Worst Professor

Submitted by michigandadof4 on February 8th, 2010 at 10:02 PM

Keeping with the education theme. Who was your worst professor? For me, it was Bernard Nadel (a/k/a professor noodle). He single handedly convinced myself and about 20 others in his computer science class to change majors.

I think he was drummed out after only a couple of years.



February 8th, 2010 at 11:12 PM ^

He was (is?) usually dull, which is damn near inexcusable when you consider that he had basically all pre-modern Chinese history to work with. The rest of the time he was just plain incomprehensible. On his required textbook list -- back when it was only available via Shaman Drum -- was his own textbook on Chinese history, which cost around $90. He never used it, not once.


February 8th, 2010 at 11:45 PM ^

I guess I was lucky when I took his class then. He had his text book on the required list but it wasn't printed until a couple weeks before the semester ended so no one bought it. I think some people actually liked his class, and he was clearly very knowledgeable on the subject but I was also really bored by him.


February 8th, 2010 at 11:30 PM ^

Steven Yalisove in the Materials Science department. That guy is kinda crazy.

James Grotberg is pretty terrible. I also didn't like Ken Balazovich.


February 8th, 2010 at 11:32 PM ^

My current Art & Design 151 teacher could not be more vague, incorrect, and overall aggravating. Pointless class with a first time "professor" who has been in the business world for more than 20 years.
ugh and I have lecture/discussion back to back tomorrow


February 8th, 2010 at 11:38 PM ^

This lady prof I had for Engin 100 my first semester (also had TWO assistants, one GSI(cool guy) and a associate prof(tool)). It was the horrible, Pizza cooked and delivered in a van class.
One of the first things she said to us on the first day was "I don't play favorites because I hated when professors did that to me; I'm fair; This class will be straightforward and we'll work with you."

She (and the associate prof) then proceeded to play favorites, be completely unfair and biased, and be so straightforward that when, after the semester, I asked the associate prof why I got a 2 sublevels lower FINAL grade than my teammate(who had almost exactly the same scores on everything) was told that A) I shouldn't know his grade. B) More complex things than just scores (!??!NOT ON THE SYLLABUS) went into the grade. C) "I don't have time for this I have to go."

I'm still bitter, and hope that bitch got fired.


February 8th, 2010 at 11:45 PM ^

Sean Solata was a counselor that told me on three separate occasions to stop trying to transfer majors/pursue my goal. After I received my diploma in my desired major I ALMOST emailed her to tell her to fugg off. I thought better of it. She was easily my worst experience at U of M, worse than Math216.


February 9th, 2010 at 11:15 AM ^

I can't remember her name but I had a prof in the Nuclear Engineering dept pull the same crap. I was meeting with her to figure out what I wanted to do after undergrad. She told me to my face that my grades weren't good enough for grad school...especially at a place like Michigan. 5 years later when I was finishing my Ph.D. in EE - at Michigan - I almost had an extra copy of my dissertation printed to throw on her desk.


February 9th, 2010 at 12:16 AM ^

He made us buy three of his books (only books required for the class). He firmly believed that humans would one day realize their 'animal kinship' and begin treating their bodies better/living healthier. He boldly stated (in all three books and on numerous occasions during lectures) that we would not need any doctors in the future. I asked him what would happen if a person got hit by a falling tree and broke their leg. All he did was laugh and continue teaching. I spent the rest of the course citing examples where no amount of 'healthy living' would prevent the NEED for a doctor. He never retracted his statement. He just kept reiterating that the practice of medicine was an artifact of our 'unhealthy denial of animal kinship'.

Furthermore, the course had two bluebook exams. The first exam prompted us to compare and contrast two of his books. My friend and I both answered the prompt with fairly lengthy essays. We both received C's because all he wanted was two lists (literally bullet points and no complete snetences): one list of similarities and one list of differences. He decided our response was not "thorough enough". For the final, we grilled him extensively as to how he wanted the questions answered and he gave brutally incoherent and contradictory directions. BY FAR THE WORST TEACHER I HAD AT UM.


February 9th, 2010 at 12:52 AM ^

John Phillips for Orgo and Nina Lin for ChE 330. Phillips would go to Nolta's lectures to try to mimic them, but failed miserably. Lin didn't know what she was teaching and couldn't explain the bits she did know.


February 9th, 2010 at 1:04 AM ^

1. Perry Sampson, Geology 215 (?) Extreme Weather. The class was easy as all hell, but the guy had a tendency to laugh at his own jokes, not explain the material, and remind us all he did weed with his mental capacity.

2. Tom Venable, Statistics 100. For someone who already hated Math, he made me hate it more for my QR requirement. The guy was a babbling idiot who would explain something on the overhead, and then promptly wipe it away after screwing up.

