Sunday, March 28, 2010

Upon the retirement of Tom Reeves

So yesterday and the day before I attended the conference celebrating the retirement of Tom Reeves.
Sounds kinda funny, celebrating the retirement of... one would almost think that UGA is happy to be rid of him. On the contrary.
It was really amazing to see how many lives he touches, and the extent of his network. With a 40 page CV this is hardly surprising!
The most important tribute to Tom, however, was the quality of the conference that was put together!
At the conference dinner a number of people told the stories of how Tom influence their lives.
I had already done a little bit of that during my session at the conference as discussant to Susan McKenny, so I thought I'd be quiet (can you believe it) for once.
But I think I should tell my story here. It would be nice if anyone else who has a "Tom Reeves" story to tell, if you want to add it as a comment to my blog.
I first met Tom in November 1993, just before taking up a position as associate professor of Computers in Education at the University of Pretoria. My predecessor, Renate Lippert, had suggested that I attend a conference in Midrand at which Tom would present a workshop on evaluation of educational software. Given that the very first course that I would have to teach was exactly about that, I duly attended, as did Cheryl Hodgkinson!
It is little surprise then, that the course I presented showed a very strong "Reeves" influence. Of course I was meticulous in giving credit (more because I wanted to show WHO I KNEW...)
But so things developed and we corresponded from time to time - even if it was just by acknowledging each other's postings on ITForum.
After some time, and thanks mainly to ITForum I had got to know quite a number of people in the IT community and my students were getting frustrated at hearing drop names, but not knowing which names were worth dropping themselves (ha ha ha) Barry Vorster asked whether there was a "Who's who" in instructional technology that one could consult. I asked Tom, and he confirmed that, indeed, there was none.
THUS it came to pass that I asked Johan Viljoen, Ari Naidoo and Barry Vorster to create one. I will never forget Tom's comment once we launched it. He said it was a very useful site and contributed to breaking the "feelings of isolation" that some of them felt... Imagine that - sitting at UGA - probably the biggest single concentration of "names" in the field, and feeling ISOLATED!!!
Soon afterwards Mari Pete sent me a photograph of herself DANCING with Tom Reeves at a conference in Miami!!!
Nine years ago Tom sent a general invite to people of the South Eastern States to attend a conference in honor of the retirement of Kent Gustafson from UGA. I argued that South Africa was very far SOUTH, and very far EAST, and Tom allowed me to attend too, and I stayed at home with him and Trisha!!!
That's where I met probably the most of the "big trees" that I have in my collection. They are the ones in which I appear in leopard skin here
Some years later, when Mike Spector invited me to a workshop in Tallahassee, I stopped over at UGA again, and Tom asked me to act as discussant at their departmental retreat. WHAT A PRIVILEGE!
Thus, when I received an invite to attend the conference in honor of TOM's retirement, there was NO STOPPING ME.
My only hope is now that he's retired, he may EVENTUALLY find time to return all my visits...