Thomas A. Bailey: Anecdote told about him

Over the weekend, I attended a conference in honor of David M. Kennedy, who was the first reader on my dissertation and has remained a role model and mentor. (You can find a pdf of the conference program by clicking on the image.) It was in the nature of the conference that a lot of the anecdotes wouldn’t travel well. But here’s one. The gentleman telling this story joined the Stanford History department as a graduate student in the days of Thomas A. Bailey:

About fifteen minutes before my class started, on one of those sunny Palo Alto days, I decided to sit out on the library steps and catch some rays. Along comes Thomas Bailey, who harrumphs and says to me, “Mr. —, what are you doing?”

“Well, Professor Bailey,” I said, “I have to teach in fifteen minutes, and fifteen minutes isn’t enough time to really get anything done, so I thought I would enjoy the weather.”

“Mr. —, [raising accusatory index finger] if you don’t learn to use fifteen minutes, you will never get a PhD.”

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