For 27 years, my office has been a treasured space in my life. In early times, it featured a large aquarium stocked with tropical fish from Woolworth’s down the street – a calming influence for visiting students, and for me as I tried to figure out my job. When lightning struck our apartment on Pitt Street one summer day and burned us out, my office was where I stored my most important salvaged possessions behind lock and key.

Over the years, my office filled with all the books and papers that are the resources for my work. And then there are the mementos that students immediately notice – the wooden car from Cuba, the poster of Arabic letters, the plastic globes hanging from the ceiling. They are what often begin conversations:

“Have you read all the books in here?”

“How many places have you been?”

“Where did that car come from?”

Yet the defining feature of my office may not be the stacks of papers and books, but “the chair.” Located squarely in the middle of the room, the chair is my late-night and early-morning grading and writing space. And, though actual chairs have come and gone, many a student has felt the chair is his or her space – where issues are discussed, questions are answered, problems are resolved, plans are made. That is what has truly made my office special – all the people sitting in that chair, gazing around and then plunging into what they have come to talk through. After 27 years, it is hard to fathom having those conversations anywhere else … and it is hard to imagine my life without all those people in it.

– John Creed

– John Creed is an associate professor of
political science who has taught at the College since 1992.

Featured image of John Creed by Heather Moran.