Even in that circumstance, when we were doing a class together and developing an idea together, an educational idea together, we did not as a matter of course go in each other’s classroom. But I went to one of his 301 classes for a reason I can’t think of now except maybe to look at the room in the Alumni House on Main Street there, a good seminar room. One of the things I learned from him was a kind of seamless movement from apparent idle conversation as students would start filtering into the classroom and take their seats and they would exchange some comments with Bob. Bob would pick up on these comments and pretty soon a conversation would arise as more and more students were coming into the room. And then, sort of magically, one would be aware, “Oh, the class has started,” and their conversation would just move and I thought, “That’s really good.” And so I learned how to do that. Then I was impressed too by the formality of his teaching, how even as it proceeded from innocent conversation into a consideration of the text, how formal he got once he got into the text. They started then locating passages in the text and, “What does this one mean?” “And now, Mr. — , would you take the next section and explain what Hobbes was thinking about?” I don’t know if it was surprising to me at the time or whether in retrospect, looking back on that, I felt it was surprising because I never achieved that level of formality myself.

Craig Brown,
Former Political Science Professor