Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Salute to the Assistant

On this day in May (May 17) and on so many other days in May, I have witnessed the “crowning” of so many assistants. The assistants’ assistance, at least for me and for those like me, is indispensible to our work. We rely on the assistant’s skills for carrying out data analysis, word processing, typing draft, deciphering illegible hand writing, and above all doing the task with geniality, respect, love, and appreciation of the learning experience.

On this day in May, Clark University Economics Department graduated six new PhD’s and Seven MA’s. Over my tenure at Clark of more than 35 years I have the privilege not only of being involved in the education of our graduate students but to chair the doctoral theses of more than the number of those years. Most rewarding for me perhaps is the opportunity to work closely with so many assistants.

On this day in May, I have hosted a party to celebrate the achievements of some of our graduates. It has struck me then as it has in other occasions, that how many of our graduates were my assistants in one year or another. Some were with me for 3 or 4 years.
The celebration, which I have arranged in almost every year to follow the graduation ceremony, brings together the new graduates with some of their predecessors not only to celebrate their achievements but also to give them a taste of what await them out there. The celebration however could not be complete without my acknowledgment of the assistants’ contributions to my own scholarly achievements. Over so many years I have relied on them, worked with them and learned a great deal from them. Without the “assistant”, it would have been less pleasant for me to be my “own assistant”.
Rather than heaping on myself the praise for being their mentor and professor, I thought it is time for me, if not for all other who were privileged to have assistants to salute the “ASSISTANT”.

To all of you who worked with me as assistant at Clark University or elsewhere, I salute you. I pay you the highest regards one is able to convey. I wish you all the best.
As you depart and embark on your new carrier, remember the “Assistant”. One day you will be celebrating the “assistant’s” own accomplishments, but in doing so do not forget that in his celebration you are celebrating your own.
Good luck to the Assistant and to all graduates. Mille Merci.