I feel so honored and privileged to write this letter. You have been there for me through moments big and small and have played such a significant role in my life. What started off as an intellectual mentorship turned into a deep and meaningful friendship that I truly cherish. I feel this is a testament to your role in the classroom. I feel so lucky to have met a professor who cared so deeply not only about their material and classwork but their students’ well-being. I look back at those first classes I took with you and I remember how intimidated I was to say something wrong or foolish. But overtime I learned that I could participate and not feel out of place and that though you were quick to correct, you were also quick to allow people to form their own mind and opinions. Throughout my teaching career and life I’ve tried to find this delicate balance that you walked so well; to guide and stand up for what is right, but also allow people to reach their own conclusions.
I will never forget those classes and the environment they fostered. In some ways I feel like the material we covered doesn’t even matter (of course it still does), but you taught so much more than the class content. You taught me how to think. I remember coming home or sitting over the weekend and wrestling with these questions we discussed in class and thinking of how you or other students would respond to my ideas. I learned to think critically and analyze texts in a much deeper and significant way. Just as importantly, I learned to look at my own beliefs and why I actually believed in them in the first place. I had to defend and come to terms with why I thought the things that I did and seriously think about if there was room to change them.
Besides being an intellectual and academic light to follow, you have also been so important to my life outside of the classroom. Many people have told me how amazed they are by your ability to understand other people. I’ve personally seen it in action when you’ve met someone for the first time and immediately hit the nail on the head about what feels like half their life story! In other words, I’ve always respected your ability to understand and recognize other people and feel so honored to maintain this relationship with someone I respect so deeply. I greatly appreciate the amount of care you have shown for me years after I’ve been in the classroom.
You’ve taught me how to think and how to learn, but also how to be a better person. I feel so indebted and have so much gratitude for what you have given me both intellectually and personally. Your presence on campus and in the classroom will be sorely missed. I wish you continued rigorous intellectual engagement and long-lasting health! I can’t wait to continue discussing hard challenges, academic debates, and life in general with you. From the bottom of my heart I send you my deepest thanks. Your impact on my life has been immeasurable and it has been quite the challenge to try and put all of this into words. Thank you for changing so many people’s lives, mine included, and I hope you enjoy retirement!
With much love,