Sunday, August 2, 2009

To my mentor, the mentor of many

I am starting this blog because I am realizing the many people Dr. Reed has touched and inspired. It was amazing for me to read Curt Bonk's blog and realize that 20 years ago a scene at West Virginia University mirrored the one I knew at New York University.

Professor Bonk writes:

In effect, he took me under his wing to help me succeed. He showed me how a more advanced faculty member should treat younger ones. And it was not just me who he welcomed in; Mike Reed went out of his way for anyone at any time. Students often waited in a cue outside his door. But again, they were his children, so they rarely had to wait too long.

It is my hope that this blog can be used to unite the many people (students, colleagues, and friends) who have lived better lives due to Dr. Reed's example and kindness. Together, we can be his legacy.


Jonathan deHaan said...

Like others have said, Dr. Reed's voice has been in my head all week.

I remember long conversations about the difficulty of balancing research, teaching and service. I'm now a prof in Japan, and constantly struggle with the pressures and pleasures of these roles. Often, when I'm overwhelmed, Dr. Reed's spirit and words come to mind and the weight is lifted.

Dr. Reed shepherded me so kindly in my Ph.D – I always felt like he went above and beyond what a prof needed to do with a student. I feel so fortunate that Dr. Reed helped me finish my dissertation after he and I had both left NYC. I know I would not have been able to finish my coursework or the dissertation without his expertise and remarkable sacrifices of time and effort.

As many have said, I am here because he was there.

It's so strange and awful not to have Dr. Reed on the other side of an email or phone call.

I really feel that he left us too early. He had mentioned to me a few times that he wanted to travel in Asia after he retired, and was looking forward to visiting me in Japan. I'm so sorry we weren't able to see him over here.

I remember his deep love for his dogs. I still have dissertation drafts spotted with puppy prints.

My 3 month-old son's name is Noah William. Both my and my father's middle names are William, but I also though it was fitting to honor Dr. Reed. My wife and I had hoped the two “Williams” would be able to meet some day.

It was so wonderful to see him in last June, and we have some lovely pictures with him:

and of course this is what I wish I could do now:

Dr. Reed, thank you so very much. I miss you.


Ruth said...

Sitting down with Dr. Reed in his office at N.Y.U. for the first time was both intimidating and intriguing. I was applying for the doctoral program. As we talked, it seemed that he was taking his measure of me, and I hoped I would stand up to his scrutiny. Meanwhile, I wondered about him as well. The precarious piles of books and papers were certainly typical, if not stereotypical, for a professor’s office. But what was the story behind the large flags on the wall? And what could possibly explain the presence of so many different coffee-making devices in one office?

That first meeting ended conventionally, in a “looking forward to working with you” kind of way. However, virtually all future meetings with Dr. Reed would end with him saying, “Let’s go smoke.” That meant a trip outside to the large concrete trashcan in front of the Education building, where Dr. Reed would smoke and we would talk. It was a testament to his popularity that so many of us willingly inhaled so much second-hand smoke during these long conversations with him. He was always interested in learning about us, as people as well as students, and he would talk to us about some of the things that were important to him, like his dogs Pete and Nick and the long walks they all took together around the lake near his home.

As far as academics, Dr. Reed frequently reminded us that it was all about getting the dissertation, “the big book report,” done. The program he helped design guided us through learning to analyze the literature, through our introduction to statistics, through our research proposals, through learning to stand up in front of a group and talk about our work. Any paper received back from Dr. Reed was marked with coffee stains as well as with copious corrections in red. I was always a little embarrassed. How could I have left out so many commas, and put so many others where they didn’t belong? But as generous as he was with his red pen, he was more generous with his encouragement. We could get it done, and we would get it done. He would help us. It was that simple.

I will remember Dr. Reed in large and small ways. I will think of him when I run a repeated measures analysis, of which he told us he was particularly fond, or when I use not one, but two, coffee bags to make what he considered a passable cup of coffee, in a pinch. When I take time to mentor a student, I will call to mind Dr. Reed’s consistent patience and availability. And when I finally finish that big book report, I will thank him for helping me make a strong start on that path, and I will miss very deeply being able to share the moment with him.

hyuksoon song said...

Even though it has been two weeks since Dr. Reed had left us, I still cannot believe that he really left us. As everyone said, he was my best teacher. He always encouraged me and gave me opportunities to be trained as a scholar.

His picture at this blog makes me miss him so much. He might have been smoking in front of East building when Christine took this picture. I know a few things that he liked… Winston cigarette, Oren’s coffee with two Splendas, and doggies… Even though I don’t smoke, it was a great time to chat with Dr. Reed when he was smoking and it was fun to buy one more coffee for my professor.

I cannot forget his classes. His statistics and methodology class is one of my best classes in NYU. He showed me what a professor should feed a student. If I will be a teacher or professor someday, I will follow him as a role model.

He said he would travel after his retirement. He traveled too far away, too soon. I will not forget him. Thank you very much, Dr. Reed!