Anna Kim '86

It might have been orientation week when the Platts hosted a sing along of Harvey Mudd themed songs. The fun of the nonsenseness, nerdiness and warmth that the Platts brought that night convinced me that I had picked the right school, not just academically but socially.

My heart goes out to the wonderful Platt family.

Rick Levin E74/75, P12

Irvine, CA

Wow, the memorial service for Joe was extraordinary and I was honored to be there.

I found many of the memories that you posted to be quite touching. The note from M. J. Davis regarding our classmate Tory was particularly poignant. Here are a couple of memories of Joe that I’ve always held dear:

At a holiday reception at Garret House, probably in 1978 or 1979, Joe and Jean remembered me and, with great joyful laughter, Joe reminded all within earshot of the summer that I used to ride my motorcycle across their driveway to park behind East. Joe knew and cared for us all despite our youthful indiscretions.

The photo of Joe Platt in our ’74 yearbook was classic Joe, in a robe next to the pool and that unforgettable grin. I stayed the next year for the Master of Engineering program and roomed with Don Simkins. Don was quite an athletic swimmer, but would often return from a swim telling how he had again been soundly trounced by Joe. It made us smile then, and the memory of it still brings joy.

Thanks for putting on such a moving and joyous affair.

Donald S. Remer

Oliver C. Field Professor of Engineering Economics

I first met Joe Platt when he interviewed me for a position at HMC in April 1975. I knew the college was having some financial challenges so I asked him about the financial health of the college. After a pause, he said, “We are broke.” After another pause, he said, “But not any broker than we have ever been.” Joe was always honest, straightforward, and did it with a sense of humor.

I received an offer and accepted it. When we showed up in Claremont in September 1975, I took my wife and two young daughters who were one and three years old on a tour of the campus.  When we walked by the pool, Joe and Jean jumped out of the pool and ran over to us soaking wet. Joe said, ”It is a pleasure to welcome the Remers to Claremont.”  We had just joined the Mudd Family and have been a part of that wonderful family for 37 years.

At Joe’s 90th birthday party on campus, I walked up to say hello. He was talking to two other people. He immediately introduced me by telling them where I worked before I came to Mudd, where I got my degrees, and my field of research interest. Amazingly, at the age of 90, he still remembered significant details about me.

Steve Hinch '73/'74

In the summer of 1971, after completing my sophomore year at Harvey Mudd, I was working at the college on an NSF-funded project to develop a computer simulation of smog in the San Gabriel Valley. One day I got an urgent call from the Office of the President that Joe Platt’s daughter, Beth, was arriving at Los Angeles Airport but Joe wasn’t available to pick her up.  Could I do so in his place?  Fortunately I was available, and that started a 2-year period where I served as Joe’s driver whenever he needed to be dropped off or picked up at a local airport.  Once or twice a month I would head off to LAX or Ontario Airport to meet him, often late in the evening.  We had many great conversations, most of which I can only vaguely recall, but I’ll never forget how friendly and easy to talk to he was.  I naively thought that’s the way all college presidents were until one day I got a call from the President’s Office at another of the Claremont Colleges.  I had been recommended by Joe to drive this other president to a meeting in San Diego.  The trip was enlightening in a couple of ways.  First, unlike the nondescript Dodge sedan favored by Joe, I was driving an expensive, hulking Cadillac.  Second, we made the whole trip in silence both ways.  That trip underscored for me how special a person Joe was.  He will be missed.

Denise Rust '79

Parent of Karen Heinselman 2012. Palo Alto, Ca

“It ain’t the money, It’s the principal of the thing.” My fondest memory of Joe Platt is of him singing that song.

There’s more than the chorus to this song, does anyone have all the words? Something about when Johnny was a young man…

Perhaps an entire ballad? I count myself lucky to have arrived at Harvey Mudd College the final year he was president.

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.

Richard Silver '62

I came to HMC in 1958 as a member of the second class. I was spoiled: Joe Platt was accessible and friendly, even while wielding the necessary authority of the president of a college. It was then being formed and tested, but would rise to greatness under his leadership. Late in our freshman year, Bob Styerwalt ’62 and I were able to get time in his home with a tape recorder, and recorded a batch of his songs, which I later learned have become very well-known among HMC friends and alumni. I recently digitized the recording and made a music CD from it.

After I had been working a few years as an engineer at Procter & Gamble I was able to recruit among the rising HMC graduates, and also sponsored two Engineering Clinic projects. It has been a privilege to know Joe Platt and to celebrate his life among us. It really “ain’t the money – it is the principle of the thing.”

Emily Gleason

Ann Arbor, MI

Dear Jean,

How saddened I am by the news of Joe’s passing. What an extraordinary man and, above all, what a very fine person Joe was. I well remember Joe’s beautiful bird photos, among his many unique accomplishments. Alan and I felt very blessed to have known you and Joe during our Rochester years.

With sympathy and happy memories,

Mack Gilkeson

Emeritus prof of engineering

In earlier memorial remarks that I submitted, I left out some important specifics, which may be useful documentation for Joe as he reaches the Pearly Gates.

Recently, Harvey Mudd College, with a trio of engineering faculty members, has been awarded the prestigious Gordon prize for 2012, honoring the Engineering Clinic and the HMC design program. Joe Platt’s contribution, of course, was significant to the creation of HMC’s Clinic program five decades ago.

During the early 1960s, while working on program development, lowly associate professors Alford and Gilkeson were invited to periodic meetings with Joe Platt and his Dean, Gene Hotchkiss, at which time arguments for and critical questions about a then revolutionary program were fully aired. Then, when it came time for funding Clinic development, Joe and George McKelvey successfully acquired the necessary money for the start of the venture. Another example of Joe Platt’s effective leadership.

John Murray '61


In September 1957 Joe welcomed the first HMC class of forty-eight freshmen. Most of us were moving away from home for the first time and he made us feel comfortable and part of a family.

At the 1957 Christmas party Joe played his guitar and lead us in songs from his unique “songbook.”

The president of the college taught a physics section.

He encouraged me to pursue a career in business and probably helped me secure my first job.

He greeted me as an old friend whenever we saw each other.

