Cahill Professor of Civil Engineering, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley
University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech
Matthew Kuhn Testimonial
Recollections of a Former PhD Student
I was a graduate student at UC Berkeley during the mid-1980s. I will never forget my first encounter with James Mitchell: September, 1982 in his Soil Behavior course. His command and interest in the subject, his inquiring manner, his relaxed and personal approach to teaching, his generosity of spirit. All of these aspects and more were apparent in a remarkable man of warmth and intellect. As one of his PhD students, he was incredibly inspirational, and he encouraged and emboldened all of his students to set high goals but to seek an even deeper understanding. I remember a meeting in which I had expressed my own goal to fathom certain fundamental aspects of soil behavior, and he noted the impending difficulty (“a very tall order”, I believe) but also applauded and encouraged my effort. Thirty years later, the difficulty has not diminished and my progress has been modest, at best. Over the years, I have been sustained by the many lessons that Dr. Mitchell imparted to all of his students: a love of learning, an ethic of patience and hard work, a willingness to embrace challenges and seek truth, and a calling to impart these lessons in others.