I was in my second semester as a political theory grad student in the government department here and feeling completely overwhelmed with coursework, TA responsibilities and life in general. One day as I was struggling to free a paper jam in the copier, Fr. James Schall, S.J. walked up and introduced himself.

“Stop by my office when you have a minute,” he said.

I do not have a minute! I thought. I’m behind on my reading, I’ve got papers to grade and this copier won’t let me finish this job! But despite all that, I found myself just a half an hour later seated in Fr. Schall’s office.

What followed was the beginning of a three year conversation that started out about Plato and wound its way into other philosophers, history, teaching, undergraduate education and life in general. We didn’t get together often, but when we did it was invariably illuminating for me. Fr. Schall is a paradigm of the educated individual; wise in all the ways that matter, but open-hearted and generous with his time and knowledge. His is one of the models of understanding that I often strive to emulate.

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