# College professors say the darndest things

Today, one of my friends showed me an exam (for some sort of history class I think) that was returned to him after being graded. He performed well on the exam (89%) except when answering one of the short essay questions. The professor wrote ‘BULLSHIT’ in large red capital letters across that short essay. My buddy and I thought it was funny but later I thought ‘that’s very a bold thing for a professor to do.’ I’m sure some would take a offense to it.

This made me remember some funny things said by some of my past professors…

In my calculus II class 3 years ago:
During a class period in which we were reviewing for the third exam, a student asked our Korean professor, “Will this test be hard?”

Professor replied in his loud and thick Korean accent, “For you…YES”

In my statics class 2 years ago:
While the professor was going over an example problem on the chalk board talking about various forces on a bent metal rod, a male student got up and left 15 minutes before class is over. The professor noticed, walked over to the doorway, leaned into the hallway, and yelled “JACKASS!!” Then he slammed the door shut hard and continued class lecture as if nothing had happened. We students were stunned and some were trying to cover up the giggles.

My calculus III course 2+ years ago:
There wasn’t one thing the professor said that really stands out to me. He was just hilarious in general. Imagine an italian man with bleached hair as effeminite as Christopher Lowell teaching a calculus course. He wore very tight ass-hugging jeans every day and had very animated hand gestures especially when explaining a graph written on the chalk board.

His Italian accent was very thick. When he said “The limit of the function is inifinity as x approaches zero,” it sounded like “The LEE-MEET-UH of the FUNK-SHEEN-UH EEZ-UH EEN-FEE-NEE-TEE…” etc.
It was typical for him to say something like “Now, we take this little guy and multiply him by the natural log of this little guy…” Oh, he was hilarious. He created an environment not typical to a college calculus class, for certain.
I open this thread to my fellow Dopers to share their stories…

I just have to say that I love your post! You are a good storyteller! As for the “BULLSHIT,” I don’t think professors hesitate to offend at just the right moment.

They not only say the darndest things, you just never know what they will do. One caught his tie in his desk drawer and took scissors from his desk and cut it off. (That story was related to me.)

My major advisor had a habit of frequently clearing her throat. The problem was that she did it in the exact cadence of a rooster. Eurh-Eurh-Eurh-Eurh-Eurrrrh. Everytime. Without fail.

One of the best I remember was a professor ripping into an anonymous student who had written a comment on the midterm exam to the effect that one multiple-choice question was unfair. I can’t remember what the question was anymore, but the correct answer was thymine and one of the options was thiamine (vitamin B1). The student didn’t think it was fair to include a made-up word that was so close to the real answer. The professor suggested that this student may want to take a good look at a cereal box when they got home. Mind you, this was the same professor who had an X-Files obsession and somehow managed to work Mulder and Scully into the exams, plus a question about how you would test whether a poutine-flavoured PopTart was carcinogenic. At least for that last one I managed to avoid writing that it just would be, there’s no need to test anything.

I’m still trying to get the tea out of my sinuses after reading these stories!
More in the “do the darndest things” category.

I had this brilliant prof at my JC. I had him for Latin 101 over the summer. I was taking it as a refresher (had it in high school), and there was another guy in there that was in the same boat.

I nicknamed him “Mandark”, because he looked just like Dexter’s arch-nemesis. And had the same voice. And was generally a know-it-all blowhard.

The teacher hated this kid. The Prof. picked me to tutor a late comer to the class, I think just to get back at the guy (who was definitely very smart, more on the ball than me, but very obnoxious).

So it’s a summer class, and we’re taking it with this professor, who shows up in a tweed suit and a bow tie every day on a Dutch bicycle and cusses people out in Old Welsh. Very laid back atmosphere, for a language class – I think at one point we all went out lawn bowling. Anyways, everyone showed up on time one day, except for Mandark. It appeared he was running late.

Prof. decides we’re switching classrooms for the day. I swear to Og, he sat there at the window. “He’s coming, everyone be quiet!” And he turned off the light and locked the door.

He let the kid wander around and panic for a good five minutes before the ruse was up.

That wasn’t the only time members of that class had fun at Mandark’s expense, but it sure was the best.

“See, back in the 60s, everyone here at Cal was united around free speech. Just about everyone agreed that free speech was a good thing for everyone involved. Since then, we don’t really have one cause to rally around anymore, so Cal is only united by hating Stanford.”

(perhaps apocryphal, on a spectacularly failed essay) “I am returning this otherwise fine typing paper to you because someone has filled it with gibberish and printed your name across the top.”

