German law in the past prohibited foreign Ph.D.s from using the title “Dr.”
American Ian T. Baldwin, a Cornell-educated professor of ecology in eastern Germany, received a summons from his local police chief in early 2008.
“He wanted to know how I planned to plead to the charge of Titelmissbrauch,” or misuse of titles, recalled Prof. Baldwin, who directs the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. “I couldn’t even pronounce it.”
Several other American academics were caught up in the investigation, triggered by an anonymous whistleblower.
Public outcry prompted a change to the law, but after his close shave, Prof. Baldwin still doesn’t use his title in Germany.If I were Professor Baldwin, I probably would have guffawed aloud - but then again, I've never faced a police chief in a foreign country...