Joe had a continuing interest in my career and family including sincere condolences when my wife Barbara died suddenly.

He welcomed my current wife, Margi, and made her feel like she had always belonged to the HMC family.

Joe continued his legendary music by leading a campfire sing along at the 2004 alumni weekend.

He was pleased and excited when we were able to visit him during the Founding Class’s 50th reunion and present him with reunion gifts.

Katie Cervenka

Rice University, Houston, TX

I am heartbroken to learn of Joe’s passing. I worked with Joe in the late 1990’s. He was involved with CGU’s School of Education; I worked in development. He was always so generous with his time, and we often had great fun sharing stories. We discovered, after he asked my maiden name, that we were distantly related. I brought him an old scrapbook I had inherited from my Oregonian grandfather – – and sure enough: Platts. He let me borrow an old scrapbook of his – – sure enough: Bashes. Thereafter, he always referred to me as “cousin” with that ever-present twinkle in his eye. Chief among my memories of many Platt kindnesses: Jean and Joe, when I was groggy in the early days of motherhood, brought me the lovely gift of a Jean-made silver spoon, which I cherish to this day. I left California 12 years ago, but I’ve thought often of Jean and Joe with great fondness.

Jonathan Beall '07

Seattle, WA

I have fond memories of the times I saw Dr. Platt, when he would come to our dorm’s “Eastmas” celebration. He’d strum his guitar and lead us in a number of science-based filked versions of various carols (some dating themselves with reference to avoiding the draft), and ending in “It Ain’t the Money.”

Pinky Nelson '72

Bellingham, WA

Here’s a story that I told for Joe’s 90th birthday celebration.

My wife, Susie, was pregnant during my senior year. As her due date approached, we started a pool to see who could get closest to guessing Aimee’s birth date and time. One day Susie got a call at home from President Platt’s office. When Joe got on the phone it turned out he was looking for inside information before he placed his bet—as if Susie would know when the baby would be born!

He didn’t win the contest, but Susie and I both felt—and still feel—lucky to have our lives touched by such a wonderful man. I’ll never forget what he said to me at the graduation ceremony, “We will miss you and your whole darned family.”

What a privilege it was to have occasionally occupied the same time and space as Joe Platt.

Don Davidson

UC Riverside, CA

In 2005, I was relatively new at the college as director of public relations when Joe stopped by my office in Thomas-Garrett Hall and introduced himself. Having worked for five years at Claremont Graduate University in the ’90s, I knew about Joe’s incredible legacy at Mudd and The Claremont Colleges. However, I didn’t know until that moment what a kind, self-deprecating, warm, and genuine man he was.

At the time, I was taking guitar lessons and kept an old beat-up guitar in my office to practice on during lunch and after hours. Joe’s eyes lit up when he saw it and said, “Do you mind?” I told him it was probably out of tune, but that he was welcome to play it. “No matter,” he said and started to strum.

He proceeded to regale me with the full, eight-verse (with choruses) version of Art Roberts’ physics song, “It Ain’t the Money” (which I notice a lot of people have quoted in their memories of him here). I can’t express how honored I was to be in his presence and to have him personally share with me the bit of physics history he had been part of. This man who rubbed elbows with the most important physicists of his generation (including a Nobel prize winner) was sharing the experience with me. I was blown away.

The words of the chorus of that song ring true in many ways:

It ain’t the money,
It’s the principle of the thing,
It ain’t the money,
There’s things that money can’t buy.
It ain’t the money
That makes the nucleus go round
It’s the philosophical ethical principle of the thing.

I have spent most of my professional career in higher education advancement and think it applies there as well: If you put the institution’s mission and your philosophical ethical principles first, money (i.e., success) will find its way to you.

Over the years, I have worked with many people and observed many different styles of leadership. Joe was the rare kind of leader who is able to make big, important things happen and make it look effortless. I can’t think of anyone who accomplished as much as he did while giving the credit to others.

Among the people he credited was his wonderful wife Jean, whose love for him was evident every time I saw them together. I send my best wishes to her and to the Platt family, along with a deep appreciation for how much time with Joe they sacrificed for the benefit of the Harvey Mudd College.

Jon F. Geibel, Ph.D.

Bartlesville, OK

It took my breath away when I read of Dr. Platt’s passing from this life to the next. I don’t think anyone fully realizes just how much impact one life can have on another until that life is gone. Just as Dr. Platt’s life had a positive and enduring influence on my life and the lives of his students, sadly, his absence will have an equally profound effect. It saddens me to think about how many students will not have the opportunity to experience the wisdom and encouragement of Dr. Platt.

I first met Dr. Platt in 1968 when I was a freshman embarking on a life-transforming experience of attending Harvey Mudd College. Little did I know that the apparently simple decision to attend Harvey Mudd College would change my life in a dramatically positive manner. The vision Dr. Platt shaped in the formation of Harvey Mudd College influenced my professional and personal lives in ways that I could have never predicted and for that I owe him a tremendous “Thank you, sir!”

On a more personal note, I recall that Dr. Platt routinely enjoyed a noon hour swim in the pool at Harvey Mudd. As a member of the Claremont-Mudd swim team, I shared this aquatic environment with him. We always had a common bond in the pool area. His personal example of a well-rounded athletic academician is inspirational to me to this day. I attribute the health-conscious life styles of Dr. and Mrs. Platt to a remarkable experience at my 35th class reunion in 2007. As I was reminiscing with my classmates I noticed the arrival of Dr. and Mrs. Platt. I really wanted to say hello and as I walked up, I said to Mrs. Platt, “Hi, I’m Jon ….” Before I could finish, Mrs. Platt said, “Hi, Jon. Of course, we remember you. How are Betsy and the boys?” Stunned is an understatement for my reaction. Aside from Christmas cards, I suspect it had been 25 years since our last face-to-face meeting. To remember me, my wife and our sons after all these years and the thousands of students was simply incredible. It’s this personal interest in the people surrounding Dr. and Mrs. Platt that made them so beloved to the Harvey Mudd community.

I am certain that the integrity, warmth and gentleness of Dr. Platt will live on in the hearts of his many grateful students. I am reminded of the Tuscarora proverb: “They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.” Nonetheless, I will miss you tremendously.

