Ten short years of knowing Chuck have provided me with an endless storehouse of wonderful memories and stories. Below, I share just one that I learned after his passing. It requires no preface:
Recently, I was engaged in a conversation with a graduate student. The student had a difficult first semester in his PhD program – not at Columbia – and was considering transferring elsewhere or abandoning graduate school altogether. Being a very gifted student, it would have been a pity to lose him as a future social scientist. He contacted faculty at a number of universities in the northeast in hopes of meeting with them, discussing research, and making up his mind on whether to remain on the academic track. Many didn’t bother to respond or emailed a cut-and-paste job indicating they were too busy to meet.
Except for Chuck. Chuck arranged to see the student in the early evening outside of office hours. Chuck recounted his own doubts during his graduate school days. He gave the student lucid research advice. Chuck also profusely apologized to the student for not having his usual energy level; he had chemotherapy earlier that day.
This story speaks volumes about Chuck and his endless capacity to give and inspire. We cannot hope to replicate Chuck’s boundless energy, humility, and prolific output. But we can be his legacy by emulating his democratic and generous nature to students.
University of Texas at Austin