Mel Pollner Eulogies
Mel Pollner

November 8, 2007
Tamara Sniezek

I feel very lucky to have known and worked with Mel as a graduate student. He was a thoughtful, funny and warm person.

Some of my favorite memories are when he and I worked together on our gender and laughter research. Mel had a way of reading the laughter in the transcripts that was purposely stiff and dry. He did not mock the subjects, but mocked our own academic analysis of participant’s lived experience. The effect was hilarious. I would start laughing, then he would start laughing and soon our entire meeting to analyze laughter became filled with our own laughter! It was typical Mel humor, goofy, self-deprecating and poignant. Not only did Mel bring a wonderful sense of humor to our interactions, he was the warmest and kindest human being.

When I became pregnant in graduate school, he would share endearing stories of his family with me. One time he pulled out photos of his kids from his wallet and showed me a drawing his daughter had made. His eyes were full of love and pride as he spoke of them. I remember truly appreciating that he shared that part of himself with me. His openness was a breath of fresh air in the impersonal world of academia. Likewise, it made me feel like I was more than “just another student”.

Mel was also enthusiastic and supportive. He always had positive responses to my ideas. In fact, it was easy to get off track at our meetings as he would appreciate an idea and run with it. Mel responded to students in the classroom, both undergraduate and graduate, in the same enthusiastic way. I hope that I am able to be the warm, open and supportive mentor to my students that Mel was to me.