BOOM “See, wasn’t that cool? I think what Chem lectures really need are more explosions. New class policy. No week goes by without at least one explosion in lecture.” (I think I went to that class more than just about any other since, largely to see the explosions)

“Y’know, it’s a nice sunny Friday, and I just bought a new truck. I know you don’t want to be here, and I want to be driving my truck. That’s it. Let me blow something up and then class dismissed. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my truck.” (same professor as did the explosions)

“No matter how much it seems that they’re out to get you, computers are very stupid. The problem is that they are very stupid, very fast.”

Jackboots, did you blow anything up when you were little? Start any fires?” (tinkering sort of class. I had a destructive sort of bent and a casual disregard for stuff that might break the spare parts we had, in favor of the Really Cool)
Jackboots, don’t get yourself electrocuted. I would have to do a lot of paperwork!” (I wound up doing research for that professor)

Having received no replies in the first 2.5 hours, I was afraid this thread was going to fade away quietly. No worries now

That’s a typo in there, because I really do know how to spell ‘effeminate.’

Why, thank you! This is actually the first thread I have ever started in MPSIMS during my 4 years (of mostly lurking) on the SDMB.

Other professor moments perhaps worth sharing…

During the fall semester last year, I took a course in metals and alloys. First day, the professor hands out the syllabus to all ten of us students taking the course. I looked down and read the prof’s name at the top: FUQAN YANG. His first words to the class were, "Let me tell you how to pronounce my name…it is FYOO-CHEN YONG. Of course, I can hear the whisper under the breath of the redneck sitting behind me, “<snicker snicker> Fuckin’ yang < snicker snicker >.”

Just last week in my failure analysis course, the professor handed out photos of a broken pipe and we had to write out a short description in class about the reasons for failure. There was a class discussion afterward; one student raised his hand to try to explain why the pipe broke. While speaking, his TI-89 calculator fell off the desk and a couple batteries popped out, and the professor said with his broken English and Chinese accent, “You calculator is falling apart like you argument.” Maybe you had to be there for this to be funny; the class had a good chuckle.

I took an introductory interior design course in the spring '04 as an elective. I figured the course would be easy for me having worked for an architecture/interior design firm. The prof spent several days lecturing about the evolving furniture styles in France through the centuries. Ending a tangent about the downfall of the French monarchy, he summed up the French Revolution by saying “And folks, when the shit hits the fan, then everybody has shit on them.”

I took a Modern American Novel class once, with less than 10 students who regularly attended. Around 20 people had actually signed up, but God knows why they never decided to actually come to class.

Anyway, it was the first class right after mid-terms. The regulars were all there a few minutes early, so we were chatting and stuff, while the professor was grading papers. This kid we’ve never seen before comes in. It turns out that he’s enrolled in this class, but he’s been “busy.”

Our professor fixes him with a glare. He was an interesting character - worked as an interpreter in the oil rigs in Saudia Arabia before he suddenly decided literature was his vocation. “Who the hell are you?”

“I’m, uh, John Doe. I’m a Law student.”

The guy says this as if he thinks such a status is his divine pardon for skipping half the semester. Little does he know that our professor thinks law students are the scum of the earth. (I suppose I should clarify that Korean universities don’t have a seperate law school like the US does). He goes on to whine about being busy with other classes, that it’s his last semester and he has job interviews, etc, etc. He wants a chance to make up the midterm he missed. Our prof glares at him balefully.

“Why the hell would I give a future lying scumbag any kind of benefit over my hard-working future literature scholars? Get out of here.”

We were cracking up. The poor guy was utterly confused and embarrassed and scuttled out as soon as he came back to his senses. Then the professors bought free coffee for his precious future scholars. He was one cool dude.

You haven’t met nuts until you’ve met Irish academics.

We have the professor of anatomy who has a “work hard, play hard” ethos and spends her first lecture of every year making people tell her which sports they play. The more sport, the more likely you are to pass.

Another anatomy teacher who makes you do 10 press-ups if your phone rings during the lecture.

The Biochemistry lecturer who brought his 4 year old to class and spend the rest of the lecture trying to teach HIM about mitochondria by pretending to be a steam engine.

Another biochemistry lecturer who worked sex into every explanation “to keep us interested”.

And one memorable microbiologist who explained in graphic detail why he hasn’t eaten meat, salad, shellfish, raw vegetables, fruit, dairy products or eggs in over 20 years- less about ethics, more about nasty infections.

My favourite has to be one of our gynaecologists who told a male student “for your patients sakes, I wish you had a uterus”.

