I had to smile on reading what so many others have written, that Bob Griffith was the reason they chose to attend American University. He was the reason I chose to go there myself as an undergraduate some years ago; his website made it obvious how much he cared about his students and their education, and I knew I would benefit from having someone so thoughtful as an adviser.
I couldn’t have guessed how much I would come to benefit from that association over the years. It’s no exaggeration at all to say that without Bob’s help and support, I would not be a historian now. Certainly, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go on to graduate school, which is such an incredibly rich and wonderful experience, a precious gift that I will be forever grateful for. I’d had some problems in my personal life that interrupted my undergraduate education. If things had been a little bit different, I probably never would have finished my BA. But Bob’s encouragement helped me to see that it was possible – he never nagged, but I don’t think he’d have ever given up until I tried again! – and then, when I did, it was his letter of support that got me the second chance I needed. He believed in me at a time when I wasn’t sure if I could believe in myself. Everything I’ve been able to do academically goes back to that, and the fact that he was willing to write in support of my efforts at a few key points.
We kept in touch by email long after I’d left AU — he was always one of my favorite correspondants, because his optimism was so infectious, and I only hope he got as much enjoyment out of our exchanges as I did. No one could ask for a kinder, more generous friend. And I know he was this and more to many other people as well. I’ll miss him terribly.