Doug Hathaway '80

Santa Ana, CA

My first year at Mudd was Joe’s last as president, so my memories of him as president of HMC are limited. Over the next several years, however, I was fortunate enough to be at the same place at the same time with him. I was always impressed with his vigor, genuine interest in any topic,and positive outlook on life. These qualities led to his successful founding and oversight of HMC. My lasting memory, however, was at a late spring alumni function held at Henry T. Mudd’s Malibu house. One of the alumni had brought their young child who had never seen the Pacific Ocean. She wanted to go swimming and nobody really wanted to take her out into the water, so Joe “volunteered”. The water ended up being too cold for the little girl, but Joe decided that since he hadn’t had his swim for the day, he might as well stay in. We all stood on the beach trying to warm her up while wishing any of us had half his energy. That energy propelled HMC in the early years, and continues to shape this unique school.

John McKniff '72

CMC Class of 72, Tuscon, AZ

I spent the Summer of 69 as the lifeguard at the HMC pool. I got the assignment because I was low man on the totem pole, and no one else wanted to be exiled to that distant lonely place. My first afternoon on the job, I opened the gate, took my seat on the tower and awaited the flood of happy swimmers that never really materialized. A couple of hours into the shift, Joe, Jean, and Beth Platt came through the gates and walked over to introduce themselves. As a 19 year old, I was appropriately impressed with the family’s appearance and bearing but was most impressed by Joe’s low key introduction which included his description of his position as “I’m the guy they asked to run the place”.

Over the course of the Summer I was privileged to enjoy the Platt’s company 5 to 6 days a week. The family were all serious swimmers and rarely missed their afternoon swim. Most every visit I would have the opportunity to interact with all of the family members, and quickly developed a respect for the strong bonds, intellect, and humor that characterized the Platt family. Later I would grow to appreciate the contribution that Joe and Jean jointly made to the development of HMC, but truthfully I could not be surprised based on the impression they made on me during that Summer. The picture of Joe and Jean together in the pool struck me as highly appropriate.

David Goodsell '62

Founding class member (but graduate of the class of '62). Admissions officer for HMC 1964 - 1968

Would that our nation’s leaders, of all parties, had Joe Platt’s intelligence, wisdom, compassion, and love for all mankind. Gentle yet firm, calm yet filled with the enthusiasm of discovery and adventure, kind and caring – I have never met another person more worthy of emulation. That may be the most profound realization I carried away from HMC.

George Wickes

HMC faculty, 1957-69; Professor of English Emeritus, University of Oregon

Joe Platt was the heart and soul of HMC from the very beginning, and his legacy continues to this day. His wisdom and judgment in planning the college and his thoughtful consideration for one and all created a college with a very special spirit. Then there was Joe himself with his fund of stories, his unfailing sense of humor, and his inexhaustible repertory of songs to enliven every social occasion. How wonderful that he was able to go on teaching into his 90s. I cherish the picture of Joe on his 90th birthday, about to strum his guitar and smiling uproariously at Jean.

Bill Haddon '64

On a Friday noon my Sr.year (1963/4) while returning to my East dorm room from an 11:00 class a very concerned group of undergrads shouted to me “the president’s been shot”…My first and immediate thought: Impossible! No one would ever shoot Joe Platt. To us he was the one and only President. The date was Friday Nov. 23, 1963

Don Gross '61

“It ain’t the money,
It’s the principle of the thing,
It ain’t the money,
There’s things that money can’t buy.
It ain’t the money
That makes the nucleus go round
It’s the philosophical ethical principle of the thing.”

Gregory Milman

Joe was a great inspiration and friend to those of us in the Class of 1962. Couldn’t beat his guitar playing either.

Liz Baughman

Sen dir of advancement services, HMC (soon to proudly start my 35th year with the college)

In referencing the HMC Mission Statement Joe Platt created, it is an amazing thought to realize the Impact on Society he brought forward. Just think about the number of students, faculty, trustees, and staff who walked through HMC and how their lives have been touched by Joe and Jean Platt having the courage to embrace and grow a new and then unknown institution. It really is AMAZING! As we now cross over into a new era for Harvey Mudd College, all it is and all it will be started under the guidance of Joe Platt.

Dr. Platt is the true definition of a gentleman – always kind, gentle, and understanding. One-of-a-Kind!!! He will be missed, but never never forgotten.

Jim Dewar '66

Los Angeles, CA

We all knew this day would come, yet there was a part of me – the non-rational part that HMC works so hard and well to cultivate – that believed that it certainly wouldn’t be today. How could it be today? Today isn’t special – certainly not special enough for it to be the day that Joe Platt died. From there it had been easy for the heart to conclude that Joe would never die.

In the event, as before, the mind smoothly recounts Joe’s manifest contributions to HMC, to the Claremont Colleges, to higher education in the United States, to institutions outside higher education, etc. The mind marvels that a man who walked so softly through the world could leave such indelible footprints.

But what is the heart to do in a world without Joe Platt? For those of us whose formative years were spent with Joe – or rather, JoeandJean – how does the heart deal with his absence at HMC functions or his unavailability for the occasional dinner together. There was a comfort in knowing that he was still watching over HMC. What’s to be done about that?

If the power of the mind, in the final analysis, is the power of one, the power of the heart is the power of many. My heart joins the thousands of hearts who send their love to Jean, Ann, Beth, and to all those whose hearts are hurting because the world has lost Joe Platt. The mind still celebrates Joe’s magnificent legacy, but the heart now aches.

Hubie Clark

Former chairman of the board at Harvey Mudd College

When I was first offered a board seat at HMC, I said to myself “I need a new fund raising chore like I need a hole in the head” – and then I met Joe. Within a nanosecond, I knew I was with a special person with whom I wanted to work and learn. His recognition that engineers were introverts who needed help in communicating and mixing with others, and his belief in “learning while doing” was so in line with my personal experience. My fears dissolved and were replaced with the idea of learning from this man. So, I jumped at the chance. But I couldn’t shake my desire to avoid another fund raising job, so I said to Henry and Joe that I would love it – provided they would give me a five year moratorium on fund raising and allow me to be on committees to promote the ideas Joe had enunciated. Joe immediately chimed in “OK and we’ll put you on the education committee.” Henry backed Joe, and so began a more the 30 year’s journey on the board. Within a year, I was out fund raising of my own volition because I was so caught up in the direction Joe was taking the college. I wouldn’t change a moment of it all!