Our hydraulics lecturer liked to show the effectiveness of certain designs by highlighting their uses in the second world war. Telling us about German tank movements through Italy using Roman aquaducts or how Mustangs were superior to any other German fighter because of their wing design. It helped in all this that the lecturer was German himself

I had a professor of english who tried sooooo desperately hard to be perceived by his students as “cool” and “hip”. One time he was involved in a trivial debate with a female student over some minor point. The debate grew heated as the girl kept strongly defending her position. Finally, it became a full blown argument and the professor asked her to leave the class. She continued to defend her position and would not leave. The professor finally blew up and shouted, "Groovy, Cool!!! Now split!!!" A stunned silence descended over the class before we all burst out laughing. He blushed to the top of his bald head and dismissed the whole class for the day!

It’s funny you should mention that. irishgirl, because I did have an Irish professor. A just-shy of middle-aged woman who taught a literature class I took my senior year. She was a lot of fun, and a couple other friends and I would stick around after class and joke with her.

My freshman Chemistry prof. (who was from the former USSR) explained some kind of chemical reaction as a communist governent, and another kind as a capitalist one. Clearly, it was a bad analogy, cause I can’t remember what he was referring to.

I had a prof. for a class on Cognition and Gaming who had extra credit questions on tests like who his favorite Winnie the Poo character was (for the record, it’s Eeyore,) how to spell his name, and what he should get his girlfriend for Christmas (she graded that question.) I actually met his girlfirned later because we were in a theatre production together, and I mentioned that question, and she rememberd my answer because it was one of the best (I said to get her chocolate, flowers, and a puppy.)

A TA I had had extra credit questions like, ‘what is my favorite baseball team.’ He always wore a Mets hat to class. I actually didn’t get credit for the answer, because in additon to writing Mets, I also wrote, ‘and I’m so sorry about that.’ He had seen me wear the occaisional Red Sox shirt, and he wrote back ‘no credit. Oh, and by the way…Bill Buckner.’

In my advanced physiology class, one of the profs (we had about half a dozen for that class) came in with a small bag of white powder, explaning that it represented the amount of glucose your brain needs every day. One of the students remarked that it looked an awful lot like cocaine. The professor responds:
“If that was cocaine, do you think I’d be standing here lecturing you on glucose?”

But the kicker is my sophomore Circuits professor. He was talking about three-phase power, and was talking about how it’s more dangerous than regular AC, when he uttered those words:
Prof: You have to be really careful with three-phase pwoer, because if you think it’s not three phase and touch it, it’s bad news for you. I have a funny story about that, actually. One of my best friends from college died because he didn’t think a power line was three phase when he went to move it out of the road."

The whole class: :eek:

Prof: It’s really a funny story!

No professor stories… yet.

I had an English teacher my senior year, who loved Giger and Aliens and sat like this while speaking to the class. This alone was enough to keep us interested but he also peppered his instruction with double entendres and stories about his semi-functional family. On top of that, he was also the greatest English teacher I ever had when it came to, well, teaching. My marks went up 10% with him (and we were marked by other teachers, so it wasn’t just because he was marking). He left unexpectedly and we never got a chance to say goodbye

Some mad professor stories told to me by older folk:

The lady who memorised the names and faces of all her students every year so she could call them out by name if they talked during her lectures.

The sole professor for some obscure branch of physics. In the first year, there were 30 students. In the second year, 15. The third year, 5. And the final year, 1. The one student who stayed on to major in the subject couldn’t find a job in the field (mostly because there was no field) so he became a professor. The circle of life goes on

Oh, God. My current Public Affairs professor has had so many good one-liners, we’ve had to start a collection of them all:

“Some people thought Jacksonian democracy was the shit.”

“Gas is like crack.” (He was trying to make the point that people can’t live without it.)

On childbearing- “I’ll gladly be drafted and go to war; just don’t make me do THAT!”

On his unborn child (his wife is 12 weeks pregnant)- “Well, based on the ultrasound, it’s either a girl or a pretty pathetic boy!”

“I’ve had my ass handed to me by a woman once or twice!”

On an upcoming study meeting: “I’ll be there on Tuesday to try to filter out some of the ‘dumb’.”

“I don’t care what you think; it’s completely irrelevant.”

“Your roomate may even be participating in…um…full contact dating, the new IM team here on campus”

(On the two political parties) “It’s a Coke/Pepsi deal: One is more bubbly the other more syrupy but basically the same”

“Historians with strong public followings are hated. They’re like just so easy, they are like sluts…‘They’re popular, ew’ The term used is accessible ‘His book was so…accessible’”

“Goddamn Puerto Ricans are just -happy-!” (On how money does not always equal happiness)

“Yeah, most of you just go out and buy pot.” (On college students getting stipends back from their loans)

“We have an amazing system that sucks the life out of everything new and exciting.”

