Might I join Bob’s colleagues at American University as a Bob-admirer from the University of Maryland. Bob served as our Dean of Arts and Humanities during the time that I was a department chair (Women’s Studies) there. It was an honor; it was also an incredible learning experience. Bob’s leadership was based on imagination, vision, and uncanny ability to think outside the box. He arrived at Maryland just as the University was experiencing budget cuts–at the time, a new experience for us. It must have been a disappointment that just as soon as he arrived, he was tasked with cutting our budgets–severely. He was amazing, though: no easy “across-the-board” cuts for him! Rather he put us through a reorganizing process and–amazingly, got everyone to agree with him by the genuinely humane manner in which he worked closely with the individuals who would be most affected by the changes.
No one was fired, but more than that, everyone affected wound up in settings thatwere actually more appropriate and congenial to their research and teaching interests. From that moment on, I assigned him the role of my mentor. I’m not certain if he knew it (although he gave generously of his time and advice), but I listened and learned from him. One thing especially that I assume members of the AU History department also appreciated was his understanding of the special place of the Humanities and his ability to articulate it to the higher administration. We, as a college, knew we had a defender. And given the astuteness of the ideas he put forward, we discovered we had a very powerful defender. We were sorry when he left Maryland to go to AU, but by staying in the D.C. area we still had someone to go to and from whom we could continue to seek advice. His loss now leaves us bereft of a special leader…and friend.
Claire G. Moses
Professor, Department of Women’s Studies
University of Maryland