3. Mariela Devos/De La Torre, Spanish 231 and 232. I had an absolutely wonderful Spanish professor (Karen Primorac) for 101 and 102, but Ms. De La Torre up there honestly made me want to put a gun in my mouth. On top of that, I cursed UM a thousand times over for the four semester language proficiency crap. But anyway, she was the biggest bitch I've ever encountered. Pushy, impatient with students, embarrass you unnecessarily in class, would arrive late because she commuted, had material on the exams we never covered, and was, again, a huge bitch when you tried to get help in office hours. To my horror, I got her again in 232 when I thought I would avoid her with an afternoon class. After I somehow survived, I took a very joyful hour writing every hateful thing I could on those evaluations to get her fired. And I hope she was.


February 9th, 2010 at 1:05 AM ^

She taught Orgo I for the only time when I first took it, and after a semester with her it's no surprise she only lasted that long. Absolutely terrible. She's like Bizarro-Nolta. This all happened 4 years ago but her name still burns as it escapes my throat. *shudder*


February 9th, 2010 at 1:06 AM ^

Thankfully I never had any of the professors that have been mentioned in this thread.

The worst professor I had was Richard Cureton. I had him for History of the English Language, and that guy could bore the pants off of...someone who's really boring.

He would squint and mumble for 90 minutes like he was stupefied by looking into the sun.


February 9th, 2010 at 1:12 AM ^

Alan Deardorff. I feel bad for writing his name especially since Kuhn was worse, but I took Deardorff's Econ 340 class my first semester at Michigan and he would just put me out to sleep. I remember sleeping before he even started lecturing because I knew I was going to sleep anyways. All his exams were basically memorization and all he did was read his slides during lectures. Being a freshman, I didn't realize I could skip his class until there were only 3 weeks left of the semester.

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~alandear/courses/340/comments.html for student comments on his classes. It's pretty cool that he's that transparent though.


February 9th, 2010 at 7:50 AM ^

I'm going to go a little more obscure - John Fine in the history department. He wrote a book on Byzantine history - and then read from said book during his lectures.

That was literally what every class was like - him reading and the entire class of like 20 kids falling asleep.

Maximinus Thrax

February 9th, 2010 at 8:11 AM ^

A philosophy prof. in the late '90s. He taught "Language and Mind". He started every class for like two months by writing "Cicero is Cicero" and "Cicero is Tully" on the board. I have no idea what the fuck he was EVER talking about. It was almost humorous how opaque his lectures were and how completely lacking in enthusiasm he was. He also never failed to hide his contempt for the American educational system or for American students in general (he was British). He also missed the first two weeks of the above noted class because for some reason he was stuck in England. Every day we would get to class and there would be some philosophy department admin person there who would tell us thet the prof. was still out of the country, and hand out some reading assignment to us.


February 9th, 2010 at 9:43 AM ^

Elijah Kannatey-Asibu is the worst prof I had. He would read straight from lecture slides prepared by another prof and if you had any questions he would repeat what the slide said verbatim. If your question was directed to something a few slides back, he would go back to the relevant slide and re-read it out loud. I am convinced he did not know the subject matter at all.


February 9th, 2010 at 12:16 PM ^

I think he prepares his own slides. He also tells one story about hamburgers and another story about how they nod differently in Ghana...in every class he teaches (I had him twice heard both stories twice, verbatim).

Not the worst Prof. I've had by far, but I can see how you'd might feel that way.


February 9th, 2010 at 9:58 AM ^

I know this is not at Michigan. However, if you ever attend Purdue for graduate school try to avoid Bob Anderson in the CS department. I had him for C programming 1 my freshman year. He spent a good quarter of lecture time rambling about tin foil theories about the federal government. Dude was flat out bonkers. He was the faculty advisor for some crazed student group that believed the illuminati was behind 9/11 and secretly running the world's governments.

Thank god I had Steve Trumbull in MSEE for materials thermodynamics the next semester. Prof. Trumbull was one of the lead investigators for the failure of the steal supports at the WTC for 9/11. He spent one lecture discussing the thermodynamic properties that lead to the failure of the steal supports. Easily, it was my favorite lecture in both undergrad and grad school.


February 9th, 2010 at 10:45 AM ^

I had a professor in 19th century European social history (can you say Marxism, various political upheavals, post-Enlightenment fallout, etc. - plenty of fodder for interesting material) who spent almost all her time talking about her favorite hobby, which was 16th century French furniture. Worst of all, the class was from 1-2:30 twice a week - right after lunch - and there was a group of four or five in the class who somehow found her tangents to be fascinating.

Lots of nap time gained, probably extending my life a few weeks.


