A couple of articles in today's Chronicle offer some insight into Julian Boyd. The obvious one is the obituary, which you should read, as it has some good anecdotes (I liked the one about the Bunsen burner). The other is one you might not associate with Julian ... it's a piece about professors wearing their fine academic gowns for ceremonial purposes. I confess to a bit of vanity on this topic ... I loved wearing my gown, and I had many opportunities, as I took part in graduation ceremonies for many years, first in American Studies and later in Mass Communications. When I went to my own doctoral graduation ceremony, it felt a bit anticlimactic, as I'd actually finished the semester before, but the next day, when I took the stage in my finery, sitting next to the Rev. Cecil Williams and reading the names of the American Studies graduates, I felt like I'd arrived.
Which leads to my Julian Boyd anecdote. Julian did some teaching in American Studies, and one year, he happened to show up for a graduation ceremony ... it might have been that first one, I can't recall. We were all preening ... OK, I was preening in my black gown with the blue-and-gold hood ... and there was Julian, dressed in his street clothes, as he was every time I ever saw him except for that one visit to Kaiser when he flopped around in a hospital gown. And someone pointed out that Julian was a favorite professor of many of the students, and that he belonged up on stage, and so he joined us, and there we were, a bunch of puffed-up self-important academics in our fancy gowns, and at this point I don't suppose I need to tell you who was the best-looking person on the stage. Let's just say his only sartorial accoutrement was his cane.