I met Bob in the spring of 2009 when I was applying to graduate programs. A few days after I received my acceptance letter into the PhD program at AU, Bob called me to congratulate and welcome me to the program, and to encourage me to come visit the university and meet with him. An hour after I informed him that I wasn’t sure how I could finance the trip from Massachusetts to D.C., he called me back to let me know he and the department would cover my expenses.
When I arrived on campus, he immediately welcomed me into his office and answered my many questions. He led me around Battelle, introducing me to the faculty members with similar research interests who were there that day, and then we returned to his office. At the time I was living in Northampton, Mass., about 10 minutes from where Bob lived when he taught at UMass Amherst. We talked about the many virtues of life in Western Mass. and he recommended I look at housing in Takoma Park, as the neighborhood has a similar feel to Northampton. I felt very blessed to have a fellow “Happy Valley”-ite to answer my questions about moving to the District.
A few months later, I encountered some administrative trouble through the university. The first person I turned to was Bob. He did everything he could to help me and, again, introduced me in person to other people in the college administration who he thought could be of assistance. When I would run into him around campus after that, he always checked in with me to see how the situation was progressing and offered what he could to help.
I took for granted that Bob Griffith would be a permanent fixture of my PhD program at American, and for that I am sorry. I wish I could have gotten to know him better, and been able to reminisce further about his time in Massachusetts. But I will always remember his smiling face, his positivity, and his willingness to be helpful and supportive. Even though he will only be there for a short portion of my time at AU, I will always remember him as one of the most important figures in my graduate education.