Sue Archer

Former steno pool

My mom – Betty Clutters worked in the clerical end of Harvey Mudd under William Radley. She was a technical typist and worked on all typing of the freshman “books” during her tenure. I worked in the steno pool as well before moving down to Pendleton with Ralph Kemmerer to be the Purchasing department. Dr. Platt was always friendly to us and it was a pleasure to work under his leadership. Mom has since passed on but I know she would be saddened by the loss. Those were good times and she often spoke fondly of the Harvey Mudd people.

Michael Hughes '73

One of my favorite memories of Harvey Mudd College came during my senior year (spring 1973). Several of us were taking the Modern American Drama class from Dr. Davenport and, rather than taking a final just before graduation, we were doing a project. Bob Peak and I wrote a play for the group to perform (“The Corn Mutating Cane Marshall”) which was mainly a silly farce, but which tried to incorporate a lot of the themes from the plays we had studied in class. As a result, one of the interludes in our performance became an “Off-Off-Off Broadway” tableau, which was more than a bit vulgar – in keeping with the theme.

As it happened, we were rehearsing for our one and only performance one afternoon on a stage in Gallileo Hall when Joe and Jean Platt walked in, with (I believe) her mother in tow, on a tour of the campus. Of course, this occurred right in the middle of the “Triple O.-B.” scene. The three of them stood there semi-dumbstruck for a few moments and then departed with great aplomb. Joe (yes, I know I should say “Dr. Platt” but after many nights of sing-alongs, he was always “Joe” to us) even came back to apologize for intruding, saying that he hoped he had not inhibited our artistic expression.

What a wonderful person he was and his concern for the students and love of the college did a huge amount to make the HMC experience worthwhile. I am certain that I am not alone in saying that he was one of the more positive influences on my life.

Mike Johnston


I remember Joe as a former President at Claremont. He was so helpful to me in my roles on the Board, and immediately welcomed me into his “family”, with always a friendly smile and valuable counsel. And Jean did likewise. My wife Mary would always ask if i had seen Jean and Joe when I came back to NJ after our board meetings. She, too, was taken by their friendship and charm. I will miss Joe. Jean, my sincere sympathy to you. I just lost Mary a month ago, and I know how you must be grieving. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

Bill Haddon '64

Owner, Talleyrand Winery, Kelseyville; President, Friends of Taylor Observatory-Norton Planetarium

Albert Baez was one of the outstanding people brought to HMC (1959-60) by Joe Platt. Baez’ visiting professorship gave us not only the fabulous physics of Al Baez but the stunning music of his two famous daughters Joan and Mimi. Mimi enrolled at Pomona, and among other things was a star performer in the 1962 (?) Spring Sing which I organized.

Henry E. Brady '69

Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley

Joe Platt was an extraordinary man who made a vision a reality. He epitomized the combination of scientist and humanist that Harvey Mudd College sought to produce. His human qualities were exceptional, and he quite literally changed my life through his generosity and thoughtfulness. I would not be where I am today except for his willingness to stop and talk with me (characteristically getting off his bike to do so) when I was visiting the campus a year after graduation. I did not know where I was going next, and he suggested that since I had always been interested in science policy, I should become an intern at the National Science Foundation. A week later, through his intervention, I had an offer to go back to Washington DC to work at NSF. From that followed more work in Washington, graduate degrees at MIT, and a career in academia. He has been a model for what I hope to be as an educator, and I cannot even begin to thank him and Jean Platt for what they did for me, for Harvey Mudd College, and for science education in the United States and the World. I am deeply saddened by his passing. He was a truly great man.

Bob Blackman

Associate professor of history, Hampden-Sydney College

I remember fondly the sing-alongs in East Dorm. Science carols!

Amber Yust '10

San Francisco, CA

I remember having Joe and his wife come in from time to time when I was working at HMC Computing and Information Services, asking about something or other. He was always fun to talk with while we were figuring something out.

Carol Tanenbaum

Claremont, CA

Updated from a song Sam and I sang on Joe’s 65th in 1980 and updated in 2010 to the tune of “Old Joe Clark”

Round, round, Old Joe Platt
Round and round with Jean
Don’t they make the neatest pair
Claremont’s ever seen.

They came here from New York
Where they left all that crud
They came here from New York
To help start Harvey Mudd. (Chorus)

They recruited such good people
Duane, Roy, Bill, Spiff and Bob
George, Art, Gray and Emery
They all needed a job. (Chorus)

They started building dorms
They built them everywhere
First East and West, then North and South
Which isn’t really there. (Chorus)

They stayed there over twenty years
Mudd fit them to a “T”
Then they packed their bags and crossed the street
To fix up C.U.C. (Chorus)

Now Paul and Peter’s building
Will very soon be done
Then Joe can return to Harvey Mudd
And teach Physics 51. (Chorus)

(new verses added in 2010)

Joe taught Mudd students in a lab
One went out on a limb
Asked if the “Platt” at “Platt Center”
Was related to him. (Chorus)

Joe and Jean had lots of fun
They traveled many a mile
Then Sam asked him to write a book
And he did it with great style. (Chorus)

Barbara Bergmann

Retired HMC staff

Some of my most pleasant memories of HMC center around Joe Platt. He was a great scholar and teacher, but my experiences were with the Joe Platt who was a true gentleman, a man who kept his ego in check but let his curiosity and sense of humor run free. A very good man who will be greatly missed.

Michael McKinney '61

San Francisco, CA

I have fond memories of Joe Platt as a very humane and approachable President. I recall his playing the guitar and doing Tom Leher-like sing-alongs in the dorm. He was a very able leader in the early days of the college.

Bill Leppo '61

Retired CEO, Leppo Instruments, North Plains, OR

Joe was visiting us new students on our first day at East dorm. He spotted my carved top Gibson L7C and asked if he could play it. He immediately sat down on my bed, began strumming and broke into song.

