My Favorite Professor
By Vincent Foster, ' 12
My first Political Science course was Introduction to American National Government with Dr. Athur Simon. It was my second semester freshman year. At the time I was not a Political Science major. I took the class as just a general education requirement. It was one of the few Political Science classes without prerequisites that didn't meet on Fridays, and it was an introductory class. What freshman wouldn't want to take an easy class and keep his schedule open on Fridays? But to my surprise, the class was far from easy, and I would be spending my free Fridays in the library, preparing for Monday's class. I didn't know it as the time, but it took me a couple weeks in the class to realize just what an amazing professor I had.
On my first day in class, Dr. Simon went through the syllabus. He listed a no absence policy, a no laptop policy, and a no texting policy. By the end of the first day I considered going back to the Office of the Registrar to drop the class. But it was Dr. Simon's unwritten – but understood – no excuses policy that intrigued me. The man was tough. However, after our first introduction I could see in his eyes that he took a vested interest in not just our education but our personal growth.
His teaching style was engaging, to say the least. Each lecture was a charismatic dialogue between Dr. Simon and each individual student. He asked questions, he compelled his class to ask questions, and he challenged us to back our opinions and responses with fact and reason. Dr. Simon would wait for you to "go back to the text" and read aloud what legislation or court precedence supported your claimed. And there was no tolerance for a lack of attention to detail. If you're not going prepare for class then don't bother showing up. Which put you into a sticky situation because each absence brings your grade down. But preparedness was not just reading the required reading, as I figured out. Preparedness is doing the required reading, studying every footnote and reference in the reading, reviewing class notes from the previous and next class and actually analyzing what you learned. Coming to class unprepared was playing a game of Russian roulette.
Despite how difficult he was, every student knew that Dr. Simon really did care for us. He always made himself available for students. Before class, after class, during the week. Dr. Simon also had a slide show for every class, followed very strictly to his syllabus and even created study guides for every test. I struggled through his texts and quizzes. I don't think that I ever got a perfect score, but I was cognizant of the fact that I had all of the resources at my disposal to obtain perfection. If you didn't get a perfect score then it was by your own doing, your own lack of preparedness. You must not have taken advantage of these resources. Without having had learned this lesson from my freshman year, the rest of my collegiate career would have been an unsuccessful struggle.
After my semester with Dr. Simon, I switched my major to Political Science. Not only had he solidified my interest in the field, but he had made me grow professionally. I was fortunate enough to have another class with him my senior year where I was able to even further my professional development. I carried the lessons that Dr. Simon taught me from the classroom to the real world.