How to Address a President
How to Address a Chancellor of a
College/University/University System


Chancellor or President in Academia

—-Official Envelope:
—-—-Dr. (Full Name)
—-—-President / Chancellor

————-Which looks like:
—-————-Official Envelope:
—-————-—-Dr. G. Alexander Heard
——–————-Vanderbilt University

—-————-Official Envelope:
—-————-—-Dr. Mark S. Schlissel
————-—-—-University of Michigan

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Dr. (Surname):

How to Address a Chancellor How to Address a President of a University or College

A University President/Chancellor:
Chancellor (Name), President (Name), or Dr. (Name)?

Should I address our University’s president as a ‘Dr. (Full Name)’ for the ‘President (Full Name)’?
—-– Brian H.

Dear BH:

Chancellor and president are traditionally offices, not ranks that become part of one’s name. The holder is addressed as he or she is normally addressed: ‘Mr./Ms./Dr., etc. (Full Name)’. Then, after the name is identified to be  president of …   or chancellor of…

—-In writing to a university president:
—-—-Dr. (Full Name), (office listed after then name)
—-—-Dr. James E. Ryan, President, The University of Virginia

—-Orally and when referring to the president at institutions where there are many, many doctors – you will see frequent use of ‘president’ as an honorific:
—-—-“Today President Ryan will speak on the topic of….”
—-—-“President Ryan, what do you think about ….”

This is the same pattern as for a dean or chairman (of a department) where each is an office that one holds, departs, and is succeeded by someone else. This is just like in the corporate world, where being president is an office one holds – not a personal rank one receives and keeps as part of one’s name.

– Robert Hickey How to Address a President of a University or College

How to List a University President (or Chancellor) and Spouse on an Invitation?

I am working on a wedding invitation for the child for the president of a university. On official invitations from the university, he and his wife are listed as ‘President and Mrs. John Jones request the pleasure . . .’

Should this private invitation be worded as
—–President and Mrs. (His Full Name)
—–Dr. and Mrs. (His Full Name)
—–President Dr. and Mrs. (His Full Name)

Do you write out ‘Doctor’ on formal invitations or do you use the abbreviation ‘Dr.’?
————– Evelyn Cotton

Dear Ms. Cotton,

On the host line of an invitation I vote for:
—–Dr. John Alexander Jones and Mrs. Jones
—–request the pleasure …

Another option – Dr. and Mrs. John Alexander Jones – is less formal but is useful when the name is long and space becomes an issue.

While the rule is to spell out everything –– the abbreviations Dr., Mr., Mrs., Ms. are used on the most formal of invitations.

Definitely not President Dr. (Name). In the US style, two honorifics are not combined.

University presidents are not typically addressed as President (Surname) outside their official duties.

– Robert Hickey   How to Address a Chancellor How to Address a President of a University or College

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—-—-Couples: Same Sex

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Address Former University President?

How does one address a former University President?
—-—-—-– PM-CA

Dear PM-CA.,
There is no special form of address for a former university president. On an envelope, in conversation, or on a place card, they go back to whatever they were before serving – which is most likely Dr. (Name). 

In a full introduction he or she could be identified in two ways: as the President of XYZ University from 1998 to 2006; or as the 18th President of XYZ University.  I like either of those better than describing your guest as former.  Fomer sounds so has been.

– Robert Hickey


How to Address a Former Chancellor?

How does one address a former chancellor of a state university?

————– Agnes Martin

Dear Ms. Martin,
A former chancellor goes back to whatever form of address he or she was entitled to before serving as chancellor. Typically:
—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr. (Full Name) in writing
—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr. (Surname) in conversation

There is only one chancellor at a time. It’s not respectful to the current office holder to address predecessors with the forms of address reserved for the current office holder.

If you want to identify the person as a former chancellor – e.g., in a document or in a program … identify him or her after his or her name:
—-—-The 12th Chancellor of XYZ University
—-—-Chancellor of XYZ University, 1999-2008
—-—-Chancellor, 1999-2008

I prefer any of these to ‘former Chancellor’.  Former can sound so has been.

If this sort of thing comes up often, I cover the forms of address for every type of academic official – dean, Dr. professor, etc. – in my book.

– Robert Hickey

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, if you don’t see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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