That, almost verbatim, is how Phil Bailey began most interviews I’ve had with him. And that charge, dear readers, has been quite the challenge.
As editor of Cal Poly Magazine for the past two years and a general writer-at-large on campus for a few more years before that, I have interviewed the man who has led the College of Science and Mathematics for the past three decades several times each year. And without fail, each of those interviews has been informative, fascinating, insightful, hilarious, and above all, way more fun than anyone has a right to expect to have in a workday.
In each of those interviews, sure enough, he told me everything. It’s not just that he’s effusive — which he surely is. It’s that he knows so much. He’s so connected, not just within the College of Science and Mathematics but across the university. He has so much history to share. And he cares deeply about almost everything he does here, especially where students are concerned.
When I began interviewing Dean Bailey last fall for his valedictory profile in this issue, I should have known what I was in for. I could have written another 2,000 words each on his relationships with the dozens of students who have lived with him and his wife, Tina. I could have written a whole extra feature on his journey from overenthusiastic young professor to dean — a journey that I very unfairly cut to a paragraph in the profile you’re about to read.
In a world that rarely sees the kind of fortitude and dedication it takes to spend 48 years doing anything, Phil Bailey is a lucky anomaly that I’ve had the great privilege to cover and not nearly enough pages to cover properly. I only hope I can spark memories of your own encounters with him to help make up the difference.
Dean Bailey, congratulations on an outstanding legacy here at Cal Poly, and thanks for consistently being my favorite standing interview.