“Along the trail you’ll find me loopin’, where the spaces are wide open. In the land of the old AEC”

George McNulty '67

I am saddened to learn of the death of Joe Platt. He was president of the College when I arrived as an 18 year old freshman from San Jose (then known for its plum, apricots, and cherries) in 1963. I treasured seeing him riding his bicycle through the College, stopping in with his guitar at the North Dorm lounge in the evenings to sing physics songs about Isadore Isaac Rabi and his days at the Radiation Laboratory, and ensuring the future of our College through the hiring of a dedicated brilliant faculty who cared enough about us to work our tails off and through his fund raising efforts that in particular ensured that each student who could get into the place could be fully funded (as I was for 3 years–I was able to pay for the last year).

What a guy and what an act to follow!

Larry Hartwick

St. Mary's, MD

I knew Joe as a young staff member involved in the expansion of the campus during the 1980’s and early 1990’s. After my first project, I felt that we had made a mistake in ignoring the original design for the campus. I went back into the files and saw how intimately involved Joe was in the architectural development of the campus. I read the correspondence. I saw Joe’s incredible effort to raise the funds and build a campus that represented the marriage of the humanities and sciences. Some time later, I confided in Joe that I had made a mistake in not knowing more about the history of the campus and not being able to advocate for a better architectural design. He said simply not to worry about mistakes but believe in your ability to see what was right in the future. The advice had nothing to do with the campus. It had everything to do with me growing as a person.

Joe really loved the campus. But he never offered an opinion on how we were developing the campus except asking me when we were going to renovate the pool.

I remember how he loved to go to the dorms and sing for the students.

I don’t think I ever meet an individual with such goodness and wisdom as Joe (unless you count Jean). They are both inspirational to us all.

Steven Spielman '86

Oakland, CA

The singing: ‘It ain’t the money … that makes the nucleus go round, it’s the-philosophical-ethical-principle-of … the thing!’, and other favorites.

Joe Stone '63

It is very sad to hear of Dr. Platt’s passing. I felt additional attachment to Dr. Platt because of the Rochester connection as he went to the U of R and I worked at Kodak—at that time significant Rochester features. But also Dr. Platt attended the U of R with one of my very good friends at Kodak. Dr. Platt made HMC a very special place. I remember passing by the President’s house on the way to a meal at CMC and seeing his young daughters riding their tricycles in the driveway. His spirit will be missed by all who knew him.

Thomas & Joanne (Fisk) Shapard '65 '67

Retired in Escondido California

I first met Joe as I came in as a freshman in 1961. Joanne met him two years later as she too became a student at HMC. We both remember well his warmth then, and over the many years since. We will miss him, and we will always remember him for his grace, wisdom, humor, and all around human good will.

Jean Strauss

Wife HMC president emeritus Jon Strauss

The moment I heard that Joe had passed away, my first thought was of Jean. I cannot think of him without her – they were that kind of couple, a partnership, lifelong mates, they belonged together.

Shortly before Jon and I left HMC in 2006, we talked Joe and Jean into putting their footprints and handprints in cement. They both gamely took off their shoes, smushed their hands and feet in, and then signed their names. I hope someday that block of cement is put out on campus, so that those who loved Joe can put their hands where he put his, and that future generations can be reminded of this remarkable couple who helped set in motion the Mobius strip that is HMC.

I also cannot think of Joe without thinking of the HMC family. The college and the campus that he helped build obviously meant a great deal to him, but he was most proud of the good works being done by Mudd graduates and faculty, not just in science and engineering, but in helping humankind. To him, that was his legacy.

As were Ann and Beth, his two extraordinary daughters with Jean (who had to share both of their parents with an entire campus full of people) and his four grandchildren.

It would be hard to pick a single word to define Joe, because he was fun and witty and musical and curious and so smart, so caring. But if I had to pick one word it would be integrity. The foundation of Harvey Mudd College was built with it.

I can hear Joe in my mind right now, playing his guitar and singing “It Ain’t the Money”, to the delight of a Saddlerock audience. I don’t know if I have the lyrics exactly right, but from what I remember, they sum up Joe Platt pretty well.

It ain’t the money
It’s the principle of the thing
It ain’t the money
There’s things that money just can’t buy
It ain’t the money
That makes the nucleus go round
It’s the philosophical ethical moral principle, of the thing.

Aki Nakamura '66

Retired engineer, Osaka, Japan

I was enrolled into HMC campus at the beginning of the summer,’65. I was one of a few foreign students there, and we were invited to Joe’s house for a quiet evening then. It was a great experience for a guy with little experience or exposure to the American way of life in those days. I have to thank again for Mr. and Mrs. Platt’s kind attention to even a smallest member of the campus. I still clearly remember the night even after half a century.

Jeffrey Chu '77

President and CEO, Glowlink, Los Altos, California

HMC under Joe’s leadership literally changed my life. I was an impoverished student finding my way in Hong Kong when HMC plugged me out of nowhere and gave me a great education, and now I am running a technology innovation company here in the fabled Silicon Valley. As exciting and rewarding a ride it has been, it all fades to the background whenever I think about the wonderful freshman orientation dinner at Joe and Jean’s house and Joe’s playing the guitar in East Dorm (where I resided 3 of 4 years). Here’s the President and founder of HMC, dressed up as Santa Claus and singing and playing with a guitar?! Never heard of! Totally amazing! Simply magical!

Brian Boyle '67

Retired but busy, just across the border from Berkeley

It was late in the Summer of 1963, at Freshman orientation for the Class of ’67, that I first met Joe and Jean and The Guitar. HMC was still in its infancy and they were its parents — and ours in many ways.

We all had many better-known options for our undergrad educations, and a lot of us were quietly, secretly worried as to whether we had really made the right choice. The campus center and science building were incomplete, there were no Life Science courses, and every visible structure was covered in weird warts.

Then this quietly smiling, silver-haired guy –who just happened to have helped design one of the (then) world’s largest “atom-smashers” (the quarter-GeV synchrocylclotron)– picked up his guitar and dazzled us with the ever-so-clever tongue-twisting “Bluebeard,” and smoothly segued into “It Ain’t the Money” (…that makes the nucleus go round) and we all knew we’d picked the right place.

