News & Politics

Who Gets the “Most Boring Prof Ever” Award?

As the new school year starts up at presidential election time, you’ll begin to see the migration of departing government officials to academia and academics heading back to government in a new administration.

How have the officials of the Bill Clinton administration done in the ivory tower?, an anonymous online resource for students, has collected millions of ratings on teachers and provides some insights.

David Gergen [A], former presidential adviser, “PAL 229: Driving Forces in American Politics,” Harvard University.

“Always came prepared, even during the busy election season. Class could use some changes for future runs, but overall was a good learning experience. Anything with Gergen is good, though.”

Robert Reich [B+],former secretary of Labor, “PP 103: Wealth and Poverty,” UC Berkeley.

“Very biased!”

“Easy class. Great lecturer.”

“A fabulous lecturer. Short, but powerful demeanor.”

Madeleine Albright [C], former secretary of State, “INAF 453: America’s National Security Toolbox,” Georgetown University.

“Wonderful professor. Strong, intelligent, funny woman. You will learn A LOT about American politics/government, and if you don’t, the stories alone are worth it.”

“By far one of the worst classes I have taken. Extremely hard with no clarity as to expectations. She is former secretary of State but awful as a professor. Stories are interesting for a class or two, but then you realize your GPA is suffering . . . not worth it.”

Tony Lake [A-], former national security adviser, “INAF 100: Seminar,” Georgetown University.

“I did not enjoy this class as much as I thought I would. Prof. Lake is VERY knowledgeable, but too impersonal and plays favorites.”

“Awesome professor. Great stories and an incredibly brilliant and helpful professor. Do what you must do to ensure you get a class with Professor Lake.”

“The most amazing professor I have ever had, brilliant, tells lots of great stories about life in government, extremely nice and interesting, funny, you learn a lot.”

Donna Shalala [A], former secretary of Health and Human Services and president of the University of Miami, “POL 536: U.S. Health Care Crisis: Politics and Policies,” University of Miami.

“I thought the tests were actually hard. In spring ’08 they were only multiple choice and no essay, but by no means was the test easy.”

“Shalala’s class was awesome. Yes, there are a lot of students but you never get bored. She’s got a wealth of experience to share.”

Donna Brazile [B], political strategist, “WSTP 266: Women and American Politics,” Georgetown University.

“The real value in taking her class comes from being able to hear her share all of her insights and experiences, whether or not you agree with what she has to say.”

“I was warned off this class, and I should have listened. . . . Spends class reading lecture notes off note cards on subjects she knows little about.”

“Fantastic. There isn’t really any ‘work’ per se, but you learn things about politics that you never would with anyone else.”

Al Gore [C-], former vice president, visiting professor at Middle Tennessee State University.

“The ‘I’m just a good Southern boy’ act really got boring fast. And the guy just can’t let go of the fact that he lost.”

“I for one felt privileged and enjoyed the lectures. It was a great experience.”

“Most boring prof ever.”

This article appears in the September 2008 issue of Washingtonian magazine. To see more articles in this issue, click here.

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