Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Weekly Rankings - College Professors

Yesterday’s story about the NYU professor got me thinking about my college professors and since we haven’t had a much to rank in a while, I decided to rank my top 5 college professors during my time at the University of Wisconsin. Whether or not you went to UW, you may have had professors like these gems……..or maybe not. And after looking at the list, what stood out to me is the classes I took more than the professors. How did a Finance major end up in Linguistics, The History of African Music, Puerto Rican History & Nursing 101? I tend to be an optimist, so at least this proves I have memories from college that don’t all include some combination of beer, women and sports.

5. The Watermelon – Linguistics

My roommate Archie & I signed up for linguistics because it met some crazy requirement in order to graduate. We really didn’t care about the origins of language or whatever the class was about……because as you’ll see in a minute, I didn’t complete the class. We settle into our seats in the middle of Bascom Hall among roughly 200 students. We’re slightly punchy because it’s the first day of class to start a new semester and we may or may not have been out drinking the night before. The professor takes the stage and she’s a rather robust woman, wearing what can only be described as a lime green moo-moo dress that also could have doubled as a parachute. Archie doesn’t miss a beat and cracks under his breath, “She looks like a huge watermelon up there.” I absolutely lost it and had to bury my head in my arms to keep from laughing out loud. Every time I looked up, all I could see was a huge watermelon, so I spent the rest of the class with my head down shaking with laughter. I dropped the class the next day.

4. Unknown Professor – Nursing 101

I really have no idea whether this professor was good or bad. As I’m starting my final semester, I get the dreaded call telling me I was one credit short of graduation. I assume one of my roommates is messing with me in a knock off of a Saved By The Bell episode, and proceed to tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about and they should recount them and call me back. They do, and they walk me through how I am actually 1 credit short, and it’s already almost 2 weeks into the semester, so all of the phy ed classes are already full. The only 1 credit class I can find Is Nursing 101. My roommate Diggity assesses the situation as this: “Perfect. Freshmen girls who want to be naughty nurses. I’m signing up with you.” And we both register for the class. I went to the first class to scope the talent and pick up the class agenda for the semester. Turns out it was a jackpot – two short papers and one take home exam. I never returned to the classroom other than to turn in the papers. Oh, and I may or may not have gotten some help on the exam from a friend’s sister who was taking the class seriously.

3. The Dude - History of African Music

Picture in your head the perfect teacher for a class about the African music beginning in the early 1900’s and running up until Tupac and Dr. Dre. Who are you picturing? My thought would be someone that might look like Red Foxx or James Earl Jones. Imagine my surprise when on the first day of class an older white guy who resembled The Dude from The Big Lebowsky begins the lecture. The Dude also showed up for every class wearing a Colorado Avalanche “Starter” jacket. But The Dude knew his music and the class was a phenomenal way to rack some credits just by listening to great music from Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, and Tupac. The class was an hour and a half of listening to a song, then listening to The Dude talk about that time in history, then playing another song. I’ve never been more relaxed after a class.

2. Bulent Paker – Finance

Paker was one of the nicest and most caring professors I encountered during college. He was maybe 5’3” and of Indian decent, teaching in a huge 350 student lecture hall with a sliding chalk board system at the front of the room. Due to his lack of height, he would have to jump up and down to fully erase the board during his lecture, which led to some great unintentional comedy (and the opportunity to wager on how many times he would jump during each class). I learned the CAPM (Capital Asset Pricing Model) from him, and if I didn’t know any better, I would think that the only thing you ever needed in finance was the CAPM formula. He was obsessed with it, and he would get so excited that he would stop class and repeat over and over: “Don’t write thees down, just leeesen (listen) and understand.”

1. Bruce Harms – Business Law

This is the guy that most closely resembled the NYU professor from yesterday’s post. Harms was known as a prickly guy with an ego too big for his cubicle which led to extremely difficult exams. I actually thoroughly enjoyed his class and found the cases really interesting. Yet, my favorite moment came after the first exam and he put the distribution of grades on the board: A – 4, AB-10, B – 15, BC-35, C – 30, D – 35, & F-15. (Let’s just say I was not in the top 3 categories) He then proceeds to point to the top 3 categories and explain that these people are in trouble because they will relax and do poorly on the next exam. And then he circles the bottom groups and adds this gem: “These people are in the sweet spot because they will study more for the next exam and pass those people that are currently at the top.” What? I’m sitting there with a C. I do not consider that the sweet spot. No matter what I get on the NEXT test, I’m still sitting here right now with a C on this test, you toolbox.

No comments:

Post a Comment