Memories of Joe Platt, Page 2

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Andrew M. Kaye '69

Lead Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton, currently supporting the National Technical Means Roadmap project at the NRO

My name is Andy Kaye, BS/Math, class of 1969.  I have many terrific memories of Joe (& Jean) — folks songs and wooden puzzles in his living room, swimming during lunch hour, and so on — but the one I would like to share is:

After Joe had retired as President and was back to teaching, I was coming on campus to do recruiting for the company I worked for in Santa Barbara, and I invited Joe and Jean to join my wife and me for dinner at the Indian Hill restaurant.  In the midst of dinner, Joe gave a start — his pager had gone off — this was in the days before cell phones.  He excused himself, made a call, came back to the table, and said, “I’ll be back in time for dessert.”  Then he left.  When he came back a while later, he was shaking his head and chuckling — as he so often did.  One of his freshman had gotten stuck while doing a make-up lab, and since Joe had given his students his pager number and his permission to call him, the student had called — and, of course, Joe had responded.  He — retired Founding President of Harvey Mudd College, and widely-respected physicist — had gotten up from his dinner with us to help a freshman who was stuck while doing a make-up lab.  That’s the Joe Platt that I remember.

Bob Browning

I am a non-matriculating member of the Class of ’67, attending from the fall of 1963 through the spring of ’65. In those days, the College was small enough that Dr. Platt was a daily presence. But, his involvement in the life of the College was particularly brought home to me when, one night as I was hosting my weekend “Six to Niner” radio show on the college station, I put up a shoutout to anyone who was listening, thinking that everybody was off having a weekender somewhere other than on the campus. It was not unexpected that I only got one call-in, but that turned to surprise when the caller was Dr. Platt! I must say that thereafter I toned down my double entendres!

M. J. Davis

We will not forget Joe Platt’s kindness at the saddest time in our lives, in 1971.  Our son Tory had completed his freshman year and joined a fellow Mudder in touring Europe that summer.  Tory was lost in a whitewater boating accident, his body never found.  Joe’s words of support are etched in our memories.

We are so grateful that he was allowed the time to make a difference to so many.  He was a blessing to all of us.

Robert Luke (Bobby) '65

In the fall of 1961, I may have been the only unhappy freshman at Cornell University. I had not been accepted to the Harvey Mudd College class of ’65 because my western New York high school principal had not completed the application; he could not understand my preference for that “unknown college way out there with the funny name”.

That winter, after being accepted as a transfer, I found myself in the office of the director of Cornell’s prestigious engineering physics program. Noting that I was second in the class, he was bewildered and annoyed that I was considering leaving. He recited Dr. Platt’s 1961 resume, pausing after each entry to look up at me and say “So What”!

I had become quite content at Cornell, but some combination of the lousy Finger Lakes Region weather and his arrogance directed me to HMC. I remember thinking that this Dr. Platt sounded like a pretty good guy. Except for proposing to my wife a few years later, transferring from Cornell to HMC was the best decision of my life. Thank you Dr. Platt for your central role in creating an unparalleled undergraduate experience.

Dennis P Donohoe '77

I was a freshman at HMC in the fall of 1973. For my freshman project, our team searched for information in the campus library. The main library in LA had some good references but we figured we couldn’t get there since none of us had a car. Our adviser said that we could borrow Joe Platt’s car to go to LA. I was astounded that the President of the college would lend his car to freshmen. But that was Joe Platt. One of a kind. A gentleman, a scholar and a great man. He also filled it up with gas for us before we picked it up. Only at HMC and only with Joe.