OT: A question for M students and grads of the last 7 or so years

Submitted by James Burrill Angell on April 25th, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Alright. for all you Michigan undergrads looking for a study break (i.e procrastination break) and also recent grads of the last seven or so years, I need some help. I do work with a few alumni groups and, as I mentioned in a post a few months ago, we've been looking to bring some UofM professors out into the world to speak. The program has already brought Ralph Williams out to a few stops out of state and he'll be in West Bloomfield in November. We've got a short list of two for our second speaker and I'm curious of everyone's thoughts on these two, particularly if you've had both (please indicate that in your comments if you did). Also, try to conceptualize what we're doing. This is for a one hour lecture (much like "The Last Lecture" series given by Professors who win the Golden Apple award). So while you may think one is a better professor than the other in a traditional semester long setting, the question posed is who can give the best one hour lecture.

The two being considered are:

1) Christopher Peterson - Psychology Department (and 2010 Golden Apple winner)

2) Bruce Conforth - American Studies Department (and former curator of the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame)




April 25th, 2011 at 11:08 AM ^

All that, and all you gave us was a 50/50 question? Boooooooooooooo!

I'm going to ignore your question and offer you suggestions for who to bring in as a speaker - Richard Mann who taught the self-graded course "Psychology and Spiritual Development." He spent most of the semester talking about what it's like, from a spiritual perspective, to use LSD.

If you're wondering what grade I gave myself - A. I was awesome.

James Burrill Angell

April 25th, 2011 at 11:23 AM ^

Not sure how thats going to go over with the over-40 M alumni crowd that we typically attract with these things (generally LSD isn't big with the parent and grandparent crowd that drops some coin on functions like this) but I appreciate the enthusiasm towards the subject matter and loyalty to the professor and certainly curious to see what your future profession may be based on classes like this...perhaps a future Walter Bishop.


April 25th, 2011 at 12:04 PM ^

I loved that class...took it in the summer, we had class outside 50% of the time.  Homework included:  reading Sidartha (SP?), meditating for a few hours (not kidding), and writing a 5 page paper on anything you wanted (had to be original and not something you already did).  I Got to read a Pink Floyd song as a poem during class and yes, he knew Timothy Leary...


Oh and I also gave myself an "A"


April 25th, 2011 at 9:00 PM ^

I took that class in '97 and it was a wonderful experience. I didn't put much work into it at all, and graded myself an A-. I'm quite sure that if I asked for an A Dick Mann (he actually preferred to be called "Dick Mann") would have obliged. I would have graduated with honors had I received an A instead of A- in that class. Oh well.

I also had Chris Peterson, and have spent time at conferences with him. Great guy, and great speaker.


April 25th, 2011 at 11:17 AM ^

He was absolutely amazing. I took his "History of American Popular Music" class my senior year, he was great. 

No experience with the other guy, but you will NOT go wrong with Bruce


April 25th, 2011 at 11:37 AM ^

Definitely Bruce. Took his History of the Blues class and it was captivating from start to finish. I'm not sure what goes on in that man's head but it sure seems awesome.


April 25th, 2011 at 11:42 AM ^

I served on the LSA Curriculum Committee with him for a couple years back in 2007/2008, and he was engaging and truly seemed to care about the issues relating to the college.  At various events he has been engaging, honest, and straightforward, almost to the point of being blunt.  But he is a brilliant speaker and is capable of communicating in a way everyone can understand.


I have never heard your other potential speaker, but you can't go wrong with Chris Peterson.


April 25th, 2011 at 11:59 AM ^

Thanks for the generic thread title, asshole.

Your title suggests this would be applicable to ~60,000 people (including myself), when in reality it only holds court for several hundred. 


April 25th, 2011 at 7:50 PM ^

definitely has the best troll face.  It's going to be used forever!  Too bad about his injuries that happened to him in the last few years but it's normal for a guy in his size.  Great, great guy who plays the game the right way.


April 25th, 2011 at 12:02 PM ^

I have heard Bruce Conforth is a great professor, and if I had any space left in my schedule for non-required classes that make sure I graduate next year, I probably would take one of his classes.  His topic seems more entertaining and interesting for a general crowd.


April 25th, 2011 at 12:14 PM ^

Took two classes with him. History of Pop Music and a class about counter cultures that I can't remember the name of. He's great. 

Also, his hungry ghost story that he tells on the last day of class is pretty inspirational. One of my favorite U of M profs.


April 25th, 2011 at 12:26 PM ^

I've taken classes from them both, but I've enjoyed Dr. Peterson's speaking more. His work may also be more relevant to more people. You should invite both speakers if you continue this nice series.


April 25th, 2011 at 1:12 PM ^

Conforth was an excellent lecturer. His class made my senior spring. Very passionate, very knowledgeable, and had a myriad of anecdotes and stories.


April 25th, 2011 at 2:26 PM ^

Another vote for Bruce. I know him personally (never was able to take his class, unfortunately) and he is a killer storyteller and a super interesting guy to talk to. I can virtually guarantee he'll give a great lecture.


April 25th, 2011 at 4:47 PM ^

You need to consider Elliot Solloway.  The guy is amazing - professor in Computer Science and the School of Education.  Owns his own business that makes educational software programs.

Routinely teaches the computer science senior design project course.  He.  Is. Amazing.


April 25th, 2011 at 5:05 PM ^

I had Conforth for two classes (Hippies, Beatniks, and Punks and American Folklore) at U of M and he was amazing.  As for the single lecture angle, Conforth's last lecture of the class is always great.  I still remember every bit and still have the two cards he handed me at the end of each course.


/Don't let the hungry ghosts get you.


April 25th, 2011 at 6:08 PM ^

Conforth was one of the best professors I've ever had. I took Survey of American Folklore with him. Just a damn fine human being and fun to be in a classroom with. Played delta blues slide guitar for us in class and showed us a wide range of pop culture videos. His lectures were interactive, funny and engaging. David Moosman was in my class and Bruce gave him a bunch of shit every week (this is when he started playing at center). Bruce was very likeable and he seems like a great person to have doing this kind of community outreach.


April 25th, 2011 at 7:52 PM ^

for History of American Popular Music.  Not a difficult class but his lectures are entertaining.  He truly made it fun and interesting for us to learn about the history of music.


April 26th, 2011 at 3:44 AM ^

Conforth for sure. I took his "American Subcultural Movements: Beatniks, Hippies, and Punks"


 Unreal that was even a class, but it was amazing.