Christopher Gray

Christopher Gray

After teaching for two years in Lublin, Christopher Gray returned to the University of Massachusetts – Boston, where in addition to teaching, he served as Director of the Freshman Writing program.  He liked that job so much he decided to become a full-time administrator at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts as an academic dean.  He worked with students who wanted to study abroad, gain admission to law school, and, alas, those for whom university life was not working out very successfully.  Then, he became Dean of the College at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania with the responsibility of creating a coherent academic program for all students from the first day of Freshman Orientation until the day they graduated.  In fact, at the commencement ceremonies, he stood at the podium and read the names of all the students as they received their diplomas from the president.  Fortunately, Lafayette is a small liberal arts college with a graduating class of about 500.

Chris took early retirement in 2001.  Then he and his wife Donna lived in the Middle East for four years and taught English and American literature at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman.  They lived right next door to a mosque and enjoyed hearing the call to prayer five times a day. Although nominally retired since 2005, Chris has been teaching a great books course for an online university for the last six years.  But he thinks it is time to retire from that job and devote more time to reading, taking walks with his dog, and enjoying his family (his wife Donna, a grown son and daughter, and one grandson).

I remember our apartment on Lipowa Street; our windows looked out on a cemetery, and I loved walking along Lipowa in the morning on the way to the university.  Sometimes we walked through the cemetery; it seemed a rather inviting place.  What I remember most was the friendliness and generosity of our colleagues in the department: picnics with Hanka Zagórska and her husband and Teresa Olszewska, spirited conversations with Edmund Gussman (we saw a lot of Ed in Boston during the year he was conducting research at MIT), dinners with Małgosia Górna and her parents.  Other memories. Once in the American literature survey course, I was going on enthusiastically about Thoreau’s “Walden.”  Our discussion wasn’t going very well when finally one student blurted out, “We don’t think much of Thoreau; our grandparents lived that way!”  When I mentioned that Thoreau had died of TB, someone said, “See.  That just proves our point.  That was no way to live.”  Sometimes Donna took her conversation class to the student cafeteria for informal talk.  When there were just women in the group, they would gossip mercilessly about the men in their class.

It seems a life time ago when Donna and I lived in Poland.  Thirty-six years to be exact.  How the world has changed, but hopefully not our memories of Lublin.