In late March 1976, a gentleman came unannounced to my office on the twelfth floor of the Blalock building. When he ascertained that I was Vivien Thomas, he extended his hand and said, "Congratulations." He introduced himself as George H. Callcott of the University of Maryland at College Park. He then went on to inform me that the College Park administration and a faculty-student committee were recommending me to the university's Board of Regents for the awarding of an honorary degree. I told him he must have the wrong person, that it could not possibly be me, to which he replied, "Oh no, we have the right person, we know who you are." He said I would receive a letter in a few days confirming what he was saying. He said that the recommendation to the Board of Regents was a formality and that he wanted to be the first to congratulate me. He gave me the date of the upcoming meeting of the Board of Regents, saying I would be contacted about arrangements for the ceremony. We talked for about fifteen minutes, during which time he asked if I would like to be addressed as Dr. Thomas. I told him I'd have to wait and see. In leaving he said, "I'll be in touch and after our commencement at College Park you will be Dr. Thomas." A day or two later I received a letter confirming what he had said (see fig. 61).
There was no further communication with Callcott until I received a letter dated April 12, 1976 (see fig. 62). In this letter he expressed embarrassment and sadness in having to report to me that the Board of Regents did not approve the recommendation of the College Park campus that I be awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree. He pointed out that the recommendation had had the unanimous support of the College Park administration and the faculty-student committee.
This news was too much for me to keep to myself, so I decided to show both letters to Dr. Zuidema. When he'd finished reading them he said, "That's too bad, but if it will keep you from feeling too badly about it you had better keep May twenty-first open." He hesitated so long I asked, "For what?" He then told me that Hopkins University was planning to give me an honorary degree. We talked for a few minutes and in the course of the conversation Dr. Zuidema said that there had been "no collusion." Asked if he could be sure of that, he said he could assure me there had been none. Confirmation of this conversation came in a letter