The new student at a university is sure to confront a bewildering number of professors; and it might be useful to have an understanding of them as social categories. Obviously, there are the subjects or disciplines to categorize them on; but this is another way of looking at the members of this learned profession. I hope you will find this fair and useful; or at least amusing.
The Nonretired Retiree -- This one hasn't revised his notes in ten years. He drones through his classes, and provides an non-habit-forming alternative to Sominex. He rarely keeps office hours, and does the minimum academic work possible. His method of academic advising is to sign whatever you put in front of him. I had one of these once; he approved my taking Introduction to Pole Dancing and Elementary Old English. Does he sign blank checks as well?
The Maverick -- Loved by some graduate students, though he's dangerous to emulate. This is the (usually thirtyish) assistant professor who enjoys tweaking the sensibilities and sacred cattle of the dinosaurs and appearing nightly in the iconoclastic role.
The Dinosaurs -- Faculty members in the fifties; these are long-serving full professors. They have a vested interest in the status quo. They often perform well in the classroom, but are inclined to be superficial. Easy A's or B's.
The Slave-Drivers -- This churlish type exploits graduate students because they can. Some might even press them into being baby sitters for their brood. Strangely, women are especially likely to do this to female graduate students. It's as if their resentments of past mistreatments are translated into ensuring that the present generation of students will also be mistreated as they had been.
The Evangelists -- These are ones on a religious mission: to save the souls of their students. They begin the class with, "Have you heard? Jesus lives!" and end same with "Have a blessed day." Strangely enough, they are not found at mainstream Catholic or Protestant universities, but may find a niche in secular or fundamentalist institutions. Because of the hedonistic nature of 18-year-olds, they are in for a lot of disappointments.
The Standard Warhorses -- These are good; they regard teaching as a life's work and try their best to do it. They are bright, conscientious, and usually deliver well.
The Feminist Battleaxes -- Stocky middle-aged female Liberal Arts faculty members who seem to have a jihad against the Y chromosome. These throwbacks to an earlier time consider their natural enemies to be the Frustrated Jocks and the Sex Kittens. Do not appear to be confrontative, especially if you're a blonde student.
The Frustrated Jocks -- These are the darlings of the Athletic Department; the professors who will cut corners for athletes when needed and they never fail to miss a game. Look for the excessive sports memorabilia in their offices.
The Sex Kittens -- Comely female assistant professors who flaunt their sexiness indiscriminately to both students and fellow faculty members, often with risky décolletage. Usually, this helps obtain an associate professorship in otherwise all-male departments; but she is regarded more as a pet than a colleague until gravity becomes a factor.
The Untenured Mice -- These have not gotten tenured yet, and try to keep as low a profile as possible. They're generally unimaginative, and trod the middle-of-the-road path towards that lofty status. If washing the Dean's and Department Chair's cars would help them get tenure, they would be out with the Turtle Wax. Don't shout "Boo" around them. They're inclined to lose bladder control.
The Administrative Wanabees -- Dresses in a power suits; supports polite liberal causes. These have learned that the top salaries go to administrators and they want some too.
The Amorous Swains -- Female students should watch these fortyish guys. They can be distinguished by their with-it fashions and unusual interests. Rarely are they gropers; mostly they fancy themselves as smooth talkers. Self-delusional. Don't think that they want you to see their etchings!
The Lushes -- Often these are English teachers, perhaps because William Faulkner had been a well-known tippler also. They habitually cut their classes short; and are generally a waste of time. Don't emulate these! Your liver will be grateful.
The Eccentrics -- While these are generally good teachers, students with way, way, way too much time on their hands concoct rumors as to reason for the minor eccentricity. Those rumors of unrequited love or rock careers are as unlikely as mermaids in the Love Canal.
The Nitpickers -- These are the arcane detail mavens. They can be counted on to disgorge esoterica, whether bidden or not. They can be compared to Kirtland's warblers: little birds who nest only in Michigan jack pines. They domicile in major research universities.
The Media Darling -- These are individuals who may or may not be a big name at the local university; but who knows how to make sound bite zingers.
The Zeitgeist Surfers -- These people have catchy and possibly areas of research, and are often called on by media persons looking for an interesting article. One studied personality traits of strippers; another studied the sociology of NASCAR and did her research on the infield at races every other week in during racing season.
The Academic Politicians -- To them, it's the political machinations in any institution that interest them: often of the sociological or political scientist persuasion. They prefer the swinishness of academic politics to the polite politics in the real world. Only a few of these actually run for public office; but will be soundly trounced by the Democratic and Republican professionals.
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