“Napolean is like a horror movie villain. You kill him and then he just pops up again.”

In the discussion of passive sentences:
“Somtimes dogs just die. They havent been killed, they just die…Maybe Batman swooped down and killed the dog…You could use an active sentence and screw Bob over publicly, maybe he deserves it, he killed a dog.”

I had a real jerk professor for introductory geology. While out on a field trip with us once while walking up a hill, he paused, looked at his shoe and announced with a very prim, proper and pissed accent that “I think I’ve stepped in shit.” Sure enough, he had. We gathered around, looked at his shoe and, mimicking his accent, informed him that “My God, you do and it’s people shit.” His shoe was absolutely covered, and my lasting memory of him is being stuck on a hill holding his leg out with no way to clean himself up.

I’m not good at Physics, in fact it escapes me after failing the class twice but last time the professor was fantastic. He was this crazy iranian guy in his 70s and he loved to use crazy examples such as explaining circular motion by saying things like, “Let us use the example of a malicious boy swinging a cat by its tail until the tail snapped - now what direction does the cat fly if the tail snaps free… here.” He also loved to use profanity at the oddest times. I am sure he used it only to keep students paying attention, there’s nothing like hearing an Iranian professor say things like, “A Fucking stupid kid decides to ski down a slope of angle X…” etc. Oh he was a riot.

In High school I had one teacher who was simply put amazing. I’ll never forget him because he was a dirty, mean old son of a b!tch and he knew it. But he also knew how to teach so he taught at the speed of the fastest student and dragged the rest of us along with him. He was the kind of teacher who started class fifteen minutes late because he was day trading, then taught for twenty minutes, and stopped class. And the students felt like they had absorbed a full day’s worth of lectures from him.

When drawing graphs, if the graph would extend off the board he’d use his marker and draw on the wall (he used dry erase markers, but they didn’t come off the wall as we learned).

He also used Aretha Franklin to teach integration, using her song “Chain chain chain” to teach us the Chain rule for integration. He was simply amazing.

I think the event which most sticks out in my mind was his interactions with this boy named Steven, but who he had dubbed “Stevie.” This kid is the cliche geek who got picked on. He was rather large and rotund, very smart but also very unmotivated so he never did his homework - he’d go home and play video games instead of do any homework. This teacher “randomly” collected homework, which equated to usually once per semester but the truth is that you needed to do the homework or you’d fall behind. But Stevie never did the homework and when the teacher got wind of this he decided to take initiative. So he asked Stevie for his homework one day. When Stevie couldn’t produce it he gave a deadline, “Either you have your homework tomorrow or you go to ISS to do it and any homeworks you may not have from previous assignments.” Other kids were offering to help Stevie do it during lunch but he shrugged it off and said he’d do it at home.

I imagine you can see where this is going, but you’d only be partly correct. When Stevie came in the next day without his homework, teach kept to his word and sent him off to ISS to do outstanding homework. As a result, all other teachers Stevie had jumped in and sent his homework from their classes. As a result poor Stevie was in ISS for like 10 days. We even put a “POW” poster restyled to say “POISS” and kept a running day total on the board. But I’ll be damned is Stevie didn’t keep on top of homework for the rest of his time in high school.

Since he was a teacher with such personality many students asked him to sign their yearbook. He always was willing to, but being the economic mind that he was he decided to make some money for it. So he charged \$2 for signatures. AND PEOPLE PAID IT. I did.

Now this teacher had a rather unusual name, one which is very memorable. It’s German. And I’ve saved it until last because this is perhaps the best thing he ever did. As I said, his class was no joke and he regularly failed people. To those people he gave them a ‘consolation prize’ as he called it. He handed them a bumper sticker that says, “I pfailed Pfingstag” – Pfingstag being his last name. Now so that the people who passed the class he also gave them bumper stickers, but theirs read “I pfinished Pfingstag.”

Pfingstag Pforever!

An Econ professor I had at WCU was a real character. He was short, had long wavy wiry hair, and a bald spot. He’d walk up and down the aisles as he lectured, just to keep everybody awake. On Halloween, he came wearing an Incredible Hulk mask and kept it on the whole period. First day of class, he came in saying, “That’s too bad about Appalachian (our rivals). Oh, didn’t you hear? Their library bourned down! Yep, they lost both books. One of them hadn’t even been colored in yet.”

