips, lectures, and classes. In spite of the name, I do not think of the California Academy of Sciences as a university which offers a degree program. As a docent for the past nine years who has also taken and taught classes at the Cal Academy, I should be very surprised to learn that such programs exist here. Rigorous on site California Academy of Sciences docent training courses can qualify a trainee for college credit at another institution, San Francisco State University if I recall correctly, when additional paperwork and fees are submitted.

The report is particularly puzzling in light of the fact that we have no vertebrate paleontology department, and that our executive director and senior scientist, Dr. Patrick Kociolek, has publicly announced that consequently there can be no justification for dinosaur displays in our 370 million dollar "reimagined" natural history museum when it opens to the public in 2008. (See a general outline for the new museum at http://www.calacademy.org/geninfo/newsroom/releases/2001/project_release0401.html).

From my vantage point it is apparent that current staff members are not up
to date on developments in vertebrate paleontology. What sort of Ph.D could we confer to Stephen and Sylvia Czerkas, whose specialty is dinosaur science and art?

Could it be that the report is not 100% accurate? Perhaps we awarded the Czerkas couple with honorary trusteeships or fellowships, or perhaps members of our staff persuaded another institution to award them with the honorary degree.

"Dino Guy" Ralph W. Miller III
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
proud member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

Send comments on the plans for our 2008 museum excluding dinosaurs to: