As college students, we make a growing list of professors that the student body avoids like the plague. The unspoken rule book written by the harsh gossip of student testimonies lists professors as “boss level” and “can’t teach.” Eventually, the imaginary rulebook lands in the hands of new students, creating notoriety for those professors. University of Florida students who survived brutal professors can testify the difference a good professor makes. Here in the Swamp, the rulebook is not specific to the infamous professors. The list includes professors who change your life. There are professors whose personality and teaching ability leave an imprint beyond your college career.
Here are 10 UF professors who you will remember beyond the course.
1. Monimala Basu — Journalism
Get ready for an intrinsic emotional journey when you join magazine and feature writing with professor Basu. Her ability to express self-awareness and self-reflection ease the way into your first assignment: personal essay. Although usually a small class, professor Basu touches each student’s hearts, helping them find their voice. She dislikes adverbs and adjectives because she believes there are countless ways to describes things beyond a simple word. “I hate vulnerability,” University of Florida senior Tori Chin said. “But Moni has this quality where she tugs the vulnerability out of you slowly.” Professor Basu’s exemplary resume as an award-winning journalist and former senior writer at CNN makes for one seasoned journalism professor.
In her syllabus, she said people nicknamed her “evil reporter chick” while she covered the Iraq war, which can intimidate anyone signing up for her class. While her students think otherwise, she said she doesn’t consider herself a superhero despite being featured in one of Marvel’s Civil War comics. If you’re looking to sharpen those journalism skills, consider enrolling in professor Basu’s magazine class.
2. Dr. Shawn Weatherford – Physics
Physics at UF holds one of those “boss level” reputations that we talked about earlier. However, with Dr. Weatherford and his sidekick mustache, he provides the materials necessary to survive physics. “He taught a very engaging class although the material was difficult,” University of Florida senior Ana Medina said. “You just needed to put time into the class.” No one can ease the complexity of physics laws, but Dr. Weatherford breaks down the challenging material by relating to the real world. Keep an eye out for professor Weatherford’s class next time you’re registering for classes. You may find his mustache helps you learn.
3. Mike Foley – Journalism
It simply would not be a guide to UF’s best professors if Mike Foley did not make the list. The living legend of the department of journalism at UF, who sports khaki shorts, grammar-related T-shirts and a hidden Gator tattoo, always ranks as a favorite among students. Students learn to love him via his strict reporting boot camp lab in a weird Stockholm Syndrome type of way. The 50-point fact errors and failing grades result in PTSD for his students, but they learn from their mistakes. Notoriously known for changing majors, Foley drills the necessary reporting skills into the fresh meat journalists. Yet, the students admire his ability to teach and lovable, quirky personality. Yes, the dangly earring plays a large role in winning you over. While the reputation that Foley’s class holds is harsh, you’re sure to leave reporting boot camp ready for any journalistic task.
4. Dr. Laura Peterson – Chemistry
Organic chemistry is no joke at UF. One of the notoriously difficult classes, organic chemistry serves as another weed out course for pre-med track students. Peterson does a relatively good job of clearly preparing students for exams. “She was always available to answer questions and what she said in class was what she tested on,” University of Florida senior Adriana Hernandez said. “I felt that she was fair.” Organic chemistry makes people tear out their hair, but once you have Peterson, you’ll miss her teaching ways forever.
5. Dr. Amie Kreppel – Political Science
Most non-stem majors at UF require Intro to Comparative Politics. A class discussing and dissecting information about governments doesn’t sound like it would be exciting. Still, Kreppel makes it otherwise. “I simply couldn’t ask for more from a professor,” University of Florida junior Bruce Glasserman said. Her European studies background gives insight on the examples used in class. After all, the European Commission awarded her the title of Jean Monnet Chair, given to the top European studies professors. Kreppel’s class gives a newfound appreciation for political science, so consider enrolling in her class.
6. Joshua Fox – Engineering
What else can you expect from a game developer professor than having to recreate Minesweeper as your final project? Professor Fox does just that. With his background in mobile gaming and game development, he knows a thing or two about programming. “He made his assignments fun,” University of Florida junior Evan Rives said. As a natural video game nerd, Fox collects Legos and often refers to them in his assignments. He excels in transforming the class into an interactive lecture. His goofy personality shows itself during exam reviews as he hands out rubber ducks for correct answers as a reference to debugging code. If you’re looking for a fun, interactive programming class, consider Fox as your professor. You won’t regret it.
7. Dr. Marvin Krohn – Sociology and Criminology
Professors rely on students’ attention; however, not all of them can catch our already-shortened attention spans. Professor Krohn knows how to keep students engaged with the boring material, sometimes buried in criminology courses. Krohn, a professional criminologist, specializes in juvenile delinquency and is co-editor of Justice Quarterly. “He managed to keep me awake in both of the 8:30 a.m. classes I took with him,” University of Florida junior Natalie Real said. It’s a class worthy of taking if it can keep students awake and engaged so early in the morning.
8. Dan Windels – Advertising
A relatively new professor in the College of Journalism and Communications is Dan Windels, a lead brand strategist and market researcher turned lecturer. Although new to students, professor Windels slowly rises in the fan-favorite lists for advertising students. Windels also served as the faculty adviser in The Agency, the immersive advertisement agency housed in the journalism college. “Going to his class never feels like a chore,” University of Florida junior Gina Marchini said. Even though COVID-19 shifted the classroom dynamic, Windels makes the most of Zoom. Windels’ passion for advertisement encourages his students to be passionate about the material. Taking Windel’s class lends you a hand in your advertising career as you familiarize yourself with The Agency and Ad society, two very critical parts of any advertising major.
9. Max Deardorff – History
Traditionally, a history class sent you adrift to cloud nine for the best sleep of your life. After all, history class feels like a giant storytelling class with important dates. However, professor Deardorff livens up the energy in his classes, making history fun. Students say Deardorff made the course enjoyable while getting to know every student in the class. Not many professors take the steps or effort to memorize names, but Deardorff makes sure to make you visible.
10. Dr. Corey McZeal – Sociology
A professor’s mood transforms the way they teach the class. Corey McZeal’s outgoing and social personality makes for an excellent sociology class. He provides the best possible introduction to sociology’s general world of theories by relating to his students and assuring that they know the material. Most of the class grade relies on exams, but, McZeal lectures provide a thorough explanation. He makes himself available to students and paces the lectures smoothly in order to make the material more digestible. McZeal often made the material fun to learn. On top of that, there’s a rumor he has great music taste. Beware that spots for his class fill up in the blink of an eye.