Celebrity -- professors?

It’s harder and harder to come up with an original thread topic, but I’m betting this one is new. What famous people have taught you?

I took two operating systems classes at San Diego State from moderately famous science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge. Some of his books include “A Fire Upon the Deep”, “The Peace War”, and “Marooned in Real Time”.

Also, my physics professor at UC San Diego was Roger Judge, who’s not exactly famous, but he’s somehow related to Mike Judge, creator of Office Space, King Of the Hill, and Spike & Mike’s Festival of Animation. Mike also has a physics degree from UCSD, but I don’t know if he studied with Dr. Judge.

The closest thing to a “celebrity” who taught me was Kaja Silverman, a bigwig in academic circles. That was my senior year earning my BA.

Hugh Huxley was my Adv. Cell Biology teacher when I was a senior in college (I even got a letter for grad school from him).

He was famous for elucidating the mechanism by which muscles contract (on the molecular level). He was also mentioned in James Watson’s The Double Helix as he worked in the Cavendish labs (or maybe Cambridge??)at that time.

Nice Gent. He brought a silver tea service to campus when arrived and held 4pm tea for the grad students in the department.

When I was going to San Jose State, Carl Sagan was a guest at one of my classes. I asked him "What is your definition of ‘Life’? All I remember is that he said it was a “very interesting” question…

Well we’ve got Jared Diamond for one. Eugen Weber was not a huge celebrity, but a lot of people in SoCal knew him from his recurring PBS special, The Western Tradition. It was a very sad day in Westwood when he passed this year.

And I wish I could take life science with Greg Graffin.

Avery Brooks is a professor at Rutgers University and has been for many years.

I went to school with the girl that was the main actress in “Forrest Hump”.
Oh, professors…sorry about that.

Apologies - I misread the OP. I haven’t actually had a class with any of those professors; Prof. Weber was retired when I arrived and the list and application process to get a class with either Profs. Graffin or Diamond are harrowing to say the least.

Uh, I’ve taken classes with some people that have been on various Hitler Channel shows, does that count?

I took a summer abroad class in Australia that was co-taught by Ian Morris. I don’t that he’s “celebrity”, but he’s supposed to be well-known in conservation circles, helps a lot with documentaries, and is/was on some government environmental and Aboriginal affairs committees. Also, he has a lizard species named after him.

I’ve taken a few courses from what you would call “celebrities” if you followed meteorology, which few people do. My (ex) father in law is a genuine celebrity in Archeology. Probably the most widely famous professor I had was in an introductory chemistry class. Apparantly he is an icon to chemistry teachers across the country - Bassam Shakhasiri.

I had a couple of profs who were legends in their own minds.

My high school history teacher had a professor who was friends with Einstein.

That’s all I got. :smiley:

Haven’t we all?

I had a couple of very well-known music profs at UC San Diego in the '70s: keyboardist Anthony Newman and composer Pauline Oliveros. A few others were notable in avant-garde circles; not so much to the general public.

I’ve had a journalism professor with a pretty impressive resume:

As a member of the Better Government Association, he worked with the Sun-Times to buy and run a bar in Chicago, The Mirage to expose corruption.

He went undercover as a guard at the Pontiac State Prison to expose poor conditions for prisoners.

He also worked on stories about Chicago ambulance companies and vote fraud that helped the Chicago Tribune win a couple Pulitzers.

Oh yeah, and he was in Sri Lanka for the tsunami of 2004.

So the man knows his stuff, basically.

When I was a computer science grad student I was a research assistant for Fred Brooks.

I took Astronomy 10 from Alex Filippenko, who is moderately famous and shows up every once in a while on Nova and such.

I took Anthropology something-or-other from Laura Nader, who isn’t exactly famous herself but is Ralph’s sister, and looks astonishingly, frighteningly like him.

I’ve had a few professors that were world renowed. The first time I had them was freshmen year for introductory classes where you couldn’t even get close to them; you’d just listen in awe to their lectures and then have graduate student assistants teach the material.

But then every three or four years they do take a small seminar class. It great what you can get out of the discussion, from listening, talking; the back and forth dynamic. You get alot out of it as a student. But the professors also get alot out of it. One professor posted on the syllabus that he would devote two class periods near the end of the course for Q&A regarding his research (he wouldn’t devote class period to his research). He did not have an ego. Also, he knew that he might get inspiration from the class.
My advice: take at least one of those courses your senior year where a single power point slide discusion could be the inspiration for a doctoral thesis.

They weren’t actually professors, but I was able to participate in workshops that had addresses by Alice Walker (who is… well… interesting in her opinions) and E.O. Wilson (U of AL grad/Harvard prof of great renown for his works on biological diversity and Consilience). The topic of the week-long conference (the above two were the only speakers you’d have heard of and each spoke for about an hour on separate days) was diversity (the big buzz word in academia at the time).

Long version:

Wilson spoke of his views of race, how he subscribed unthinkingly to the racial separatism of the Alabama he grew up in and did not really change his views until he was far along in college and graduate school. Since Alabama’s public universities were segregated he was up north before he met a black professor and said he’s still shocked and embarassed at how surprised he was that “this guy’s really smart! You don’t have to talk down to him… in fact, he knows a hell of a lot more than me or any white person I’ve ever met on this academic subject!”. Ironically, he became the victim of “profiling” himself fter he realized what a load of crap his racial views of his youth were, he became the target of similar profiling because of his Alabama background. At first it was assumed he wasn’t that intelligent or well-educated when compared to other students and faculty, then when it was discovered that he was and his credentials came to speak for themselves, he was rumored to be a racist, again due to his Alabamian childhood. (He didn’t mention Stephen Jay Gould as one of the perpetrators of “Wilson is a racist” statements when I heard him speak, but I’ve read other articles where he names him specifically- though they were two of the wunderkinds of Ivy League Biology, they loathed each other.)

Walker spoke a lot about Cuba and happened to arrive on a day of a gay students protest against a proposed amendment to ban homosexual friendly literature (books by gay authors or about anything gay or gay-ish- proposed by a pandering ass of a politician who’s as big of a joke-butt here as he was outside of Alabama, and the amendment never even got beyond news bytes) so that took up some of her talk. That part was great because it led to a lot of stammering and nervous coughs among administration attendees, who love to preach diversity but will not extend same-sex partner benefits or even add sexual-orientation to the non-discrimination policy and Walker called them on it, getting a huge “YOU GO GIRL!” by many audience members, me included. Unfortunately she also made some Castro friendly comments that were almost ludicrous— I don’t dispute the man has probably done some good things in Cuba, at least compared to Batista, but when she talked about how happy the people are and how well provided for they are and how much Castro cares I wanted so badly to ask “How do you account for the fact that all the innertubes and rafts and illegal flotillas only seem to come from Cuba to Florida rather than the other way?”, but instead I asked a question about Uncle Remus/Joel Chandler Harris (Walker grew up a mile from where Harris did and, I learned, loathes Harris and the Uncle Remus stories).

Otherwise I’ve had some professors who were famous in their field (Melville scholars and an English prof who’s a renowned authority on wrestling history, for example) but not to the outside world.

A friend of mine has a son who attended a workshop at Johns Hopkins taught by John Astin (theatre writing, IIRC). The son described him as one of the nicest, coolest, neatest people you could ever want to know.

I took classes from Gerald Koocher (former president of the American Psychological Association), Susan Sontag, Robert Coover, and John Hawkes.