But my favorite was Dr. McKelvin, English 101. It’s a weed-out course, and he let us know that the very first day. He was a southern genteel scholar, very eloquent in speech and very rich in tone of voice. He had us fill out some forms, and as we did so, he took the chalk, crossed out the NO SMOKING sign and lit up. Throughout the first day, he kept telling us, “Remember, Drop/Add is just around the corner.”

To give us some ideas of what his standards were, he passed around a sample paragraph one of his previous students had wrote and asked us to grade it. Most of the class gave it a C (I gave it a D). He then deconstructed the paper, telling us every detail of what was wrong with it. One girl asked “What grade did he get?” He replied “F.” She said “But why come down so hard on him? He tried!” He said, “Oh? Is that what you say when the basketball team benches a player because he didn’t score any points? Why don’t you keep him in? HE TRIED! What about when some building falls over and kills everyone inside because the contractors used aluminum I-beams? BUT THEY TRIED!”

He one time told us that he and his wife took in a stray dog and asked if any of us wanted it. None of us took him up on it. A couple of weeks later, he announced “Since none of you offered to take this dog off my hands, you all get an F.” He bitched about the dog for a while, then muttered under his breath, “Actually we decided to keep the goddamned dog…”

Throughout the semester, he kept referring to the dreaded Departmental Exam. All Eng 101 students were required to take it to show that were all keeping up with our grammar skills and so forth. That night when McKelvin showed up, he joked around and kept us relaxed, despite his frequent declarations of doom throughout the semester. He said if any of us had trouble understanding what one of the multiple choice words meant, we could come up to ask him and he would explain it. I came up a couple of times, and he’d tell me the meaning of the word, then add “So you KNOW it’s not that word.”

Also, one of the students showed up for the exam wearing a beanie with this 4-foot long ostrich plume attached. While the guy left the test to go to the restroom, McKelvin came over, picked up the beanie, and put it on. He asked “How do I look?” One girl said “It makes you look like him.” McKelvin then cocked his wrist and put on a totally gay expression. We cracked UP!

When I was taking drafting in college–

No, wait, I have to lay in some background. See, long ago, people used to use analog watches, with “hands” that moved around, and, well, anyway, this was long enough ago that a digital watch was pretty darned rare and pretty darned expensive.

–our drafting prof comes into class, looking cheerful and soon he’s showing off his brand-new digital watch. “It works like this,” he said, holding his wrist up, “You just press the button and it tells you the time.”

Smart-alec in the back of the room: “I didn’t hear anything!”

class collapses…

A certain math professor at Binghamton University comes to mind.

He had a stroke some years before I had him and his speech was a little “thickened”. Some students would think he was drunk when they first met him. He was a ballbuster.

He had a habit of cutting people down to size whenever it suited his fancy. One day he was babbling on, it went something like this:

Prof: "…and of course this value will approach the sine of 90 degrees, which is…
what? Mr. Smith?

Student Smith (who appeared to have been daydreaming): uh, 0, I mean, 1, yeah, 1.

Prof: (pauses) What is your major Mr. Smith?

Smith: I’m a math major.

Prof: (stares, turns his back to Smith) When are you going to stop kidding yourself?

Class: (murmurs a “whoa”).

The bastard got me once or twice, I’ll write about that later.

I had one History prof who was pretty bloody obnoxious and didn’t hesitate to put down anyone he felt like picking on. He used to post student’s marks up on his office door for us to check after assignments and exams. One time, a student took issue with his mark and left a note along the lines of “I shouldn’t have a mark of X, I should have Y, because you gave this question a Z.” Prof wrote back “No. N+T equals W, just like I put. You fail Math as well as History.”

My Russian History prof, who was very cool, but pretty quiet came in one time, turned on the overhead projector, picked it up and tilted it so the square of light projected on the wall was turned about 45 degrees. “Quick! What does this remind you of!?” From the class: “…” “Come on! It’s Batman, people! Remember the tv show? Man. You guys suck.” And then he went back to his usual quiet self. Very surreal. I had a roommate who had his class in the afternoon, so I went home, grabbed him and said “When he asks…you say Batman.” Trevor gave me a look, but agreed and went off to class. When he came back, he said the prof was ecstatic when he guessed it and announced that Trevor was his new favourite student for the day.

It was fun.

We had a Scot who taught history. Sort of, mostly we listened to his stories, tangents and anecdotes. He once was demonstrating mountain climbing techniques and tore the blackboard off the wall. It smashed into several chunks tearing out sections of the wall with him buried underneath.

He would bring in an antique muzzleloading blackpower gun for a demonstration (try THAT today.) There we are in the parking lot and the powder flashed in the pan several times without igniting the charge.

He calmly said “this is why the bayonet was invented.”