Dear Dean Hazeltine,

As my own life is proving, with age comes wisdom. My problem is that I always thought you were a pretty smart man while I was at Brown nearly 30 years ago and can't imagine the expansion in your capacity at age 75. What is certain, however, is that God has blessed each and every one of your students by placing you in our path.

Your strengths as an educator are beyond your uncanny ability to bring technical concepts to everyday understanding. Your strengths are based in your passion for science combined with your compassion for people. And again, I thank God for how you influenced my life with these qualities.

Brown was a consistent challenge for someone from middle-class Brooklyn. I was living with an elderly widower as a caretaker to defray costs during junior year and it was proving to be more a distraction than a benefit. Marriage was planned for the coming summer and senior year would bring many new influences on my time and focus. Tuition payments were being made with newly offered credit cards since all parental support ceased.

As the course load demands intensified, my GPA suffered. The message read: "See Dean Hazeltine." As the person that turned on my passion (and that of so many others) for engineering as a profession, it was ironic that you might also be the one to extinguish it.

That meeting was life changing for me. It was the nicest way possible to tell someone that negative consequences follow poor performance. (Hazeltine Life Lesson #1) Priorities must be set among all of the important things in life. (Hazeltine Life Lesson #2) A second chance was possible, but only with equally consequent improvement. Third chances were not possible. (Hazeltine Life Lesson #3)

To this day, I recall your eyes as the meeting ended. They had both the seriousness of the moment and the empathy that I craved. It was clear that my failure would hurt me, but that it would also hurt you. I have felt indebted to you ever since that day.

For the record, things have turned out just fine. With my degree in Civil Engineering in hand, I spent five years as an engineer for Westinghouse Electric, which was followed by nearly 25 years in management roles, both technical and non-technical. Your influence was most recently displayed when I was described as someone that can explain technical concepts in simple terms and when I was complimented by a lawyer for, "a common-sense approach to products liability issues."

The greatest form of flattery is imitation, and I have taken so many things from you into daily application. A spontaneous "Everything alright?" or "Is everybody ok?" during a meeting or a training session, for example. But most important, I seek to incorporate the blend of passion and compassion that you demonstrated toward me as I interact with others.

My wish is for your birthday celebration to include the satisfaction that only comes from the positive impact of one life on so many other lives. With prayer for continued blessings.


Kevin Hazel
Class of 1977
VP Strategic Purchasing
Siemens Power Generation
Orlando, FL

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