Headmaster | President

How to Address the Headmaster of a School
How to Address the President of a School

My children attend a private catholic high school. The president of the school always refers to himself & introduces himself as ‘President (name)’.   This just doesn’t feel proper to me. If I were in his role I would say ‘I am Andy Wilson, president of Regina High School’, instead of, ‘I am President Andy Wilson.’

————– PW

Dear PW,  How to Address the President of a School

I agree with you. Here is why:

—-#1) It’s a basic rule one never gives oneself a rank or honorific. Thus, one never says to another adult ‘Hello, I am Mr. (Surname)’. So introducing yourself as “President Andy Wilson’ is odd.  Better would would be ‘I am (Full Name), president of …’.

There are exceptions. When a physician entering an exam room, he/she will say ‘Hello, I am Dr. Smith.’  This is reassuring to the patient – sitting in a backless paper gown – to know it’s the physician entering. Teachers introduce themselves as ‘Hello I am Mr./Ms./Mrs. Smith’ to their classes to indicate to the children (who are not their peers) how they prefer to be addressed. When it’s informative, it works.


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

However, ….

—-#2) President is rarely used as an honorific.

While we hear the President of the United States referred to in the press as President (Name) in the media … this is not a form of address.
The POTUS is addressed as ‘Mr. President’.  The President’s name is not used in direct oral or written address. The President, if he were to introduce himself would do so like anyone else – as ‘(Full Name)’.

I’ve never encountered a corporate president who wanted to be addressed as  ‘President (Name)’ rather than ‘Mr./Dr./etc. (Name)’.

Presidents of universities are addressed in writing as ‘Dr. (Full Name)’ and identified after their name as ‘President of ABC University’. It’s possible someone would say orally (and informally) ‘the President will be here in five minutes’  or ‘President may I show you to your seat?’  But formally the university president is directly addressed as ‘Dr./Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Name)’. This president would also introduce himself as ‘(Full Name)’.

#3) Headmaster is used as an honorific in oral conversation or in a salutation. Use this form:

—-—-Dr./Mr./Ms. (Full Name)
—-—-Headmaster (or President)
—-—-(Name of School)

—-Conversation or Salutation:
——–Headmaster (Surname)
—-Dr./Mr./Ms. (Surname)

—-#4) All this said, if he wants to be addressed as President Wilson … I would call him ‘President Wilson’. It is his name and it is his right to be addressed as he wishes to be. But it’s odd.

– Robert Hickey

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Related Links:—-—-—-Principal—-—-—-Headmaster—-—-—-President College University—-—-—-President of a School—-—-—-Chancellor—-—-—-Professor


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#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)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or 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, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”