Chickens, Eggs and Course Circulars: Professsors and their classes

by Jean Ellen Cowgill | 11/10/06 6:00am

As I am taking an off-term this coming winter, I thought (naively) that I would get to bypass the stress and fuss of course selection. Over the past week, however, I too was swept up in the soul searching, the distrib hunting and the heated discussions of the relative pros and cons of good classes with bad profs or good profs with bad classes. Now that course circulars are being relegated to recycling bins, it is time for a little reflection and an examination of that infamous chicken-and-egg question: does the professor make the class or does the class make up for the professor?

As a dedicated SA course guide junkie, I am definitely a disciple of the former. The conversations I heard this past week only confirm my belief that a class is what a professor makes of it. How often do you hear someone bemoan taking a class in his or her concentration because the professor is as dry as sandpaper? Or of someone who signed up last minute for a QDS and discovered a secret love of linguistics and Minnesotans? Regardless of the material, some classes stand out because their professors laid good eggs. Or hatched great classes. Or something like that.

Lisa Baldez (Government) Although some warn her "Protests and Parties" class can be a little much for freshmen, as one student wrote, "Baldez rocks my world."

Beppe Cavatorta (Italian) Course guide entries for Italian 1 entitled "Beppe!," "Beppe is the prof for you," etc.

Ayo Coly (AAAS) Course guide entry: "JACKPOT!," "AYO COLY MARRY ME!!"

Benoit Cushman-Roisin (Engineering) A dedicated prof of some less-stressful, interesting engineering courses.

Carol Dunne/James Rice (Theater) Either one is great for Acting I, a fun Art distrib.

David Ehrlich (Film & Television) If you take an animation course, it may well take over your life, but many assert that it's worth it to get the chance to work with the awesomely accomplished Ehrlich.

Andrew Garrod (Education) A caring prof, his Adolescent Development class consistently receives great reviews

Marlene Heck (Art History) Her "Building America: Architectural and Social History" will change the way you look at Dartmouth, literally.

Douglas Irwin (Economics) Many list his "International Trade" class as one of their favorite classes at Dartmouth.

Allen Koop (History) His lectures are outstanding, and though the classes aren't always easy, they are extremely rewarding.

David Lagomarsino (History) I took his class freshmen fall and suddenly wanted to be a history major. Every lecture is a performance.

David Lemal (Chemistry) Chemistry 57 is not for the faint of heart, but Lemel makes it rewarding.

Michael Mastanduno (Government) "US Foreign policy" is difficult to get into, but as one reviewer writes, "Mastanduno is a God."

Donald Pease (English) I never figured out how he lectured so articulately without lecture notes. As one review said, "Pease is a sweet dude."

Timothy Pulju (Linguistics) There exists a Facebook Fan club entitled "Professor Pulju is one cunning linguist." If you have any doubts, read the group's posts, laugh and then go sign up for the course.

Paul Whalen (Psychology) A new professor, Whalen teaches Lab Psychological Science and somehow makes it "extremely entertaining."

Lee Witters (Biology) One student calls him her "life advisor." An extremely dedicated prof and Bio 2 is a great way to get a SCI distrib.

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