And yet, when I showed him Felheim's bitter letters and the controversial chapters of my dissertation, he quickly agreed to assume the chairmanship. He asked good questions about parts of the thesis and then approved the whole. He guided me through the dissertation defense, where prospective Ph.D. recipients have to field critical questions from other professors. He could not have done better by me had I been his student for years, working through the whole process under his guidance.
The situation at state universities has grown even worse over the past three decades. Taxes (and sometimes contributions) from conservatives continue to build the buttresses of liberal academic cathedrals. The situation isn't as bad as it could be, because some students expect professors to be propagandists and discount what they say, but many experience a slow toxic buildup.
Why did Tonsor, now a professor emeritus, go out of his way to help an unknown? I think he understood what professors who don't bow the knee to Baal owe to one another and to those who will follow. Graduate students often need a professor in their corner, and at times I've been able to pay forward the help I received. One good act leads to more.