We all know Joe and Jean had a hand, a big part, in crafting HMS’s original Mission Statement and creating it complex logo, both stressing the need for bridging The Two Cultures in society, uniting the Sciences and Humanities in its alumni, of making the people of this planet responsible to the Earth and the universe. But for me, the most significant symbol of that ideal union was the one couple that lived with us on campus at the corner of Mills and Twelfth Street.

We’ll miss you mightily, Joe — all six thousand of your adopted children.

Bruce Worster '64

Alum & former trustee, Los Altos Hills, CA

Every conversation I ever had with Joe was a mix of stimulating, interesting, and educational. As an alum from the early years, I am saddened by our loss and grateful for his life and for the school he built.

Barry C. Olsan

HMC director of corporate relations

Soon after I started as HMC’s Assistant Treasurer, I shared a ride to the California Club with Dr. Platt to attend a Trustee meeting. He was in his mid-80s and explained that he was going to be going on a trip to the Panama Canal Zone. I told him that it is a great cruise through the canal…he immediately interjected that he and his grandson would be out in the jungle. I knew that this was someone special and his vision, community service and likely everything he accomplished will long be remembered.

Chris Wottawa '05


I’ll always remember how he came to our dorm with his guitar and extensive repertoire of sciencey christmas carols. It’s not the money that makes the nucleus go ’round.

Philip H. Dreyer

Professor of education, CGU

When I interviewed at CGU in 1976 Joe was not yet the President, but CGU faculty were very enthusiastic about his coming as President in the fall. One of them me, “You’ll like Joe Platt. He is one of nature’s noble men.” They were right.

Sam Tanenbaum

Professor/dean emeritus, HMC

Joe Platt was a wonderful boss. He hired me in 1975 to serve as dean of faculty and warned me in advance that he would probably leave HMC after one year to become the head of CGU and CGS. The year we worked together was a great experience for me. Joe never told me what to do,
but he’d often make suggestions that were always helpful in getting things done and keeping me out of trouble.

In my 18 years as dean of faculty that first year still provides many vivid, happy memories. I especially enjoyed trips in and out of Los Angeles for Trustee meetings and other college events. Joe’s constant stream of stories about past events at HMC and the other colleges were always fun and a great education for me.

All of us on what was then called the “Senior Staff” felt lucky to be working for Joe. He was always supportive and knew how to maximize the benefits from each of our strengths. Joe encouraged full discussion of college issues, and after everyone else had spoken he would summarize the views that had been presented and make a decision that everyone could understand and support. It is an approach that I tried to use myself, but could never do as well!

During my years as dean I made thousands of decisions, but one of the very best was to contact Joe as he was retiring after five years at CGU and invite him to return to HMC as a part-time faculty member—a job he held for even longer than the years he served as President. Along with others, I also encouraged him to write his book about HMC’s first twenty years, and I was happy to provide him with a person who could help prepare the manuscript.

Joe never lost his joy in telling a good story. About ten years ago I remember him telling Carol and me about a student in his class who wondered if Joe was related to the person for whom the Platt Campus Center was named. Joe laughed and said, “I knew him well.”

Scott Olmsted '74

Freelance Ruby on Rails developer

Joe and I played our guitars and sang at a couple Alumni Weekends, what a great time! Thanks, Joe, for letting me be part of that.

Sue Huffman '78

Lowell, MI

Christmas parties at East Dorm – loved singing Christmas Carols, esp. the altered ones like N days of Christmas and the song he wrote called “It ain’t the Money” There truly are things that money can’t buy…

Greg Felton '85

Stateline, NV (Lake Tahoe)

“Don’t stand under the coconut tree when the shock wave gets up here, stand out in the clear with your finger in your ear…”

Physics lessons through music (in this case, how to prepare for the effects of atomic bomb testing) was just one example of Joe’s gentle but insightful persona.

What should never be overlooked are the effects he had well beyond Claremont. He was, for instance, VERY closely consulted during the formation of Olin College which has, like Mudd and due to Joe’s guidance, become wildly successful right out of the chute.

What a stellar man whom I’m very happy to have known.

Jonathan Mersel '75

Trustee of Harvey Mudd College

Joe Platt’s wisdom was as subtle as it was deep. Harvey Mudd College became what it was and what it is by Joe’s gentle guidance. As a student, I remember his gentle encouragements. As an alumnus, I could begin to get a glimpse of what he accomplished, and how he did it. From many choices of faculty selection (“Hiring Tom Helliwell was one of the best things I ever did.” Joe told me one Alumni Weekend as Tom was giving a presentation to the enthralled alums.), to ensuring HMC was co-educational from the beginning (“Who would marry a female mathematician?” a founding trustee asked. “I did,” Joe said, ending that discussion.), to providing finance support to the college (some efforts paying off many decades after they were performed), Joe Platt is responsible for improving many of our lives. To that debt, we can but try emulating his spirit.

Nikki Bailey '96

High school chemistry teacher, CA

I will never forget the kindness of the Platt Family. My freshmen year, I got to meet them at the scholarship luncheon because they had given me a scholarship to attend HMC. I fondly remember their kindness and generosity. Without them, I would not have been able to attend Mudd. Thanks so much!

Greg Hassold '79

Professor of physics, Kettering University

My first year at Mudd was Joe’s last as president. I’m so glad to have had the chance to experience him… walking around campus, playing guitar. But in hindsight I realize HMC was and is the college he built: challenging, supportive, exploring, ethical. I’m sure I’m not the only teacher trying to bring more of that vision to our own schools. “It ain’t the money, it’s the principle of the thing”.

Ziyad Duron '81

Chair, Department of Engineering

My first recollection of President Platt is from when I was a student here and the singing he used to lead the students in. When I became a faculty member, it was clear that he had created something pretty significant. It wasn’t a structural creation. It was a cultural creation. Joe really had the ability to create a culture of learning and excellence, even in an era when you didn’t have the resources we have today. That was something that left a lasting impression on the community. Now, as department chair of engineering, I think back about what he did in terms of administering this institution. It’s pretty significant. He had far less to work with and created so much more than anyone could have every imagined. He will be missed.

Ethan Rubin '08

San Antonio, TX

I’ll be listening to Arthur Roberts tonight in Professor Platt’s honor.

