PhD at University of Chicago wraps up degree 34 years later!

Historians in the News

Doctoral students are known for taking a long time to finish their dissertations, but one of this spring's University of Chicago graduates broke the curve and then some.

Thirty-four years after beginning his graduate studies in history, Mark Horowitz finally received his doctorate Friday, his thinning gray hair tucked under a black velvet graduation beret.

His family, especially his wife, Barbi, who endured more than three decades of listening to arcane facts about King Henry VII of England, had long ago stopped rolling their eyes when Horowitz talked about completing his degree.

So Horowitz, 58, lured them to the Hyde Park campus Friday using the ruse that he was delivering a speech to history scholars.

As they walked to the campus quad, Horowitz diverted his wife's eyes from students in graduation garb by pointing out the campus' gothic architecture. One by one, others arrived: his two children, four childhood friends, his parents, and his brother and sister-in-law.

Horowitz gathered them together and spilled the secret. "Barbi, I want to tell you one thing in front of everyone," he said. He reached into a bag and pulled out his cap and gown.

Barbi began crying and—her legs shaking—grabbed onto her husband's shoulders. "Oh my God. You really did this," she whispered in his ear. He nodded yes.

"You did it in record time—four decades," said his daughter Whitney, 27, giving her father a thumbs-up.

During that time, Horowitz raised a family and built a business in marketing and consulting, but he never abandoned his research on Henry VII, the English monarch who established the Tudor dynasty. He lugged history books on business trips, transferred dozens of boxes of documents every time he moved to a new home, and published several journal articles on English history....
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