Joe never lost his joy in telling a good story

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.”

Sam Tanenbaum
Professor/dean emeritus, HMC