I love love LOVE W&M professors. You’d hear all about them on a visit, how they’re engaged with the students and everyday go
above and beyond the expectations anyone could have for such busy faculty members.
I could give you three years worth of examples about how they’ve affected my experience at the College, but I’ll spare you the entire novel that would rapidly become and hold it to a select few.
I loved every minute I spent in my classes with Professors Phillip Daileader and Paul Mapp. Okay, maybe not the minutes
during the midterms and finals, but other than that, every minute. Those two professors somehow manage to work stand-up comedy into European and American history classes, making lectures absolutely unforgettable.
Professor Daileader launched his very first lecture by telling us all we had now officially become part of one giant propaganda effort created by the Allies during WWII. In the middle of a lecture about the Punic Wars, he stopped to discuss the fact that “with a name as intimidating as Hannibal, it was basically inevitable that the guy would launch a war by crossing the Alps with elephants. Right? Right.”
In Professor Mapp’s class, we spent the majority of our time reading primary documents from colonial times. (That honestly sounds fun to me without the qualifiers that follow…don’t judge too harshly). To you, however, it might sound like a drag, UNTIL you read and discuss John Smith’s letter about the early struggles in Jamestown. The 21st century translation reads: I’m a really tough guy and I think things are just fine over here. But, if this whole colony thing is going to work out, you all need to stop sending me good-for-nothing, wimpy men. They can barely chop down a tree much less tackle the wild and crazy of the New World. I need real men, not gentlemen.
On another day, we discussed what one VA-plantation owner could have possibly been referencing when he wrote “I danced my dance” at the end of almost every journal entry. Professor Mapp explained, “Now, I know what you all might be considering, but dancing was actually a really important part of being a member of the Virginia aristocracy.”
So well done, history department, but I can’t leave out the government profs over there in Morton Hall. Professor Clay Clemens is a favorite inside and outside the classroom, whether he’s starting his class with youtube’s latest viral video or inviting all of the admissions interns over for a backyard BBQ.
He’s also been the greatest advisor.
One day last summer, as I panicked about my life for absolutely no genuine reason, I sent him an email with at least fifteen, rapid-fire questions. He should have probably shaken his head and ignored my crazy ranting. Instead, he emailed me back within a few hours offering advice that tempered each of my concerns. So, thank you for that, again Professor and I promise to avoid bothering you in the midst of any future melodramatic breakdowns.
I could say much, much more, but blogs can only be so long. So just trust me. The professors at W&M are not just exceptional teachers, they’re exceptional people, and we’re all lucky to have them at the heart of our community.