In my final semester at Grinnell, I was mysteriously summoned to meet with the new president, George Drake. My previous encounters with authority figures had often been negative, so it was a relief when he quickly gave me the good news that I was receiving the President’s Medal. He then surprised me, as we’d never met before, by asking a series of searching questions about computers, artificial intelligence, and my post-Grinnell plans. I felt instantly seen and understood, and somewhat awed at the way he combined intellect, empathy, and social grace.
Over the years I came to see George as a man interested in almost everything, but often nothing quite so much as whatever most interested the person he was talking with. Although many years sometimes passed between our encounters, each time I returned to Grinnell and saw him again, we picked up right where we’d left off. Having otherwise watched him mostly from afar, I know that I am only one of hundreds whose lives he touched, and who will remember him as one of Grinnell’s finest.