A brief memory of Bob Griffith. I was almost out AU’s door when Bob arrived at AU, first as a provost whose moral compass pointed to the impossibility of doing a good job under intolerable conditions, and then into the history department as a colleague. As Richard Breitman suggested in his trenchant statement, the department had not asked for Bob’s services, and when AU refused to honor a previous commitment to appoint a US diplomatic historian in my place—because we just received Bob—I first nursed a virus of grievance. The virus died not because the department made the fine appointment of Max Paul Friedman, but because no trivial personal soreness could survive the experience of knowing the wonderful human being, Bob Griffith.
Over recent years, I mostly dropped into the department to pick up obsolete mail, but I always checked to see if Bob was in. When I rounded his office threshold, he immediately dropped whatever he was doing and with that delightful, plump smile greeted me as if I were a lifelong friend. That wasn’t so, but he always made me think it was.
History Department faculty, 1965-1998
Dept. Chair, 1981-1990