Time for not an anecdote but my academic history, which is a rather absurd one. I’m keeping this long story as short as I can.

When I applied for jobs in my last year of graduate school, the outcome was a little strange. I got an NSF postdoc and a tenure track offer from Rice, but not a single other offer. At the time Yau was at IAS and knew me, mostly because he knew my father. At some point, he told Calabi that IAS had not gotten any letters for me. Calabi told my father, who then told me. It was then I learned that my letters had never been sent out by Harvard. NSF and Rice got letters only because they asked for them early.

I accepted both offers, spent 3 semesters at Courant, and then moved to Rice. After 4 years there, we moved to NYC. This required a few miracles, namely my wife getting into the highly competitive Columbia film program, me getting a visiting position in the Columbia math department and a Columbia apartment, and Stephen getting into a nursery school (that’s a story in itself).

After two years at Columbia, I took a job at Polytechnic University. At the time, I liked the school, because it was small, and I knew and liked some of the math faculty, including Lesley Sibner, Ed Miller, and Erwin Lutwak. Although I did in fact really enjoy my 25+ years there, it was a school in a steady decline, especially financially.

Luckily, the NYU President decided they needed an engineering school (they had gotten rid of theirs back in the early 70’s), so NYU took over Poly in 2008. In 2014 Poly became the NYU School of Engineering. I was a member of the NYU Engineering School math department until 2017. At that point, the Courant and Engineering math departments agreed to merge into a single department (we’re the only Poly department that agreed to do this. There are still separate CS, physics, and chemistry departments). More accurately, Courant swallowed us up. So that’s how I became a Courant math professor.