George was an exceptional human being, sensitive, kind, compassionate, smart,funny and warm. I got to know George when he was the dean of studies at Mount Holyoke, and I reported to him as dean of first-year studies. I had already known George in his role as mathematics professor and faculty advisor because I was responsible for assigning advisees to faculty at the time. George was one of those faculty members I could always count on, and his advice to students was always excellent. I trusted him and was thrilled when he became the dean of studies.
Our work together was often focused on difficult situations, dilemmas, student crises and situations. I came to count on George’s quiet and wise counsel. He was clearly a brilliant man, but always down to earth and ready to listen. He respected his staff, and gave us credit continually for the work we did daily. Unlike some administrators, George sought the advice and support of his staff in a way that made us all feel he understood our value. That too is a rare gift for a supervisor, and it served him well. I can think of so many occasions when I would come to see him, and we would chat for far longer than we had planned. Inevitably our conversation shifted to broader questions and philosophical reflection. This was a gift he had too–the ability to broaden any conversation and apply it to life’s bigger and harsher realities. I loved when George’s earnest and serious facial expression shifted to that great smile he had because we saw the humor in whatever it was we were discussing. Such humor was so important given the seriousness of our work, and it was never at the expense of others.
At one point in my time as first-year dean, I received a lovely gift from George. It was a large pictorial book entitled Acts of Light, Poems of Emily Dickinson, and it came at a time when such a book had great meaning for me. It’s just another example of George’s instinctive kindness, his beautiful soul, his way of expressing appreciation for others.
Finally, I knew George in the context of his role as a father. Whenever he mentioned Lee Tae, his eyes lit up. He was also so proud of her through her years at Mount Holyoke, something I got to witness as the first-year dean. I feel grateful to have known George so well during those dean years, and pleased that we had the opportunity to work together. We will also him tremendously, and I am thinking always of how hard this must be for his loving family, for Cheryl and for Lee Tae.