February 9th, 2010 at 10:59 AM ^

Hanes Walton Jr of Political Science.

He'd show up a good 20 minutes late (not counting Michigan time) and ramble on about the 1970s and 1980s for awhile. He loved telling Jimmy Carter stories. He'd end class at least 30 minutes early (it was an 80 minute class that basically turned into 30 minutes of rambling about Carter and other Souther politicians). He never wore a mic, but it didn't matter because nothing he talked about was on the midterm or final. For example he told a minium of one Jimmy Carter story a week. The name Jimmy Carter never appeared anywhere on the midterm or final. (I only went because I had a class before it and after it, so I had nothing better to do. I used to sit there and play Madden or Grand Theft Auto on my laptop.)

Our GSIs though for that class were amazing. They worked their tail off to cover all the material that Hanes Walton Jr didn't cover in lecture.

He also never responded to email and was never at his office hours.

Maria, a former GSI of mine gets honorable mention for actually getting into a verbal fight with a student in front of the class. She used to show up late because she had to drop her kid off at child care and then ripped on this kid for showing up 2 minutes late. A bunch of us seniors jumped in on his side. It was so bad she was pulled as out GSI and some pinch hitter sent in to finish off the term.


February 9th, 2010 at 1:24 PM ^

Totally agree that his class was a waste of time. GSI's totally sucked ass.

Only produced one memorable thing - his 25min comparison of the 2000 Gore Presidential campaign to Raiders of the Lost Ark. The theme of the lecture was, "They're digging in the wrong place." I don't remember how that was relevant.

STW P. Brabbs

October 5th, 2010 at 8:42 AM ^

Was a horrendous teacher.  But I feel like every once in a while, an entertaining professor who gives you some funny memories is an okay trade-off (especially since that was the semester I realized that poli sci books are seriously the most horrendously boring things ever written.)  When I took his 300-level class, people realized that lecture had fuck-all to do with exams, so they took to reading the Daily, texting, etc. during class.  This pissed Hanes off, so he told us the final would teach us a lesson.  There were questions of fact so specific that you needed to memorize the reading to answer correctly.  Good times.

but the man had his qualities.  You had to simply marvel at the deftness with which Hanes utilized the blackboard to bring home his points (unfortunately, I can't reproduce those random, non-alphabet-based scrawls here.)  The most memorably tangent he went on, in my class, was about how funeral homes are almost entirely unregulated.  Here:

"They charge you five thousand dollars, say you're gonna get a watertight casket.  You believe that? Watertight.  What the hell you need a watertight casket for, unless your daddy's Dracula?  If your daddy is Dracula, you probably don't want one anyway.  Probably want to let him get out!"*

*That's paraphrased a bit, as the memory's faded a little over time, but I tried like hell to lock that little vignette in for posterity so it's pretty close.  Anyone who's taken a class with the man knows I'm not exaggerating. 


February 9th, 2010 at 11:13 AM ^

Alexander Ganago...I have hime for EECS 314. His lectures mostly consist of irrelevent electronic theory and examples that don't help with the hw, and is basically impossible to stay awake in. Then there is about 6 hours of hw a week that he feels is easy, plus a lab that has very little relation to the course material.

However, his accent is pretty funny and when he gets excited he sounds like Borat, so there's that I guess.


September 28th, 2010 at 12:11 PM ^

...Ganago for my EECS 211 lab instructor, but there's no way I could ever picture him as a lecturer. I definitely feel for you my friend.

However, I can't believe that no one has mentioned Kieras. I had him for EECS 280, and suffered through his terrible attitude, awful lectures, and intentionally inconvenient office hours (other side of North Campus, immediately following lecture lolz at underclassmen!) to complete that course.


February 9th, 2010 at 12:19 PM ^

Slightly OT:
Foreign GSI's. I had this guy named Istvan for calc...couldn't understand a damned word he said.

Best Prof: Avik Chacrabati. Back notes and group tests in Econ. Best class, hands down.


February 9th, 2010 at 12:24 PM ^

My two terrible professors were people that managed to take subjects I loved and absolutely destroy them.

1. Detlef Sprinz, PoliSci 160. Not really a bad guy, but his visiting professor German voice was the most soothing thing known to man. Bad news when all he talks about is game theory and models of world interaction. Half the class would be asleep within five minutes of 9:00 a.m.


2. Michelle McClellan, History 161. Michelle, on the other hand, is just a straight up bitch. The class is stupidly easy, but she seemed to only want to talk about Little House on the Prairie and Laura Ingalls Wilder the entire time. Instead of trying to teach an intro course on American history, she was pushing some agenda that I still haven't fully gotten. Not to mention that she would stop talking and stare at people if they fidgeted in class.