Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

WEB EXTRA: GW students drawn to professors’ personalities

As students filed into class, opened their notebooks and looked up to their instructor to begin his lecture, archeology professor Eric Cline projected a large picture of an ancient toilet on the screen.

“You didn’t anticipate this today did you?” he asked the room of almost 100 students, who chuckled at the notion of a class discussion on the findings of human waste.

Cline has been teaching introduction to archeology at GW since 2001. In the past five years, his classes have become very popular on campus.

“The professor who was teaching at the time (I was hired) said I would never get more than 25 people,” Cline said. “He said people just aren’t interested in archeology.” This fall, Cline is teaching 108 students.

Several classes have gained notoriety for their personable professors, interesting subject matter and near-impossible chances to register for the course.

While some students are surprised to find that the class they want to take might be closed on their day of registration, others take the initiative to make sure there’s a spot for them. Steve Roberts, professor of political communication and journalism, has set up a waitlist system for two of his most popular classes: politics, media and government and feature writing.

“I was signed up for (politics, media and government) three semesters in advance,” said junior Marni Hahn, who is taking the class next fall – more than a year after she put her name on the waitlist.

Students interested in taking Roberts’ courses can e-mail him with their name and expected graduation date. Roberts will then e-mail the students before their last semester to see if they still want a spot in his course. Roberts said the class is capped at 25, but he usually allows a few more students to be signed in.

Many of Roberts’ students said it’s the personal relationship they form with him over the course of a semester that makes his classes worth taking. Roberts is a well known D.C. insider who often helps students navigate their way through the myriad of choices they have to make senior year.

“Having taught here at GW for a long time I realize that a lot of my job is helping my students grow up,” he said. “They are caught up in a lot of personal pressures at this time, so I do try to be a friend or an older counselor to them . I’m not just here to talk about the material in class.”

“He’s phenomenal, he’s probably the best professor I’ve taken at GW,” senior Clare Lloyd Jones said. “He’s just so focused on helping students not only understand media and politics, but also with their careers.”

Students looking for a different taste of D.C. culture can put their names on the waitlist for Kip Lornell’s history of jazz course, which covers a wide variety of American and 20th-century music.

Lornell said he tries to keep his students interested in class through his “skewed” sense of humor and use of different multimedia technologies. He caps his class at 60 and doesn’t take attendance.

“One day I asked students ‘why do you come?'” Lornell said. “One person volunteered that they wanted to see what I would do next.”

Senior Allie Reilly put her name on Lornell’s history of jazz waitlist three weeks ago. She said she expects to get into his class for the upcoming spring semester.

“If I show up to class with rotten yellow paper, (students) should call 911,” Lornell said of his efforts to keep his lecture and notes interesting. “Tell them a crazy person is in class or throw rotten tomatoes because I will bore them to death.”

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