George Bond: Memories from the TC Community
Colleagues, friends and students share memories and impressions of TC’s late William F. Russell Professor of Anthropology and Education, who passed away last week at age 77.
Frances Schoonmaker, Professor of Education Emerita
About George, I remember in an EdD Committee meeting, we were talking about an appeal to accept dissertations in a language other than English. George said something like, "You can't have people writing their dissertation is some language like Chen-Njanga that nobody has ever heard of." I said, "Muli bwanji, Abambo." (How are you, Sir?) It was one of the few phrases I remembered from having been in Zambia for a summer. I'd never seen George so wide-eyed. We had a good laugh.
Portia Williams, Executive Director, Office of International Affairs
I worked for George as coordinator of the Center for African Studies when he was revitalizing that field here. George was also on my dissertation committee. We were very close. He was kind of a mentor, but also more than one. He took me under his wing with respect to African studies.
The Center worked with what was then the student African Studies Working Group. Under his tutelage, we put on conferences, invited in speakers – he restored energy around African education.
George was responsible for the development of the African education certificate here. It was his dream, and he made it happen.
he also overreached to make sure people of color were acculturated. He understood that for black students, whether from Africa or the U.S., coming into this environment could sometimes be a unique experience. He lit a fire under black students. You couldn’t be behind. He always wanted to make sure you were at your best. It mattered to him. But he never treated white students with any less consideration or care.
He was always working with me and other students on getting people interested in the areas of research he felt continued to be important. He was just always at the table with respect to Africa, trying to get students interested and involved.
His legacy at TC is enormous. I’ve met African students who went here years ago, and they talk about Professor Bond and what it meant to study under him, and to have his guidance. He also helped keep anthropology alive as a field here. And he cared so much about his students. When I worked for him, I’d try to get on his schedule, but students always came before me. On days when he was teaching, he’d always end an hour early to review his notes, even though he had been teaching for years.
Hope Leichter, Elbenwood Professor of Education
Professor Bond filled every room he entered with a model of dignity and respect. These qualities made him an outstanding department chair. The department meetings he led were dignified and formal and he was always procedurally exacting and quintessentially fair. He had the highest scholarly standards and inspired colleagues and students by exemplifying these standards. On dissertation orals he was a demanding examiner. Yet his challenging questions showed that he took the candidate's work seriously. While his encyclopedic knowledge and the breadth of his scholarship were awe-inspiring, he was always modest and private about his accomplishments and family heritage. Professor Bond had a way of making you feel you were a valued colleague. Even in casual conversations in the hall, he would invariably bring up ideas for future scholarly inquires on which to collaborate. During the many years we were colleagues, he almost always addressed me as Professor Leichter and I addressed him as Professor Bond—a formality that became a sign of endearment. He also had a playful sense of humor and a quick wit. I will miss him and the great good fun we had laughing together.
Belinda Emerson (Ed.D. ’14, Interdisciplinary Studies)
As I graduate this spring, I owe Professor Bond my profoundest gratitude. While I was a master’s-level student, he encouraged me to view my research case as distinctive and introduced me to the concept of participant observation and the anthropologic perspective in education. As I considered doctoral level studies he encouraged me. Even though my research interest was outside of his domain, he recommended me to the sponsor who guided my work through to the end. He also demonstrated faith in my success when he volunteered early in the doctoral process to sit on my oral defense committee. It was with great pride that I submitted my dissertation manuscript for his review but alas he would not sit on the committee. However, the recollection of his encouragement helped to guide me through and his scholarly work helped to frame my discussions.
I remember his classes fondly for the way he encouraged students to research and present aspects of the literature in lively intense peer discussions. This was very important for me as I returned to academic studies after many years in the practitioners’ world and needed to regain my scholastic footing. He even reminisced with me on how he played as a child on the grounds of my alma mater, Lincoln University, when his uncle was President of the University. Professor Bond is gone but never forgotten. I will always remember his kindness, scholarly stature and the perennial twinkle in his eye that perpetually hinted of laughter.
Dianne Marcucci-Sadnytzky Director of Academic Administration, Department of International & Transcultural Studies
Professor Bond's grandfather was a freed-slave and his father was president of a university in the south. Such an extraordinary accomplishment and within one generation.
Professor Bond called everyone by his/her surname, Mr. so-and-so or Ms. so-and-so, and after a while, his students even spoke that way to each other. It became a way of expressing endearment and also a way of honoring him.
During his six-year tenure as chair of the Department of International and Transcultural Studies, I had the good fortune of working for and with him. He had the greatest respect for every human being on the planet. He was very formal yet very warm and kind and what a smile. As chair, he would always request that a memo be written to the file for historical accuracy. But mainly he was just the kindest man – so compassionate. I miss him already -- what a loss to TC and to humanity.
Gita Steiner-Khamsi, Professor of Education; Chair, Department of International & Transcultural Studies
He was quite concerned about opening fields for blacks, for African American males in particular, and he did it without banners flying.
Janice Robinson, Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs
Professor Bond’s loss truly cannot be expressed in words. He was a giant, a scholar and a gentleman. I treasure, deeply, our supportive collegial relationship that grew over the years and will miss him very much.
Robbie McClintock, Adjunct Professor and Emeritus Professor in the Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education
George Bond was a man of stature, substance and commitment. The College and the world have lost a man of value.
Jolene Lane, Director, Diversity and Community Affairs
During my day-long arduous community-wide interview for my position as Director for Diversity and Community Affairs, Professor George Bond graciously represented the faculty and that first, very special conversation was the first of many. From the moment I began my position at TC, he was supportive, encouraging and inspiring to me both as a professional staff member and as a scholar. He was beloved and the loss will be felt profoundly.
Ellen Livingston, Ed.M. student, Social Studies and Education
I had the privilege of taking Professor Bond’s course a few years back, and he truly was one of a kind, who will be greatly missed.
And finally, an excerpt from a recent email exchange between Professor Bond and John Allegrante, Professor of Health Education and Associate Vice President for International Affairs:
At about 9:50 this morning I was driving to Columbia Presbyterian for my weekly treatment when I saw a familiar figure striding up the sidewalk. Over the years you have been so kind and attentive to the needs of your friends and colleagues that we have neglected to inquire about your wellbeing. Seeing you in the vicinity of Columbia's medical and health center gave me pause. John, my hope is that you are well and I thank you for the many times you have dropped by to see how I was.
George, I am healthy, hale and hearty, but thank you very much for one of the nicest expressions of concern I believe I have ever received from a TC colleague; I am quite touched by your kindness. That it should come from you, however, does not surprise me. You have always been, and continue to be, one of the most decent colleagues I've encountered in my many years at the College.
Godspeed to you on your treatment. With my appreciation and warmest best wishes,