“Sing hey nonny nooooooo for natural science…”

Chris Curzon

Monrovia, CA

I remember Joe Platt and his guitar at the East Dorm Milk and Cookies party. “The deuterons go round and round…” I felt he was so accessible and so human and so wise… a truly amazing man.

Gary Kiefer

MD/Ph.d, family physician, Scottsdale AZ

During a summer Sunday tour of HMC before my freshman year, my sister saw Joe leaving Kingston Hall and declared, ‘That must be Harvey Mudd!’ She was right. My condolences to the Platt family, and my
thanks for so generously sharing Joe with us.

David Chandler '70

Retired teacher, CA

I remember visiting at the Platt’s house when I was a student and mentioning that I was thinking of going into secondary education. I felt a little embarrassed that this was not a worthy career goal for a Harvey Mudd student. Joe completely set me at ease, emphasizing how important it is to have talented, inspired teachers at all levels. He said almost every year there are a few Harvey Mudd alums who go into K-12 teaching. That turned out to be an insightful and empowering conversation. I just retired this year from a long, satisfying career teaching high school physics and math in private, public, and international schools, and am continuing into retirement creating supplementary curriculum materials. Thank you Joe.

Brad Slettene

Richland, WA

Round and round and round go the deuterons…

Gene St. Clalir

Bear Valley Gang member

We all loved having Joe at the Big Bear cabin. He played his guitar and sang from memory numerous ballads. And he had many stories to tell. A kinder, gentler, more interesting man I’ve never met.

David Williamson '92

San Jose, CA

Like many others, I fondly recall Joe’s singing and teaching, but my favorite memories of Joe are from my brief time on the staff at HMC. I frequently swam a few laps over the lunch hour during the summer, and Joe was always there. At the time, Joe would have been in his late 70s, but he was still simply a machine in the water – he’d jump in and swim half a mile.

I hope to be in half as good of shape when I get to that age!

Susan Parker '86

Seattle, WA

Freshman orientation around the campfire. “It’s not the money, it’s the principle of the thing, it’s not the money, that makes the nucleus go ’round, it’s the philosophical, ethical, principle of the thing.”

David Ruiz '92

AVP, valuation actuary, Pacific Life

I got a phone call at about 8:30AM one Friday in April 1992. Professor Platt was on the other end of the line. After the pleasantries, he asked “David, do you want to graduate this year?” You see, I hadn’t turned in my lab book, since it wasn’t quite done. In fact, it wasn’t close. I figured I’d lost any chance of graduating, and I was already starting to contemplate a life without a diploma. Prof. Platt wouldn’t let that be an option. He took my sucesss in this one-unit Physics Lab as a personal goal. He helped me finish the lab and get to the end of my HMC career. Without his help, I wouldn’t have graduated, and I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ll never forget that phone call. T

Thank you, Prof. You are legend.

John Mallinckrodt '73

Retired professor of physics (Cal Poly Pomona), Second career musician

I’m one of the lucky ones to have spent my time as a student with Joe at the helm. I came back for the 1993-94 academic year as a visiting professor when Joe was “only” 78, still teaching lab sections, and patiently grading stacks of lab manuals each week. Although we did not cross paths often over the years, when we did he never failed to instantly recognize me and call me by name. I wish I had anything approaching that level of recall for students of mine from even ten years ago. For his modest manners, his easy smile, his constant belief in and support of HMC, and his stunning legacy, Joe will be missed and always fondly remembered.

Cliff Miller


Joe was simply “one of a kind.” Perfect leader for the moment. No HMC as we know and love it today without Joe’s inspiration, feel, and strategic vision for the possible. I had the good fortune to know and work with and have fun with this delightful man from the beginning.

What a great ride!

Craig T. Byrnes '88

Employment law attorney, Manhattan Beach, CA

Joe, it ain’t the money; it’s the principle of the thing. There’s things that money can’t buy. Thanks for the wonderful memories from an East Dorm alum.

Lorne Olfman

Professor, CGU

Joe was always supportive of the School of Information Systems and Technology. He understood the importance of our discipline and communicated it to others. His efforts helped us secure a $1 million gift from the Fletcher Jones Foundation. On a personal level, I enjoyed talking with Joe. His stories about his years at MIT were fascinating and I lived vicariously through them. I was lucky enough to rub shoulders with someone who was a great thinker and leader.

Anne Sontag Karch

Madison, WI

Growing up with Beth Platt Garrow, I got to sleep over at the Platts’ house on occasion, and it would be hard to say which is the more delightful memory: Joe serenading us to sleep with salty sea chanties, accompanied on his guitar, or Joe whipping up pancakes with apple slices inside the following morning. Such a great mind, and a big heart, too. Always a smile, often a twinkle in his eye, and that lovely low voice. 96 years and so many thousands of lives enriched.

Liz Orwin '95

Assoc prof of engineering, HMC

I’ll never forget lining up outside of the registrar’s office the night before to make sure I got into Joe Platt’s section of E&M lab -and I’m so glad I did! He told us many stories of the history of HMC which helped me to see what a special place this really is. Joe was – and is – the heart of this place. I hope we, the current faculty, honor his memory in our passionate quest for a great educational experience.

Rachel Bittker '93

Family physician, San Diego, CA

Thank you for all you did for HMC. And thank you for singing to us students!

Brian Rohrback '74

President, Infometrix, Inc.

I remember the numerous occasions when Joe and Jean would open their home to students. It is clear that they both truly enjoyed every interaction and became our friends, not just administrators, teachers or mentors. Joe set the stage for all that Harvey Mudd is and will continue to be. Then again, he did introduce me to a passion for listening to Tom Lehrer songs, but everyone has to have a quirk 😉

Mack Gilkeson

Emeritus prof of engineering

From earliest memories (1961) Joe was fun to be around — at the swimming pool, in casual meetings in the halls or at coffee, and even in the late spring faculty meetings when he would inform us that financial prospects were again dim this year, which, of course, would affect salary raises.

