When the sad news of Harold's untimely passing reached me, I refused to believe it. The next day, a puffy-eyed me walked into my summer classroom and, of course, all it took was a perceptive student asking "are you ok?" for me to well up again. After a self-mocking explanation to the students with "what can I say? Your teacher is human," I ended up spending the next twenty minutes telling them about Harold and the amazing legacy that he had left behind. Indeed, what a legacy it is!
I first met Harold almost twenty years ago at an ATWS conference, the first of many more that I would attend during the subsequent years. Standing before me was a gentle giant who, towering above others around him, extended to me his welcoming hand. As a young Chinese historian embarking on her academic career at a liberal arts college in the Midwest, I was immediately touched by Harold's warmth and generosity. He spent quite a bit of time telling me about the organization that he had devoted his life building, and introducing me to the family of scholars dedicated to the study of the third world. I have stayed in that family ever since.
Getting to know Harold was a simultaneously humbling and inspiring experience. This was a man who, convinced of the necessity to expand scholarly explorations into the political, economic, social and cultural experiences of the third world countries, had built an incredible organization from the ground up. His contagious passion for the worthy cause, combined with his determination to get things done, quickly attracted like-minded scholars to the Association of Third World Studies. By the time I joined the organization, Harold's influence had already spread far and wide among scholars across multiple disciplines in not only American academia but also in many other parts of the world.
Encouraged by Harold and several other esteemed colleagues, I mustered up my courage and ran for the secretary's position on ATWS's Executive Board in the late 1990s. Serving on the Board allowed me to observe Harold at work, up close and personal. I was simply wowed by his vision and commitment to the association and amazed by his attentiveness to meaningful operational details. He was instrumental in running the board meetings, organizing the annual conferences and overseeing the Journal of Third World Studies, among many other tasks. His...