There are people who touch our lives and there are people who touch our hearts. Few people, however, do both. James J. Culliton did throughout his life and we are all the better for having known him and having been influenced by him.
Jim was truly unique: his humanity, his caring, his knowledge, his skills as a manager and mentor, his eternal optimism, and his full and enthusiastic involvement in what we did and how we did will stay with us. More importantly, Jim will always be remembered for his humor. Whether it was thinking about walking the infinite corridor in boots, hat, and a western duster, sponsoring the rugby team, flying a plane, or using a ten year old agenda to demonstrate that issues must be continually addressed, the sparkle in his eyes and smile on his face showed us that he was having a wonderful time.
His career was multi-faceted: a United States Navy flier, an administrator in India, special assistant to the president at MIT, vice president for human resources, vice president for finance and operations, and vice president for administration, he relished each and every activity and downplayed his tremendous impact on those around him. His influence extended beyond the boundaries of the Institute as Jim was a significant influence on federal policies related to research, representing both MIT and the higher education community in interactions with the federal government.
But it was MIT and the people at MIT that benefitted the most from knowing and working with Jim. He inspired each of us to do more than what we thought was our best. His gentle guidance and unwavering support enabled us to achieve more than we expected and more than we hoped. That was the hallmark of Jim's interaction with those around him: he taught without seeming to teach, he supported our goals and our dreams, and he made each of us special.
His support of people, his love of life, and his dedication to the Institute will be remembered by all. Those of us who had the pleasure of working with him are the richer for it and the Institute is the richer for his association with it. These words perfectly describe Jim and his life:
"I shall pass through this world but once. Any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show another human being, let me do it now and not defer it. I shall not pass this way again."
To the end, Jim's interest in those around him and his involvement in Institute activities were surpassed only by his determination and his humor. That is what we will remember him for and that which will encourage each of us to carry on.
We miss you, Jim, and carry you in our hearts.
Julie T. Norris
MIT Reports to the President 1995-96