Kevin Fairchild '90

High school science teacher, San Diego, CA

Professor Platt had a profound effect on my future career. He was my advisor during freshman year, and after I failed multi-variable calculus first semester, he called me into his office and asked what the problem was. I told him I got the grade I deserved, because I didn’t understand a thing. He then spent about an hour explaining the concepts of divergence and curl using analogies from physics. A light bulb in my head clicked, and I got an A in repeating the class.

It was the first time I was aware of a teacher being able to adjust their teaching methods for an individual student’s learning style. I try to do that for my own students now, using whatever modalities or learning styles might be their strengths. I first saw that from Joe Platt.

As I was at Mudd longer, I learned about Dr. Platt as founding President and all his history with HMC and the Five Colleges. But for me, I will remember him simply as a great teacher.

Geoff Kuenning

Professor of computer science, Claremont

Although I postdate Joe’s active tenure at HMC, I fondly remember how he stayed engaged with the campus until the very end–not to mention enjoying his always-entertaining guitar playing!  I am glad that he lived to see his labors come to fruition in the college that we have today.

Jeff Groves

Professor of literature and dean of the faculty, HMC

Joe was an inspiration. Supportive, witty, a wise and entertaining conversationalist, a plain-spoken but visionary leader–we will all miss him, but his presence lives on in the institution he helped to create.

I must add that Joe taught me how to knot a bow tie–that was as enjoyable a tutorial as I ever had.

Jerry Van Hecke '61

Professor of chemistry, HMC

Many will no doubt record with difficulty on these web pages their numerous remembrances of Joe Platt’s influence on their lives. So too, will it be for me.

I have two personal letters from Joe that I treasure that will only partially convey his impact on me. The first letter contained an offer of employment at Harvey Mudd College, an offer I clearly accepted that has made all the difference. The second letter informed me that the trustees had approved my reappointment with continuous tenure. That statement of fact could of course stand by itself but what makes that letter extremely special was Joe’s additional comment that he was honored to be the bearer of the news. That Joe would add such a remark was characteristic of the caring and personal touches he brought to the HMC family in those early days. Those “touches” made us all proud to be part of this special family. In fact I can still hear Joe begin his remarks at the annual opening of college faculty dinners with “It is great to have the family together again.”

From being placed in the admitted to the Founding Class pile on Jean and Joe’s living room so many years ago, to being now a senior faculty member at HMC, it has been quite a journey all made possible by the vision and wisdom of Joseph Bevan Platt.

Victoria Mudd

Daughter of Henry T. Mudd, granddaughter of Harvey Mudd

This is a very sad day indeed, but grief and relief are combined. Your dad was a great and gracious guy who gave generously to all who knew him. What a great spirit he had! He radiated good cheer, curiosity, intellect and even joy whenever I saw him. I marveled. I would have loved to have heard him teach…great heart and great intellect combined…. how magnificent! It always amazes me that when the great souls of this world age, despite severe physical limitations, they are still able to maintain their joy. I guess that’s how we know they were great and blessed beings. I hold the image of his spirit flying free, meeting up with the other great minds and great souls of our world.

The Platt family is woven into the very fabric of my heart.

Malcolm Lewis '67

Chair, HMC board of trustees

Joe was such a wonderful person and broadly talented leader. His contributions to getting HMC founded and established as a preeminent college are well known and appreciated. But my most immediate memories are of Joe’s sense of humor, his songs and music, his thoughtfulness and kindness. Knowing and working with Joe was an honor and joy. He will be well remembered and greatly missed.

Thomas Helliwell

Professor emeritus, physics department, HMC

I first met Joe in 1957 when I was a college senior, and was recruited by him in 1961 as I was trying to finish my doctorate. Joe was a charming and compelling recruiter; we met outdoors, me in a chair and he sitting on a wall, curling his legs up under him, stoking his pipe and talking about his dreams for a great college. How could I not want to join?

It always seemed to me that Joe and Jean provided half the vision of HMC: The other half was provided by the Mudd family and their friends. Both halves were essential for the ultimate success of the college. They got on well together.

Four aspects of Joe’s personality stand out especially vividly to me, all of them contributing to the legacy of the college even for those who never knew him personally.

The first was integrity. You knew where Joe stood, and he never disappointed. An example: in the early days the faculty endlessly debated what qualities we were looking for in our students. At one point a faculty member suggested that to learn something about them, we tell potential students one thing but actually do something else. Another faculty member said he didn’t think that was smart, because somebody would find out. Joe said in his kind way that it wasn’t only not smart, but it wasn’t right. That settled that.

The second was teamwork. His way was to make everyone, faculty, students, alumni, staff, trustees, feel part of a team; we had no doubt we WERE part of a team. An example: in the 1960’s, while other campuses were storming administration buildings to protest the Vietnam war, some HMC students decided to organize their own protest. And who was the first person they asked to speak to them? Joe, of course.

The third was quality. An example: Joe traveled the country recruiting the best founding faculty he could. Art Campbell and Roy Whiteker in chemistry, Bob James in mathematics, Bill Davenport and George Wickes in humanities, and Gray Bell and Duane Roller in physics. And a couple of years later he brought in engineers of like quality, to found what ultimately became the best undergraduate engineering program in the country.

The fourth was fun. Joe had a sense of play. An example of course is his guitar playing and singing Art Roberts songs, at places like the East Dorm Christmas Party. “When Rabi was a young man….” “Round and round and round go the deuterons …..”. Nobody was left out; we all came in on the choruses.

Joe was and is the fundamental soul of Harvey Mudd College.

Bob Cave

Professor of chemistry, HMC

I loved Joe’s enthusiasm for each new endeavor at HMC. His ability to support innovation that furthered the mission statement was inspiring.

John Townsend

Professor of physics, HMC

My first year at HMC was Joe’s last and 20th year as president. So most of my experiences with Joe date from the period after he returned from a five-year sojourn as head of CUC. He started teaching a section of Physics 54, Modern Lab, each spring until he was 90, to very good effect with the students. Since I chaired the physics department in that period, he often introduced me as his boss, which certainly gave me a good laugh.

Looking back at the history of Harvey Mudd College, the most striking thing to me is that Joe somehow managed to create a college that was perceived as excellent from the very beginning, one that consequently attracted unusually capable students and faculty. It is an amazing accomplishment, given where we started, and speaks to Joe’s special character.