PhD, MIT 1965; Professor Emeritus, University of California, San Diego
In 1960 while completing a master’s degree in linguistics at the University of Michigan I acquired a copy of Noam Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures. Enthralled by the contents of this short book I was determined to pursue further my interest in Noam’s perspective on language and its structure. I applied to the MIT graduate program in linguistics and in 1962 became a member of the first class of doctoral candidates. During the fall semester Noam was teaching a late-afternoon class presenting his latest research on English syntax. The classroom was not limited to the few students registered for the course but overflowed with faculty from other departments, with foreign visitors, and with professors on sabbatical leave. The atmosphere was electrifying: Noam presenting his new material; participants putting forward counterexamples; and Noam responding persuasively, calmly, and always respectfully. I cherish that memory of more than fifty years ago—the experience of being in such a stimulating intellectual environment, the opportunity of having Noam as one of my teachers, and the privilege of observing a great mind at work.