Susan Tifft represents everything that a mentor and friend should be. No student who took her class was unimpressed by her wit and passion for teaching, and no former student who continued on in friendship with her was unimpressed by her grace and wisdom. At a university with so many great professors, she was the best.
Just days into meeting her, we began a decade of correspondence. Her e-mail address would pop-up in my Duke inbox sometimes three or four times a day. The conversations started about class, but very quickly turned into pages-long discussions about all of life (and all of wine). Her friendship was special to me, to say the least, but I soon learned I was not the only one.
When I attended her retirement dinner at the Sanford School last Spring, I finally appreciated the breadth of Susan’s devotion to her former students and friends—every person there had been carrying on his or her own form of that same conversation. This skill that makes a great journalist—maintaining relationships—made Susan such a beloved professor, mentor and friend.
I am sad today for all of those who loved her and my heart goes out to her family and her loving, cherished husband, Alex. For myself, I am sad that the only ten-year conversation I ever had, had to end so soon.
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Editorial Page Editor, The Chronicle, 2000-2001